Friday, September 30, 2011

Caramel Pecan Dream Bars

Caramel Pecan Dream Bars
(16 to 24 servings)


1 pkg. Yellow Cake Mix with pudding
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
2 Whole Eggs, divided
1 can (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Pecans, chopped
½ cup Bits-O-Brickle Chips


In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, butter and one (1) egg.  Mix on high speed until crumbly.  Press the mixture into a greased 9x13 baking dish evenly and set aside.  In a small bowl beat the milk, second egg and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in the pecans and baking chips and pour mixture over the base in the 9x13 dish.  Spread evenly to cover entirely and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.  The center may appear to be soft but will set upon cooling.  Cool completely before cutting.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mandarin Orange Cake

Mandarin Orange Cake
(12-16 servings)


1 pkg. White Cake Mix
2 whole eggs
1 can (11 oz.) Mandarin Oranges, undrained
1/3 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 carton (8 oz.) Whipped Topping
1 can (8 oz.) Crushed Pineapple, undrained
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix


In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, eggs, applesauce and oranges.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds and then continue on medium for 2 minutes.  Pour into two greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans equally and shake smooth.  Bake these in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans and placing on a cooling rack until completely cooled.  In another mixing bowl, beat together the whipped topping, pineapple and pudding mix on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.  Spread the topping between layers and then to top and sides of cake.  Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Note:               You can make this cake in a 9x13 pan but will need to bake a
                           few minutes longer.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Non-Stick Baking Mats

I'm not sure how many of you realize that silicone is making a big splash in the baking area in equipment.  There are muffin pans, baking dishes and hot pads or gloves now on the market made from silicone.  They work quite well too.
Silicone Mat

I don't have any of these items yet but I do have a couple of silicone non-stick baking mats.  These mats are worth their weight in gold in my opinion.  They are very versatile in use for both hot and cold needs.  Not to mention that they can really be of help in the clean up area.

The two mats that I have are of different sizes because I have pans of different sizes.  The mat I use the most is made for 13"x18" half sheet pans.  The other mat is for 11"x17" standard cookie pans.  Both mats are good up to 480 degrees in the oven and down to minus 40 in the freezer.  They can go from freezer straight to the oven but need to be cooled down before going from oven to freezer.  It would be too hard on the freezer and the other items in it.
Silicone Mat

It is recommended to use a little non-stick spray before using with some mats.  I don't do that with mine and maybe that is because they are more seasoned from use.  Never use scrapers or brushes to clean or cut on these mats.  Also never use a mat that has been cut or ripped as it could affect the food.  These mats are good in an oven, toaster oven or microwave.  I've never used one in a microwave and I'm not sure how well they would fit or what dish you would put it in.

They clean up easy with just soap and water but could be put in a dishwasher if needed.  They say to store flat after they are dry but I always roll mine up and put it back in it's container.  That hasn't hurt mine.

I am sure the first use one thinks of is for baking cookies but they can be used for so much more.  I use mine for cooking bacon in the oven (see sidebar below) because it makes clean up easy.  There is no scouring of the pan because the bacon stuck on in places.  I also freeze a lot of Jalapeno peppers whole throughout the gardening season for later use.  The mats keep these peppers from sticking to the pan.  They are terrific for use in freezing individual items.  Another item that comes to mind is chicken breasts.  I'll buy the value packs and then individually freeze the chicken breasts before bagging them.  It makes it so easy to take out just what you need for a meal and not have to hassle with the whole package.  Remember, you never know when unexpected guests will show up.

I hope this has helped you realize how handy these mats can be for you in the kitchen.  My favorite shopping sites Kohl'sFood Network and QVC sell these mats, so check them out.

Now the sidebar on cooking bacon in the oven.  It is quick, easy, less of a mess and opens up the stove top to other dishes.  Just place your bacon on the mat in the appropriate pan and place in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 to 30 minutes.  The time depends on thickness of bacon, desired doneness for your bacon and your individual oven's true temperature.  Try it and you will never do bacon on top of your stove again.

Have a great week and don't forget the two dessert recipes Thursday and Friday this week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Week's Blog

I have been working with several people on setting up some events with the cookbook.  There are no events finalized yet but several that are very close.  I will let you know when I post any of them on my new website.  I'm hoping the website will be done by the middle of October.  It will be announced on this blog as soon as it is all done.

