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Saturday, October 2

Halloween - Gross, Yet Yummy Party Foods!!

Aiight, everyone...the holiday season is beginning!!  Of course, what comes first?  Halloween!!  Now, you ALL have seen some of those cookie-cutter cakes and stuff you can buy pre-made for your ghoulish evening, but why?  Today, I'm going to give you 4 recipes sure to make your friends squeal with squeamishness, even while they scarf the food down!! 

What's going to make this page so much fun is I will post a pic of each treat so you can see just what these really look like!!  The recipes are called Slimy Gelatin Worms, Panna Cotta Brain MouldKitty Litter Cake, and Sticky Black Bat Wings.  I promise you folks...you'll get rave reviews of these recipes, and no one will forget your Halloween party for quite some time!!  I guarantee it!!

Challah Bread

Night before last, I posted pics of some Challah bread that I made.  The response to that post has been surprising...I've had quite a few people contact me asking when I'd have the recipe posted, because they got hungry looking at the pictures!!  Well, I'm not gonna keep you guys waiting any longer.

Challah is a very rich bread.  My version contains eggs, butter, and honey.  It isn't sweet, however...it's just a nuance within the whole.  It's a bread rich in history, as well.  Traditionally, this bread is served at the beginning of the Sabbath in kosher Jewish households.  According to their beliefs, the bread represents the manna that fell when the Jews were wandering in the wilderness after their escape from slavery.  Typically, two loaves are made at a time, and the recipe I'll give you does just that. 

Friday, October 1

The Mother Of Sauces

I'm sure that, if you've been cooking for very long (or watch Food Network), you've heard of the "Mother Sauce".  What seems to come as a surprise to many is the fact that there are actually FIVE mother sauces, and they ALL come from France.  Yup...the French REALLY know how to cook!!

According to Culinary Cooking School Institute (my source for this information), the development of various sauces over the years stems from the 19th-century French chef Antonin Carême who evolved an intricate methodology by which hundreds of sauces were classified under one of five "mother sauces." Those basic sauces are the white sauce Béchamel, the light stock-based Velouté, the brown stock-based Espagnole; the two basic emulsified sauces, Hollandaise and Mayonnaise; and the oil and vinegar-based Vinaigrette

Tomato is considered to be among the 5 mother sauces, however, it actually came about later, although it certainly has earned the title, since it is the base for a large variety of sauces in today's cookery.  However, since Tomato sauces are so varied, I will address them in a separate post entirely. 

Today, we will explore ALL five sauces, including some of their variations.  With them, you will be able to create some truly magnificent dishes, and your family will clamor for more!! 

Thursday, September 30

I Gotta Share!!

While this isn't a recipe in itself, I wanted to take a moment to share with you all what I did this evening.  After having posted the recipe for white bread this morning, I'd been thinking about making some bread all day (actually got me drooling, just thinking about it!!).  Yup...I got FROGGY!!

I didn't make just the white bread, tho.  I decided to go for it, and I made my all time FAVORITE bread...Challah.  Now, for those who've not heard of it before, Challah is an egg bread that's braided, typically found in the Jewish culture.  Challah has been made for centuries, and is still found in most bread bakeries.

Enough chitchat.  The first picture I'm putting up is the bread just before baking...it's been braided, formed, and has an egg wash on top, which will give it a glistening golden brown color.  See for yourself...
What you are seeing is 2 loaves of bread, each made of 3 braids (so each loaf actually has 9 pieces of dough).  Two braids are laid side by side, and a third is laid over the center top.

The end result?  I'll let you all be the judge...here's a shot...

Yes, it IS just as tasty as it looks, too!!  I finished baking this about 7:45 this evening, and it's now 9pm, and half of one loaf is already demolished.  It's light, fluffy, and buttery in taste.  And yes, I WILL post the recipe for making it, probably in a couple of days.

Folks, this is what I love doing.  I adore seeing the end result of making something with my bare hands that can enjoyed so easily.  You can do it, too, I promise...it just takes a little elbow grease, a recipe, and some inspiration!!

ENJOY!!! 


Old Fashioned White Bread

Sorry, folks, but I gotta say it...ain't NOTHING says home like the smell of freshly baking bread wafting through the air.  And, since this will be my first post about bread, it's appropriate that it's the old fashioned, melt in your mouth, white bread that we all know and love.  No, I'm NOT talking about the funky stuff they sell at grocery stores, either.  I'm talking healthy, all natural, and to DIE for!!

There are probably thousands of recipes for bread on the internet.  The recipe I'm going to hand you today, however, is one that I've made MANY times.  It's fairly easy, too...even if you knead it a little too much, it still comes out yummy.  The other nice thing is this...if you don't have a big mixer to make the dough in, that's ok...this one can be mixed by hand!!  Yes, it will take a little longer that way, but once you get a taste of this homemade goodness, you won't ever want to go back to store-bought!! 

Wednesday, September 29

The Spice of Life!!

