24 June, 2012

The little oven that could!

When it's 101 degrees outside and you're craving some brownies, but you can't stand the heat generated from the heat monster known as your oven, utilize your toaster oven!  In the summer time I use my toaster oven for most all of my baking. I use it to heat up pizzas, hot sandwiches, and leftovers for my boys, but I also use it to make brownies or small cakes.  The heat can sometimes be a bit uneven, but it gets the job done.  I also make things like baked chicken or cubed steak n gravy for supper in the little oven that could. 

Here's a good brownie recipe:
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 3 T. butter
  • 2 T. water
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c.  flour
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt

  • Preheat the oven to 325. Butter an 8x8 inch square pan.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and water. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies set up. Don't overbake! Cool before cutting.

14 June, 2012

basil -n- anchovy pesto

This week found me perusing the internet for ways to use up my ever bountiful basil that is flourishing from what started with one wee little plant.  I love pesto and I do make a few batches of that each summer.  I was really excited when I came across a few similar recipes for a pesto recipe using basil and another one of my favorite ingredients---wait for it............flavor packed anchovies!  If you're not a fan of the salty little fishes... have you really ever tried 'em? They are one of my favorite ingredients to use in pasta sauces, salads, and condiment type sauces like this one. I would encourage you to start small and try incorporating small amounts in recipes that call for them or are compatible with their flavors.  I experimented with a few different pesto recipes and came up with this delicious fusion.  So it's basil -n- anchovy pesto!  

Basil-n-anchovy pesto:
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 T. drained capers
2 T. white wine vinegar
1-2 T. Progresso Italian breadcrumbs
8-10 anchovy fillets, drained (don't throw out the oil in the tin)
1 T. anchovy oil from the tin
fresh ground pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil 

Clean and dry your herbs. Combine everything in a food processor EXCEPT the olive oil.  Pour olive oil in slowly until you get the texture you like.  Taste and adjust ingredients to you liking.  I added more anchovies and anchovy oil to mine but it's up to your taste.

My son who is an anchovy lover like me has asked me to make homemade pizzas using this as the pizza sauce.  His favorite pizza is pepperoni, jalapeno, and anchovy! Will document using this as pizza sauce in a future post.

11 June, 2012

Rachael Ray knives

 I recently received the Rachael Ray knives I ordered!  I have to say I am really enjoying them so far!  Here's the specs on R.R.'s 10 piece knife set- 

10-piece set includes 3-1/2-inch paring, 5-inch boning, 6-inch serrated utility, 7-inch East/West, 8-inch bread, 8-inch cook's, and 8-inch carving knives
Also includes carving fork, kitchen shears, and handsome bamboo hardwood block
Single-piece German stainless-steel construction with forged bolster and strong tang
Bright orange synthetic handles with built-in antimicrobial inhibitors
Hand wash; limited lifetime warranty

I researched knives for a couple months before making this purchase. My old knife set was ancient.  If my memory serves me correctly the hubs ordered them for me..maybe..10 years ago off of an infomercial! Ha!  They weren't the greatest quality, but they've definitely served their purpose in my busy kitchen over the years.
 I fully intended to go with a Henckels or Wustof set.  I even had the green light from upper finance (a.k.a. my husband) to make the purchase.  As I researched though, I found so many great reviews of these R.R. knives.  First off, I love the cushy rubber handles which are antimicrobial  They make it easy to grip when your hands are wet.  They're nice and solid in their construction, and supa-sharp.  When I found comparable Henckels or Wustof, the R.R.'s set seemed like a no brainer. I decided to take a chance on a knife set with great reviews and have some leftover dough for something else. I figured worse case scenario I wouldn't like them and I'd only have spend $120 and I'd use them anyway for a couple years.  So as of now I'm really digging this Rachael Ray set of 10 knives.  I got mine from Amazon.  They had the best price I found, and shipping was free! Here's a link to where you can buy if interested:

02 June, 2012

Ceiling fans (a necessary evil?)

Having ceiling fans in the south is not only a nicety, it's a necessity.  So glad that over the years fan designers have stepped up and improved the looks of these formally aesthetically unpleasing eyesores.  Those ignorant designers who won't hang a ceiling fan (especially in the warmer southern regions) are not being sensible in the least.   A room can look good all day long, but if you're sweltering in it, no one will want to hang out there.  Yes, we'd all rather see a gorgeous light fixture or chandelier above our heads, but a ceiling fan in all it's wonderful practicality (beautiful breezes blowing in our faces) doesn't have to be ugly.

This first picture above is of a fan (three blade) that we bought my oldest son.  I'm not giving the manufacturer or name because it was a useless fan.  Three blades DON'T do the job.  The blades were also shorter.  My son loved the look, but unfortunately we ended up replacing it a few months later. I'm just saying beware of shorter, 3 bladed fans like these.

TEOLO FAN from Harbor Breeze (above top pic the actual fan in my house, bottom pic is from Lowes website.
This is the fan we ended up putting in our master bedroom.  We also replaced our son's three blade with this one and put another in our upstairs bonus room.  I love the simple, modern look of it. And it and puts out a wonderful amount of air very quietly.

URBANIA FAN from Harbor Breeze.  This is the fan we got for our living room.  It looks tons better in person.  Again, I like the simple design, and the breezes produced from it's FIVE, 54" blades makes my family happy in the heat of summer.

So that's the ceiling fan situation at our house.  Putting up a ceiling fan doesn't have to jeopardize your style. There's lots of great options out there.