Monday, December 14, 2009

Tutorial: Best way to seed a Pomegranate

I don't know about you, but I love pomegranate seeds.  Their burst of juicy tartness cannot be matched.  They are especially wonderful as an addition to salads.  In the past, however, I would tend to grab the "cranraisins" or dried cherries instead, only due to ease.  Nothing beats the seeds of a pomegranate and what it does to enhance the flavor of a sweet vinegary dressing....but nothing also beats the stains they leave all over your hands, kitchen and clothing.  These lil' suckers have some juicy reach.  Explode one and you need to wipe in a 5 foot radius and check your shirt, pants, shoes, skin!

The following is what I have found to be the easiest most stainfree way in which to seed a pomegranate.  FYI, this will come in handy for the salad I will be posting next!!

Take you pom and cut her in half, still being careful at this point.  It will still spray.

Get a large bowl and fill with enough water to dunk the pom and be able to put your hands in without overflowing.

Plunge one half of the pom and break it in half or fourths. Using your fingers coerce the seeds while keeping the pom under the water.  You will be quite surprised as they come out with ease and little exploding.


After seeding the entire pom, floaties/rind will be on the top of the water.  I scoop out the left over rind and discard. 

Strain out seeds and place on paper towel to drain.

Store in ziplock or plastic container in fridge.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oven Roasted Carrots

I strongly dislike carrots....except when they come out of a pot roast.  They are wonderfully mushy with the beef stock soaked flavor...*salivating*  Then I met this carrot.  Now, I have tried other carrot recipes.  Some adding white wine, some adding cumin, some adding different herbs.  I had not fallen in love, not even a mediocre like.  Then I met this carrot.  Love is in the air, I tell you!

How can something so simple be so darn good....I have no idea but try it, momma will like it!!

Thymey Oven Roasted Carrots
Recipe, or lack there of, from website but written by pastor Ryan of thisisreverb.

Carrots (I used 4-5 huge carrots cut in quarters)
Bunch of thyme, stems removed

Take the carrots, cut into approx. the same size sticks.  I did not peel the carrots only because I wanted them to have the rustic look of real carrots.  You can do what ever you like at this point.

De-stem and/or chop thyme.

Place on cookie sheet and add a light coating of not follow my pic, I got a carried away with my EVOO.  Add some salt and pepper---CARROTS NEED SALT! Do not skimp! It assists with the sweetness.

Add your chopped Thyme. 

Throw these babies in a 400 degree oven and roast until soft.  I roasted mine with some potatoes as well so they took a lot longer than they normally would (1 hr) I would assume to get the lovely softness with a little bite still in the middle 40-45 minutes would work...Just keep tasting them!! I'm sure you won't have a problem doing that!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cheater Lasagna

My mother has been making her own meat sauce from scratch since I was a child.  It was perfectly sweet, acidic, meaty and garlicky.  Every time I would sit down and eat elbow macaroni, I would wonder, "How much sauce does this woman have frozen?  How does she always have sauce that takes more than 2 hours to make on hand?"  Eventually, I actually paid attention and realized, "Cheater Sauce."  She would dress up store bought sauce with additional ingredients but she also had a secret.

I'm about to spill the beans.......

MIX PREGO AND RAGU TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What? What? It's that simple?

These 2 sauces on there own are not so yummy.  One is too tomatoey, acidic and the other is too sweet. Once mixed together though....."OH, SWEET HARMONY"

Ok, I'm am being a little dramatic here.  They do need a lil' more dressing up than that but damn, you will be a happy camper knowing that there is no need for chopping, simmering, mixing, chopping, simmering...etc...

Lasagna is definitely one of those times, in which homemade sauce is NEVER needed (no matter how fancy.) This is my version of Cheater Lasagna.  Feel free to mess with your own ingredients and measurements.  Until today, I had never paid much attention to how much I used of anything so these are "guesstimates" at best.  Taste, taste, and taste some more...if it needs sugar, add sugar.  If it needs garlic, add garlic....You get my drift??!!

Cheater Lasagna

1.5-2 lbs. ground beef

1 Large (67oz) Prego
1 Large (67oz) Ragu
2 Carrots, left whole or cut into 2 large chunks

1 Celery stalk, left whole or cut into 2 large chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

Ricotta Mixture:
1 Ricotta cheese (15oz)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t dried parsley
1.5 t dried oregano
1 Egg

Lasagna Noodles
6 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a large skillet, heat 1 T evoo over Medium high heat until shimmering.  Add beef and brown.  Drain off the excess moisture.  Set aside.

In a large stockpot, heat 1 T evoo over medium heat and add minced garlic until fragrant, approx. 30 seconds.  Add both containers of sauce, prego and ragu.  Drop the carrot and celery in and allow to come to a simmer.  Reduce heat and simmer for as long as you want.  I usually go at least an hour.  Prior to mixing with meat be sure to remove carrots and celery stalk.  You can skip the carrot and celery step all together and simply add sugar.  Add a Tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired sweetness.


Empty container of Ricotta in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add minced garlic, parsley and oregano.  Break Egg and mix thoroughly.  Place in refrigerator until ready to assemble lasagna.

