Tales of Kitchen Disasters

My motto is, “If it tastes good, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look like the picture.”  Chatting with the girls before Thanksgiving dinner we all got giggles talking about the things we’d tried and failed (Pinterest Fails) to create in our kitchens.

pnterestfailmissyBut once I shared the story of a friend’s attempt at a turkey shaped cupcake creation with a neck just a touch too broad and amgplumage shade too brown with feet on a pair of stones that ended up looking like a really well endowed man’s crown jewels adorned with flaming red, orange & yellow feathers (like Mardi Gras Plumage)….well, let’s just say the wine bottles emptied a little faster and the conversation went downhill from there. 😉

None of us can point fingers.  We have all had kitchen mishaps:

I know that I have failed spectacularly!

  • Spent a fortune on the ingredients I’ve needed to make a recipe that got rave reviews
  • Bought special pans and/or cooking devices
  • Slaved all day to make it
  • Tasted it when it’s done, gagged, called a neighbor over to confirm my opinion that it sucks
  • Thrown it in the trash and
  • Ordered Pizza for dinner;

I’m sure we all know others who’ve committed these kitchen crimes too:

blender-mess-1Thrown things into the blender, turned it on and forgotten to put on lid or not put lid on tight enough; spent an hour cleaning the ceiling, cupboards and everywhere else

microwav-edisasterOpened a can of Chef-Boy-R-Dee (No judging, we were all starving college students once), poured it into a bowl, set the microwave for 2 minutes (uh oh), and walked away. #CleanUpAisle5

burnedmicrowavepopcornThrown popcorn into the microwave, set the timer for too long and had to live with burned popcorn smell in the whole house or the office for days.

While these are all funny when they happen to someone else, they all share a common problem: They can leave you with a lingering odor reminding you that you aren’t quite yet Julia Child or Rachel Ray in the kitchen.

Luckily there are a few great tips for helping to rid your home (or the office if you have fouled the air & microwave of the lunchroom with your culinary disaster) of the smell left behind.  Unless you are covering up something else you’ve left in your wake….then, rock on with your bad self. 😉

excessgas

If you’ve microwaved something smelly (especially something with a heavy garlic or tomato smell) and an odor has been left behind, or if you’ve burned popcorn: Soak a sponge in vinegar then coat the top of the sponge in baking soda. Place the sponge on a plate in the microwave and set to run on high for 30 seconds.  Wipe the interior of the microwave with the sponge and leave the door open to air dry the inside.

Another option is to take a one cup measuring cup, slice a lemon or orange and squeeze both halves into the measuring cup, place both halves into the measuring cup,  and fill the cup up the rest of the way with water.  Cook on high for 5 minutes.  The steam will clean the microwave and the fresh citrus will deodorize.  Wipe with a cloth when the cycle is over.  Pour the remaining water and citrus into the garbage disposal with 1/4 cup baking soda, run the disposal with hot water and deodorize your drain.

lemonandrosemary

If you’re trying to remove the odor from a room you can fill a stockpot about 2/3 up with water, 3-4 tsp of vanilla, 2 to 3 sliced lemons and 4 to 5 good sized sprigs of fresh rosemary from the garden.  Simmer it for a few hours (or all day if you’re home to make sure that the pot doesn’t boil dry) an your house will smell fresh and inviting.  If it isn’t too cold and you can bring some fresh air in for a few hours that would help too.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

 

Easy Turkey Day Appetizer

mb1One of the things I am in charge of this Thanksgiving is an appetizer.  I was going to get fancy and knock myself out with something that would be difficult to keep warm and wouldn’t likely taste that great cold, but I’ve decided to take another tack.

Instead of going in a direction that is completely opposite of the main meal, I thought instead that I would create something that would compliment and whet the appetites of the rest of the guests for the main event, plus I’d be able to incorporate one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes from last year, Zinful Cran-blueberry Sauce!

Turkey Meatballs with Zinful Cran-Blueberry Sauce

Zinful Cran-Blueberry Sauce

  • 1 & 1/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Zinfandel Wine (Best Quality you can afford – if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it)
  • 1 – 12 oz Package Ocean Spray Fresh Whole Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 Whole Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • Orange or Tangerine Zest

Bring sugar, wine and cinnamon stick to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add remaining ingredients and return to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes.  You may want to use a splatter shield to avoid splashing when cranberries pop. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Set aside to pour over cooked meatballs.

