Pasta Secrets

17 Sep

Yesterday I made spaghetti for dinner. Spaghetti is super easy, no issues there but, sometimes when I boil the noodles, they stick together. And, I just found out why as I read my book “Secrets from the Southern Living Test Kitchens.” This Book has been on my bookshelf for years. It has tons of cooking, baking and, kitchen information and a generous amount recipes. I’m quite pleased with all the knowledge I am gaining from just browsing through the pages.

But back to the sticky pasta…..The book states that pasta needs plenty of room to boil. You need 3 quarts of rapidly boiling water for every 8 ounces of dried pasta. Also, you need to stir during the first couple of minutes because this is when the starch is released and causes the noodles to stick together. If you want you can add a small amount of vegetable or olive oil to the water to help prevent sticking. This may help but I tend to believe that the oil also prevents the sauces from sticking to the noodles; so I don’t use the oil.

When the pasta is completely cooked, mix it together with the sauce as soon as possible after draining because pasta begins to stick together as it cools.

Sometimes a recipe will direct you to rinse pasta for salads. Once rinsed pasta is chilled it does not stick together any longer because a lot of the start has has been washed away.

So I have concluded that I have been cooking pasta noodles in the wrong size pot. I usually boil a pound at a time and use a 3 or 4 quart sauce pot. From now on I will just grab a stock pot.

I’m always excited when I learn a new cooking secret or shortcut. I hope you do too.

Talk you you all tomorrow,

Kim Cherie

#septemberwritingchallenge

Day17

It’s not too late….

16 Sep

That’s what I told myself while I was preparing dinner tonight; spaghetti, sweet potatoes and garlic bread. I wasn’t sure why this came to me while I was chopping up onion, celery, bell pepper and, garlic but it did. Maybe it was because I had been asking myself over the last couple of weeks “Is it too late to design my ideal life? Is it too late for me to create the visions that I have written down in my journals. Is it too late for me to be who I see in my daydreams?”…..”No. It is not too late. You just keep working at it, You keep pushing. Keep those ideas coming”.. That’s what I told myself in right in the middle of dicing red onions.  I gave myself a pep talk and I mentally replayed all the information I have been getting from books and podcasts and told myself anything is possible. I am my only limit. So I want to be UNLIMITED.

It is only too late when you give up. And, when you give up; your dreams will bypass you and move on to another. Your vision will become their vision. Your plan is now their plan and if you ever really had any commitment to that dream you will be filled with devastation when you see that same dream pop out of someone else in real life. You will see someone else’s life unfold possibly just like you wanted yours to….

The only way to defeat this future regret is to start and continue to work on your dreams, goals, passions and, skills. Don’t stop. Be consistent……. We don’t have to be all or nothing when working towards our ambitions but, we can definitely baby step our way into our destiny. Baby steps will get us there. Just like a baby we can’t make big steps too fast because we might have a big fall…… We will have falls and failures but, hopefully those falls are recoverable and not so soul crushing that we don’t want to take another step.

Every time I fail at something personal I’m working on. I just say to myself, I’ll get it next time. I’ll do it right tomorrow. As long as I keep working on it I am winning. And, I thank God for giving me a chance to keep trying. I thank God for making me aware of not only when I fail but also the desire to be better and to do better. And, that’s my goal; to be better than I was yesterday.

In the past I have shared that I have a hard time with following through and giving up too soon and that I am really working to stay the course. What I am finding that helps is to be around like minded people. You need those people in your life that can see your vision the way you do or even see what you don’t see. A like minded person and be motivational; someone who puts a fire under you when you think about giving up. Sometimes a business buddy, a study buddy, workout partner or whatever can see your brand or your vision bigger than you can and, that is great! You need a person to tell you your dreams are possible no matter what kind of situation you might be in right now. You need that person to build your confidence when it is lacking and to clap when no one else is. Find a support group, tribe, club or an accountability partner like I have and get on the ball! Show me what you’re made of. Your dreams are possible if you want them to be.

Until tomorrow,

Kim Cherie

#Septemberwritingchallenge

day16

 

 

 

 

Blackberry Jam Cake: The Finale

15 Sep

In case you missed it on September 1st, 2018 I challenged my self to 30 blog posts in 30 days. Today is day 15! I’m halfway there and I am so excited and joyful because I have made it this far; basically without a real plan except to write. I had no plan on what I would write; I just wanted to write without caution for the next 30 days.  Let me tell you when wake up in the morning and have no clue what is going to be posted to this site by 11:59 pm, I mean it. It’s been scary and fun because, a couple of days I thought I was not going to make it to my deadline of 11:59 and then in the last few minutes of the night I find my topic and my voice. Today, I have a number of things I want to share with you but, this post is devoted to the now well-known (If you’ve been reading my latest posts) Blackberry Jam Cake.

