cooking

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Crock Pot Caramel

Published August 13, 2016 by lynn k scott

My favorite season of the year is almost here; no not the season with a bearded fat man in a red suit.  The season right before that; where leaves turn vibrant shades of oranges, reds and yellow, before they detach from the trees and begin to litter the ground.  Fall!  That’s the best season of the year (to me anyway).

That being said, it’s also the time some of my favorite dishes are made.  Ok, who am I kidding, I make fall food year round, but for most people, they tend to stick to seasonality when cooking.

Last night, I made a Fall staple that you must have in order to make caramel apples: Caramel.  I like to make it in the crock pot, simply because it allows me not to stand at the stove and there literally is no clean-up.

All you need is a crock pot, a can of sweetened condensed milk, three 4-oz mason jars and that’s it!

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Simply open the can and pour equally into the three 4-oz mason jars.  Set the mason jars into the crock pot, uncovered.

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Carefully, add enough water to cover the jars to where the milk stops.  This is how the milk will cook evenly; surrounded in water. Add the lid to the crock pot and set the cooking temperature to low and eight hours.

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I like to do this overnight or when I’m gone all day at work.  Then it’s ready when I wake up or come home and I am not hovering over it hoping it miraculously finishes quicker. Carefully, remove the jars and place on a heat-protected surface to cool.

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In addition to being able to use this caramel to cover apples for Halloween, you can use it as a great school or work snack.  Pour a bit of caramel into a container, pack some apple slices and a snack is ready to go.  You can use it to drizzle over baking creations or simply eat it with a spoon, if that’s your prerogative.

A Week’s Meal Plan

Published July 19, 2016 by lynn k scott

I am a working mother, wife, and an all around domestic goddess.  Ok, that last title is normally reserved for the weekend routine, but hey, I like the way it sounds, and quite frankly, I rock that title!

Being the only cook in the family, I am the one to come up with dinner ideas, making sure they are gluten-free and that my family, who are just a tad stuck in their dinner ways, will actually consume what is made.

I popped into the grocery store last night after work.  Ok, so I drove there and walked in, but “popped” sounds so much cuter, not to mention fun.  I wasn’t planning on spending much, and only went a tad over what I anticipated (go me!).

My daughter was with me, and as we were walking up and down the aisles, she said, “hey Mom…how about breakfast for dinner”.  Seeing as I would be starting dinner around 6:00 p.m., I thought that was a great idea.  So we had eggs, hashbrowns, bacon and toast.  Easy-peasy and I could crash early, seeing how I started my day at 3:00 a.m.

Then I caught a few sales and decided to buy the rest of the week’s meals

  • Monday:  Eggs and Bacon
  • Tuesday:  Tacos and Spanish Rice
  • Wednesday:  Grilled Pork Chops and Baked Potatoes with sauteed green beans and carrots
  • Thursday:  Baked chicken wings; half will be coated in wing sauce.  Served with rice.
  • Friday:  Grilled Tri-Tip and Scalloped Potatoes and corn on the cob.

Now all of these meals are homemade.  I don’t buy premade dishes, for the most part, esp. not at dinner.  As we will be home before 5 on Friday, I saved the longest prep dish for that day.  The homemade scalloped potatoes take a couple hours to prep and cook, but are so worth it.

It’s also nice to know how to plan different aspects my week, knowing how long dinner will take to make and clean up.  I am so pleased with myself, I need to make this a habit instead of a just picking a few meals for the week and winging the rest of the dinners we will need.

Thank You Betty Crocker

Published June 23, 2016 by lynn k scott

As my mother’s three year angel-versary approaches (6/25), I can’t help but remember how she always would turn to her red, Betty Crocker cookbook to teach us girls how to cook.  My mother was not a stellar cook, by any means.  In fact, some of her dishes were so bad, even the dogs snubbed their noses at the “treats” were trying to pawn off on them. I will say, she was a better baker than cook.  I always thought the same of myself, until I became an adult.  Now, I am a better cook, although I can hold my own in the baking department.

My specialty as a teen, was making peanut butter cookies.  My younger sisters always asked me to make them.  We didn’t have a kitchen aid, food processor or a lot of fancy gadgets to help us; we did most everything by hand or used a hand mixer, if needed.

