Archive | August 2012

Boneless Buffalo Chicken Bites

Ok, so I have a thing about knives that I shared with you. Well, I also have a thing about bones. I can’t eat any meat that has bones in it. I see a bone, then I see a muscle, then I see a tendon and God forbid I see a vein or artery. Then I see a cow, a pig or a chicken. Then I see a baby cow, baby pig or baby chicken. I can’t eat a baby! Ok, almost puked just typing that. I totally can’t stand bones. When someone eats ribs or wings, I am seriously grossed out. Oh, oh, oh! If someone sucks on a bone, I darn near pass out. Bones freak me out something fierce! I so could be a vegetarian if I actually ate anything other than corn and potatoes. So it is always boneless chicken breasts or boneless pork chops or boneless steaks in our house. I have failed our 15 (almost 16) year old because he now has the weird bone fear too. Ok, I’ve got to stop talking about bones or me and the commode will be best buddies for the next few hours!

The problem is that I love buffalo wings, just NOT the wings or the flappers. Oh my, I need to stop talking about bones now! So the hubby for the past 17 years has really catered around this fear. Man, he is the best of the best!

The hubby makes us Boneless Buffalo Chicken Bites and they are superb! No bones about it (ok bad joke, lol)! Without further adieu (yep, I googled the correct spelling for that), here’s the recipe!

*Printable Recipe: Boneless Buffalo Chicken Bites

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt

  • 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash

  • 1 teaspoon chicken seasoning

  • 1 – 1/2 cups flour

  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt

  • 6 tablespoons butter

  • 12 good shakes of Frank’s Hot Sauce

Directions:

Heat deep fryer to 400 degrees.

Clean chicken and cut into one inch cubes. Season with 1 teaspoon seasoning salt, Mrs. Dash and chicken seasoning.

Add flour and 2 tablespoons of seasoned salt into a large bowl. Mix it up.

Place chicken cubes in flour and with your hand, mix chicken around until all chunks are well coated with flour.

Once the oil is heated, drop 1/3 of the floured chicken chunks into the oil one piece at a time.

Deep fry until golden brown and cooked through

(approximately 3-5 minutes).

Remove and drain on a plate covered in a paper towel. Repeat two more times until all the chicken has been cooked.

While cooking chicken, prepare sauce. In a small saucepan, melt butter.

Once melted, add 12 good shakes of Frank’s Hot Sauce to the saucepan. Stir. We prefer medium heat and 12 good shakes does it just right for us. You certainly could add less or more depending on how hot you want your buffalo chicken bites to be.

Heat sauce up in the pan.

Once all chicken is cooked, place the cooked chicken in a deep enough container that has a lid.

Pour the sauce over the chicken bites.

Put the lid on and give it a few good shakes.

As you can see, this particular Tupperware container is used exclusively to make our Buffalo Chicken Bites because it has already stained the lid a pretty orange color, lol.

Serve with blue cheese dressing. Super yummy and super easy!

Fabulous Peach Jam

Do you remember a while back when we got 2 crates of Peaches? We did Freezer Canned Peaches and also made 5 one quart bags full of diced peaches (mixed with approximately two tablespoons of lemon juice in each) that I promptly placed in the freezer. I intended on making Peach Jam later with these. Well FINALLY, I had time to can the Peach Jam!

I have canned strawberry jam, blackberry jam and tomatoes before but had never tried making Peach Jam. It was also the first time I used frozen fruit. I removed the frozen peaches from the freezer and put them in the fridge overnight. Although they were tossed with lemon juice, the peaches still darkened a little in color but thankfully the flavor was not affected. I was a little disappointed in the slight darkening but kept on going.

*Printable Recipe: Fabulous Peach Jam

First off, when you want to can, you need 5 basic equipment:

  1. Canning stockpot (super large pot with a jar rack for sterilizing)

  2. Canning jars with rims & lids (I used Ball 8oz jelly jars in a 12 count package)

  3. Canner tongs

  4. Wide-mouth funnel for wide-mouth jars

  5. Magnetic lid picker upper thingy (I’m sure there is a more appropriate name, lol)

There are tons of other great canning supplies out there but these 5 things will do the job just fine.

You then need the “food” ingredients to make the jam. I used the following:

  • 5 – one quart bags of diced peaches (it took 20 peaches to make the 5 – one quart bags, so if using fresh fruit, peel and dice up 20 peaches, don’t forget to remove the pits and all hard parts around it)

  • 7 cups of sugar separated (1 cup + 6 cups)

  • 4.7 oz plastic jar of Ball Classic Pectin

  • one cup water

Don’t you just love it?! Water, sugar, pectin and fruit, that’s it! No other junk you can’t even pronounce, lol.

