A Spanish Omelet is almost a Robust Meal in itself

A Spanish omelet – or tortilla – is a considerably more robust and substantial creation than the light and fluffy French style omelets. The drawback of this is that they take considerably longer to cook than their French counterparts but the results more than justify the extra time and effort. While the principal ingredients of a Spanish omelet are usually only eggs, potatoes and onions, this recipe expands the concept a little bit further for extra tasty results. Although delicious served hot, Spanish omelets are very often left to cool completely and eaten cold, perhaps as a tasty and unexpected treat for a picnic on a hot summer‘s day.

Ingredients (serves six)

1lb starchy potatoes, peeled and cut to 1” chunks
½ lb Spanish onions, peeled and quartered
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in to strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut in to strips
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 large eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp roughly chopped basil leaves

Directions

Pour the olive oil in to a large, deep, non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the potatoes and the onions and essentially but very gently stir fry for a couple of minutes until all the pieces are evenly coated with oil. Put the lid on the pan and leave it alone for twenty minutes to steam cook the potatoes.

Just before the potatoes and onions are done, the eggs should be beaten in a large bowl and seasoned with salt and pepper. Strain the contents of the pan over a second large bowl, reserving the olive oil. Carefully add the potatoes, onion, bell peppers and basil to the egg mix and stir in a folding motion to fully combine.

Return the olive oil to the pan and bring back up to a medium heat. Pour the egg and vegetable mixture in to the pan, slowly but steadily, so as not create spills or splashes. Cook for four or five minutes, frequently easing the cooking egg free from the sides of the pan with a spatula.

When you can see by looking at the omelet that the egg is set most of the way up, it is time to turn it. This is a little bit awkward and you should be careful not to burn yourself or spill the omelet.

Take the pan briefly from the stove and sit it on a heatproof surface. Use your spatula to ensure the egg is not sticking anywhere around the edge of the pan. Lay a plate larger than the pan over the top and – using a thick towel or oven gloves to protect your hands – invert the pan that the uncooked side of the omelet is on the bottom of the plate. Return the pan to the heat and simply slide the omelet back in to cook for a further four or five minutes on its second side.

When the Spanish omelet is done, slide it from the pan on to a plate, cover and leave to cool at least partially before slicing like a cake in to six portions. Serve immediately with salad or cool completely and pack with the remaining components of your picnic.

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27 March

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies Rolled Oats Honey Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

These soft and chewy oatmeal cookies have a wonderful flavor and uniform color; made with honey, and baked in a slow oven they win compliments every time. Soft and chewy oatmeal cookies like these will help satisfy a craving for chocolate as well as the need for a good old-fashioned oatmeal cookie. This recipe works well with either cake flour or all-purpose flour. When substituting simply sift the all-purpose flour 3 times and then take out 2 tablespoons for each cup used in the recipe.

For great results, follow these simple steps:

1- Heat the oven
2- Arrange all ingredients
3- Prepare cookie sheet (grease)
4- Sift flour and measure immediately; pile lightly in to measuring cup, level with straight edge of knife, refrain from shaking or tapping the cup, since flour particles pack readily.
5- Measure other dry ingredients, add to flour and sift again.
6- Cream shortening in a bowl; do this by whipping until very soft and fluffy. Never melt the shortening as this injures the texture and flavor of the cookie. Shortening creams between 70 and 80 degrees.
7- Add sugar gradually and beat well with each addition. The mixture should have a fluffy appearance when thoroughly creamed. You do not need to sift granulated sugar.
8- Cream the eggs into the sugar and shortening mixture.
9- Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, and mix.

Here is the recipe:

Honey Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
1/4-teaspoon soda
1/2-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon cinnamon
1-cup shortening
1 1/4 cups honey
2 eggs, beaten
2 ounces chocolate, melted
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup nuts or coconut

Sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon together. Cream the shortening and honey together. Add the beaten eggs, melted chocolate, and rolled oats. Mix these ingredients thoroughly. Add the sifted dry ingredients and the nuts or coconut. Drop dough from a teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet and then bake in a slow oven at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. This recipe makes 5 1/2 dozen delicious soft and chewy oatmeal cookies.

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26 March

Practical Pre Cooking and Cooking Advice for Ensuring Omelets are Served as Light as possible

Omelets are a delicious meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They can be prepared and served plain or filled, but either way, they are likely to be at their very best when the egg mixture is cooked light and fluffy. Following are several techniques that will help your omelets turn out just right.

Seasoning

Never season an omelet before it’s cooked. Salt in particular can affect the moisture levels and cause the eggs to become grainy in the pan, so seasoning should only be added just before the omelet is folded over for plating.