There will be two recipes this week.  I have been getting requests for some desserts or sweet items from quite a few blog readers.  For those of you with a copy of the cookbook already, you know I mention in it that I'm not a baker.  So the two recipes are not mine but a friend's, Joyce Lee.  I can a test to the fact that they are both very delicious.  One is a little more WeightWatchers friendly but both are alright in moderation so enjoy.

Now I know how to bake or make desserts and other sweets, I just don't do it very often.  These items take a little more discipline than cooking.  In the cookbook, I mentioned that I usually don't measure ingredients.  I just kind of estimate the amount.  Baking is a much more exact science and if you don't follow measurements, you usually have a disaster in the kitchen.

Tomorrow I'm going to talk about non-stick baking mats.  Where to find them, how to use them, what to use them for and how to care for them.

The two recipes I mentioned are a Mandarin Orange Cake and Caramel Pecan Dream Bars.  I know Paula Deen would want to be trying them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Simple Sauteed Fish

Simple Sautéed Cod
(4 servings)


20 oz. Fresh Cod (give or take a couple of ounces)
As Needed Salt and Black Pepper
1 – 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Chopped Parsley for Garnish (Optional)


Take the fresh Cod and cut into 4 equal portions.  Pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle first side with a generous portion of salt and black pepper.  In a large sauté pan, heat one tbsp. of the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Place the fish in pan, seasoned side down and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes depending on thickness.  Season the top side with more salt and pepper while the fish is cooking.  Carefully turn the fish pieces over and continue to sauté for another 4 to 5 minutes.  Add a little more oil if needed.  The fish will turn white and start to flake when done.  Remove to a platter and top with a little parsley and serve.

Note:               I will add a little butter to the olive oil to add a little flavor.  I
                           think the combo gives you the best flavor.  You can just use
                           butter but be careful not to burn it.  The combo of butter and
                           oil gives you a higher smoke point and keeps the butter from
                           burning while still giving you the flavor you seek with butter

Note:               You can try other types of fish using this same simple recipe.  Cod
                           just happens to be one of my favorites.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Easy Baked Squash

Easy Baked Squash
(2-4 servings)


1 Fresh Acorn Squash
1 tbsp. Butter
4 tbsp. Brown Sugar
As needed Water


Rinse the squash under running water and place on a cutting board.  If needed, slice a small piece off of the top and bottom of the squash so that it is stable when placed on that end.  Next cut the squash in half so that the top and bottom will be the base.  Set each half on its base and using a spoon scrape out the seeds of each.  Take a 9x13 baking dish and place the two pieces of squash cut side down in the dish.  Add water to the dish coming up the side wall to between ½ and ¾ inch.  Now place the baking dish into a 350 degree pre-heated oven and bake for one hour.  After the hour of baking, remove dish and carefully turn each piece so that the cut side is up and place back in the dish.  Divide the butter and brown sugar equally between the two pieces by placing the ingredients in the cavity of the squash.  Place the baking dish back into the oven and bake an additional 15 to 30 minutes or until the squash is tender and the butter and brown sugar have melted.  Time may vary because of oven or size of squash.  To serve the squash, just place each piece on a plate.  If serving four people, cut each squash piece in half being careful not to get burned.

Note:               You can use butternut squash in the same way with this recipe.
                           Baking time may need to be adjusted for size of butternut squash.

Note:               Squash skins can be tough and slicing them in half dangerous.
                           Try microwaving the squash whole for 30 seconds to soften
                           it up a little.  You may need to repeat the process a second time.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Time for Fall

I believe summer officially comes to an end today.  At least when I was young all the seasons ended and started on the 21st of the month.  Now I know that my life hasn't been that long, but something tells me it's been long enough, that the seasons have moved a day.  Whatever, fall arrives this week and that means we change our eating habits a little.

We have been eating a lot of summer fresh vegetables and fruits and cooking on the grill as often as possible.  Now with the coming of fall, we start to eat more fall vegetables and fruits.  Comfort foods start appearing on our tables for meals along with soups and stews too.  Holidays are just around the corner and so we start thinking about those special meals and what are we going to make this year.

I really hate to say this but we are like other mammals in the wild.  We start to stock up food in our bodies as we get ready for winter.  I thought that was a nicer way of saying, we all start to put on weight.  But it is true and that is why everyone has a New Year's Resolution of losing weight.  We tend to be less active than we have been through the summer and we're eating heartier foods.

