Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Art and Science

By the looks of it, you might think it's been a slow month at our house!

Truthfully, though, it's been kinda busy.

Just this month, we have spent a week in the mountains, prepared for the start of school, and I've gotten to share with a group of ladies about meal preparation.

That's why I decided to write today.

Because of my time with the moms.

It got me thinking.

One of the things I did at the cooking class was show how to prepare five meals with five pounds of ground beef.

Easy enough.

But there was really more to it than that.

The "more to it" was this:

  • eating at home is cheaper than eating out.
  • cooking at home tastes better than eating out.
  • cooking takes a little bit of prep, but it's worth the effort
  • eating dinner together, as a family, is more than the meal; it's about sharing together 
 For some, cooking is intimidating.

But I've shared this thought with so many . . .and I shared it with the moms at the cooking class.

The thought:  "cooking is an art, baking is a science."

So, why do I say that?

Because art is open to interpretation and interest.

And if cooking is an art . . .than it is open for your own personal touch!

Baking is a science; the outcome is dependent on balance of ingredients so that a correct reaction can occur and result is a delicious masterpiece. 

But cooking . . .cooking is an art; what one person likes, another may not.

In baking, you cannot change the equilibrium of wet and dry ingredients and end up with a pleasing product.

But cooking!  You can change whatever you want . . .

you can add,

you can delete,

and you can substitute,

and you're going to be ok!

I can think of some of the bests cooks I know.

They all share a common characteristic.

And that is they went by taste, sight, and smell.

I remember my grandma, when she was going to teach me to cook, she'd say,

"stand right here and watch."

"You do a little of this . . .or you can do that."

"That looks about right."

"See how that feels?  That's what you're looking for."

  . . .and that's how you cook!

Yes, recipes are great.

Recipes give us a starting point.

But after you've cooking awhile, look at the recipe and see where you'd want to change it.

Not because it needs changing . . .

but because you're an artist!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Chicken Salad

Everyone has their favorite chicken salad.

But if you're like me, you're always on the search for "the best" chicken salad.

I've scoured lots of church cookbooks, tea room recipes, and magazines searching for an even better chicken salad recipe.

Truthfully, I've had some delicious chicken salads.

But this one . . .

this is one of my favs!

I've used this recipe for more than 15 years.

Honestly, though, I don't make it a lot.

And for that, I'm not sure as to the reason.

Bust as we planned a get-away this Summer, I decided to make this to take with us.

When we travel to the mountains, that is our let down and relax time.

I don't mind cooking . . .but I want to do it at home and just take it with us in the cooler.

That way, while we're away, I feel like I'm getting a vacation too -- rather than having to spend so much time preparing meals!

Chicken Salad

3 cups cooked & cubed chicken (I roast a whole chicken and use the meat from the chicken)
2 cups grapes, cut in half
1 1/2 cups celery, or substitute granny smith apples if you don't prefer celery
2 TBSP red onion, chopped (this is NOT enough onion for my preference . . .I always do more)
1 small can pineapple tidbit, drained -- reserve 1 tsp. of the juice
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Walnuts or pecans are best)
1 cup mayo*
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. pineapple juice (if you forgot, just use lemon juice)
2 TBSP honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger

In a very large bowl, add the cubed chicken, grapes, celery or apple, onion, pineapple, and the nuts.

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, sour cream, pineapple juice, honey, cinnamon, and ginger.  Stir together well.

Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture.  Stirring well to incorporate the ingredients.

Refrigerate  to allow the flavor to blend.

Serve as a sandwich or with crackers.

*I start with half of the dressing recipe because sometimes a whole recipe is too much.  For your first time, you may want to try that to determine if you want more dressing or if half is enough.  You can always make the entire dressing recipe and serve the remaining half on the side for those who wish to have more.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Brazilian Lemonade

If you're like us, you are glued to the TV for the next few days.

As in, glued to the Olympics!

Since the Opening Ceremony, we have been watching relentlessly!

There is something about the Olympics that we love!

Matter of fact, we'll watch sports, that at any other time, we're not really interested in!

For example, the last time we watched ladies volleyball was . . .

four years ago.

But put the infamous 5 Olympic rings on the screen, and we become mesmerized by sports!

Along with the sports, is the excitement of the host country!

We like to learn a little about the country,

think of things we'd like to do if we could ever visit,

and look at the pretty landscape of the host country as we learn about it through the watching of the Olympics!

Typically, on the evening of the Opening Ceremony, I'll make food from the host country.

This year, I planned to do that,

but our schedule kept us from having a watch party.

But I still had the ingredients from my meal planning.

So, on this hot Sunday afternoon, I made a delicious Brazilian treat!

I'm not even kidding!

This is one delicious drink!

The Mr. said, "I could suck this down in one big gulp!"

The cherubs both loved it too!

You're going to look at the title,

then look at the ingredients,

and be confused!


and no lemons!

Only limes.

I have no idea . . .

but it doesn't really matter!

This drink is so good that you're going to want to make sure you have plenty of limes!

Brazilian Lemonade

2 limes, cut into wedges (don't skimp by using lime juice.  Use the real fruit)
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups water
3 TBSP sweetened condensed milk

In a blender, add the lime wedges, sugar, and water.

Pulse until well blended.

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the lime mixture into a pitcher.

Return the strained liquid to the blender container and add the 3 TBSP of sweetened condensed milk.

Pulse quickly to blend.

Serve over lots of ice.

This recipe easily doubles! 

Also, this drink needs to be served immediately after making, as it does not hold well.

If you're wanting to serve to a large group, do the prep work of blending the limes/sugar/water and straining.  But wait until ready to serve to mix the lime juice mixture with the sweetened condensed milk.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Company Iced Tea

We were having a weekend of guests.

Not over-night guests; just a weekend with a variety of guests.

Breakfast guests.

Hang-out-after-church- guests.

Neighbor guests.

That got me thinking.

"What can I serve to drink besides the regular stuff?"

Which that got me looking at different options.

I went to one of my trusty cookbooks . . .

the one my mom put together for me when I was getting married.

She collected recipes from family and friends, from both sides of our family,

and compiled all the recipes into a cute little cookbook.

Which I still use today.

This recipe is from our "Auntie Ronda," who, more than 30 years ago, started out as a neighbor and turned into family!

There, in the appetizer section, was this recipe.

Note:  maybe that's why I've missed it before . . .it was in "appetizer," rather than drinks, or miscellaneous . . . .

But for whatever reason, I saw it.

The ingredients are simple.

At the bottom of the recipe, my mom wrote, "very good."

With that kind of simple endorsement, I put the necessary ingredients on my shopping list.

Since then, I have made this about a bazillion times . . .this week!

It's so easy, even the Mr. is making it;

From memory!!

Pretty amazing, huh?

After serving it this past weekend, I was even asked for the recipe!

It was equally consumed by both the men, women, and children.

Company Iced Tea

2/3 cup instant lemon iced tea
6 cups water
1 cup white grape juice

Mix all of the ingredients into a pretty pitcher.

Stir well.

Serve over ice.

*easily doubled . . .or halved!