Sunday, August 28, 2011

Baking Bread- Is it done yet?

Geez...I've had "bread on the brain" lately haven't I? Can you stand one more bread baking tip? Here goes...
Baking a loaf of bread can be tricky I've found. The funny thing is the bread can be nice and brown on top but still not be done in the middle...i.e. gummy in the middle. To avoid the "gummies", purchase an instant-read thermometer.
(They look similar to a knitting needle with a temperature gauge on one end.)

When the regular baking time is up, remove the bread from the oven. Place a kitchen towel on the counter. Tilt the pan slightly to the side onto the towel. 
The bread will slide out a bit so you can see the side of the loaf. Stick in the thermometer. The temperature in the middle should be from 190 degrees F to 210 degrees F. If the thermometer does not read at least 190 degrees F, put the bread back in the oven for another 10 minutes, then check again. 

If you're worried the bread is getting too brown, make a "tent" of a piece of foil and place it on top of the loaf while it bakes. 

Wha-La! Perfect bread every time! *smile*

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spicy Sausage & Rice Skillet

This recipe is quick; taking about 20 minutes to make, start to finish. It's flexible too...if you like yours a little more spicy, use one can of hot, and one can of mild diced tomatoes and green chilies. If you like it less spicy, use one can mild diced tomatoes and green chilies, and one can plain diced tomatoes. Either way, it's great for a fast weeknight meal.

Spicy Sausage & Rice Skillet
2 cans (10 oz.) mild diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 cup water
1 pkg smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules (or 3 chicken bouillon cubes)
2 cups instant white rice, uncooked
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix tomatoes, water, smoked sausage, and bouillon in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 1 to 2 minutes or until the bouillon is dissolved. Stir in instant rice; cover. Cook on low heat 5 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle cheese on top. Serve.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

5 Bread Machine Tips- Bread Recipes

I love my little Regal bread machine. It's such a time-saver. I especially like using the dough setting. To make a loaf of bread just remove the dough from the machine, plop it in a loaf pan, let it rise about 30 minutes, then bake. So easy! Here's a few bread machine tips I've learned along the way.

1. Always add your ingredients to the machine in the order shown in the owner's manual. Usually liquids are first, followed by the dry ingredients, with the yeast going in last. You want to keep the yeast away from the liquids until the kneading cycle begins.

2. Ingredients should be at room temperature. I measure my milk and butter ahead of time letting it sit on the counter for 30 minutes. This warms things up a bit and gives the butter time to soften.

3. Salt is necessary when making yeast bread because it controls the growth of the yeast. Salt also aids in the rising of the dough so always include the salt.

4. Make clean-up easy by spraying the kneading paddle with a nonstick spray coating before adding the ingredients.

5. Always remove the hot bread from the machine as soon as it is done, placing it on a wire rack to cool. If you leave the loaf in the machine, the outside may become damp and soggy.

Happy Baking! *smile*

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cheesy Bean Dip- Dip Recipe

This yummy Mexican bean dip reminds me of cool weather and football games! With just four ingredients it's a cinch to make. Great for a game day buffet.

Cheesy Bean Dip
1 16 oz. can refried beans
1/2 cup chunky-style salsa
1 cup shredded cheese (Mexican blend or Colby-Jack), divided
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped

Mix refried beans, chunky salsa, and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese.

Spread into a 9-inch microwavable pie plate; top with remaining cheese.

Microwave on high 2 to 3 minutes until dip is heated and cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with chopped green onions. Serve with chips. Enjoy!

For an easy snack serve leftovers on a warm flour tortilla.
If you prefer a hotter dip, add one or drops of hot sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Kraft Foods

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lemon Zest- How to zest the easy way...

Don't have a lemon zester? Here's a quick and easy way to make zest from lemons, limes, oranges etc. Use a potato peeler and "peel" the fruit being careful to peel just the skin, leaving the white pith underneath (you'll get nice, large pieces) then chop the peels on a cutting board. 

Sounds strange using a potato peeler doesn't it, but it works! I find it quicker and easier than using my citrus peeler. *smile*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hot Dog Octopus- Kid Recipes

Since it's back-to-school time here's a fun dish the kiddos will love. A hot dog octopus! Make him for lunch or an after-school snack. Prepare for giggles!

1. With a very sharp knife cut hot dog in half lengthwise, leaving about 2" intact at one end. This will be the octopus' head.

2. Carefully cut each of the long sections in half (lengthwise), then in half again - there will be the eight tentacles.

3. Boil the hot dog in water until the legs curl up and hot dog is cooked. 

4. Remove hot dog from water. Dry him off a bit.

5. Place Mr. Octopus on top of a bowl of heated pasta arranging his legs nicely.

6. Paint on a smiley face with mustard. *smile*

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sharpen Kitchen Scissors- How To

Are your kitchen scissors getting dull?
Use this handy tip to keep your scissors sharp.

What you'll need:

Aluminum foil
Kitchen scissors

1. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil about 15 inches in length.

2. Fold the foil lengthwise until you have a piece of foil measuring 5 inches by 15 inches. You'll end up with 3 or 4 layers of foil within the folds.

3. Take your scissors and starting at the left side, with your scissors pointing vertically, cut through the foil as if you are making a fringe.

4. Keep cutting a "foil fringe" moving from left to right. (This part is fun...kinda like popping bubble wrap. Ha!) The foil will be more difficult to cut at first but as you go along, you will notice the cuts getting easier and easier. This means your scissors are becoming sharper. Yay!

5. Keep cutting the foil until the scissors feel sharpened to your liking. *smile*

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits- (similar to Cheddar Bay biscuits)

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

My hubby's eyes light up when I tell him I'm making these for dinner and I get an extra squeeze...and what devoted wife doesn't want an extra squeeze from her main squeeze? *smile*
These are oh-so-good and simple to make. They taste very similar to the Cheddar Bay biscuits served at Red Lobster restaurants.

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits
2 cups biscuit baking mix
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cold water

Italian Garlic Flavoring-
1/4 cup margarine
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet. Mix biscuit baking mix, grated cheese, and water together until it forms a stiff dough. Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet (I use a soup spoon- dough is 3 to 4 tablespoons in size). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until biscuits are light brown on top. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from cookie sheet and place on a large serving platter. 
While biscuits are baking, measure remaining five ingredients into a glass liquid one-cup measure. Microwave for 10 to 20 seconds to melt the margarine. Stir. While biscuits are hot, pour 2 teaspoons of the Italian garlic flavoring over the top of each biscuit. Serve hot. Makes 14 biscuits.