When I last left off on the subject I told you all of how the recipe I was going to make was my paternal grandmother’s recipe. My grandmother passed away 42 years ago and I don’t think the recipe had been made in all this time. I was both excited and intimidated when I thought about me making this cake. I had nothing to go off of except the recipe itself. I had no idea what it was supposed to look like or taste like. I had researched recipes prior to my attempt but, still no idea. There were so many variations of jam cakes I really did not know what I was getting into…I just had to jump in and do it.

I first made the cake exactly how the recipe was written except I did not add any coconut at my dad’s request. As I was making it my first thought was “this is almost just like a pound cake” recipe. It was very easy to make no complications with the recipe itself but, all the other recipes I had read up on used spices such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and, cloves. My grandmother’s recipe did not mention any of that (I did not have the original copy btw)… It starts off just like most cakes: cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs. Add the blackberry jam (which turned the batter a beautiful lavender color).  Alternately mix in the flour and butter milk. And, finally stir in the muscats (raisins) and nuts with a wooden spoon. Pretty basic cake baking, right? I thought so. It really was.  I put the batter in the appropriate baking pan and baked it for 1 hour and 5 minutes and let in rest in now off oven for 10 more minutes. I took it out of the oven ran a butter knife around the perimeter of the cake and the pan to release it and turned it out onto a cake board. I could smell the blackberry jam and the muscat aroma floating up from the cake. I let the cake rest for an hour and when my dad arrived we cut it. I have to say again that I did not know what to expect when I cut it.  When I put the knife through it for the first cut the cake was still warm. I think thats when it tasted the best. The cake still reminded me of a pound cake the form and texture with the nice scents of blackberry jam and sweet raisins. My only complaint were the walnuts. I don’t like them but the cake was not for me so it was not up to me.

Overall, on this first attempt on the recipe I don’t think the cake gained any new fans on either side of my family. So, I committed to making the cake again adding in the same amount of spices in a similar recipe and I left out the nuts and muscats… I only left out the muscats this time because they need to be deseeded before used for baked goods and I just did not have the time to that on my second try……. the seeds of a muscat has a hard bite and is not what I would think is desirable in cakes or other baked goods. My thoughts on the second cake: adding the spices to the batter left the final results tasting something quite like a spice cake. I liked the second cake the spices gave it something extra. The texture just like the first cake reminded me of a pound cake with spice. I didn’t get any rave reviews from this one either though. My mom flat out said she did not like it but, she’s moody about food. My dad ended up having a cold and he hasn’t mentioned the second cake. My maternal grandmother was the only one that said that the second cake was delicious and I tend to agree with her. I do like spice cake.

All in all I am going to keep trying with the recipe I was given using the spices, nuts and muscats. I will also try using the icing recipe one of my aunts started using on this very same cake.  There are several versions of this cake I learned while researching. I hope to bake a few of those too and, have something to compare my grandmother’s recipe to. Either way, this treasure is staying in my recipe box and I am willing to bake it whenever my father asks for it.

#septemberwritingchallenge

Day15

How to prep your cake pans and cookie sheets for baking

14 Sep

Pan preparation is a very important part of baking cakes and cookies. If you want your cakes of all sizes and shapes to release from the baking pan without incident preparation is essential. Cookie sheet prep I would say is mostly for the ease of clean up and releasing from the pan equally. No one wants to scrape cookies from a cookie pan. And, since the cookie sheet is the most simple we will begin there.

Cookie Sheets: All you need to remember here is parchment paper. You can thank me later. Lining your pan with parchment paper does exactly what I explained above. Parchment protects the pan from the little oil residue from the butter that comes from the cookies while baking. Cookies also release very easily with parchment paper. Also, you can reuse the parchment on the second batch of cookies. (This is only for that day.) When you’re done baking cookies for the day discard the parchment into the garbage.

You can find parchment paper on a roll in the grocery store near the aluminum foil and wax paper. But, I suggest going to your area restaurant supply store or ordering online flat parchment sheets. The paper on a roll is difficult to get to lay flat on the cookie pan. So flat sheets are my suggestion.

Cake pans I: This includes round, square and, sheet pans. If that cake is supposed to come out of the pan before frosting and serving you must use a pan release spray or shortening and wax paper to prep your pans to insure you cake will not have to be dug out or banged out of its incubation host.

