Less Mess Deviled Eggs

After making easy peeling hard boiled eggs, deviled eggs are a snap. All the times I’ve made deviled eggs, the peeling takes the longest time. I like my deviled eggs savory and sour. You should make your favorite filling but mine is:

Mashed hard yolks from halves of a dozen hard boiled eggs (don’t count in the picture, it’s fewer here), 1/2 c mayonnaise, 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 2 Tablespoons of relish or finely chopped pickles (whichever you have).

Once your filling mixture is smooth, put into a frosting bag with a tip or a ziplock bag and snip the corner. (It’s kinda amazing that I have a frosting bag. I use it primarily for making deviled eggs. I don’t have a deviled egg plate so I use a pie pan.)

Then pipe in your filling one egg half at a time. If you have frosting skills yours will look better than mine. I just hold the tip near the bottom of the egg half then squeeze until the egg is filled and lift out.

I sprinkle with paprika, but chives or dill would be good too.

Happy Cookout Gatherings!

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Silver Dollar Pancakes

I’ve been doing this for years and never thought to blog about it until my sister in law witnessed me making pancakes and said, “Oh! That’s a good idea.” That’s almost always the reaction I hope one of my blog posts gets.

Simply put… I use a cookie scoop.

I make pancakes for the kids at least once a week so I use the buttermilk pancake mix (just add water?! I have water!) and mini chocolate chips, I get both at Aldi.

Side note on mixes and shortcuts… I recently heard someone say, “If you can get at least 80% of the taste for only 20% of the work or less… so worth it.” I also think that the best product you can buy is the one that causes you to USE it.

Anyway…

When making chocolate chip pancakes, mix in your chips. It helps them go throughout your pancake and doesn’t waste so much chocolate to pan melt that happens if instead you sprinkle on chocolate chips then flip.

I use a pan. I have a griddle, I just rarely dig it out of my cabinet. Once again, the best product is usable

They’re pretty and uniform. Only problem… my kids refused Grandma’s because her pancakes weren’t this small. Sorry Grandma. My shortcut spoiled them.

Cheesecake (The Best 5 Ingredient Dessert)

I am still using the same recipe I first learned in FACS class in high school. Thanks Mrs. Carr! I’ve refined my method and made some fun variations over the years (16!). Homemade cheesecake has great wow factor no matter how simple it is. If you make a cheesecake like one of these and bring it to any event, you will be asked, “Did you make this?” And, “It’s the kind of cheesecake you bake?!”

Yep. And soooo much tastier than any no-bake cheesecake.

The five ingredients…

1. Graham pie crust… I most often buy my crust. This one will be a chocolate and vanilla swirl cheesecake and I had a coupon for Keebler, so I opted for the chocolate graham crust.

2. Eggs

3. Sugar

4. Cream cheese

5. Vanilla

That’s it.

Variations…

Chocolate cheesecake… Add 1/4 c cocoa powder AND 3 oz melted chocolate (semi sweet chips or Dark or bakers depending on your own taste and what you have)

Key lime… Add 1/3 c lime juice and grated lime zest if you have some (preferably Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice, and preferably eat it with the ocean in sight… ahhh)

Peanut butter… Add 1/2 c creamy peanut butter or to taste.

Back to it…

Directions

Cream 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese (softened… like on the counter for hours softened) and 1/2 cup of sugar until well blended, scraping the bowl if necessary (it’s always necessary).

Add 2 eggs one at a time and blend until smooth, scraping the bowl if necessary (always scrape the bowl!)

Add 1 tsp of vanilla and blend.

Voila… vanilla cheesecake/base for all my cheesecakes

Add any variation ingredients or keep it vanilla, pour into graham crust. Place on a half sheet pan and put into preheated 350 degree oven.

Pour warm water in sheet pan for a water bath. (Helps the cheesecake bake evenly)

Bake for 45 minutes then check every 5 minutes. Try not to open the oven during the baking time. You want the top completely set but without brown spots or cracking. (Though when this happens it still tastes very good.) It may jiggle a little.

When done, cool cheesecake completely on a wire rack, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cut in 8 slices and serve.

The one I made today was a vanilla and chocolate swirl. I eyeballed 1/2 vanilla cheesecake and put it in the crust.

Then I added 2 Tablespoons cocoa and 2 oz melted dark chocolate to the mixer.

Then I spooned the chocolate in dollops on the vanilla and swirled with an offset spatula.

Submerge your knife blade in hot water between slices to help make clean cuts.

My swirl method needs work, but I’m not turning down this slice and I bet you wouldn’t either.

Pecan Crusted Chicken

My husband’s favorite meal we ate on Whole30 was all his idea.  We were talking about using nuts in place of  grains, and he said we should do a take on breaded chicken and serve it with this great arrabiata sauce.  To make the sauce compliant we didn’t use the white wine this recipe.  I think we used red wine vinegar.  I also add fennel seeds to the sauce.  It’s like a secret ingredient to make anything Italian taste more amazing and complex.

For the chicken…

I pounded my chicken tenderloins in a plastic bag until quite thin, probably 1/4 an inch, then salted both sides and let them sit on the counter while I made the nut mixture.

I pulsed all of my “breading” ingredients in my food processor until it looked almost like couscous.

Pecans, crushed red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper, and fresh parsley.

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I placed my mix in a bowl and beat an egg in another bowl.

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Simply dip in egg then pecan mixture.  I did have to press the mix on a little.

Heat oil in a medium non-stick pan with olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking.  Cook tenders for 2-3 minutes one one side, then flip for another 2 minutes (depending on how thick your chicken is) until cooked through (should read 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer).  Place on a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Serve in a shallow bowl of arrabiata sauce (or any marinara).