Make the Meatballs

  • Canola Oil Spray or PAM
  • 4 Pounds Ground Turkey
  • 2 Cups Bread Crumbs or Panko
  • 4 Eggs
  • 4 Cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 1 Large Granny Smith Apple Grated
  • 1 tsp Crushed Fennel Seeds
  • 8 tsp Chopped Fresh Sage
  • 3 tsp Freshly Ground Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F and spray 2 large baking sheets with non stick spray

  1. Combine turkey, breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, grated apple, fennel seeds, chopped sage, salt and pepper on a large mixing bowl
  2. Using a 1″ cookie scoop, portion out the meat into balls, roll and put as many as you can on both baking sheets
  3. Bake for 15 minutes until meatballs begin to brown
  4. Remove meatballs from baking sheet and place into serving dish, chafing dish or crock pot (set to low or warm setting) and pour cran-blueberry sauce over until all are well coated.
  5. Garnish with whole sage leaves if desired.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Don’t get me wrong, nothing says fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving more than pumpkin pie, but the same old pumpkin pie year in – year out can get boring.  I thought I’d shake things up a bit with a curveball and a bit of unexpected flavor that I hope we all will enjoy!

saraleepumpkinpie

I’ll still make a regular pumpkin pie, and if you are planning to make a regular pumpkin pie too, there is a hotline setup to help you in case you get in a bind: Sara Lee Pie Hotline 1-888-914-1247, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST.  The hotline is open Thanksgiving Day from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST.

Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Chiffon Piepumpchif

Assemble the Crust

  • 4 TBLS (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 TBLS Unsalted Butter for greasing the pan
  • 2 TBLS Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 TBLS Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 Large Egg Yolk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375°F and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ regular (not deep dish) pie pan.

  1. Combine flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the sugar.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 of the cinnamon-sugar mixture into the buttered pie pan and spread it around until the entire pan is well coated
  4. Beat the 1/2 stick of butter and 1/2 cup sugar for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  6. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture beating just until well combined.
  7. Transfer dough to work surface covered with a very light coating of flour and cinnamon.  Flatten cookie dough into a disc and then press into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie pan.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon and sugar all over the surface of the inside of the pie crust.
  9. Poke holes all over the bottom of the crust and put into the freezer for 15 minutes.
  10. Bake the crust about 12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before filling.

Prepare the Pie Filling

  • 4 ounces room temperature Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Pie Purée
  • 3/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 3/4 Tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freshly Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 TBLS Bourbon
  • 1+3/4 tsp unflavored Gelatin
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  1. In small saucepan dissolve gelatin in the water over low heat.
  2. As soon as the gelatin is dissolved, remove from the heat and stir in the Bourbon.
  3. In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the cream cheese until light and airy. Set aside.
  4. On medium-high speed, mix the pumpkin purée, maple syrup, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon and beat until well combined.
  5. Add the cream cheese and beat on high until smooth.
  6. Stir gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture and move all into a large chilled mixing bowl.
  7. Clean and dry the stand mixer bowl.
  8. Beat 1/2 cup of the cream on high until stiff peaks form and then stir into the pumpkin mixture.
  9. Pour filling into crust and chill overnight.

To prepare for serving

  1. To prepare for serving, beat 1 cup whipping cream, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla  until stiff peaks form
  2. Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Make up to one day ahead and keep refrigerated until time to serve.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Disneyland Peanut Butter Cookies

Last week I shared the recipe for Debbie Fields (A.K.A. Mrs. Fields) Peanut Butter Cookies and promised to find the recipe for the amazing Peanut Butter Cookies sold at Disneyland when I could find it.

peanut-butter-chunk-cookiesThere are many imposters and “copycat” recipes out there that were close, but none that I could find that were exactly like the cookies I remembered.  I finally came across a blog that focuses solely on the foods made and sold by the Disney Resorts.  Here I found out that Disney chefs do not bake the cookies, full of chunks of smooth peanut butter, they are made by Selma’s Cookies and packaged for Disney, but they are so good, does it really matter?

A little more Internet research led to a cookie blog linked to the Disney food blog that had great pictures and instructions for recreating the Disneyland Peanut Butter Cookie (with the added bonus of chocolate chunks!).