That cookbook is such a reminder of my mom.  I used it to learn how to convert measurements, how to cook vegetables, and to make homemade brownies.  Every Christmas, we would make divinity.  I still keep that tradition alive today.  Although, in CA, when it rains half of the winter, it can make it challenging for the divinity to set up right.  If you’ve never had the fun experience of racing against the clock to get the divinity out of the mixing bowl, via two buttered spoons, onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper, only to have the humidity too high and reduce your divinity clouds into sticky, flat, white puddles…you’re missing out.  However, when it turns out just right…it’s a sugary piece of Heaven that melts in your mouth.

Tonight, in 85 degree weather, I stood near a warming 350-degree stove, and prepared the white sauce to go with my scalloped potatoes.  Once that was completed, I peeled my potatoes (in batches), sliced them thin on my mandoline slicer, arranged them in a nice scalloped design in the ceramic baking dish and alternated layering with adding the sauce. It was during the layering process, I thought about my mom.  She would always remind me to cut the potatoes as thin as possible.  Thankfully, I have a mandoline now and I would be lost without it.

I didn’t get the chance to cook for her often as an adult, but when I did, it meant a lot to her.  I was the cook in our family, after my died passed several years ago.  She loved my Spanish rice.  Neither her, nor my sister, Kathi, could cook rice that wasn’t from a microwavable bag.

Since we didn’t have a lot growing up, when my mom would make scalloped potatoes, it was usually with chopped up ham.  It was a fairly inexpensive casserole, that fed a family of five.  My family now, doesn’t care for the ham in it and they will tolerate the potatoes, as they prefer rice, but they let me make my scalloped potatoes every now and then.  Little do they know how much it means to me.

If you don’t already, I encourage you to cook with your kids, siblings, spouse; family. Spend time together.  Make memories.  Share these moments for generations to come.

 

 

Sweet Potato and White Potato Gratin – Thank You ALL!

Published January 13, 2016 by lynn k scott

Originally posted on What’s For Dinner Mom, I had to share this yummy-looking recipe.  Not only is it gluten-free, but it uses some of my favorite ingredients:  potatoes, sweet potatoes and Swiss cheese!

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What's for Dinner Moms?

500 Follows!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I hit my 500th follower yesterday! It took 2 1/2 years for me to get to 300 followers (I really don’t count my first year of blogging) and only 3-4 more months to get to 500. Thanks to HarsH ReaLiTy and Dream Big, Dream Often (click for links to these blogs) I have finally started to learn how to grow my blog. With time and patience it has been paying off. Thanks to all!

Sweet Potato & White Potato Gratin

I love snow days! Really, I do. I love having my kids home all day. Well, my son had a snow day but because my daughter is in virtual school there are no real snow days. I had a meeting canceled. Then dance class and then music lessons were canceled due to the weather so we had a wonderful whole day at home! All day at home. That does not…

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My Culinary Obsession

Published July 26, 2015 by lynn k scott

I have a culinary obsession.   I have to place blame with my old neighbor for starting it.   He was moving and had a garage sale.   Seems harmless,  right?

Little did I know,  the three pieces of bakeware I bought for $20, included two Le Creuset pieces.

If you are unfamiliar with these multicolor pieces, they are quality non-porous stoneware,  glazed interior (for easy clean-up), heavy and can give some “sticker shock” when they check the price tag.

I currently only afford to add to my Le Creuset collection by saving a little and taking advantage of clearance sales.

Yesterday,  while perusing Sur La Table, I came across a very nice selection of Le Creuset and most of it was on clearance.   Sadly, much of it was out of my price range even with it discounted.

I found a piece, that had been marked down twice and was 40% off.  I made a comment to hubby about how our anniversary was just a couple weeks away. 

After walking through the store, we stopped back to look at the cookware again.  I was gifted a new piece for my collection.

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This 12.5″, 3.5 quart dish has a new home!  It can go in the oven, broiler, grill, freezer and microwave and dishwasher. 

I am moving away from cooking in metal pans and using glass or stoneware or ceramic.  I cook quite extensively, so the expense is justifiable to me; even if I use birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas presents to obtain them.

