Posting My Wildtree Events, Products, Recipes and Healthy Simple solutions to help you make great meals for your family.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Headed south

Dear Blog Friends.. For the month of March..
If you are in the kitchen  Be sure to do the dishes... Ill be back after Vacation.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rice is nice!

Did you know rice is the 2nd most cultivated grain in the world after corn? I love rice, and make it often for a side dish as well as a dessert.  Rice tends to be long or short grain, white or brown ( or black or red)  and varieties have been bred depending on the rice's end use. 
Here are some rice facts taken from* The Real Food Companion

Basamati~ The famed fragrant , long-grain rice of the Indian subcontinent. It is said to be better with age and the Pakistani version is most prised. Always eaten as white rice it tends to be loose when cooked,
Calasparra~A rice grown  in Murcia Province in Spain, calasparra (and another rice called bomba) is a very dry rice ideal for paella. It is said  to expand in width, not length. You can substitute risotto rice as the next best thing.
 Jasmine~The long-grain white rice of South East Asia. It gets its name from the hint oj Jasmine in the fragrance and is a particularly specialty of Thai cuisine. It needs slightly more water to cook  than basamati rice and the grains aren't quite as long and stick together just a bit more.
Red Rice~ Several countries have red rice, including France Spain and Bhutan. The color is from the outer husk and these rices are unpolished and therefore need more cooking time.
Rissoto Rice~ ( Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone nano) The medium to short -grained white rice used by Italians to make risotto because the rice releases starch when stirred during cooking. Arborio is usually the cheaper. Aarnatoli and Vialone nano tend to stay firmer in the center when cooked , so you can be a bit more relaxed with cooking times.
Sticky rice~ Other wise known as glutinous rice, sticky rice is popular in South East Asian Countries and  comes in two varieties, white and black. Black sticky rice is an unpolished rice that takes about 25 minutes to cook. White sticky rice can be soaked and steamed. Both rices ma be used for sweet or savory purposes.
Sushi Rice~ A short-grain rice that tends to stick together when cooked. It isn't however sticky rice.
Wild Rice~  Not a true rice, but a very long rice like grain gathered from swamp plants here in North America. Most is now cultivated, despite the "wild" term. Very flavorsome , but usually cooked in small amounts with other things to flavor white rice.
I bet you never knew so much about rice did you? So lets continue... 
How to wash rice: 
Some rice needs washing before being used. such as those for pilaf and sushi or if you want a good steamed rice. Put the rice in a bowl or pan it will be cooked in. Add just enough  slightly tepid water to wet the rice, but not soupy. Gently with your hands rub the rice together. The friction helps to free  some of the loose starch. The starch dissolves in the water  to create the milky white colored liquid that comes off. Drain the rice well and repeat until the water  runs fairly clear. The Japanese may this up to 10 times but 2 or 3 times is usually enough.
Now the rice is ready to cook.

I have given you one of the easy rice pudding recipes my mom used to make when I was a child. I think you will enjoy it. (You can add raisins and cinnamon or even chocolate pieces.. get creative with this basic recipe).

Creamy Rice Pudding
2 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
2 1/4 c. sweet milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. cooked rice
dash of nutmeg
Separate eggs, beat yolks, add sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla and combine with the cooked rice. Beat the egg whites stiffly, and fold into mixture. Turn into a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake 350° 30 min. Serves 6.

Now You're Cookin~

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Roasted Garlic, Yum!

Garlic is one of the most popular herbs around. This long cultivated plant was even found in King Tut's tomb. Garlic is Good for you. Studies show its ability to improve circulation, it can help reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Garlic extract helps lower cholesterol and fights inflammation. When buying garlic, look for heads  that hold together firmly but don't shrink away from their white, papery sheath. When you peel fresh cloves, cut away any discolored spots. Avoid buying garlic that's lumpy~ It's a sign of humidity damage. Store in a cool dark spot, Not in the refrigerator.
Don't let dreaded garlic breath prevent you from enjoying this healthy herb. Chew a little parsley after eating garlic to freshen your breath. Once roasted garlic changes to a sweet nutty flavor.
Try this easy recipe : ( * Natural Choice Magazine)

