Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mushrooms 101

Lots of good information on cleaning mushrooms.  There are so many old wives tales out there that are pure
bunk.  Rachael Ray shares the misinformation at least once a week.  Here are some links to the information needed to understand that it is OK to wash mushrooms in a sink or bowl of water.

Is it OK to wash mushrooms??

How should I wash mushrooms?? Will they get soggy in water??

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Own "Vlasic" Bread and Butter Pickles!

Bread & Butter ChipsI am hooked on Vlasic Bread and Butter Pickles. 

I have always loved bread and butter pickles, but none compares to Vlasic for me.  It is relatively easy to make pickles.  Rachael Ray has an entire fan base "quick pickling" everything.   I have tried many combinations of sugar, vinegar and spices.  While they are all good, nothing compares to Vlasic.

Next problem is the expense.  Vlasic pickles aren't cheap.  The jars of the Bread and Butter Sandwich Snackers are sometimes as much as $4.79 and they don't go on sale very often.  Combine that with the fact that when I open the jar, it makes about 3 sandwiches.  So, the pickles ends up costing more than the meat or cheese on a sandwich.

My solution of sorts was discovered today!!  I had saved the jar with the brine in it to use as part of a barbecue sauce.  I have done that before.  All of a sudden I had an idea!  I cut up some baby cucumbers and  a small onion and added it all to the jar.  Then I added a few handfuls of grape tomatoes.  It is all brining in the refrigerator.

So, I added the veggies but the flavor is pure VLASIC!!
A second jar for the price of one!  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Slow Cooker Baked Beans in a Rice Cooker (DRIED BEANS!!)

Here is our dinner tomorrow night.  One of the great things about it, is that you can start with dried beans and 4 hours later, you have a full meal.  My rice cooker has a slow cook setting.

Slow-Cooked Baked Beans in a Rice Cooker
Serves 6–8 as a side dish and 3-4 as a main meal.
  • 3/4 lb thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 lb kielbasa, sliced into coins 
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 lb dried pinto beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup spicy mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Cook the bacon over medium heat in a medium-size skillet. When the bacon begins to brown, add the onions and kielbasa and sauté until translucent.
  2. Place the beans into the slow cooker with the water, bacon, kielbasa and onion. Cover and set the slow cooker on high for 3 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Combine the molasses, ketchup, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. After 3 hours add the sauce and stir to combine. Cover and let the beans cook an additional hour.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Master Quench Chicken and Pasta

A few years back, I was enjoying an evening of music and friendship at the Lion's Den in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.   They always have a wonderful choice of local brews and high end wines.  That's what I usually drink.  I was drawn to a specialty drink on the menu called a Master Quench.  One of the ingredients is maple syrup, the real stuff of course.  I had to try it!  Maple syrup is one of my addictions.  It was made with vanilla vodka, ginger beer (not ginger ale), maple syrup, and a dash of cayenne pepper.  Yes, it sounds strange!  But MY OH MY!  It is so good.  The sweet of the maple syrup takes some of the bite out of the cayenne pepper and the blend of those flavors is awesome!
My favorite REAL maple syrup

Fast forward to today.  I decided to make a marinade/sauce for my chicken and pasta based on those flavors.  I melted 2 ounces of butter and added 1/3 cup of Sriracha hot sauce, 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger, 3 tablespoons maple syrup and a cap full of real vanilla extract.  I let it warm slowly until I could smell all of the flavors had melded.

I cut up 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs into bite sized chunks and put in the bottom of my rice cooker.  I poured the melted butter mixture over the chicken.  I add 1 pound of elbow pasta and 4 cups of chicken broth. I mixed with tongs and put into the rice cooker base.  I cooked on the white rice setting until done.  I checked it after 12 minutes and stirred to be sure there was enough liquid for the pasta.   

It was AWESOME!!  My husband had 4 helpings.  It was so colorless though.  Next time, I will add diced sweet green and red peppers.