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Soup Sub

Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 in Store-bought Remix | 0 comments

This is one of my favorite store-bought remixes.

Sometimes recipes call for “cream of” soups — cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, cream of celery, etc. — as a creamy base or thickener. Often, this ingredient leaves a processed aftertaste in your dish. Use this substitute in place of one regular-sized can of soup.

Ingredient list:

  • 3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
    Or 1/2 teaspoon of chicken flavored bouillon powder + 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • S&P

Melt the butter on medium-low then stir in the flour with a whisk. Keep whisking until flour is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Gradually add milk and broth, stirring well between each addition. Once all of the liquid has been added, bring to a gentle boil, stirring often until thickened. Add S&P to taste.

For added flavor, allow the flour and butter mixture, or roux, to brown by continuously stirring on the heat for several minutes after it is smooth. If you plan to do this, remove the pan from the heat before adding the broth and milk because the mixture will become quite active as you work. It is ok to mix the broth and milk together. Use a measuring cup with a handle and spout that will make it easy to pour quickly. After the addition of all of the liquids, return to the heat to continue the thickening process.

Add directly to recipe in this form or add a few ingredients (like mushrooms, chicken, or celery) for a delicious soup. I like this recipe because it is made from things I usually have on hand and makes my dishes taste even better.


Super Bowl Menu

Posted by on Jan 30, 2011 in Come Together, Our Favorites, Store-bought Remix | 0 comments

Super Bowl 2011

It’s that time of year again. If you’re having people over, here are a few of our favorite party foods and some things I hope to try soon. Here’s my work in progress:

Rotel dip with ground beef

This is a tradition at our house. We’ve been having this dip at Super Bowl time for as long as I can remember. Brown 1 pound of ground beef and drain. In a crockpot, add one can of undrained Rotel tomatoes, the ground beef, and a 2 pound block of Velveeta cheese cut into cubes. On low, it should take your dip about an hour or so to fully melt so get it started in plenty of time before guests arrive. Make sure you stir often to speed up the melting process. Serve with tortilla chips.

If you don’t have a crockpot, you can melt prepare the dip in the microwave, but be careful of the bowl you use because the edge of the cheese becomes very hot; glass or thick plastic is best. Thin plastic will melt. This dip is just as delish without the beef, if you prefer.

Kale Chips

Kale is everywhere right now. It’s a superfood, after all. I like to have a few healthy bites to offset the heavier stuff that makes it onto the menu. I haven’t made these yet, but my mom swears they are delicious. I have a bunch of kale in the fridge now, and I’ll let you know how it turns out. My mom’s method: Wash the kale then dry thoroughly. Cut off the big stalks and spray olive oil or Pam on a baking sheet and then on top of kale. Salt it and bake at 400-425 degrees for about 5-7 minutes. It’s crunchy and oh so good!

Homemade tortillas

I like to have one store-bought remix thing on the menu. At our last party, it was homemade potato chips and potato buns for BBQ. I recently came across two methods from my favorite food bloggers, and I hope to give them a try. It is always risky to try out a new recipe for the first time when company’s coming over. It’s best to have a trial run or a back-up plan if things go awry. I’m not sure what I’m going to serve IN these yet.

From Ezra Pound Cake

From Pioneer Woman

*Full disclosure:  I only mention brand names here so that you’ll know what I have used and recommend. This is in no way sponsored content.

A Recipe from Vanna White

Posted by on Jan 30, 2011 in Everyone Will Eat It | 2 comments

Vanna White - Wheel of Fortune *Image from Google Image search

Today I have a recipe to share from Vanna White.

One time as she and Pat were chatting at the end of the show just before the credits, she mentioned this recipe. It incorporates one of Mr. J’s favorite ingredients: BBQ sauce. And chicken. Yep, there are only two ingredients, plus a crockpot and a little time.

Side note: Mr. J loves this show. I think I got my fill of it staying with my elderly neighbors as a kid. After that, we moved to the country and didn’t have a lot to choose from on TV. We could always count on Wheel to come in clearly after dinner (yes, we ate really early). I still enjoy watching it for the puzzles, but I don’t go seeking it out.