My wife, I'm sure, is not happy to read what I have just written as she tries to follow Weight Watchers and my cooking does not.  I mentioned a dietitian yesterday.  Well, Julie tells me that it is alright to eat everything but remember to do it in moderation.  That self control is tough and I do try and help my wife meet her goals.

The recipes that will be featured in the blog this fall will be the fall and holiday types foods.  I will be doing more desserts or treats than I have in the past.  It is not an area that I do a lot in but know that people following the blog would to see more.  Personally, I'd rather have another portion of some starch or bread than something sweet.  Claudia, on the other hand, doesn't believe it is a complete meal without a dessert.

Thank God we're all different.  Because if we weren't, life would be extremely boring.

Thursday and Friday this week are recipes.  The recipe tomorrow is for squash and Friday's is a simple fish recipe.  I hope you enjoy them and if you have questions for me, please send the questions to me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Working on Website

This past week we started working on my website at Tate Publishing.  For those of you that have already purchased the cookbook, I'm sure you noticed the my website mentioned on the back cover of the cookbook.
If you go there now it will just tell you the site is under construction.  Well we're working on the construction.

The website will have five pages; a home page, about the cookbook page, about the author page, an events page and a nutritional information page.  Those first three website pages will change over time but very little.

The events page is to let people know where and when I might be somewhere.  It will list all the up coming book signings, lectures, demonstrations and judging events that are scheduled.  An example of this would the "Soup Contest" at the Maryville, Missouri Hy-Vee grocery store.  I've been asked to be one of five judges to pick the soup of the year winner.  That judging date is October 11, 2011.

The nutritional information page will list that knowledge on all the recipes in the cookbook.  The layout is being planned to be in chapter order and recipe order in each chapter.  I had Julie Livengood, a registered dietitian, calculate the nutritional information and put it in a familiar format for you.

I'll let everyone know in the blog when the website goes live.

This week is about fall coming and the food choices that come with this season.  Also, two recipes this week. They are simple and easy with one about squash and the other for fish.  I've had several requests for a fish recipe.  I hope this will help.

Have a great week.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Buffalo Chicken Burgers
(4 burgers)


1 lb. Ground Chicken
½ cup Celery, small dice
½ cup Bleu Cheese Crumbs
¼ cup Frank’s Buffalo Sauce, divided
4 Hamburger Buns, toasted
As needed Bleu Cheese Dressing (optional)
As needed Additional Frank’s Buffalo Sauce (optional)
As needed Favorite condiments (optional)


Combine the first four ingredients using only half of the Buffalo sauce and form into four patties.  Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up.  Remember to oil the grates before placing burgers on the grill.  Grill over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, flip over, brush with part of remaining Buffalo sauce and continue grilling another 4 to 6 minutes.  Turn back over and brush with remaining Buffalo sauce and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer.  Use an instant read thermometer to determine doneness.  The temperature should be 165 degrees to eat.  You can remove the burger anytime after it hits 155 degrees.  The temperature will continue to rise after removing it from the heat.  So let it rest 5 to 10 minutes while you grill the buns.

Note:               You could use ground turkey if you can’t find ground chicken.
                           You can use ground beef if you’re not into something different.
                           It’s what meets your taste desires.

Note:                If you want to use more Bleu Cheese, top the burgers with a little
                           right after you brush the last of the Buffalo sauce on them.  Close
                           the lid and let it go that 1 or 2 minutes longer so the cheese will
                           melt a little.

Note:               The amount of Frank’s buffalo sauce can be adjusted for personal
                           taste to the heat it produces.  This recipe is considered mild.
                           You’ll find it in the hot sauce section of the grocery store.

Note:               You can do this year round indoors with Panini or George
                           Foreman grills too.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tailgating Season

Tailgating is in full swing as we just finished the 2nd week of college football and the opening weekend of the pros.  I'm sure there are some fans delighted with their team's start while still others have already given up the season.  Many may be happy that their team have won so far but are concerned about the future because of the way they played.  That's all part of the football season with the ups, downs and uncertainties of what can happen each week.  Well, at least we can sit back and enjoy the tailgating that comes with football.

When it comes to tailgating, you have to decide whether you cook everything onsite, at home or some combination of both.  I'm going to try and remind you of recipes both from the cookbook and this blog that you can use to enjoy those pregame festivities.  I'm also going to give you some ideas for hot and cold finger foods to devour as you wait for the main course.  Remember that weather will play a part in planning your menu.  Certain items make more sense in the warmer weekends at the beginning of the season as apposed to those colder weekends of November and December.