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pecan crusted chicken

Easy Peeling Hard Boiled Eggs

We’ve been eating Whole30 since the new year which means we’ve been eating a lot of eggs. Having hard boiled eggs already peeled in the fridge has been a diet-saver on many occasions. They’re accessible protein.

Everyone seems to have their way to cook hard boiled eggs. Some even bake them. I’ve not felt the need to go that route. I was following America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe, but they do not boil the water until after the eggs are in and that leads to the egg being hard to peel.

Best way I’ve tested…

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.

Lid on helps this speed up.

Gently lower eggs into boiling water. I use a spider (the kitchen tool, not the arachnid).

Bring water back to a rolling boil. (The eggs will lower the water temperature and it may take a solid 5 minutes to boil again.) Once it’s boiling, cover the pot and turn off the heat and let the eggs sit for 10 minutes. I set a timer.

Remove the eggs and place in an ice bath (big bowl of water and lots of ice) for 5 minutes. This cools the egg down so you can peel it and it stops the cooking process so you don’t overlook your egg. (If the yolk turns greenish-gray where it meets the white, you overlooked it.)

After 5 minutes make your peeling station. I use a towel on the counter and a paper towel on top (to dispose the shell), my bowl of eggs in ice water, a container for the peeled eggs, and a short but wide tumbler.

Yep, my brother, Ray, taught me this trick. It’s life changing. Place the egg in the cup and shake it to crack the shell all over.

Proper egg cup form…

When the shell pulls away a little, you’ve shaken enough.

I then peel with the side of my thumb, but sometimes it’s so loose, I can actually push the egg out.

Then I rinse the egg in the ice bath so there’s no shell left and pop it in the container.

Perfect egg. Perfectly cooked?

Oh yeah!

Putting Off ‘Til Tomorrow…

Keeping track of the grocery list as I run out of things is helpful. As soon as I use the last of the olive oil, it’s on my list. The Parchment paper, the Parmesan, the milk, the pickles (my kids can eat a jar every couple of days). Staples really.

But, today I’m putting off the list. I am daring myself to go as long as possible without going to the store. We are out of eggs, but I’ve got lots of frozen egg whites (I make frozen custard) that will do for many recipes. I bought a family size amount of ground beef that I portioned and froze in 8 oz, so we should be fine. Milk may be a problem, but we’ll see. I last went to the store on Monday, I’m trying to make it to next Wednesday or beyond.

How about you? Want to dare yourself to go as long as possible to make what you have before eating out or grocery shopping?

Lasagna for Two

Lasagna is delicious, but it can be expensive and then there's lots of leftovers. It reheats great, but what if you don't really want to eat 12 servings of lasagna.

I wanted to make just enough for my husband and me. I bring him dinner on most Wednesday nights at work, and this is perfect to make and take. Also, I usually have all of these ingredients when I make pizza or spaghetti.


No boil noodles are great. My sauce is this easy arrabiata, so it has kick. I only had about 1 cup left. Perfect for two. I cooked a small amount of ground turkey with Italian sausage seasoning. I like provolone as well as mozzarella. And I make it all in a bread loaf pan.

Usually I would mix my meat and sauce in a bowl, but why make a new dish.

I mixed 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 t Italian seasoning and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

I grated 2 ounces each of provolone and mozzarella and tossed it right on the cutting board with a little more Parmesan.

All it takes is three noodles, and I snap 1/3 of the length off each to fit in my pan. Waste not, the pieces equal a fourth noodle.

After spraying the loaf pan I add 1/4 of the sauce.

Then a noodle and cottage cheese mix then grated cheese then sauce.

Repeat for three layers. (Noodle, cottage, cheese, sauce, noodle, cottage, cheese, sauce, noodle)

Top with the last of the sauce and more grated cheese. Spray some foil so it will come off the cheese. Tightly wrap the pan.

Place it in a 350 degree oven for thirty minutes. Rotate it half way if you think if it.

After 30 minutes remove the foil. Bake or broil for 15 minutes or until the top cheese is melted and a little browned. Watch it! Don't burn it. And just like kids, every oven is different.

Remove it to cool and let it rest. Please please rest your lasagna. It is more likely to cut if you let it cool down. Leftover lasagna is the proof.

Cut in half and serve!

Just the Recipe…

Makes 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 c marinara or pasta sauce
  • 4 oz cooked ground meat (preferably with Italian seasoning)
  • 1 c cottage cheese, or ricotta, or sour cream. It really does work too.
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 t Italian seasoning
  • 4 oz grated cheese, mozzarella and provolone, or whatever you like
  • 3 no boil lasagna noodles, 1/3 snapped off and reserved
  • Non stick spray

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Spray a loaf pan with non stick spray.
  • Mix meat and sauce, set aside.
  • Mix cottage cheese, egg, 1/2 c Parmesan, and Italian seasoning, set aside.
  • Grate cheese and toss with remaining 1/4 c Parmesan. Set aside.
  • Spread 1/4 c sauce in pan. *Place one snapped noodle on top. Spread 1/3 cottage cheese mixture then 1/4 grated cheese then 1/4 c sauce. Repeat twice from *
  • Top with final noodle or the combined 3 snapped noodle, last 1/4 c sauce and 1/4 of the grated cheese. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non stick spray. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking.
  • Remove foil carefully and broil on high for 5-10 minutes, or continue baking for 15, or until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown. Check often.
  • Remove and let rest on a cooking rack for 15 minutes. Cut and serve.