Directions:

Before even getting the peaches out, you have to wash your jars, lids and rims in hot, soapy water. Rinse well under the hottest water you can tolerate. You can then put them in your dishwasher on high-heat dry setting to finish the cleaning process. Our dishwasher brand is Steve Jr. Never heard of that brand? It’s the best out there, lol! Our teenage son does the dishes; we don’t have an electric dishwasher, lol. We also have a Steve Jr. automatic car starter, lol! If you have a human dishwasher like us, you will need to add lots of water to your super large canning stockpot. Add water until the canner stockpot is 2/3 full of water. Heat water to a soft boil (I’m guessing a rapid boil is better but even after 30 minutes on a burner set to high, the water never came to a rapid boil). Trust me though, the water was super hot! Put the cleaned jars, rims and lids in the water and sterilize for 10 minutes. I used my canner tongs to remove the glass jars and placed them upright on paper towels to air dry. I used my magnetic lid picker upper thingy to remove the rims and lids and also placed them on paper towels to air dry. I kept the canner stock pot full of water on the burner boiling. If you used an electric dishwasher instead, now’s the time to go ahead and fill that super large canner stockpot 2/3 full with water and turn the burner up to high.

I put the 5 thawed-out quart bags of peaches into a large pot. In a bowl, I mixed the entire jar of Ball Classic Pectin with 1 cup of sugar. I added the pectin sugar mix and one cup of water to the peaches. I brought the peach mix to a full rapid boil (a boil that can’t be stirred away). This took a long time since the peaches were still cold from the fridge. It took approximately half an hour to get it to a full boil and I stirred the mix frequently. The peaches broke down nicely. There were still some small chunks of solid pieces that will give the jam great texture.

After the peach mix hit a rapid boil, I added 6 cups of sugar. I then stirred frequently until the peach mix came to another rapid boil. I removed it from the heat and skimmed off the frothy layer on top. Using my canner funnel, I ladled the peach mix into the jars up to 1/4″ from the top. I placed the lid on top and screwed on the ring. I repeated this process for the remaining 11 jars. Turns out I had enough peach mix made for probably another 12 jars! I put the remainder of the peach mix into 2 large Tupperware containers with lids and placed them directly into the fridge.

I have to tell you at this point I was so upset. The peach jam didn’t appear to be “gelling”. It was still pretty runny. I went back to the directions I was following and was kicking myself for not reading the directions more closely. It says that jam has to be made in small batches so that it can gel up. The small batch they were talking about was 1/4 of what I made. I was then confused about the sugar bit. It said 7 cups in the beginning but then later in the directions said only 4 cups? I was frustrated but kept on going. I put the filled jars in the canner stockpot for processing. I completely submerged the jars (I used the wire holder to prevent the jars from directly touching the bottom of the stockpot) and allowed the jars to boil for 10 minutes. I used my canning tongs to remove the jars and placed them upright on a bed of paper towels. At this point, I was damn near in tears. I could see the jam inside the jars sloshing around and thought for sure I ruined all those peaches and wasted all that money on those jars because it sure didn’t look like jam, it instead looked like syrup. I forced myself to put a smile on my face because I may not have created jam but I at the very least created a nice peach syrup that can be served over ice cream. It didn’t work, who am I kidding? I was down right mad at myself for not reading the directions correctly. Damn my impatient self! I turned the stove burner off and went to bed feeling defeated.

I woke the next morning to find the jars were all sealed! How do you know they are sealed and shelf-safe? You push down on the lids and if it doesn’t pop up and down (you will hear a popping sound) then it is sealed. So yay! I have sealed Peach Syrup! No worries though, if your lid pops, then put the jar in the fridge (it just means it is not safe to store it on a shelf if the lid didn’t seal) but will be fine if immediately refridgerated. Then I picked up a jar and almost dropped it in my excitement . . . it actually gelled up!

Yes, Yes, Yes! So scratch the Peach Syrup . . . I have Peach Jam! 

Spencer and I quickly opened up a jar and made some toast and jam for breakfast! Let me tell you, all my fears about it being overly sweet and not jelly-like were completely unfounded! It was perfectly sweetened (remember, I started off with way more peaches than the recipe I was following so the 7 total cups of sugar worked out beautifully) and it was a wonderfully thickened consistency! Actually, if I had followed the other recipe correctly, the Peach Jam would have been way more sweet so I am glad I was a bit impatient, lol, because it turned out to be just the right amount of sweetness!

