Monday, May 24, 2010

Dressing Up Dinner: Green Beans

Often, after giving much thought to dinner's main dish, I find that I have completely neglected to plan for side dishes. I examine my pantry and usually walk away with a can or two. I admit that sometimes I just open the can, dump it in a pot, and turn on the heat. Such unimaginative cooking, while handy, can become quite dull. So, instead of the same old same old, it's time to revamp side dishes and dress up dinner. With just a few ingredients, we can easily accomplish this.

Dressed Up Green Beans
serves 2

1 Can Green Beans- no salt added, drained and rinsed.
1-2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 pinch kosher salt
light sprinkle of garlic powder
light sprinkle of onion powder
1 tablespoon real bacon bits
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Melt butter in sauté pan on medium, add green beans and toss to coat. Sprinkle other ingredients over beans and stir well. Turn heat up to medium high and sauté until beans are hot.

Click here for the Printable Recipe at Tasty Kitchen.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Strawberry Cobbler

Today is the last day of Strawberry Week. I really can't believe I've written five posts in as many days. And I'm pretty sure that unless someone wants to pay me for blogging, I won't be making a habit of it. Anyway, I'm happy to end Strawberry Week with a recipe from Brian's Aunt Vera: Strawberry Cobbler. It's easy and delicious!

Pictured above is a half recipe

Strawberry Cobbler

1 cup water + more if necessary (up to a cup)
1 cup sugar
2 heaping tbsps cornstarch
3 oz box Strawberry Jello
4 pie crusts- homemade or store bought (I won't tell!)
3-4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
3 tbsps melted butter

In a saucepan, combine sugar, 1 cup water, and cornstarch. Cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and ingredients are well combined. Add jello and stir until combined. Add more water if necessary to fill baking dish.

Place two pie crusts in a 9x13 baking dish covering bottom and sides of dish. Add strawberries and jello mixture. Top with remaining pie crusts and press edges together. Cut a slit in the top of the crust to allow for steam to escape.

In a 350 degree oven, bake cobbler for 35-45 minutes. Brush with butter about half way through baking time and again at the end. Allow to cool before serving.

Go here for a Printable Recipe at Tasty Kitchen.

Note: I used too much water and the result was a runny cobbler. It was still delicious so I spooned out some liquid and it congealed better. However, if you were planning on eating with ice cream, the liquid would make a good sauce.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Strawberry Sauce for Ice Cream


Remember this post? We still have vanilla ice cream leftover. I promised Sophie we would have some after dinner. She also wanted more strawberries. So I made this super simple strawberry dessert sauce. It's perfect!

First, slice up some strawberries in a bowl. You should allow for a few strawberries per person and then add a few extras for good measure.

Next, macerate them by sprinkling a little sugar over them. Give them a good stir to spread the sugar around. Cover with plastic cling and let them rest in the fridge for an hour or two, or until you can see a small pool of juice at the bottom of the bowl.

Microwave the strawberry mixture for a few seconds until warm but not piping hot. Microwave time will depend on the amount of berries you are using. Now either smush it with a fork or swirl it in your food processor. I used a mini food chopper, which is like a tiny food processor. It was the perfect size for just me and Sophie. Spoon the sauce over your ice cream...or cheesecake...or whatever you think will benefit from a little strawberry goodness.

This sauce would also be fun if swirled around your plate using a squeeze bottle, like they do in fancy restaurants. I've also seen where they will make tiny pools of sauce on the plate too. Just have fun with it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Strawberry Jam


Strawberry Week: Day 3

I love Strawberry Jam. It is so good on buttered toast with tea. It's even better when sharing a scone with clotted cream! This was my first time making jam, and I'm so glad I tried it!

Strawberry Jam

Makes enough to fill at least 2 8 oz jars.

3 cups Fresh, Strawberries
2 cups Sugar
Juice of 1 large Lemon

Wash and hull strawberries. Slice into a measuring cup until 3 cups are reached.

Lightly smash about half of the strawberries if desired.

Stir in sugar, cover and refrigerate until juice is extracted or overnight.

Place strawberry mixture in saucepan, add lemon juice and turn heat to medium high until mixture begins to boil. Stir frequently.

Simmer on low for 20 minutes or until the liquid gels on a cold plate. (Put a plate in the freezer ahead of time and allow time to chill.)

Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Pour into jars and store in refrigerator for use within a week, or pour into plastic containers and store in freezer.

*Note: If you have very sweet strawberries, you can use less sugar.

This is when the magic happens!

Gorgeous Ruby Jam


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Strawberries and Cream

It's Day:2 of Strawberry Week and I'm going to show you my FAVORITE way to eat strawberries. The first time I ever had proper English Strawberries and Cream was in June of 2003 at the home of a lady named Brenda in Bristol, England. We had a delicious lunch: Baked Salmon, Steamed Vegetables with Parsley Sauce, Elderflower Presse (another first for me). But the thing I will remember most of that day was my discovery of Strawberries and Cream.