Roasted Garlic
1~2 heads of garlic
olive oil

1.Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
peel away any extra outer papery white layers. Leave  white layers of the individual  cloves attached to the garlic head,
2. Cut off top 1/2 in of garlic head to expose tops of cloves. Place garlic head on a large square of aluminum foil. Pour a drizzle of Olive oil over the exposed cloves, making sure each  clove is covered.
Wrap  the foil around the garlic head to cover completely. Place on a baking sheet.
3. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until cloves are soft when pressed with a fork.  Allow garlic to cool.
4. Using your fingers or a cocktail fork, pull or squeeze the roasted  garlic from their individual skins. Mash with a fork and spread on toasted bread or use as topping for baked potatoes.   Stir it into those mashed potatoes.... Be Creative.. What else can you add this sweet, nutty flavored herb into?
Try  it....
Now You're cookin~

Friday, February 17, 2012

A bit more about cheese

 Cheese Knives, Boards & Trays
While it is not necessary to have special accessories to serve and enjoy cheese here are a few tips for serving with ease:

* Cutting boards, or wooden trays, a piece of marble or interesting platters and plates are ideal for attractive cheese arrangements.

* Provide a knife or cheese cutter for each variety to avoid using the same knife for more than one cheese

* While ordinary kitchen knives are acceptable for casual entertaining, there are many utensils designed specifically for cutting cheese. Some of the more popular cheese serving utensils are *
"Fork Tip Knife" This knife is best for semi firm cheese. The forked tip can lift the cheese wedge, cube or slice to cracker or a plate. It is about 8 inches in length.

* Spreader is a short knife shaped utensil used for soft or semi soft cheese.

* Cheese Server is a small. wedge-shaped utensil that is often has a serrated cutting edge. It is used primarily for lifting portions of cheese.

                                                Creating a cheese Tray or Board
A cheese tray is a gracious way of entertaining family and friends and can be as an elegant appetizer, a refreshing snack or a sophisticated Dessert.
The selection and arrangement of different cheese varieties can add to their enjoyment.   Select cheeses that offer a range of flavors~ from mild to sharp and a blend of textures~ from creamy smooth to firm. Take advantage  of the color and shape contrasts in the world of cheese  and be sure to include chunks of cheese  along with bite size samples. Do not crowd  the cheese tray. Leave space around each cheese so that guests  can serve themselves.
What to serve?  Natural cheese is attractive  by itself; but crackers breads, and fresh fruit are popular  partners which heighten the enjoyment of cheese and wine. During a cheese and wine tasting , unsalted crackers and bread should be offered to cleanse the palate before tasting the next variety.
 Select flavors that will compliment  the cheese. The selection is a matter of personal preference:  but most often unsalted crackers are used like: unsalted wafers, Melba toast, soda crackers, sesame seed crackers, flat breads and wheat crackers. Breads are  usually "Crusty" varieties Italian, French and sour dough. Just be sure they are fresh and do not distract from the flavors of the cheese.
Fresh fruit make a nice contrast  in flavor and color and texture for almost any cheese.  Apples, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and strawberries are compatible. The fruit can be placed on a tray with the cheese  or in a separate bowl or basket. Camembert or  Brie arranged on a separate plate with fresh strawberries a cluster of grapes or a crisp pear or apple is an elegant desert.

Now  have fun.. Go to your Cheese Department in the Deli of your Grocery store, ask to sample a few varieties and Invite your friends in for a nice evening.
Now your cooking!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Say Cheese! and Biscuits

I love Cheese.... To fully appreciate the flavor and texture, always serve natural cheese at room temperature. Remove  the cheese from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
 Some surface-ripened cheeses such as Camembert and Brie  are best soft and almost runny. Allow 1-2 hours for these cheeses to reach room temperature.
When sampling cheese. the more delicately flavored cheeses should be tasted before the sharper varieties.  Always buy fresh cheese. Check the date on the package.  
Freshness dating which read " Best when purchased by (date)" indicates when the cheese should be bought to allow a reasonable storage time in the home. Always keep natural cheese refrigerated as the label directs. Another important label message is "Satisfaction Guaranteed or your money back."
Finally purchase cheese from stores that are clean and well organized and that keep dairy products well refrigerated. Expand your knowledge of cheese by trying unfamiliar varieties and learning how to include them in your daily meals.
Thinking today would be a good biscuit making day. 

Happy Valentines Day!
These are hearty and will go with breakfast, brunch or dinner along with a nice soup.