**forgot the egg--sorry**


Pour half the sauce mixture into the meat. (I do this because the amount of beef I have usually varies and I like the correct sauce to beef ratio- You can always add additional sauce to the lasagna but it is more difficult to brown more meat because you made it too saucy- does that make sense??)


In large lasagna pan or a deep 13x9 pan or what ever pan you feel like using, add JUST sauce (no meat) to the bottum of the pan.  I feel when you add the meat as well it tends to stick.  Layer the noodles, then the Ricotta, then shredded mozzerella, then meat sauce, then noodle.  Repeat 2 or 3 more times pending on your pan. (I usually only get 2 more times)


**Repeat above steps 2 or 3 more times**

You will end with noodle on top.  Add just the sauce at this point and then top with mozzerella and I added basil.

Place pan on cookie sheet so you do not have any overflow (which I have everytime.)  Cover with foil initially to help the baking process along.  Bake at 350 for approx. 45 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted, removing foil approx. half way through cooking.   Be sure to stick knife through center to make sure all noodles are cooked through prior to turning off oven... Let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow it to set or you will have a sloppy watery mess on your hands....

**half way through, remove foil**

IMPORTANT NOTES: This will make more sauce than you will actually use in  most cases so just freeze or serve with some sauce on the side for those whom like it extra saucy!  Be sure to use enough sauce.  I always use more than I think I should when assembling and it turns out great.  The amount of cheese depends on you.  I suggest to go over board rather than under board.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Huge Oopsy.......Caramel Chicken

Just the other day I was asked if I post any recipes I don't like...this would be the first if I did choose to post it (which I am not.) There are just too many discrepancies in the recipe to post...SO, I will give you a picture of the result and some details and if your interested I will email it to you and allow you to fool with it...but for me it was a "No Go."

This is a Vietnamese dish with a large amount of ginger and hot chili flakes.  Against my own judgment, I followed the recipe when it asked for a full teaspoon of hot chili pepper flakes.  HOLY HOTNESS is all I can say to start...Even J whom will inhale Blazin' wings at BW3's without a thought said it was really hot.  Then there was the ginger, it called for 3 Tablespoons of ginger...Now those of you whom cook with ginger know, that is A LOT...I cut it down to 2 Tablespoons and it was still intense.  I will admit though, I have a love-hate relationship with ginger.  One more problem, "Has anyone smelled fish sauce when heated quickly at a high temperature?"  PeeeUuuuuWww Magooo...So, try if you would like.  If you are a fan of Vietnamese food then this may be right up your alley.  I, however, will be taking this out of my recipe repitoire. I will post if I get requests but I would hate to do all the work posting when I wouldn't suggest fixing this dish....

It sure looked yummy though....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The view from my back door....

I took this picture from my backdoor on one of the extremely early mornings my son woke me up.  It was very foggy and the sun was casting a strange glow.  Now obviously I messed with this photo after the fact with adobe but I think it has a creepy "Halloweeny" feel.  I probably should have posted it back in October but of course nothing happens in a timely fashion around here these days....I think I may frame it just because it's interesting...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Homemade Take-Out...Beef & Broccoli

This was my very first time ever attempting an Asian recipe.  There are a few reasons:

  1. I'm not a huge fan of Asian food (besides the horribly bad for you fried a hundred times kind.)
  2. The ingredients are never "cut and dry."
  3. I never really know what the heck the ingredients are or what they are supposed to do/taste like.

I found this recipe on website, which I love and you should check out.  She, in turn, got the recipe from "The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook" by Jaden Hair.  I have yet to purchase the cookbook because I wanted to try the recipe first but I did flip through it at Borders and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that she lists substitutes for the strange ingredients that typically you would have to go to 3 grocery stores to hunt for, just to find out you can only get it at a specialty Asian store.  I don't know about you, but those stores scare the sh*% out of me! They have some straaaannnnggge stuff in there, like dried shrimp in a bag that is hanging next to the licorice, intended to be popped in your mouth like a potato chip....Cacca!

Jaden’s Chinese Beef Broccoli 
(from The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook)


1 lb top sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced into 1/8-in strips (I used sirloin)
11/2 lbs broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1 T high-heat cooking oil (I used canola)
1 T minced garlic


1 1/2 t soy sauce
1 t cornstarch
1/2 t cooking oil (I used canola)
Freshly ground black pepper to season the beef

Stir-fry Sauce:

3 T oyster sauce
2 t Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry) (I used dry sherry)
2 t Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)(I used Balsamic)

In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade. Place meat in ziploc pour in marinade, massage, let sit 10 minutes.

Prep your meat,broccoli and garlic.


In another small bowl, mix together the stir fry sauce.

In a wok or large sauté pan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork. Drain. Dry the pan.
*sorry steam was causing issues with my auto focus*

Set the pan over high heat and when hot, add the high-heat cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side. I, as did the pioneerwoman, had to do this in 2 batches because of the size of my pan.

Pour in the Stir-fry Sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds.

 Add cooked broccoli back to pan and your ready to eat....