The important thing to making these cookies is to understand that you cannot simply put peanut butter chips into the cookies and expect them to taste like the cookies from peanut-butter-chunksGoofy’s Kitchen!  You have to take the added step (first) of making the peanut butter fudge that gets broken into chunks and pressed into the rolled cookie dough just before placing on the cookie sheets for baking.  It makes the difference between a good cookie and a great one!

As Close As You Can Get To Disneyland Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Chunks:
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBLS Peanut Butter Chips (Reese’s)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBLS Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1+ 1/2 TBLS Butter
Cookie Dough:
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup tightly packed brown sugar — (8 oz)
  • 1 cup Granulated Ssugar — (8 oz)
  • 1 + 1/4 cups Chunky or Smooth Peanut Butter — (11 7/8 oz jar)
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 + 2/3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks
 Instructions
  1. Make the peanut butter chunks first. Mix the peanut butter chips, peanut butter and butter in a small bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. If chips aren’t melted, heat for another 30 seconds.
  2. Make a small 2×5(ish) mold with foil (see photo). Pour the peanut butter mixture into the mold and chill it for about half an hour or until firm. Unmold the peanut butter log and cut into chunks.
  3. Proceed with the cookie dough. Cream butter and both sugars with an electric mixer. Beat in peanut butter, then baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs one at a time, beating on a lower speed, then beat in vanilla. By hand or using lowest speed of mixer, Stir in the flour. When flour is mixed in, stir in chocolate chunks.
  4. Chill the dough for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350° F. Using slightly less than a quarter cup measure, scoop up balls of dough and arrange on cookie sheet a few inches apart. Stick peanut butter chunkscookie-dough-ball into the already-scooped dough.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until set and brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on pan for about 10 minutes to set. Remove from pan and set on a rack to finish cooling.
  7. Makes 24 big cookies

I cannot wait to make these!  Can you imagine taking two of these and putting a scoop of vanilla ice cream between them?  Yum!

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Thanksgiving Night Helper

Bon Appétit is always such a lifesaver!

When we are at a loss for how to wow dinner guests, they have just the recipe for us.

glazed-and-lacquered-turkey-overhead-horizontalWhen we’ve agreed to host the feast and  bitten off a more than we could chew , I meant do, they’re there for us with Live (yes! Live) help via Facebook, podcasts we can play again and again, and even via shared tips and tricks on Instagram.

Tonight they seek to come to our rescue yet again, this time with a recipe to help all of us digest the mass amounts of food that we all intend to stuff into our bodies on Thanksgiving day.

Mint, ginger, fennel, and cayenne are known for their digestive properties.

Their recommendation is to have this ready for the morning after, but why suffer all night with a bloated belly?  I would make this the  day before, when you are prepping the rest of your feast, and make a double batch so it’s ready to go before you hit the hay on Thanksgiving night.

Overeater’s Tonic

Makes about 3 cups

  • 3 sprigs mint
  • 1 1½-inch piece turmeric, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly slicedovereaters-tonic
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds or aniseed
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon aromatic bitters
  1. Muddle mint sprigs, turmeric, ginger, fennel seeds, and cayenne in a 4-cup measuring glass until turmeric and ginger are broken up into bits.
  2. Add vinegar, honey, bitters, and 3 cups cold water; stir to dissolve honey.
  3. Chill until very cold, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  4. Strain.
Per 4 servings: Calories (kcal) 60 Fat (g) 0 Saturated Fat (g) 0 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 13 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 8 Protein (g) 0 Sodium (mg) 10

Tip:  Turn this into a spritzer by using club soda instead of water.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

 

Chicken Teriyaki Bowls

sunday-dinner-01I had nothing planned for Sunday family dinner after spending the afternoon enjoying the unexpected 88° day outside.  I swore not to order pizza 2 Sundays in a row, so I quick thawed a few individually wrapped chicken breasts that I bought at Costco and checked the cupboards for what I could do with them.

My first thought was that I had snipped some fresh basil from the garden and knew that I had some pine nuts and olive oil, I could do a quick pesto and throw the chicken over some pappardelle pasta.  That got vetoed because we had enjoyed a block of cream cheese covered with some jarred Trader Joe’s pesto Saturday afternoon with some pita crackers.  Damn!

I opened the refrigerator and saw the fresh pineapple that I had ripening to slice and soak in Malibu Rum and inspiration hit.  I’d make some homemade teriyaki and we’d have chicken bowls for dinner.  Whew!  Crisis averted.