Hearty Cheddar Biscuits
2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1t salt
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup chopped onion
2T chopped pimento
1 1/2(6 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
Combine the dry ingredients: cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the onion
pimento and the cheese. Add milk, mix just until moistened. * Do not over mix
On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to 1/2 in thickness: cut with floured cutter, Any shape works, or even flour a glass top if you have no cutter.
Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 450 15 minutes  or until golden brown.. This recipe makes 15 -16 biscuits  depending on size.  Of course you will want to serve them buttered.
Enjoy a red wine  like Pinot Noir with these.  
You can make smaller bite size ones and serve them as an appetizer, add a bit of garlic butter or dill  in place of the pimento before baking with the wine too...Go ahead  get creative..What would you like? Rosemary? Thyme? 
Now you're cookin~

Friday, February 10, 2012

Swiss Steak anyone?

This  Swiss steak was a favorite when I was growing up..My mom made it occasionally and we loved it.  This recipe is abit different than she made but still good. You can substitute pork for the beef if you prefer. A very hearty meal. Serve with fresh green beans and my favorite mashed potatoes..You can pour that yummy tomato sauce over those and its better than gravy...
Easy Swiss Steak
Serves 4 to 6
·         2 pounds beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat (I sometimes use sirloin or pork)
·         2 teaspoons kosher salt
·         1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·         3/4 cup all purpose flour
·         1/4 cup vegetable oil ( I use EVO)  
·         1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
·         1 small clove of shallot chopped
·         2 cloves of  garlic, minced
·         2 stalks celery, chopped
·         ½ cup diced carrots
·         1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
·         1 teaspoon smoked paprika
·         1 teaspoon dried oregano
·         1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
·         1 1/2 cups beef broth
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Cut the meat with the grain into 4-6 pieces about1/2-inch thick slices and season on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the flour into a pie pan. Dredge the pieces of meat on both sides in the flour mixture. Tenderize the meat using a needling device, or you know  that hammer thing in your (not used often kitchen tools drawer) until each slice is 1/4-inch thick. Dredge the slices on both sides once more and set aside.  You can pound it also with a rolling pin or use a fork to punch holes.
Add enough of the bacon drippings or vegetable oil to just cover the bottom of a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the steaks to the pan, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook until golden brown on both sides, approximately 2 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a plate and repeat until all of the steaks have been browned.
Remove the last steaks from the pot and add the onions, carrots, shallots,garlic, and celery. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes.  You do not want to do the vegetables first because they will produce liquid and your meat wants to brown. Next add the tomatoes, paprika oregano, Worcestershire sauce and beef broth and stir to combine. Return the meat to the pot, submerging it in the liquid. Cover the pot and place it in the oven on the middle rack. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart.
Enjoy with your family  I bet hubby or the man in your life will be happy too...
Now your cookin!  Bon appettite

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesdays Cooking tips

It's Tuesday Tip day!
I thought I would use Tuesdays to give you tips from chefs, magazine articles, and recipes.   I subscribe to a few magazines and get many shortcuts and hints to make cooking in my kitchen easier and some wine facts as well...
Here are a few:
1.  Homemade Buttermilk (From Bon Appetite Magazine)
In a mason jar combine 1/2 cup cultured Buttermilk..(The super      market stuff is okay.)
It will act as a starter..2 cups Whole milk and 1/4 tsp Kosher salt.
Cover and let stand in a warm place until the buttermilk thickens and coats the sides of the jar when tipped 24-36 hours..Keep chilled in refrig for up to 2 weeks.  Good to have on hand for those buttermilk recipes, pancakes, biscuits,  salad dressings and  cookies, cakes and frostings...

This is Good to know too:

2. Odor Eliminator ( Cook's Illustrated)
To get rid of onion or garlic smell on your hands, wet your hands with warm  water, sprinkle a tablespoon of granulated sugar rub for a minute and then rinse off. The sugar crystals act like porous sponges to absorb some of the odor molecules.

3. For my wine drinking  friends who also love good chocolate  (and darker is better for you)
                  Pairing Good Lindt Chocolate with Wine  ( taken from  advert in Bon Appetite)
     You can buy these great chocolate bars in the candy isles in any supermarket they are around $2.50 a bar..well worth the extra  money.   Bring them out to compliment your wine & chocolate tastings.

 Shiraz unfolds to reveal layers of ripe berries, plum and peppery spice. Shraz is a great match for the  balanced red fruit and vanilla notes of Lindt Excellence 70 % Cocoa
Zinfandel has  luscious aromas of blueberries, black berries , warm cinnamon and toasted oak. Outstanding when paored with the bold notes of herbs and red berries in Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa
Reisling pairs well a hint of ripe pear, aromas of honeysuckle and spring flowers pairs well with light saltiness of bittersweet Lindt Excellence A touch of Sea salt.
Port  Mellow, sweet dark chocolate and spicy red chili found in Excellence Chili Bar is a perfect match to the rich red fruit and underlying spicey heat of Port.
 Go Ahead give it a try next time you have a wine tasting.. Dark Chocolate has been proven to be good for your heart along with Red wines.. I say  "Cheers! and now your cookin!
 Friday I will have a recipe posted I think you will enjoy..