I found labels in the bottom of the box the jars came in. I promptly wrote “Peach Jam” and the date on each label. I proudly stuck those labels on my Fabulous Peach Jam!

How did it taste? FANFREAKINGTASTIC! Yes, that is really a word, lol. I successfully made my first jam from peaches and peaches that were frozen even! Woohoo! It was sweetened to perfection, just the right gel thickness and had these wonderful, small chunks of peaches in it! I certainly will do this again next summer! I won’t change a darn thing about my recipe because it really turned out perfect! Small batch my butt, lol! Well, there is one thing I would change . . . I would buy another dozen canning jars, lol!

Lessons Learned:

  1. Always have a back up plan. Peach Syrup would have been OK too!

  2. Have Faith. Things may not first appear like you want it to, just rest on it. It may just later turn out the way you had hoped for or into something even BETTER.

  3. Don’t ever doubt yourself. You are your own type of “AWESOME”!

Hmmm . . . Now who to give all this Peach Jam too?

Update:

I’ve already passed out several jars and the reviews are all the same . . . folks LOVED it! One friend ate a 1/4 of the jar by herself with her finger on the way to her yoga class, lol. Brings whole new meaning to the phrase “finger licking good” and additionally, she now doesn’t have to share it with the rest of her family, lol!

Disclaimer:

After opening a jar, be sure to put it in the fridge like you would do with any other jams or jellies. If you open a canned jar (no matter if it is peach jam, strawberry jam or tomatoes) and it smells funny or looks funny, don’t be a dummy, toss it. It may not have sealed correctly and spoiled. If after processing your jam your lid “pops” to the touch (meaning it didn’t seal properly), put that jam directly into the fridge. I am not a canning expert so use common sense if you attempt to can yourself. Research thoroughly the canning process. I just know that what I did worked well for us! I will be doing it this same way for years to come.

Chunky, Cheesy, Potato and Ham Soup

Well, like I said a couple of days ago, my mom gave us a bushel of red potatoes. We are still trying to use them all up before any go bad. We hate to waste any food! It was a wet day overall on Monday and kind of gray most of the day. Seemed like a perfect day for soup! Steve and I mixed together some common ingredients found in most kitchens to create this amazing Chunky, Cheesy, Potato & Ham Soup! It turned out fantastic! Easy to make and best of all, a recipe that didn’t call for a “cream of something”! Give this soup a try, it was super cheesy and yummy!

*Printable Recipe: Chunky Cheesy Potato & Ham Soup

Ingredients:

  •  12 red potatoes

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 3 cups milk (separated: 2 cups + 1 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1/4 teaspoon white sugar

  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

  • 1 cup diced ham

Directions:

Scrub potatoes and cut into chunks (leave skins on). Place potato chunks into a large saucepan and add enough water to cover the potatoes. Boil potatoes until all pieces are fork tender. Ladle out 1 cup of water from the sauce pan. Pour remainder of water and potatoes into a colander to drain potatoes. Add reserved liquid back into the pot. Turn burner on to medium heat. Stir in melted butter or margarine, onion and flour. Stir till well combined. Add 2 cups of cold milk and stir. Pour one cup of cold milk into a liquid measuring cup and add the cornstarch. With a fork, mix the milk and cornstarch until smooth and no clumps are present. Add the milk/cornstarch mix to the saucepan. Add the remainder of ingredients: cooked potato chunks, sugar, cheese and ham. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to your liking.

Optionally, you can garnish your soup with sliced green onions and bacon bits. It went really well with our BLC sandwiches (bacon, lettuce & cheese)! What a great dinner for a rainy & gray day!

Gradient Glitter Nails

After a few weeks of eye-catching nail art, I decided to go back to subtle. Went to the dollar store and found these two amazing nail polish colors for only $1 each! The brand was L.A. Colors/Color Craze Nail Polish. The bottles did not have the name of the colors on it anywhere but the following numbers were on the bottom: BCC659 and BCC652. One is a nude color and the other has tiny, shimmery and translucent glitter in clear nail polish. It really turned out nice and no matter how many pictures I take, it just won’t capture the simple beauty of it all because the colors are so neutral. But, you can get an idea from the pictures how pretty this is. When the light catches the glitter, there is just enough of a sparkle without going overboard.

