Thursday, March 31

CRAFT KITCHEN: Mini Muffin Crayons (not edible)


Have tons of broken crayons laying around? kids looking for new crayons? How about doing both at once? Here is a great way to do so. It is also a great way to make themed crayons for goodie bags or treats!

You will need:

All the broken crayons laying around your house
Mini muffin pan
Really that is it!

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 275

Crumble the crayons into the muffin tins us this template for creating colors:
1) for swirly color crayons mix and match the colors
2) for solid colors try to crumble like colors together (example green crayons different shades)

Bake crayons for approx 8 minutes but watch carefully because they will melt fast!

Remove from oven, for the solid color crayons mix carefully until blended with a toothpick.

For swirly colors, give them a gentle stir.

Allow to cool at room temp, once cooled carefully flip out onto table.

They are ready to go.

CRAFT KITCHEN: Fun time Puff Paint from the pantry (not edible)

Tired of everyday paints? Need a little something extra? Want a few smiles? Try making puff paint from your kitchen!

This will make 3 colors

You will need:

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup salt
Food coloring

Let us begin:

Mix flour, water, salt in a bowl until well blended.

Separate into 3 bowls, add in food coloring

Pour into old squeeze container

Squeeze out along you painting, once dry it raises and begins to puff

Edible egg yolk paint for cookies!

Want a great rainy day activity? Make a batch of your favorite sugar cookies, bake them to almost done, allow to cool and them paint them up. Once painted return cookies to pan and bake till paint soildifies.

Here is a great yummy edible paint! This will make one color.

You will need:

1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. water
Food coloring


Let us begin:

Mix egg yolk and water until well blended.

Add in food coloring, you will want a rich deep color. The color will dull slightly when baked

CRAFT KITCHEN:Water color paints from your pantry (not edible)

Looking for a brush friendly paint from your kitchen? Need a rainy day craft? Here is a great one!

You will need:

1 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. vegetable glycerin
Food coloring


Let us begin:

In a small bowl add vinegar and baking soda, do this carefully because it will bubble.

Slowly and in small amounts add cornstarch and glycerin.

Once fully mixed, pour into small waxed bathroom paper cups

Add in food coloring, use a lot. A real lot, color with slightly dull when dries and also when used with water. So add more then you think and then add more

Allow to dry. Tear off cups and gently turn out.

Store in air tight, waterproof container, away from sunlight

CRAFT KITCHEN:Finger paint from your pantry (not edible)

Its a gloomy day, need a craft fix? try some finger painting!

You will need:

1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
Food coloring


Let us begin:

Mix water and cornstarch in sauce pan, use a whisk to avoid lumps.

Bring to boil. Boil it mixture thickens, stir often to avoid scorching

Remove from heat and pour into 4 small seal able containers

Allow mixture to cool. Add food coloring blend one drop at a time until desired color is reached

Store in the airtight containers

CRAFT KITCHEN:Make your own self drying Modeling Clay (not edible)

Everyone love to use clay, sometimes we want to make models we can paint later! here is a great handmade clay to use! This will dry very hard and makes great beads, just remember to poke holes in them if you want to run a string through them later!

You will need:

1 box baking soda (pound)
1 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cups cold water
Food coloring


Let us begin:

Mix baking soda and cornstarch together in a sauce pan

Slowly blend in water to avoid lumps

Heat over low heat until it begins to look like mashed potatoes

Remove from heat and turn out on a damp towel. Place another damp towel on top or wrap in one

Allow to cool enough to handle

Use or store in an air tight container

Clay will dry at room temp like many self drying clays, so keep a damp towel on top of clay not being used.

If you plan on painting or stringing allow to dry overnight, uncovered.

CRAFT KITCHEN:Making your own Play Clay (dough) (not edible)

We all know the joys of playing with dough, but few of us know how easy it is to make. Stop worrying if your green dried out over night, replace it with your own home made!


You will need:

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp oil
1/4 cup salt
food coloring


Let us begin:

Blend all ingredient with the exception of food coloring, in a sauce pan.

Stir over medium heat until smooth, a food coloring to desired color.

Remove from heat and place on waxed paper, allow to cool slightly so you can touch

Knead until well blended and smooth

Store in an air tight container!