Friday, February 3, 2012

Meat loaf w/Surprise Ingredients?

This recipe has a couple surprise ingredients.  Honey, Bacon and Raisins

My husband love it and it tastes good hot or cold in sandwiches.

To begin preheat your oven 350 degrees.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 diced carrot
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 Tablespoons Italian seasoning 
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  •  2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce or ketchup  (I even  have added 3 Tablespoons tomato paste for more tomato taste.)
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs or crushed soda crackers
  • 3 pounds meat-loaf mix (1 pound lean ground beef, 1pound ground pork, 1 pound ground veal)
  • 4 strips thick-sliced bacon 1/4 cup hone
Putting it together:

Once all your ingredients are laid out on the counter start adding them to a large mixing bowl on

top of the three meats. Go ahead and  stir or better yet work with your hands to mix thoroughly

It's gooey and sticky but works together best, form into a loaf shape and pat firmly into an 9-by-5-

inch loaf pan.

Lay the 4  bacon strips  over the loaf, and drizzle the honey over the top. 

Sprinkle with a bit of black pepper and a bit of Ketchup.

Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meat loaf registers 150° F.

Remove from oven and pour off the fat. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do..

It will make very good cold sandwiches if there are leftovers... and will be firm to cut.
Now you're cookin!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First recipe : Parmesan Baked Chicken

Got your pretty Aprons on? I thought we'd try a simple recipe of Baked Parmesan Chicken.
You will need  8-10 raw Chicken tenderloins strips (fresh or thawed if frozen)
Parmesan salad dressing   any brand works,,
Italian Seasoned bread crumbs ( they come in a can found in the baking aisle, or season your own dried crumbs with Italian seasoning.)
 1 -2 cups Parmesan cheese ( you can buy already grated cheese in 2 cup packages in the  cheese case at the grocery store or grate your own.
Butter for greasing a baking dish
 3/4 cup Slivered  almonds or pecans bits

BEGIN:  You will want to Turn on your oven to preheat 375 degrees.
Now to begin:

 Pour 1 cup of the dressing into a gallon zip lock bag ..  now add the chicken strips. close the bag and do a shake or squeeze the bag a few times to thoroughly coat each  strip.
Set them aside to marinade for 30 -45 minutes.. ( the dressing will also be tenderizing the chicken)

Now in a flat dish mix with a fork 1 cup Italian Seasoned bread crumbs and 1 and 3/4  cup grated  Parmesan cheese.  set aside..  (Because I love the cheesey taste  I  save or grate extra for topping  just before serving)

In a hot dry nonstick skillet roast 1/2 cup slivered  almonds or pecans, just until you smell them toasting  They just need to be nice and bring out the oils. ( Careful Not burn) remove and set aside.

After chicken has marinated, Remove a chicken strips and coat them individually  with the Italian Crumbs and Parmesan cheese you have placed in a bowl . Just lay one in the dish and  turn it over to coat then put in a 9x13 baking  dish that you have buttered  laying them in a single layer. When you have all the strips in the baking dish sprinkle the roasted  almonds or pecans evenly over the top. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and place in the  375 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Set your timer..

While they are baking.. Be sure to Wash your utensils and cutting surface with hot soapy water anywhere your raw Chicken has been touched.  * we dont want  any cross contamination from the chicken do we?
 When the timer goes off,
Remove the foil reduce the oven temp to 350 and continue baking for about 2-3 minutes. The chicken should be golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven  and Plate the chicken strips

You can sprinkle more Parmesan cheese over them and serve them hot with  Rice, Farro or Quinoa or Green Salad.   If you like wine  I would pair a chilled Pinot Griesso with this dish. It has a nice citrus flavor that will compliment  the cheese and  chicken.
Bon Appetite!
You Did it...and  I think you did just fine.. How did it taste?
See how easy that was?

Because I want you to have plenty of time to try this recipe and any others I post, I think it will help me if I only post a recipe on Tuesdays and on Fridays.. So Friday I will give you recipe  # 2 for my Meatloaf.. My husband loves it,  I made it yesterday ad  we will make sandwiches from the leftovers..
Until Friday..
Bon Appetite!