I have this going in the crockpot today to use as a meal component for this coming week. I usually do crockpot things on Sunday since I have the time. I start by putting a little BBQ sauce in to coat the bottom. Mr. J’s favorite kind is Kraft Original.

Side note 2: I think everyone has at least one condiment obsession. Mr. J’s is BBQ sauce. I heard this about him before I even started dating him (back in the Stone Ages). Mine is mayo. I love it. My co-worker Rachel adores ketchup, and my grade school friend Whitney could eat mustard from the little packages in the cafeteria. It’s just not right until the level of excess with your condiment of choice grosses everyone else out.

Vanna's BBQ Chicken

For this, I used Perdue chicken breast tenderloins straight out of the package. If you’ve read my profile, you know how I am about meat, so whenever I don’t have to get up-close-and-personal with it, I’m happy. Add a little more BBQ sauce and stir to coat. There really aren’t any measurements. You just want to make sure that there is a good chicken to sauce ratio. Mathematically, that looks like this Chicken : Sauce. Cook on low for about 2-3 hours or until a thermometer gives an internal reading of 165 degrees. You’ll want to stir it every hour or so. I tried to do this overnight once, and I learned that you can, in fact, burn something in a crockpot. It’s best to keep an eye and nose on it. When it’s done, you can shred it with a fork or leave the tenderloins whole. Serve atop white rice with a veggie or two.

Props to our friends Jen and Juice for the mini crockpot. It has a toilet costume, but that’s for another day.

*Full disclosure:  I only mention brand names here so that you’ll know what I used for this recipe. Perdue and Kraft have nothing to do with this, and it is in no way sponsored content.

Weekend Morning Favorite: Homemade Biscuits

Posted by on Jan 30, 2011 in Everyone Will Eat It, Kitchen Tools, On the Basics, Our Favorites, Store-bought Remix | 0 comments

Homemade Biscuits

One of our breakfast favorites for Saturday and Sunday mornings is homemade biscuits. The recipe is a family secret. Just kidding, it’s off of the baking powder container…ha!

Ingredient List

  • 2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk (I use 2 %)
  • 1 Tablespoon margarine or butter

Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees. In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Add the milk and stir only enough to incorporate everything (if you stir too much your biscuits will be tough). On a floured surface, lightly knead dough for 30 seconds. Roll out dough with a rolling pin, bottle, or drinking glass, or flatten with your hands, like I do. Cut out biscuits, place on a greased baking sheet, lightly coat with margarine or butter, and bake for 11-15 minutes. Makes 8-10 biscuits.

Betty Becca Trick: For two people, I make half of the recipe which comes out to about 6 biscuits.To easily measure half of a liquid ingredient without dividing fractions, convert to ounces. On my measuring cup, I can quickly see that 3/4 cup is equal to 6 ounces so I pour 3 ounces to use for the halved recipe.

Also, you can see from the top left biscuit that I don’t put a lot of effort into re-shaping my dough after the first cuts. I don’t think biscuits are supposed to be perfect. It’s not about what they look like.

Serve with butter, your favorite jam or jelly, maple syrup, sausage gravy, chocolate gravy, apple butter, or just eat them plain. Don’t forget they go great with dinner, too.

Pastry Blender

Let me introduce you to one of my first kitchen tool purchases…the pastry blender. It was the beginning of my cooking adventure, and I bought it to make dumplings for chicken and dumplings. You use this baby to “cut in” butter and shortening into flour mixtures for baking. “Cutting in” breaks the butter or shortening into pieces to evenly distribute it throughout the dough. I keep a table knife on hand to remove clumps that stick to the tines along the way.

Just like above, instructions often have you blend until the mixture looks like “course crumbs,” and that’s exactly what it will look like. Alternatively, you can use a fork, but it may take a little longer. Other uses include cutting butter into brown sugar before adding chopped nuts for a fruit crisp topping.