Slightly different from regular play dough, this will make a great addition to your collection. Filled with glitter and glam, fantasy creatures will come to life!

You will need:

1 cup flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
Food coloring
1/4 cup glitter


Let us begin:

Blend all ingredient with the exception of glitter, in a sauce pan.

Stir over medium heat until a ball form.

Remove from heat quickly and place on waxed paper, allow to cool slightly so you can touch

Make a small indent and pour in glitter. Knead until well blended and smooth

Store in an air tight container!

CRAFT KITCHEN:How to make school glue from your kitchen (not edible)

Ever run out of glue half way through a project? late at night? stores are closed? due tomorrow? Never fear, your kitchen is here!


For a Paste type glue:
You will need:


1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cold water


Let us begin:



Place water in a small cooking pot, slowly sit in flour to avoid lumps. Beat with a whisk and form a smooth texture



Bring mixture to a boil over med high heat, stirring constantly



Remove from heat and let sit till it reaches room temp, this will take approx 30 minutes.




Pour into an airtight container to use and store.




If it hardens after storing add a small amount of warm water.
Because all glue harden when air hits them, making school glue in small batches is best.







For a Waterproof fabric and paper glue or a squeeze bottle school glue recipe visit:
http://gogreencrafting.blogspot.com/2011/04/making-glue-in-kitchen.html

CRAFT KITCHEN:Salt Dough Ornament Recipe (not edible)

This time less classic recipe, helps make any holiday bright! Grab your favorite cookies cutters for a great holiday themed craft.


This will make approx 1 dozen ornaments:


You will need:


4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water


Let us begin


Blend all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix well. Knead for approx 10 minutes until a nice smooth texture


Turn out onto a floured board and roll out to approx 1/4" thick


Cut out using cookie cutters and poke a small hole (for hanging) in top of shape


Bake in a 300 degree oven for 30, allow to cool for 30 minuted prior to use!


THESE ARE NOT EDIBLE


Let's have some fun in the Kitchen, introducing CRAFT KITCHEN:

Kitchens are a great place for family fun. Everyone enjoys having a home cooked meal, but today let us go outside the food box. That is right, we are talking about craft projects!

Every get stuck inside on a rainy day? Ever run out of paint or glue for a project? Ever just need something fun and crafty to do, but don't have the supplies?

Turn to your kitchen and make them. Your kitchen can produce simple finger paints, school glue, fun "play" dough, and more...even sidewalk chalk!

Let's turn the kitchen into a craft fun zone! These recipes and ideas are a great way to make a kitchen/craft fun zone! You can easily learn to make homemade gifts, grow seeds, and even plant a garden all from things that started in your kitchen. Welcome to the CRAFT KITCHEN

Wednesday, March 30

Going Simple

We all want a great meal,but some days we have little time to prep, cook, and serve. There are also the days that we just are not in the mood to spend alot of time preparing a meal. It is days like this that I go back to simple meals, packed with flavor, and easy to please!

Sit back and watch your favorite cooking show, read a current cook book, you'll see a common trend. Simple meals, that are not over thought, over worked, or over prepared, are all the rage. Chefs and cooks alike are scaling down the over worked, multi ingredient meals, for simple dishes. Using sustainable ingredients, home grown veggies, and spending less getting it ready, is the way to go.

We all have these meals in our personal little recipe boxes. Most of the time they are not written down, were meals we ate as kids, or even things we learned along the way. Most of mine contain less then 6 or 7 recipes, require less then 5-10 minutes to prepare, and cook in one dish.

My favorite include: Roasted Sausage and Potatoes, Potatoes and Eggs, Chicken Cacciatore, and Crust less Chicken pot-pie!

Roasted Sausage and Potatoes

Somdays, I want a really savory meal with little prep time. This is one of my favorites! It is quick to prepare and for the most part you can walk away while it cooks. This hearty dish also adds an unsung protien to the standard diner.

Serves 4-6
Full time: approximately 1 1/2 hours

You will need:

2 lbs Sausage, I use coiled but links work just as good
6 medium potatoes, large cubed
1 small onion diced
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
4 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp minced garlic




Let's begin:

Preheat oven to 375

Mix minced garlic into water

In large baking pan or roasting pan, place sausage. If using coiled sausage seperate it a little.