Some recipes from the cookbook, More Than Your First Cookbook, that would be appropriate are as follows: Barry's Chili (No Beans), Chili (Ground Beef & Beans), Beef Stew, Dave's Green Chile and Robinson's Hearty Hodgepodge just from the soup chapter.  From the sandwich chapter comes: Bacon Dogs, Hamburger/Cheeseburger, Italian Sausage with Peppers & Onions, Meatball Subs and Taverns (Sloppy Joes).  In the entree chapter we have: BBQ Pork Back Ribs, Jambalaya, Mac & Cheese and Oven Smoked Brisket.  The sides chapter offers: Baked Beans (Vegetarian), Baked Beans with Bacon, Connie's Hash Brown Casserole, Cornbread Salad and Rosie's Potato Salad.  The last recipe chapter in the cookbook is Odds & Ends and here we have a few more good ones.  They include: Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, Candee's Salsa, a Dry Rub for BBQ, Hot Crab Dip, Mexican Hot Dip, Nadine's Corn & Black Salsa and Spinach & Artichoke Dip.

That's not a bad list a variety to get you through the football season.  But there are more from this blog.  Try some of these such as: Pan Fried Chicken (warm or cold), Chicken Burgers, Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, Bleu Bacon Burgers, Spicy  Cream Corn, Crab Cakes (try grilling them), Pulled Pork, Pineapple & Kielbasa Kebabs and Buffalo Chicken Burgers (recipe this week).

Then there are a few ideas that really don't need a recipe.  Here you just do your own thing.  Bacon wrapped anything for starters.  Take thin bacon strips and cut to the length you need for the item you're wrapping.  A few ideas include: hot dogs or other precooked sausages cut about the width of the bacon.  You can smear the bacon with BBQ sauce, flavored mustard, hot sauce or a bottled marinade before wrapping it around the dog or sausage.  You could even use a soft cheese to spread on the bacon strip.  I like using the Laughing Cow little wedges and they come in several different flavors.  Depending on the heat level wanted, try some spicy sausages.  When the grill is ready just throw them on and cook until the bacon meets your doneness requirements.  Remember you'll need to use toothpicks to hold the bacon on.

Stuffed peppers of some kind with a stuffing of some kind.  I do Jalapeno peppers stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, fresh cilantro, lime juice and cumin.  I just cut the end off, remove seeds and use a pastry bag to fill them.  Depending on what I want for a result, I'll leave them fresh or blanch them.  You can serve these hot or cold.  Grill just before eating for hot ones.  Each Jalapeno pepper will have varying heat levels.  You can't tell until you take a bite.  It's kind of like Russian Roulette for the heat.  You can use milder peppers if you desire or even wrap these in bacon before grilling.

Have fun tailgating and I hope your team wins all their games (unless they are playing mine).  Be sure to check out the Buffalo Chicken Burgers which is tomorrow's recipe.  Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stock, Base and Bouillon

I've received another question from one of you following the blog.  Please keep them coming as I have been cooking most of my life and so many things in and about the kitchen and cooking are second nature to me.  It doesn't always come to me that someone might not know the difference between stock and base which is today's question.

The question today, is chicken base the same as chicken stock?  The simple answer is NO.  But that in it's self doesn't help you.  So let's look at what is out there and where you would use them in your cooking.

There are really three different items we can use in our cooking to help flavor our dish.  They are stock, base and bouillon.  The common flavors they come in our beef and chicken for all three items.

You can usually only find stock in three flavors and they are beef, chicken and vegetable.  There may be other flavors out there but not in most stores.  Stock will come in a can or a box.  The can is usually around 15 ounces and the box is normally a quart in size.  Stock is a liquid and comes only in one strength.

Base on the other hand is a damp solid and is normally found in an 8 ounce jar at the store.  Base can be found in stores in a greater number of flavors.  You can usually find beef, chicken, turkey and ham flavors.  A measured amount of base mixed with a measured amount of water will give you broth.  Broth and stock are basically the same thing.  The difference between base and stock or broth is that you can intensify the flavor by using more base to the same amount of liquid.  If you are making a chicken soup and using stock and the flavor of the chicken is not enough for your taste, you can add a little chicken base and increase the chicken flavor in that soup.  If you were not using stock in making that soup but water instead, the base allows you to develop the chicken flavor you are looking for in the soup.  I believe it is less expensive to use water and base to develop that flavor than to use stock.  Now that being said, you can make your own stock instead of buying it and that too can be less expensive.  It takes time but if you already have the basics on hand and don't have to buy them special for the process, it is less expensive.