First, pull out enough wax paper the width of the pan plus about 1 inch on all sides. Set your cake pan that is to be used right on top of the cake pan. With a pencil, trace a line around the perimeter of the cake pan from one end to the other. Next, using scissors cut on the outline of the cake pan so that it perfectly fits inside the cake pan. If you need more than one piece of wax paper cut to size go ahead and do so now using the original cut-out as your guide (cake layers). Set all the wax paper cut-outs aside.  The next step is to oil or grease the pan. Take the pan spray and spray the inside of the pan or pans; bottom and sides generously. Finally, line your greased cake pans with the wax paper cut-outs. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for the allotted time. Check for doneness. When the cake has set out of the oven for at least 10 minutes, carefully turn the cake over to release it from the pan using a plate or cake board.

Cake pans II: This section includes, angel food cake and bundt pans and loaf pans. I use these types of pans a lot strictly for any kind of pound cake. Save yourself a headache and heartache by following these steps. What you need here to prepare for baking pound cakes is shortening, a pastry brush and all purpose flour. I have never used wax paper to line this type of pan but, when I was a kid my mother did. I will leave this up to you. But, for sure you will need to grease the pan with shortening (only) and dust it with flour.

Here’s how to do it: Using the pastry brush, evenly paint a generous coat of shortening on the bottom, sides and, tube of the pan. Next, get about ¼ cup of all purpose flour into the pan and move the pan all around until flour dust is covering the entire shortening glazed pan being sure to coat the tube of the pan also. You may want to use a sheet of wax paper to remove the residual flour and then sprinkle the tube with the flour that is left over. When the pan is completely coated with both the shortening and the flour fill the pan with the batter and bake for the stated time and check for doneness. Immediately run a butter knife around the pan to release the cake from the sides. If the cake is done this will be effortless. Let the cake rest in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the cake onto a cake plate or board and let cool completely.

HOW TO CLEAN THAT REALLY GREASY PASTRY BRUSH

This is very simple. I came to the revelation on how to better clean the pastry brush after my failing attempts at washing away the left over grease between the bristles. Because I always leave the greasy things till last to wash the water would never be hot enough to degrease the many, many bristles a pastry brush can have. So what I did alleviate my stress of an unclean brush starts at the beginning of my clean up.

Here’s how: In any glass (preferably a glass with a handle such as mug or glass measuring cup) boil at least 1 cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.  Set the pastry brush in the boiling water while washing the other dishes in the sink and watch the grease float to the top. Viola’! It’s clean! Just dunk it in the soap and water swish it around and rinse. Easy Peasy no more Greasy.

Here’s to wishing you a great baking experience!


Until tomorrow,

Kim Cherie

#Septemberbloggingchallenge

day14

Stove Top Spinach Artichoke Dip

13 Sep

#throwbackthursday

This is a throwback recipe I posted several years ago. This Spinach Artichoke Dip is so delicious served with either chips or warm thin slices of a French Bread Baguette. If your expecting company, go ahead and throw a pot on the stove top and watch real magic happen! Let me know how it turns out!

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Oh my goodness! Spinach Artichoke Dip is one of my favorite appetizers. Hot, creamy, and cheesy. Mm mm mm. I have always ordered this before dinner delight at Olive Garden who serves it best with warm little bread round slices. I’ve always wanted to make it myself, but I thought it was much harder than what it really is. Just make sure you have all your ingredients prepped before starting.

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This dish is so easy to make. I mean after sautéing the onion and garlic you almost just toss everything in at once. How simple is that? No baking. Once combined and heated through, it’s done. Viola’! You will want to keep this recipe handy once you try it for yourself.

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No salt is needed for this recipe. Just the black pepper and red pepper flakes for a little zap.

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I chose to serve the Spinach Artichoke Dip with tortilla chips and the way Olive Garden does. That’s why I like their’s so much. It just melts in your mouth. Creamy cheesy goodness at its best. No matter which one you choose it will surely leave you and your guests pleased, and asking for the recipe. Let me know which one you like best.

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Stove Top Spinach Artichoke Dip

1/2 stick salted butter
1/4-1/2 cup chopped red onion
3-4 chopped garlic cloves
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup parmigiana reggiano shredded
10 oz package chopped spinach thawed and drained
14 oz jarred or canned artichoke hearts roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper
1 Chopped Roma tomato

In a medium pot melt butter and sauté onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant on medium heat.
Add in cream cheese and 1 cup of parmigiana reggiano cheese and stir till partially melted. Stir in spinach and artichokes until combined (cheeses will not be completely melted yet). Sprinkle in red pepper flakes and black pepper.
Mix in sour cream and mayonnaise. Add in the rest of the parmigiana reggiano cheese and stir until everything is completely melted and smooth.
At this point the dip will not be hot enough to be enjoyed. Keep the dip on medium to medium low heat, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes to keep from scorching. Heat through to desired temperature.

Transfer dip to your favorite chip and dip serving platter. Garnish with chopped Roma tomato. Serve with warm Italian bread and/or tortilla chips.
Enjoy.

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