Arrange potatoes and onions around the sausage

Pour water/garlic mixture over. This will not completely coat the dish but, allow for a moist cooking atmosphere.

Spinkle parsley and romano over the top

Cover with tin foil and bake 45 mintues

Remove tin foil and bake additional 20-30 minutes, until sausage is fully cooked and golden.

Serve along side a loaf of fresh Italian bread and enjoy the heart warm taste.
 

Saturday, March 26

MAKE IT Basics: Cake Batter, Cupcake Batter, Cookie Dough, Pastry Crust

So here is a simple 1-2-3, you basic beginnings of all staple desserts!

BASIC CAKE BATTER:

You will need:

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsbp milk

Thats all, really!

To add flavor add 2 tsp of you favorite extract!
To make it chocolate blend 1/2 cup baking coco powder and reduce flour to 1 1/4 cup
To change texture sustutute yougart, cream cheese, pudding, sour cream for butter
I could continue but, I think your imagination should soar!

To Make:

Blend all ingredients:
Bake in 325 oven

For cupcakes 20-25 minutes
For two 8" pans 35-45 minutes
For one cake 45-55 minutes



BASIC COOKIE DOUGH:

You will need:

1 cup butter, soften
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

To add flavor add 2 tsp of you favorite extract!
To make it chocolate blend 1/2 cup baking coco powder and reduce flour to 1 1/4 cup
To add texture blend in chips, nuts, fruit, candy...whatever you desire it can be made!

To Make:

Blend all ingredients:
Bake in 375 oven

Cookies should take approx 15 minutes-25, depending on additon of items
Will make about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen


BASIC PASTRY CRUST:

You will need:

2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold water

This will make either two 9" pie crusts, 24 tarts, 48 tartlets

To make:

Blend all ingredients
Plcae in baking pan, for bottom pie crust, tarts, tartlets bake for 10 at 325 to create a solid base
Fill and bake using your favorite recipe

FOR CUPCAKE BASICS:

Yellow Cupcake Batter:
3 eggs
2 1/2 cup flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup butter
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Chocolate Cupcake Batter:
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup baking coco powder (unsweetened)
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Vanilla Cupcake Batter:
2 egg yolk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

To make:

Take out butter and eggs and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes.

Add in sugar to butter when ready. Then add eggs one at a time. Add in remaining liquid ingredients alternately with dry until all are combined into a smooth batter.

Bake at 350 18-22 minutes

Getting Back to Basics!

Alright, this is the time where I rant for a little...the other day I was getting my ingredients together at the grocery store. I turned my cart down the baking isle and there was a very vocal woman complaining to her friend.

Her complaint, the doctor told her, her kids were both very overweight and she should consider seeking a nutritionist. Now, normally I do not ease drop, but it is really hard not to, when the person is standing less then two feet from you. Also, having her friend right next to her, but practialy shouting makes this even more difficult.

I will admit, hearing the argument, I glanced down at her cart...Oh my...no wonder there! Nothing but processed foods, meal starters, even her "veggies" were in cans. So let me say the following few things:

1) I understand time crunch, we don't always have hours to prepare meals. This however, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality for speed.

2) Knowing your time crunched, plan ahead, think before you buy, and most importantly open one of the millions sources for cooking ideas, and find something healthy that could be prepared fast.

3) Cut out the craziness, seriously it takes just as long to make a cake from scratch or cupcakes as it does to make it from the box. Stop buying the instant stuff, or pre-made items in individually wrapped packages for dessert and make it your self. Now, I also understand lunch boxes are easier with individually wrapped items, guess what they make snack size zip locks. And an occasional Twinkies never hurt anyone, but one everyday...?

4) Go back to basics, learn what is in the basic recipe for things such as cakes, cookies, pastry, all of them start with a basic recipe and are flavored accordingly. If you know what is supposed to be in them, then its easier to buy the premade items.

5) Read the packages....that simple, that easy, just read it. and answer me why corn syrup can be found in some frozen peas? Seriously, read the package

Tuesday, March 22

Egg Drop Soup

I love to cook Chinese food, this is a simple way to start a great meal!