Strawberries and Cream is a fine example of English Cuisine. In fact, it is famous for being a main staple for the
Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Each year, Wimbledon attendees consume around 2 million strawberries and 2,000 gallons of cream.

Probably the most popular variety of strawberry in England is
El Santa. Please, somebody tell me where I can find these in the States! El Santa is smaller and sweeter than what most Americans will find in the local grocery store. For this reason, although in England the strawberry may remain whole for Strawberries and Cream, if you are using a large strawberry, it may be best to slice each berry in half.

Strawberries and Cream

Step 1. Wash and hull strawberries. Slice in half or add whole strawberries to bowl.

Step 2. Sprinkle with a little sugar, a little goes a long way, especially if the strawberries are already sweet.

Step 3. Pour cream over strawberries. In England, the cream of choice is Double Cream. Double Cream has at least 48% milk fat. If you are unable to find double cream, then heavy whipping cream, (with at least 36% milk fat), can be used instead.

With strawberries announcing the start of summer and Wimbledon just around the corner, (June 21-July 4, 2010) this is a great time to try probably the easiest dessert you could ever make.

See also this New York Times article about Strawberries and Cream at Wimbledon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tennessee Strawberry Festival 2010

On Saturday, Grandmomma, Geggie, Sophie and I went to the
Tennessee Strawberry Festival in Dayton, Tennessee. I had never been before and was excited to experience a festival dedicated to a food I love!

Dayton, Tennessee is about 40 miles north-east of Chattanooga. You may be familiar with Dayton if you've studied U.S. History. It is famous for being the location of Scopes vs. The State of Tennessee, otherwise known as the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Arts and Crafts vendors were set up on the courthouse lawn. If you needed hair bows, necklaces or soap, this was the place to get it. There was also a stage for various performances throughout the festival. Behind the courthouse was a children's area with a train ride and inflatables. On 2nd street, adjacent to the courthouse were the food vendors. Roasted corn, corn dogs, funnel cakes, and who knows what else could be found on this street. Of course there were strawberries--strawberry lemonade and strawberries skewered and dipped in chocolate!

When we arrived in Dayton, we decided to park in the first place we came to: Smith's Crossroads. It ended up being about a mile from the courthouse, which isn't really a bad walk. Unless you are 6 months pregnant...or have a fractured foot and wearing one of those boot thingies...or you're pushing a stroller through a crowd assembled for a parade who are clogging the sidewalk so you have to walk in the road...while it is hot. So not a bad walk really.

By the time we made it to within a few blocks from the courthouse, the parade had already started. There was still room on the side of the road to walk, so we kept going. Then about 50 fire trucks, police cars, and such drove by. Honking horns. Blaring sirens. In my baby's ears. She didn't like that. Finally, we came to a point where there just wasn't anymore room to move. It happened to be across from the courthouse by the General Store. There also happened to be a tree above us to give us shade, so we parked the stroller and watched the parade go by. And watched... And watched... It was a big parade! Other than the fire trucks, police cars, Methamphetamine Task Force vehicles, and D.A.R.E floats, there were also Shriners, Red Hat Ladies, School Bands, Political Candidates, girls in dresses with tiaras, people on horses, and my favorite, a few guys with a boa constrictor stretched across their necks! I think all of Rhea County was in that parade. The strawberry festival is a big deal!

We finally made it to the courthouse lawn to see the vendors. After walking around for a while we were ready to leave. We kept seeing people with baskets and flats of strawberries, and we wanted to buy some to take home too. Unfortunately, they were sold out, but we were told to check Paul's Produce on our way out of town. So we walked the mile back to our car, which was easier this time because the road was cleared by then.

Watching the Parade on Grandmomma's shoulders

Strawberry Cotton Candy

"My Turn!"

When we got to Paul's Produce there were just a few strawberry baskets left. Grandmomma and I each bought a 4-quart basket. I gave Sophie a strawberry as a treat, she had been so good at the festival. She inhaled it and for most of the ride home she would say, "Strawberry Mommy, pweeease?!"

Paul's Produce‎
174 Iowa Avenue
Dayton, TN 37321-1680
(423) 775-5151‎

Our basket of berries...after we've eaten a few.

I enjoyed our time at the Tennessee Strawberry Festival, but here are a few things we will keep in mind next time:

1. Get there early in the day. You probably won't have to walk a mile, but even if you do, it won't be as hot.

2. Buy strawberries first thing. They go fast on parade day. Stopping at Paul's first might be a good idea too.

3. If you are going to watch the parade, find a good spot early and bring your lawn chairs.

4. Bring your own fan. It's May in Tennessee and it is hot and humid. You'll also need sunscreen and maybe a hat and sunglasses.

5. Have fun! We are celebrating strawberries after all!

I came home with a lot of strawberries. I have BIG plans for these babies. So get ready for Strawberry week here at A Girl In Her Kitchen.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Tummy

The other day I was craving fresh baked, chocolate chip cookies. Sounds good huh? The only problem was I was out of chocolate chips. *Sigh* But then I saw a post on the Tasty Kitchen blog. Chocolate Cobbler? It happened that I had all the ingredients in my kitchen. I've never been so desperate to try out a recipe before, I just had to make this! I asked my husband to pick up some vanilla ice cream on his way home from work to further enjoy this dessert.