To create the Gradient Glitter Nails, I painted the whole nail bed with 3 layers of the nude (it is such a light color that it took 3 layers for it to not be “see-through”). Then I took the glitter polish and started 1/2 way up the nail bed and painted a light layer. Then I started at the edge of the nail (where you would normally paint white in a French manicure design) and brushed on another layer of the glitter polish. I repeated this last step once more. I then applied clear nail polish to even out the different layers of nail polish. In the end, the light layer of glitter with the added layer toward the edge gives it the gradient glitter effect. Turned out wonderful! Subtle opulence. Again, sorry about the pictures, the nude color is really hard to capture with a camera. The pictures really don’t do this design justice.

Smashed Garlic Parmesan Potatoes

So my mother gave us a bushel of red potatoes recently. I love red potatoes and we decided to try some new things out. We made our version of Smashed Garlic Parmesan Potatoes and they turned out mighty tasty!

*Printable Recipe: Smashed Garlic Parmesan Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 8 red potatoes (2 for each of us)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt

  • 1 teaspoon of Mrs. Dash

  • Butter flavored oil (or 4 tablespoons of butter/margarine melted)

  • Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Wash potatoes and boil till fork tender in a large pot of water (we added a dash of salt to the water). Drain. Turn the oven on broil.

Cover a cookie sheet in foil. Place olive oil in a small dish. With a pastry brush, brush olive oil over the foil. Place a potato down on the prepared cookie sheet. Using a potato masher or anything else with a flat bottom (we used a Tupperware cup) smash the potato down. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

Apply the remainder of the olive oil to the tops of the all the smashed potatoes with a pastry brush.

Combine the garlic salt and Mrs. Dash in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly on top of all potatoes (we just eye-balled it and sprinkled it on directly from the spice bottles).

Drizzle butter flavored oil on top (or brush on melted butter/margarine). We keep our butter flavored oil in a yellow squeeze bottle. Pretty convenient, sure beats trying to lift the one gallon jug every time we use butter flavored oil.

Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Place in oven and broil until edges are toasty (approximately 5-7 minutes). Bon Appétit!

Printable Recipes

As I continuously try to improve my blog and make it user-friendly, I decided to go back to the beginning and add printable recipes for all the food posts. It will be a slow process! I am smacking myself for not thinking of this at the beginning, lol! The good news: I will automatically add the printable recipe to any new food posts from here on out, lol!

Fruit Flies Be Gone!

The best thing about summer is that fresh fruit is abundant! The worst part about summer, so are the fruit flies! Those tiny flying varmints wreak havoc so fast. You see one and then a half hour later you have dozen more. I think they mate, lay eggs and hatch all within minutes! They are so hard to get rid of so I turned to the source for all things true for a fix, Pinterest, lol. Pinterest had several ideas and we tried almost all of them without success. But, then we tried the Mason Jar trick and it worked, unfortunately, the directions weren’t very clear! I must have things really detailed, it’s just the nurse in me I guess, lol. So below are detailed instructions on how to create your Mason Jar Fruit Fly Trap.

Take an empty mason jar and fill it with about 1/2 inch of apple cider vinegar. Drop a ripe piece of banana into the jar. Take a piece of paper and make a funnel out of it. The small end needs to be no more than 1/2 inch wide and the wider end has to be wide enough that it touches the top edge of the mason jar. This takes several tries to get the right funnel shape. It works best if you roll your funnel in the landscape position (long side). Tape your funnel together on the outside and drop the small end into the jar. The small end should hover just above the piece of banana but does not touch it. Tape the funnel to the top of the jar (on the outside) creating a seal. Use several pieces of tape to accomplish this. This is hard to see since we used masking tape but look at the threads of the mason jar, you can see the tape that secures the funnel to the jar.

Put your mason jar fruit fly trap next to your fresh fruit. Then yell in your most evil voice, “Fruit Flies Be Gone!” Ok, you don’t have to yell but it makes me feel better, lol. The fruit flies all fly down and crawl into the jar but for whatever reason, can’t figure out how to get back out, lol. The try their darndest to get out by crawling up the outside of the funnel (which is still inside the jar) but because you taped the jar to the funnel, they are just stuck. After you have caught all the flies in sight. Take the jar outside, untape & remove the funnel and set the buggers free. This is not only an effective way to get rid of fruit flies but actually a very humane one.

I hope you have been able to avoid a fruit fly infestation but just in case you got one like we did (thanks to the over-ripe bananas) set this trap up and you will be pleased with the results. Will it get all of them on the first try? No. Don’t think so but it will get the majority. Once you have released the flies caught, set your trap up again. After a few days of repeating this process, those varmints should be gone. They were for us! Good luck!