Biscuit Cutter

This biscuit cutter was my great-grandmother’s. I cherish it. It has a charming wood handle, and the metal part is an irregular circle from years of use. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter or circular cookie cutter, you can use a drinking glass. Or just do it like Paula and have square biscuits. Just make a few cuts with a knife across the rolled out dough and place on your baking sheet. It saves time and you don’t have to worry about reshaping the dough. I’d do this if I didn’t love using this little jewel so much!

If you absolutely must buy store-bought biscuits, these are the best:

Mary B’s and Pillsbury Grands! Frozen Biscuits

*Full disclosure:  I only mention brand names here so that you’ll know what I have used and recommend. This is in no way sponsored content.

My Inspiration

Posted by on Jan 30, 2011 in Around Chez Ary | 0 comments

Ree and Me

I thought I’d share a list of my favorite food bloggers.

These blogs provide endless ideas for things I have incorporated into our regular schedule and introduced dishes I only dream about making. I’ve learned dozens of new techniques and delighted in the delicious photography. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The Pioneer Woman | Ree Drummond

I stood in line for about 4 hours one cold, rainy night to get my cookbook autographed by the great Ree herself. I use it often. (Update: I now have her second cookbook and children’s book, Charlie the Ranch Dog.)

Smitten Kitchen | Deb Perelman

Keeping Up with the Joneses | Kendall Jones

Plain Chicken | Steph

Cagnes Gourmand | Karen

Ezra Pound Cake | Rebecca Crump

Bakerella | Angie Dudley

Simple Bites | Aimee Wimbush-Bourque

Farm Flavor | I’m a guest blogger sometimes!

Food on Fifth | Teresa Blackburn

Here are a few others that I enjoy that aren’t cooking related:

Bower Power | Katie Bower

Dooce | Heather Armstrong

MODG | Amanda

My Milk Toof | Inhae

PostSecret | Frank Warren



Read more about some of my blog favorites!

Grocery Planning

Posted by on Jan 30, 2011 in Around Chez Ary, Kitchen Tools, On the Basics | 4 comments

My Grocery List

There are two things that allow me to cook on a regular basis.

The first is my saint of a husband who cleans up after me. Every morning before he goes to work, he runs a load of dishes. It helps me be motivated to cook a meal after a long day when to the kitchen is all reset when I get home after work. The second thing is grocery planning, which means planning for the week ahead and keeping a well-stocked pantry.

One of the tools I use is the grocery list attached. The top part is my meal planner, and the bottom is my shopping list. I have a stock of them, but I keep one taped inside my cabinet door or on my fridge to jot down the ingredients I’ll need for the coming week or when things that I keep stocked are running low.

Coming up with what we’re going to eat can be the hardest part. I have a recipe binder with our favorites that I flip through for inspiration. When I come across new recipes online that I think we’d like, I send them to my email and keep them in a folder there to peruse when nothing else sounds good. It also helps to refer back to old lists to see what was on the menu in the past so I hang on to old ones in a file. Ideally, I like to go to the grocery on the same day every week with my meals planned and list ready to go a day in advance. This helps me stay on track and breaks up a time consuming task into manageable chunks. I use reusable shopping bags so I put my list/plan in my bags and put them in the car so I can stop at the store the next time I’m out.

Sometimes, I have to refer back to my list to remember what the heck I’m supposed to be cooking. I don’t end up cooking the meal I planned on the given day. I just want to make sure that I have enough stuff planned out. I like to cook up several meals on Saturday or Sunday so that I don’t have to do as much during the week. I’ve found that this system saves time and money.

My template is attached. It is customized to my usual grocery store’s layout and our typical eating patterns (not all aisles are listed). I made it in Excel. I put down ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (B, L, D) at the top. On Fridays, Mr. J and I usually go out with co-workers for lunch or have a Lunch & Learn (L&L) at work. We strive to go out only once per week and usually take leftovers the other days. Get the template and customize it for your next shopping trip!