When I was younger, I loved watching my grandmother cook.  She had an almost encyclopedic memory for what spices were best with which dish.  I feel very lucky to have learned from her.  Not only on how to use spices and herbs, but how to store them, and more importantly, when to replace them.  Did you know that spices have a shelf life?  Like any other food, you are able to tell by the flavor and color if the spice is old, and should be replaced generally every 6 (at the longest - 12) months. Many of my spices don't last nearly that long, as I use them far before they would get old.  Well, today was spice cleaning day, which means a trip to the grocery store. 

While you might think you're just doing some shopping, when you are on that spice aisle, you're actually gazing at history. Herbs and spices are more than just aromatic, flavorful accents to dishes. They are symbols of economic trade, ancient cultures and political power.  Civilizations traded in spices more than 4,000 years ago. Five hundred years ago in what was known as the Age of Exploration, explorers sailed the seas in the hopes of finding the fastest trade route from Europe to Asia. Europeans had become enchanted with the exotic seasonings from the Far East.

Pop Quiz Time!!

I love writing this blog.  I have found that it relaxes me tremendously, and hearing back from the readers has put a smile on my face like you wouldn't believe!!   I suppose this means I'll have to thank my hubby now, since he's the one who encouraged me to start it.  I think I also owe each of my readers a HUGE thank you up front...I would imagine some of my posts have been horribly tedious!!  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

I've been doing ALOT of thinking about the best way to go with this blog.  After all, I really want it to be a good source for anyone who uses it.  Since I'm still VERY NEW at this, I'm sure as time passes I will find ways to streamline everything so that finding what you want is easy.  But, for now, I thought I'd toss some ideas out there, and see what you, the readers, think. 

Pot Roast - YUMMMM!!

Aiight, folks.  This is going to be a post that sort of breaks rules.  While I will be listing it under the Easy Recipes (since Pot Roast truly IS easy), this is one that actually could be listed under Advanced as well, due to the time involved.  Ah well, no one ever said life would always be simple...

Pot Roast is another of the ALL TIME comfort foods.  Rich broth, tender beef, potatoes, carrots (or as the roomie calls them...yummy orange slimy things)...all served over a bed of fluffy rice.  Uh oh...give me a moment to find a napkin, cause I just drooled all over myself (ROFL).  Yeah, it's THAT good!!

Now, I could get really fancy with some recipe for it, but I won't.  Why, you ask?  Honestly, it's because of one thing...some foods are best left SIMPLE!!  They don't NEED fancy to BE fancy.  No fancy spices, no fancy cuts of meat.  Just ultimate simplicity at it's finest. 

Tuesday, September 28

Even Blogs Need Organization!!

Today, I learned a few new tricks to blogging...not the least of which was that I can have more than one page!!  Yeah...I'm not always the brightest bulb in the marquee!!  What can I say...it's a learning process!!

At any rate, with this newfound knowledge, I've made some changes to my blog that I hope make it easier for those who follow it to find what they need.  If you are reading this from the Home page, you'll probably have already noticed a menu bar across the top.  Under each of those links, you find quick connections to specific posts.  For example, under Instructional you'll find my Baking 101 series, whereas under General ChitChat you'll find posts just like this one (basically just me rambling on about nothing...haha).

It may take a little time for me to get ALL my posts listed under the correct topic, but rest assured...it WILL be done.  Meanwhile, remember that you can always look things up by the month written (that navigation is on the right side, under the Followers).  

To all those who've recently joined my blog...WELCOME and ENJOY!!! 

Monday, September 27

ONE Hour - Or LESS - To A Great Meal!!

Usually, I'm a no-nonsense cook.  I get in the kitchen and just do what I need to do.  While it's great to have fun and experiment, when you have hungry folks waiting, it's nice to have a collection of quick, filling meals that you can turn out within an hour or less.  Of course, it also helps that I'm quite comfortable in my kitchen...I know where everything is in relation to each other.  That is the KEY component to speed and efficiency in any kitchen...arrangement.

When is the last time you actually went in your kitchen and checked where everything is?  Looked to see where your most commonly used utensils are at?  Fact is, few do that...then when it's time to cook, they end up having to search countless drawers/cabinets to find what they need.  So...right now...go in your kitchen, and look around.  See where everything is.  Seriously, go do it...I'll wait for you.  GO!! 

Sunday, September 26

Viva Mexicana - Enchilada Heaven!!

Aiight...show of hands...who here LOVES Mexican food??  I'm not talking Taco Bell kinda Mexican (sorry Nick), but real, down to earth, homemade Mexican food?  Hmmmm...I see there's quite a few of you out there.  Well, we certainly do, too!!   

Hubby, especially, adores tamales and enchiladas, and I've even tried my hand at making tamales (to fairly great success). The only problem with making tamales is it's a 2 DAY cooking process, and the recipe makes about 50 tamales (which freeze well, but it will wear you OUT).  However, here is the link to the website I used for making those, because I think my hands would fall off if I tried to recreate it here...it's THAT involved!!!

So today, for Sunday dinner, I'm making enchiladas.  While it's NOWHERE near as labor intensive as tamales, the end result will make people think you slaved over a stove for HOURS!!  Yes, there's more than a few steps involved in enchiladas, too...don't think this is super fast.  But...OH MAN...the end result is SOOO worth it!!!  So, let's get cooking!!