Quick Teriyaki Sauce

  • 4 TBLS Honeyteri
  • 1/2 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 + 1/2 Cups Water
  • 8 TBLS Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1+1/2 tsp minced garlic (preferably roasted)
  • 4 TBLS Corn Starch dissolved in 1/2 Cup Cold Water
  • 3 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 tsp Sesame Seeds

In 1 +1/2 Quart Saucepan whisk together honey, soy sauce, water, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and crushed red peppers over medium heat. Dissolve cornstarch in water and whisk into sauce cooking about 2 more minutes until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the sesame seeds.  Makes about 4 cups.  Store any unused sauce in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Bowl Prep:

  • Prepare 6-8 Servings of White or Brown Rice
  • Thinly slice a green bell pepper, 2 ribs of celery, 2 carrots (julienne or matchstick sized), and 1/4 of a medium onion (if desired)
  • Quickly stir-fry the vegetables in a splash of olive oil until onion is translucent and other vegetables have softened
  • Cut 3-4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts into 1 x 1 inch strips (give or take), salt and pepper, and stir fry in a well oiled pan over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked through.
  • Thinly slice the green portions only of a green onion

Assemble Bowls:chixteri

  • Scoop some rice into the bottom of the bowl
  • Add a layer of the vegetable mixture
  • Top with a generous portion of the chicken
  • Generously spoon teriyaki sauce over the top of the chicken until well coated
  • Sprinkle with sliced green onion

This is a really easy make ahead meal.  Prepare everything and store separately in covered containers in the refrigerator.  It is easily and quickly reheated for a weeknight meal!

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

 

All-American Meal

meatloaf

During the entire Election 2016, this admitted Political Junkie made every night of both conventions and each of the 3 debates, plus a few other random “big political news” nights, events for a special meal to eat in front of the television.

So, when my husband asked me what gourmet meal I’d be preparing I was surprised to find myself unprepared with a ready-to-answer menu.  Uh Oh!  He suggested meatloaf which I immediately shook off as not fancy enough for a night I anticipated would involve a lot of anticipatory butterflies for the historic, ultimate glass ceiling shattering moment in history I hoped would be happening for women while we’d be eating our dinner on the west coast.

As the day wore on I started to change my mind about the simple, unassuming meatloaf.

meatmashpeasWhat screams Americana more than the steady weeknight fare of everyone’s youth more than meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas?  Nothing I could come up with.  Throw in an apple pie and the perfect Tuesday Election Night 2016 meal vote was cast! 😉

Simple Weeknight Meatloaf

  • 2 1/2 – 3 Pounds 85% Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 Sleeve Saltine Crackers Crushed
  • 1 Can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup Ketchup or Jarred Spaghetti/Marinara Sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F.

  1. In bowl of stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if combining ingredients by hand) put (in this order) crackers, eggs, can of tomatoes (undrained), meat, and ketchup.
  2. Using bread hook attachment, turn stand mixer to lowest setting and mix until ingredients start to combine and form a loaf shape.
  3. Remove hook and using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, finish combining until no dry crackers show through the meat.
  4. Mound into a loaf pan but don’t pack too firmly.
  5. Put loaf pan into preheated oven and set timer for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  At about 30 minutes use a turkey baster and suction off any fat that has begun to accumulate along the edges of the loaf pan.  Also, use your ketchup or spaghetti/marinara sauce to top the meatloaf.
  6. At 60 minutes again suction the fat from the edges of the pan with a turkey baster.  I do this to avoid spillage into my oven and also to avoid having my meatloaf sit in fat during the entire baking time.
  7. At an hour and a twenty minutes, slide your meatloaf out of the oven and insert a meat thermometer into the middle, making sure not to let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan.  Your meatloaf should read 160°F for medium in the center.
  8. If you want your center to be more medium well, put your meatloaf back into the oven for another 5 minutes or so and check the temperature again.  For medium-well it should read 165°F and the rest of your meatloaf will be more well done at or above 170°F.

If you want mashed potatoes to be ready when your meatloaf comes out you can throw some small red potatoes (skin on or off) into a pot of boiling water and cook them for 15 minutes.  Turn them off, drain the water and throw them into the bowl of your stand mixer with some milk, salt & pepper and butter.  Using the paddle attachment mix until well combined but don’t over mix.  Throw some foil over the top of the bowl and they’ll stay hot until you’re ready to eat.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood