Friday, October 28, 2016

For National Chocolate Day!

Enjoy the Chocolate!! Each of these movies will show you what you can make with chocolate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Right Tools

When you are cooking, you've got to have the right tools for the job. As quoted from Beavis and Butthead. And if you have a Kitchenaid mixer, like me, you no doubt have a good supply of beaters that came with it. I got mine from a display at Walmart. My sis gave it to me the Christmas I spent in Bozeman because she knows I love to cook and bake. Well, it has been my best friend in the kitchen ever since I got it. But we had to get some of the essential beaters ourselves. I love my mixer! I don't know how I ever survived without it. A hand mixer is good too, but my Kitchenaid stand mixer allows me to mix a cake, or cookies, and still be able to walk away and concentrate on something else, like perhaps cracking eggs, or sifting flour. Well anyways, here is a picture of the collection of beaters the mixers come with...

I have them numbered so we can see each individual tool. I use each one of these when cooking in my kitchen. I'm going to discuss with you what each one is useful for.

1. Known as the wire whisk, or sometimes I have seen it referred to as a "balloon whip". This is great for high-speed mixing. I've used it to whip cream, and I also use it when I am making cakes and frostings. It is perfect for making your batters or anything whip up because it is designed to whip air into your mixture, which makes soft, fluffy cakes, frostings, and makes nice whipped cream for whatever reason.

2. This is called the flat beater, or sometimes the "paddle". You can use this to whip cakes, but it doesn't do as well in getting the essential bubbles in your cake batter to make your cake come out fluffy. I mostly use this attachment to mix things like cookies or brownies. You can also use this to mix in the first ingredients of making bread.

3. This is called the dough hook, or sometimes just the "hook attachment". As it's name implies, this attachment is useful for making bread dough, and rarely, cookie dough. This attachment is perfect for jobs where you do not need to add any air bubbles, but need to create gluten, which is essential in making bread and pizza dough.

Each attachment has a different job. I hope this post has helped you to understand how each one works, and what each one is good for. If you are a serious cook, a Kitchenaid stand-mixer is a must! You can get one anywhere you can find kitchen appliances being sold. Mine is a 300-watt mixer. The more wattage the better, and stronger, your mixer will be. I've had mine since 2011, and it was a display model. I only dropped it once, but it still works like a champ! I cannot imagine life in the kitchen without it. Expect them to be pricey. My sis paid $150 for mine, so she said. LOL! But brand new, they can range from $200 and go up from there, depending on the size of the wattage. Some have arms to hold the bowl, like this one:

Mine is the kind that you just twist the bowl into the base, like this one:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Food dolls - Buckeye Brookies

Interesting concept of combining brownies with chocolate chip cookies. Though for the sake of the cookies, I'd double this recipe to fit a 9x13 inch baking pan. Use a family-sized brownie mix, then use the Pillsbury cookie dough available in all grocery stores, or you can make up your own chocolate chip cookie dough. I prefer to use Nestle Toll House Cookies recipe, and my own recipe for brownies. I will post those at a later date. Try it and enjoy the recipe!

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Best Banana Cake Ever!

I finally did it! I made a to-die-for, melt-in-your-mouth banana cake!!! I love how it came out too! I was thinking that I'd have to order online for a banana cake mix in order to get a homemade banana cake! Or move down south. But no! I made a perfectly good banana cake tonight from scratch that came out fluffier and feather-light as any mix!! I was amazed! The last time I tried to make a cake, I made a devil's food cake with swiss buttercream icing. We were living in Ocean Shores then. The cake was terrible!!! It came out hard as a rock and I never was able to pinpoint exactly what happened! The swiss buttercream came out awesome though. Such a shame! Well, tonight I decided to try home baking a cake on my own, and I got very pleasing results making this banana cake! It's even as fluffy as the cakes you can get in bakeries! I remember I ordered a banana cake for my birthday when I was living in Bozeman, and this cake came out even better than that one! And she was a professional! I am thrilled! It was hard work too! But the end result was worth it!

It really is all in how you mix the cake. I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer, which, if you are a serious cook, you should not be without. This was the recipe I followed and how I got the results I got...

Best Banana Cake Ever!
1 1/2 cups of milk
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
Place in a bowl, stir and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of softened butter
Whip for about 3 minutes until thoroughly combined. Then add
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of salt
Whip on high speed until creamy, about 5-7 minutes. Measure and sift
3 cups of cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
(I sifted 3 times, the more it is sifted, the smoother and softer the cake will be)
Pour in milk mixture and flour mixture a little bit at a time, as the mixer is going on medium speed. Occasionally, stop to scrape the sides of the bowl.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. I prepared 3 8-inch cake round pans by spraying with cooking spray and dusting it with flour. Once the milk mixture and flour is all combined, let the mixer go on mixing for about 7-10 minutes on medium-high speed. Then pour in
About 3 ripe bananas, crushed
Turn mixer back on for about 1 minute just to incorporate.
Pour evenly into cake pans. Bake for about 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out dry. Allow cakes to cool for about 15-20 minutes.

While the cakes cool, I make the icing. It's a simple recipe for regular icing. You can use cream cheese icing if you prefer, but I myself prefer the regular white icing. This is the recipe I always follow...

6 cups of powdered sugar
1/3 cup of shortening
(Butter can be used instead too)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt
Mix for about 2-3 minutes on low speed, until the powdered sugar combines with the wet ingredients. Increase speed when all ingredients are combined and let whip on high speed for about 10 minutes, the longer it whips, the fluffier your frosting will be. Frost each layer as preferred.

This is how I made this cake, and this is what I got as the end result! Believe me, it's better than any boxed cake mix...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Chicken and Dumplings

I love chicken and dumplings!!! It is awesome on a cold, rainy day to warm your body with. I used to make chicken and dumplings all the time for the family. If prepared properly, it is a great dish, and very healthy as well. I used to make the soup homemade. A lot of people take short cuts when making this soup, but I prefer the home made method. You could do like the demonstration in this video...

But if you want to use only homemade soup, this is the recipe I always followed...

For the soup, you take 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken, dice it and place in a 5 quart pot with 3 tablespoons of butter. Cook on medium heat until brown. Add 1/3 cup of flour, with salt and pepper to taste, and about 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream. Add in 3 cups of chicken stock and cook over medium-low heat. At this point I usually like to add diced potatoes, peas and diced carrots. But you can add any vegetable combination you like.

You could use canned biscuits as well, if you like short cuts. I'd recommend using the buttermilk biscuits, as Southern-style gets a little too soggy. I prefer to make homemade dumplings. I follow this recipe...

2 cups of flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine these ingredients together in a ceramic bowl. Then prepare the wet ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat...
3/4 cup of milk
2 Tablespoons of butter

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir. I like to make little round balls from the mixture and drop it into the boiling soup. Sometimes I serve this over a plate of mashed potatoes, but that's only if I do not use the potatoes in the soup. Other than that, it can stand alone as a good meal.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

My Ma's Tuna Casserole

This was always a family favorite, and so easy to make. It combines mac and cheese with tuna, and creates a nice, creamy dish that the whole family should enjoy! In order to make this, you have to prepare the mac and cheese according to the instructions on the box, and use a good-sized casserole dish. I like to use a casserole dish anyways, but any bowl or pan that is oven safe can be useful too. Instead of using milk, you use cream, so that the casserole stays creamy. I like to do eye-measurements, but I think I generally put in about 1/3 of a cup of heavy whipping cream. Of course, if you would rather skip more calories, you could substitute the cream with evaporated milk. Use about 1/4 cup of evaporated milk if you prefer.

I don't like generic brand mac and cheese, because the cheese powder is never that great. I always use the Kraft mac and cheese, and I only use the regular. Though you could, if you want to surprise the kids, use the mac and cheese with the unusual shapes. But I find those take a lot longer to cook, and requires more moisture when baking. The actual recipe goes something like this...

2 boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese
Follow instructions on the box. Drain the water. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place drained noodles in casserole dish and add cheese powder pouches and
2 Tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 6-oz can (or packet) of chunk white tuna
Combine together thoroughly. Place in oven for about 15 minutes.
Top with your choice of American cheese slices, grated cheddar cheese, or Panko bread crumbs and place back in hot oven for about 5 minutes.

I like using the packet of tuna, because you don't have to drain them. They should be available in the same section of the grocery store as the cans of tuna. I serve this dish usually with a side of veggies, and sometimes garlic bread, or biscuits. I have created a video describing how to make this dish.