Beating the eggs

A fork is very often used to beat eggs when making an omelet. While a fork will do the job and serve to combine the eggs, a balloon whisk will allow far more air to be beaten in to the eggs and result in a fluffier omelet. These whisks are useful for many purposes and can be purchased fairly inexpensively in either conventional stores or online.

Consider separating the egg whites from the yolks for beating. By beating the whites until they increase by about 25 percent in volume, it is much easier to incorporate the necessary air that will make an omelet fluffy. Do be careful, however, not to over-whisk the egg whites as though making meringues. The yolks should be lightly beaten in a separate bowl before being folded into the whites. This prevents the precious air being forced out of the mixture before it hits the pan.

As an alternative to separating the egg whites and yolks, try adding a tablespoon of water per three eggs to the bowl before the eggs are beaten. The steam caused by the water during cooking will help the eggs to puff up and become more fluffy.

Omelet pans

Special pans are available for making omelets. They are usually smaller than a standard frying pan and can be either cast iron or nonstick. A pan of this size helps prevent the egg mix spreading out too thinly over the surface and ensures the omelet cooks evenly with no bald patches in the pan.

A little butter or oil should be added to the pan before it is placed on the heat, but not too much or the omelet will be greasy. It is important to know that the pan must be brought up to a moderately high heat before the beaten eggs are added in order that the mixture begins cooking immediately and doesn?t absorb the fat or oil.

Tending the cooking omelet

When the eggs are first added to the pan they will of course be in liquid form. Use a plastic spatula to work slowly around the circumference of the pan, drawing the mixture from the edges in to the middle of the pan. This makes for more even cooking but has to be done very gently to avoid forcing the air out of the mixture. As soon as the eggs begin to solidify, it is vital to stop doing this or the eggs will scramble. The heat should be reduced and the eggs left to cook until only the slightest residue of liquid is visible on top of the set eggs.

Finishing the omelet

When the omelet is almost but not quite set, season with salt and pepper. Any filling which is to be incorporated should be laid on one half of the omelet and the empty half carefully folded over the top with a spatula. The egg will complete cooking in a matter of seconds in the residual heat, so the omelet should be plated and served immediately with accompaniments of choice.

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25 March

Coconut Bread

One day I was looking through my cupboards because I wanted something baked and sweet, but not too sweet. There wasn’t much in there except for some staples (like flour and sugar) and a bag of shredded coconut I had bought a while back, but never used. This is how I came up with coconut bread. The recipe is quite easy and may look plain, but the smell as this bread is baking will have you impatient, I guarantee it!

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 2/3 cup shredded coconut
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 ounces golden rum
1/2 cup melted and cooled butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans, or a ten inch tube pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt with wire whisk. Stir in the shredded coconut and the sugar. Make a well in the center of this dry mixture. In another bowl combine the last set of ingredients. Pour this mixture into the well of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Bake in pan(s) for 50 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean. Cool in pan(s) for 10 minutes. Remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.

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24 March

Recipes Quiche

I love quiche and it’s so easy to make. You can add almost any vegetable you like to spice it up. This is my favorite recipe and a few variations to try for yourself.

PIE CRUST

Ingredients

2- 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup of shortening (Crisco)

If you’re in a hurry you can always use a pre-made pie crust with good results as well.

BASIC CHEESE

Ingredients

6 eggs (beaten)
1 can cheese soup
1 + 1/2 cups of cheese (your choice)
1/ 2 cup of half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

VARIATIONS

You can add one or all of these variations to your quiche.

1/2 cup of frozen spinach (thawed)
1/2 cup of broccoli florets (diced)
1/2 cup of mushrooms (diced)
1/2 cup of tomatoes (sliced thin or diced)
1/2 cup of onions (diced)
1/2 cup of green peppers (diced)

If you choose to just use one or two ingredients you can increase the amount to 3/4 cup to 1 cup.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and mix well, pour the mixture in to the unbaked pie shell and bake for 1 hour. Serves 6

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23 March

American Chili Styles

Chili is as All-American as apple pie.  Many regions of the US  have their own distinct chili recipes and are known for a certain twist on chili.  The types of meat, spices and toppings can change the flavor of chili and what each area uses makes it stand out and stamps it as part of that region.

Texas chili is probably the first thing most people think of when they think of chili.  According to John Mitzewich, the former About.com guide for American Food, “real chili recipes use cubed chunks of meat instead of ground beef, and also don’t contain beans.”   Most Texas chili  has no beans or tomatoes.  A good recipe can be found on Epicurious.com.  Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients.  It’s not that hard to make. 

Another type of Texas chili is “a bowl of red”. This is a breeze to make and most of the ingredients are those found in most kitchens. 