If you are a closet chef, kitchen guru or need a really nice wedding present, I highly suggest purchasing Le Creuset pieces.  They have everything you need to transform a kitchen.

Made It Through

Published July 1, 2015 by lynn k scott

I did it!  I survived another June.  I know I took myself out of the picture for a while there, but I just wasn’t coping as well as I had hoped.

It’s officially July and as anticipated, life continues.  I am redirecting some of my energy.  Some of that energy is focused on me.

I know some won’t understand, but I had a few “signs” from my mom over the last couple of weeks.  The signs misted my eyes but were still comforting and I was able to share a couple smiles with a friend here and there.

Over 15 years ago, my mother tricked me into telling her specific details of some cookware I saw on the HSN (Home Shopping Network).  She used that information to purchase the set as a birthday gift.  I still have all but 2 pans from the original set.

This past Sunday, I thought I was clicking on a cooking show, but it turned out to be cookware by Ming Tsai.  He’s a chef that I really enjoy watching; when time allows.  I had no idea he had a line of cookware.  I watched the television like a toddler would as if their favorite Disney movie just started playing.

I have looking for some new frying pans.  I was torn about ordering myself something new.  This set wasn’t a necessity.  Then I remember what my mom used to say, “Bills will always be there. You need to acknowledge what you need sometimes.”  I did need new frying pans and I chose this particular set.  Yes, there are cheaper sets available.  However, I have learned, good equipment yields good results.  I cook over 90% of our meals.  Takeout isn’t the norm in our house.

I called to order.  Hung up…I don’t need them.  I redialed, hung up again and the third time I dialed, I placed the order.  I chose to allow myself to be “ok” with my decision.  I normally wouldn’t do something like that.  I talk myself out of purchases out all the time.  This particular purchase, two days after my mother’s angel-versary, seemed “right”.  I was happy.  The money will work itself out.

Now, I am anxiously awaiting my new set.  The best part is, I got the set in this brilliant purple color.  That’s right:  purple!   Had you been here, you’d have just heard my giddy joy of having cookware in my favorite color.  Can’t wait to make some more amazing meals.

New cookware warrants new recipes, no?

It’s in the bag

Published May 24, 2015 by lynn k scott

Drop that can!  Oh, the convenience of it all.  Pick up a can of beans to use as a side dish or to use in preparing other dishes. I have come to tell you, there is another way. Did you know that all sorts of beans are sold dry and in bags? Amazing, right?

I never paid attention to bagged beans growing up.  My mother was less than a good cook.  It’s not being mean.  When the dog refused to eat her cooking, it was a validation that it wasn’t just us kids that didn’t like the food.  Just about everything she made came out of a can or was already processed.

Many moons later, as I made a commitment to myself to cook healthier, to avoid food allergens and chemical processing, I use dried beans exclusively in my cooking.  Granted, dried beans do require a few extra steps, but they are very tiny steps that yield much better results than anything that plops out of a can.

Last night, I put some navy beans in some water and soaked them overnight.  This morning, I dumped them into a colander and then added them to my crockpot.  This is my preferred method of cooking beans.  The crockpot is your friend.  If you don’t currently have one, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND picking one up.

When you utilize dried beans, you have the option of using recipes that suit your needs.  You get the opportunity of teaching your children to cook.  Crockpot cooking is still cooking.  After I added the beans to the crockpot, I diced up a small onion and added that too.

My daughter came into the kitchen and I let her help mix the sauce to pour over the beans.  I opened a jar of ketchup that I had previously canned.  Added the ketchup to some water, added some brown sugar, some molasses, a little apple cider vinegar, a bit of salt and pepper and let her whisk those ingredients together.

She poured the blended mixture over the beans and stirred to combine.  Then I had her place the lid on, set the crockpot to 6 hours and turn it “on”. This afternoon, we will have baked beans.  I will probably can several jars for use this summer.

My daughter really enjoys helping in the kitchen.  Making recipes like this teaches her about food, allows her to ask questions about the ingredients and she sees how raw ingredients come together to make a new dish.

The next time you are about to pick up a can of kidney, pinto, black or baked beans (just to name a few), think about making your own.  I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results.

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