Chocolate Cobbler, or Self-Saucing Pudding as it is called by some, is like a brownie with chocolate sauce wrapped up in one dish. It's really easy to make too! I must insist that you serve with vanilla ice cream, you'll be missing out if you don't. I used regular cocoa powder, but I can't wait to try it with dark cocoa powder next time, ( as seen in the blog).

Check out the blog post here at Tasty Kitchen to see beautiful step-by-step photos.

Click here for the printable recipe submitted by Susan Hawkins.

To see the printable recipes I have submitted, click “Tasty Kitchen” under Labels on the right side of my blog. This will bring up a list of posts with printable recipes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Fish Called Wonderful

Salmon: my all time favorite kind of fish. Bake it, broil it, smoke it (oh yeah!), fry it, and grill it! Doesn't matter what you do to it, I'm gonna eat it. Unless it comes from a can. One time I opened a can and pretty much they had just stuffed a whole fish in there. I know you can eat the skin and bones, but I just don't want to. I steer clear of the canned fish and go for the vacuum packed foil pouch fish. It tastes better anyway.

One way we enjoy salmon at my house is Salmon Patties. Call 'em fish cakes if you want, but I've got a two year old, I don't need to confuse her. For this recipe, you can use foil packed salmon, canned salmon (gag), or cook your own fresh salmon beforehand.

My mouth is watering!

Salmon Patties
6-8 Servings with 2 or 3 patties per person

12 oz. cooked salmon
6 oz. box of cornbread stuffing mix (herb flavored recommend)
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup canola oil (may need more or less depending on your skillet size)

In a large mixing bowl, mix together stuffing mix and water. Add salmon, mayo, lemon juice and mozzarella; stir to combine well. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a skillet on medium , (oil should pretty much cover the bottom). Using the scoop of your choice, (large ice cream scoop, 1/4, or 1/3 cup measuring cup depending on desired size), scoop out mixture and form into slightly flattened patties using your hands. Add to oil and cook about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Move cooked patties to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain while cooking other patties. (Tip: a slotted spatula is the way to go here)

Special Notes:
To make ahead, form patties and then store in refrigerator freezer. If freezing, let thaw before cooking.

This would also be a good way to use up leftover homemade cornbread dressing. Omit the water and follow other directions using 6 oz. of your own yummy dressing.

Click here for the printable recipe at Tasty Kitchen.
Creamy and flaky on the inside and a little crunchy on the outside.

I think I'll have just one more...or two!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Leftovers for Lunch

Logan's Roadhouse = YUM!

We love
Logan's! We like to start out with their Fried Mozzarella Cheese Sticks and Loaded Potato Skins. But you've got to save room for all those Yeast Rolls! And let me just say, the Parmesan Peppercorn dressing...AMAZING! I like to order the Mesquite Wood Grilled Salmon, (I replace the garlic-dill sauce with the Parmesan Peppercorn dressing.) But probably our all time favorite is the Logan's Grilled Chicken. It is a generous portion of grilled chicken, topped with the Parmesan Peppercorn dressing, and served over rice pilaf, (which beautifully soaks up the juices from the chicken.)

By the time we've had our appetizers, rolls, salads, and stuffed ourselves with peanuts, it is usually impossible to finish the entire meal. That means about half of the chicken is sure to come home with us. Could I have a to-go box please?

It would be easy to pop in the microwave the next day for lunch, but I have a better idea! Don't have a Logan's near you? No problem, just use any grilled chicken that you know to be delicious.

Easy Grilled Chicken Sandwich

What you need:
Leftover Grilled Chicken, still cold from the fridge
Bread of your choice
Mozzarella Cheese, (sliced or shredded, it doesn't matter as long as you cover most of the bread)
Butter (optional)
Any other ingredient you would like to add to the sandwich (optional)
A Panini press or some other indoor grilling instrument

What to do:
-Dice or shred the chicken and add to a bowl.
-Mix in just enough mayonnaise to hold the chicken together. Start out small, it shouldn't take much.
-Place your mozzarella on your bottom slice of bread.
-Top with chicken mixture and any other ingredients you wish.
-Cover with more mozzarella and top with the other slice of bread.
-Butter the outside of the sandwich if you wish.
-Grill the sandwich on a medium-high heat until bread is browned and cheese melted.
-Now eat the yummy thing!

Leftover chicken. I know it tastes good, but it doesn't look so good.

Now that's more like it!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A New Development

We have a new development in Sophie's Tomato Plant Project...

Look! A "tiny mato!"

The plant has also doubled in size since planted, although it is hard to tell because it has started growing skyward. Sophie and I have also planted 2 strawberry plants, and we have a container herb garden with rosemary, lavender, cilantro, basil and parsley. Most of the herbs were planted from seed, so it will be exciting to see the whole process.