Cincinnati chili is probably the most interesting.  You can get Cincinnati chili served five “ways”.  One way is just plain chili, two way is chili served on spaghetti, three way is chili, spaghetti and shredded cheddar, four way is chili, spaghetti, shredded cheddar and chopped onions, five way is all that and beans.   Cincinnati chili is always served with oyster crackers.  One of the ingredients in Cincinnati chili which might be surprising is cocoa powder.  A good recipe can be found here.

While firehouse chili is not exactly a region it is a distinct type of chili which deserves its own mention.  Traditionally, firefighters tend to cook large amounts of food while on duty and waiting for a fire.  They need hearty food to be able to do their very physical job.  Firehouse chili ranges from mild to spicy and usually the recipes are in large amounts. 

Southwestern chili is usually made with salsa verde, salsa made with green tomatoes. This chili has a milder, mellow flavor than chili made with red tomatoes.  Many times, Southwestern chili will be made with chicken rather than beef and may have white beans rather than red ones.

If you’ve only ever had chili out of a can, making your own chili should be on your list of things to do. Like most food, out of the can just doesn’t cut it.  Chili isn’t that hard to make and can even be done in a crock pot. Homemade food always taste better than canned or prepared food and it’s much better for your health, as well.

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23 March

You don’t have to Wait on someone to Give you Starter any more

Remember when you used to have to wait on someone to give you a starter before you could make Amish Friendship bread? Now you don’t have to wait I have the perfect starter for you. It is so simple you’ll want to share it with all your friends and faimly.

When I first made Amish Friendship bread like many of you someone had given me a starter. I remember being so proud to make this bread about every ten days and then you know what happened I got tired of baking or just didn’t have the time. So my starter just sat there unattended and I finally through it away.

Then I didn’t have a starter to work with and it took me a year to find someone who had a starter for me. Then the whole cycle began all over again. I baked, I forgot to bake and then I had to through away my starter because of my neglect.

Luckily for me and now you to, my sister-in-law gave me a recipe to make my on starter. It was so quick ans easy I couldn’t believe I had never thought of it before myself. I’ve also included the recipe for Amish Friendship Bread.

To make your starter pour 1 cup each flour plain or all purpose, sugar, and milk whole, 2%, or skim whichever you prefer into Gallon zip lock bag mush together. Now you have your starter.

Important:
Do not use any type of metal spoons or bowl for making

Do not refrigerate

If air gets in the bag, let it out

It is normal for the batter to rise, bubble, and ferment

Day #1- Do nothing ( this is the day you got the bag) or the first date on the bag.
If you made your on starter, you start on day 2.

Day #2- Mush the bag

Day #3- Mush the bag

Day #4- Mush the bag

Day #5- Mush the bag

Day #6- Add to the bag: 1 cup each, all purpose flour, sugar, milk. Close the bag and mush.
Note: Anytime I use flour, I use self rising flour and I leave out the baking powder,
baking soda, and salt. It still turns out great.

Day #7- Mush the bag

Day #8- Mush the bag

Day #9- Mush the bag

Day #10- Follow the directions:

Pour the entire contents of bag into non-metal bowl

Add 1 1/2 cups each: all purpose flour, sugar, milk. Mix.

Measure out 4 separate portions, 1 cup each, into Gallon zip-lock bags.

These are your starters.

Keep 1 starter for yourself, and give one to each of 3 friends, along with

a recipe. Date your starters so they’ll know what day they are on.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To remaining batter add the following:

3 eggs 1 cup sugar 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (if using plain flour)

1 cup oil 2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. baking soda ( if using plain flour)

1/2 cup milk 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1/2 tsp. salt ( if using plain flour)

2 cups flour ( all purpose or self raising)

1 large instant vanilla pudding

Grease 2 large loaf pans and mix additional 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.
Dust the greased pans with 1/2 the mixture.
Pour the cake mix evenly into the prepared pans and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture
on top. Bake for 1 hour. Cool until bread loosens from the pan. About 10 min.

Note; If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking every 10 days. The bread
makes a very good gift. If you miss mushing the bag a couple of times don’t worry
bread still turns out fine. Enjoy.

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23 March

Poached Eggs the Easy way

Many people experience whirlwind mornings and breakfast is on the fly, so they end up choosing unhealthy foods because they are quick.  But you can actually make a great breakfast in about five minutes and a poached egg in the microwave is the beginning of that healthy breakfast.

Protein is an essential part of a balanced breakfast.  Eggs are a good source of protein so they make a good choice to start the day with.

When poaching the egg, there is no need for butter or fats, as there is when you fry eggs so that definitely makes for a healthier egg.  Of course, you can add a small smidgen of butter or margarine after the egg is cooked and dash of salt but you don’t need the fats to cook the egg so if you’re watching your fat intake, the microwaved poached egg is a perfect choice. 