Serves 4 - 6
Full time: approximately 20 minutes

You will need:

3 green onions or scallions, chopped
3 eggs
6 cups chicken stock (for a vegetarian friendly version use vegetable stock and 1/2 tsp salt)
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Let us begin:

In a small pot place ground ginger and 2 tbsp of stock, sauté for a few minutes over med-high heat

Add in the remaining stock and green onions, bring to a easy boil over med-high heat

In a small heat proof bowl place cornstarch, ladle a small amount of boiling stock into bowl whisk to dissolve cornstarch
before stock
after stock


Pour starch slowly into pot whisking to fully incorporate

In a separate bowl, scramble eggs.

Pouring slowly whisk eggs into soup, eggs will cook as added, to avoid clumps pour gently while whisking constantly

Serve hot and enjoy!

For a special bonus add wontons or dumplings.

Monday, March 21

Savory Sausage Balls

I like to serve these as appetizers, they also make a great bring along dish to any brunch party!

Will make approx 36-48 balls
Full time: 30 minutes

You will need:

2 eggs
1 small onion chopped super fine
2 lb. sausage meat (try to use lean meat. I like to use a sage sausage)
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups Bisquick
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper



Let's begin:

Preheat oven to 350

Line a sided baking dish with aluminum foil

In a large mixing bowl, mix onion, salt, pepper, cheese, Bisquick. Mix until all ingredients are fully covered by Bisquick

Add in sausage meat and mix by hand, trying not to have large clumps of solid meat

Roll into tbsp size balls and place on baking sheet

Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes

Serve nice and hot from the oven, for an extra special treat serve with sausage gravy!

Wednesday, March 16

SP's Irish Cream


Alright all you lads and lassies, here is a classic Irish beverage to get you holiday started. I received this recipe a few years ago from a friend, each time I make it I tweak it a little.

Remember that a recipe is just a guide line to begin something wonderful. If you like stronger Irish cream add more whiskey, for a smoother cream taste add less whiskey.

Irish cream has a huge list of uses, sip on it as is, add it to coffee for an Irish coffee, add it to cakes for a drunken Irish day. Or my favorite mix it in a blender with Mint chocolate chip ice cream for a frozen Irish man.

Full time: 10 minutes
You will need:

3 eggs
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cup Irish whiskey
1 cup light cream
1 tbsp chocolate syrup
3 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond

To begin:

Place all ingredients in a blender except whiskey.

Blend on a low setting until fully mixed.

Slowly add in whiskey and continue to blend until smooth. About 3 minutes.

Enjoy!

Monday, March 7

MAKE IT: Magical Marshmallows

My favorite melt away tasty treat to make is home-made marshmallows! I know it sounds like a process but it is actually quite easy. I do this over two days in two steps which each take less then 30 minutes! Think of the fun of coming home, roasting a marshmallow for a smores, dropping one in hot coco, or just eating an gooey marshmallow you hand made.

A great extra bonus to making marshmallow by hand is gifting them. These plump, soft treats, are a sure thing for a tasty gift. Wrap in a classic Maison jar, put in a fancy tin, or plate up with some other home made goodies and watch out for a room full of smiles.


You will need:

A quick side note: I make this in one large batch, but it cuts perfectly in half for a simple small batch!

For gelatin base:

6 packages of KNOX, unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water


For Cream base:

1 cup water
4 cup sugar
2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp flavoring (I like to use vanilla, but your favorite flavor will be just fine! Just note the color will slightly tint your marshmallows, so trying to stay with a clear extract is the best!)


For Cutting:
Choose one of the following, or mix and match

1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup powdered baking coco
1 cup small sprinkles
1 cup flavored, crystallized sugar


Lets begin Day One:

Line two 9 x 13 or one 18 x 30 baking trays with aluminum foil. Spray heavily with cooking spray. Set aside

In a metal bowl (very important) place the cold water and sprinkle top with KNOX, you will see it begin to gelatin and form. Set aside

In a sauce pan place all cream base ingredients. Stir well to mix, bring to a boil over med/high heat and stir occasionally to prevent scorching.

Once mixture comes to a boil insert a candy thermometer and continue to cook until it hits 240' do not stir during this time, it takes approx 5-10 minutes. remove from heat



Set mixer to high, start mixing just gelatin base, slowly pour in cream base. It should take approx 5-8 minutes to slowly pour in all of the base (a little helpful hint here, put thermometer, stirring spoon, and sauce pan into hot water within a minute or two to prevent hard scrubbing later)

Once it is all in continue to beat on high for 15 minutes. Mixture should double in size, and come to the top of a bowl on a standing mixer.