Done right, you don’t have to worry about the egg exploding and making a mess in your microwave either.  You don’t need special tools, either.  A ramekin, small Pyrex bowl or a glass mug is all you need to poach an egg in the microwave. If you don’t own ramekins, it’s good idea to invest in them as any working kitchen and cook will use them often, not just to poach eggs.

A poached eggs takes about a minute to cook in the microwave. But you don’t cook it for a full minute non-stop.  Four 15 second intervals is all it takes to cook a lovely poached egg.

Fill the ramekin with hot water from the tap or from a water cooler with a hot water function works best.  The egg will start cooking when you drop it in the hot water.  Put the ramekin in the microwave and set it to high for 15 seconds.  When it stops, let it sit for a few seconds and repeat those 15 seconds again.  After the third interval of 15 seconds, using a slotted spoon, turn the egg over so the softer egg yolk is visible and do your last round of 15 seconds. 

And that’s all there is to poaching an egg in the microwave.  Serve with two slices of toast, fruit and yogurt and you’ve got a good breakfast in less than five minutes.  You can prep by cutting fruit the night before to speed things up even further. There really is no reason to stop for an Egg McMuffin on the way to work or school.

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22 March

Biscuit Biscuit Recipe Cheese Biscuit Angel Biscuit

Forget all the fast food and other restaurant commercials that say their biscuits taste like home made! There really is no substitute for real homemade biscuits and the mouth watering smell as they bake in your oven. Here are two recipes, one for the cheese lovers and one for those who prefer the yeasty type.

CHEESE BISCUITS

1 pound sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 pound butter or margarine
4 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pecans (optional)

Blend cheese and butter into sifted dry ingredients until smooth. Pat or roll out in floured surface to about 1/3 inch thickness. Cut with inside of doughnut cutter or other small cutter or push through a cookie press. Or make into a cookie roll, refrigerate overnight and slice. Garnish with pecans if desired. Bake on ungreased sheet at 325 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Do not allow to brown.

Store in an airtight tin, placing wax paper between layers. Freezes well in closed tin. Makes about 125.

ANGEL BISCUITS

5 cups flour (plain)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shortening
1 pkg. dry yeast

Dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons warm water. Mix together the other ingredients and yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly. Put in the refrigerator overnight. Bake at 425 degree F for about 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.

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21 March

Hormone Laden Dairy Products are an Ongoing Controversy

Many dairy farmers in the U.S. routinely give their cows bovine growth hormones to aid in milk production. This practice, although allowable by law and considered ‘safe’ by the U.S. government, has raised a lot of controversy. There are misgivings about the safety of this practice and many groups and individuals are against buying dairy products that come from cows given hormones.

Why are cows given these hormones?

Since 1993 when the practice was developed, many conventional dairy farmers have begun to routinely give their cows bovine growth hormones in order to make cows mature quicker and produce larger quantities of milk. The hormone may be referred to as bGH, rbGH, bST, or bST.

According to Baby Center, “hormone is produced by cows’ pituitary gland and an extra amino acid is attached before it’s injected into dairy cows.”

Health concerns from dairy products coming from hormone-injected cows

Several consumer groups are concerned there may be adverse health effects to humans consuming dairy products that contain the extra hormones. The practice has been banned in Canada and Europe, but not the U.S.

Health concerns include the effect it has on cows. Baby Center notes that cows receiving the hormone injection are possibly prone to health problems including reproductive troubles, infections and lameness.

Often antibiotics are given to afflicted cows to combat problems, and traces of these drugs end up in the dairy products sold on the market. This leads to a more complicated issue associated with antibiotic resistant bacteria, often referred to as “super bugs”.

Other health concerns include potential increased risks of cancers and children physically developing more quickly. These are some of the reasons why people avoid dairy products coming from hormone injected cows. At this time, many feel there are just too many unknowns for long-term impact, and opponents feel more testing should have been conducted before food laws allowed the practice to enter the food chain.

How to avoid buying these dairy products

Currently, there is a lot of opposition to this practice, the primary reasons being the potential adverse health effects. There are many advocacy groups pushing to have this practice halted, or at least have labeling on dairy products that contain hormones.

It is important to know that since labeling of hormones are not required by law, if you want to avoid buying these products, look for labels that are organic, hormone “free” or “no hormones administered”.    Practically Green recommends consumers buy organic because this is the “surer bet” no hormones have been used since there are no third party certifications to monitor the hormone “free” labels and this label, unlike the organic one, doesn’t address how the cows eat or live.  

To find where to buy hormone-free dairy products, Eat Well Guide offers additional resources.

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20 March