Pour half the mixture into the 9 x 13 pans, or all into a 18x 30. Tap pan on smooth surface to create an even top, smooth with spatula if needed. Sit for a few minutes (place mixing bowl and mixing spoon in hot water, it will loosen all remaining mellow and will have less scrubbing later. Also, take this moment to sample the fluffy mellow taste, yum, good on a sandwich if you are hungry)

Wrap mellow trays with clear plastic wrap, tightly and stand overnight. (You could do this in a day but it needs to stand for around 8-10hrs)







Lets begin Day Two:

On a clean smooth surface place a cutting board.

Remove clear plastic wrap from pan.

Carefully slide marshmallows out of pan by lifting up the aluminum foil.

Let sit for a few minutes.

While this sits place you cutting ingredient in a bowl or edged plate

Begin to cut the marshmallows, use a knife or pizza cutter that has been sprayed with cooking spray

I slice mine in strips and then go back the opposite direction.

Drop marshmallows into cutting ingredient. This will prevent sticking back together.

Store in airtight container!

Going Home-made

These days everyone wants to eat the best tasting thing out there. We are all in such a hurry to be at work, school, the gym, make an appointment, and we tend to eat on the move. I understand the daily grind and the pace of life is faster these days, but what ever happened to wanting home made?

Its hard to work in long hours for cooking, there are so many other obligations we would rather be doing. But cooking doesn't need to be long, it doesn't need to be time consuming, and it definitely doesn't need to be a chore.

Cooking should be a freeing experience, let the day melt away into the sauce your stirring. Allow all the hardship and troubles to find their way under you dicing knife. Trust me, it works.

One of the best ways to free yourself is making it yourself, tasting the delightful treats you have created, and sharing them with friends, co-workers, and family. I always like to say a room full of smiling, happy tummys is a room full of love.

Friday, March 4

Savory Seafood Stew or Cioppino

Traditionally called "muddle", this meal is sure to please a crowd. In San Francisco, it is called Cioppino. It is a flavorful blend of sea favorites, gently poached in a light broth this delicate taste and hearty meal is a well rounded dish.

Full time: 45-60 minutes
You will need:

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 large onion diced
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup sliced parsnips
1/2 cup fresh parsley sliced
1 cup diced potatoes
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 28oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 lb Shrimp, cleaned
1 lb Little neck clams (or your favorite)
1 lb Mussels
1 lb Haddock (or your favorite white fish) cut into 2" pieces



What to do for this yummy treat:

In a stock pot place butter, onions, carrots, parsnips, and celery. Begin to sweat the vegetables over med/high heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring often so vegetables do not burn

Add in minced garlic and cook additionally for 3 minutes

Add in potatoes and diced tomatoes with their liquid, stir and reduce heat to med. Cook for 15 minute or until potatoes feel slightly soften Watch carefully, add small amounts of stock if pot begins to dry out

Add in stock, bring to quick boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 10-15 mintues. Until potatoes are cooked

Add in parsley and clams, watch for them to begin to open, approx 5 minutes

Add in mussels, shrimp, haddock, and cook for 10 minutes or fish is cooked thru


Serve along with a hearty bread for an amazing meal.

For an added flair serve over pasta.

Wednesday, March 2

Cran-rasin Currant Bread Pudding

A fun and updated twist on a classic favorite, makes this a tummy treat!

serves 4-6
Full time: 45-60 minutes
You will need:

3 lg eggs beaten
1/2 loaf (or 8oz loaf) italian bread, sliced and cubed into 2" pieces
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup walnuts (can be left out)
1/3 cup cran-rasins
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg


Lets begin:

Heat oven to 325'

In a mixing bowl stir together butter, half and half, milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg

Fold in the bread cubes, if bread is a day or more older-let sit five minutes, if bread if fresh move on to next step

Ligtly grease and flour a bread loaf pan

Pour half the bread mixture into the loaf pan

Top with cran-rasins, walnuts, currants

Pour in remaining bread mix

Bake 35-45 minutes, until set in middle

Allow to cool half way before serving

To add alittle extra fun, top with ice cream, or whipped topping!