As far as bouillon, it is commonly found in beef and chicken flavor.  The bouillon comes in individually wrapped little cubes or in a granular form that can be measured out as needed.  The little cubes usually make one cup of broth.  I'm not sure on the granular form how much it requires to make a cup because I don't use it.  The jar that it comes in does give you the measurement needed in the instructions.

One last thing to remember about each of these forms is when they need to be refrigerated.  The stock, base and bouillon forms do not require refrigeration when you buy them.  The stock and base, however, do require refrigeration after you open them if not all is used in your recipe.  I would be sure to use the stock within a week after opening.  The base will last for months in the refrigerator.

I hope this has helped you to understand stock, base and bouillon better.  If you continue to have questions about them, please let me know.

Tomorrow we will talk about the "Tailgate Season" with football just getting started.  Then on Friday our recipe is for "Buffalo Chicken Burgers" so enjoy and have a great week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Visit to Tenuta's Store

I now have some of my cookbooks on hand to sell and so I went on a trip to sell them in 3 cities over the Labor Day Weekend.  One of the cities I visited to sell some cookbooks was Kenosha, Wisconsin.  My wife's family is from there and most still live in the area.  We had a great time and I tested some of the cookbook and blog recipes on the family.  All the food was a great hit.

For those of you that have bought and read the cookbook, you know that Kenosha is home to my favorite ethnic grocery store.  That store is Tenuta's Delicatessen and we naturally paid it a visit.  Our youngest child refers to Tenuta's as my Amusement Park because I'm just like a child wanting to see everything and all of it right now.  Well he is probably correct.  I do enjoy my visits there.

My brother-in-law, Dan, introduced me to the owner of Tenuta's this time.  Ralph is second generation in operating this great establishment.  He was very kind and gave me a sample of one of the many cheeses they sell.  It was a white Merlot Cheese and tastes divine.  Ralph and I had a great conversation about the store and it's history.  I purchased a lot of different items I can't find back home and know I'll be going back again some day (like next summer).
300 lb. Provolone Cheese

The photo in today's blog is of their 300 pound piece of aged Provolone cheese that hangs in the store.  This cheese comes in already aged but is aged even longer at Tenuta's.  While this one is hanging around aging, they have the previous hanging one in back getting cut up for sale.  Ralph tells me that they go through 8 to 10 of these 300 pound blocks a year.  This is just one of the many kinds and brands of cheeses they sell.

I bought some of their homemade Italian Sausage for the family party we had.  I  did a variation of the Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions recipe from the cookbook with them.  It was a great time with lots of good food.

Please check out Tenuta's Delicatessen at the following link.   Tenuta's Delicatessen

Friday, September 9, 2011

English Walnut Pie

English Walnut Pie
(8 servings)


1 Refrigerated Regular Pie Shell
3 Fresh Whole Eggs
4 Tbsp. Butter, melted
½ Cup Sugar
1 Cup Dark Corn Syrup
¼ Tsp. Salt
1 Cup Chopped English Walnuts


In a large bowl blend the eggs and butter with a mixing fork.  Now add the last four ingredients and mix by hand with the fork.  Pour into the unbaked pie shell and place in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes or until set.  Time will vary by oven so test for doneness with a knife in the center of the pie.  Let the pie cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Can be served and kept at room temperature.

Note:               This pie would go well with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pineapple & Kielbasa Kebabs

Pineapple & Kielbasa Kebabs
                                                                     (3 servings)      


1 lb. Polish Kielbasa Ring
1 Fresh Pineapple
2 Red Peppers
1 bottle Sweet & Sour Sauce (your favorite)
3 Metal Skewers


Take the Kielbasa ring and cut it in half.  Now cut each half in half again.  Cut each of the four pieces into three equal pieces for a total of 12 and set aside.  Lay the fresh pineapple on its side and slice off the top and bottom about one half inch in from end of pineapple.  Stand the pineapple up on one cut end and slice off the skin from top to bottom working your way around the pineapple until all the skin has been removed.  Cut the pineapple in half from top to bottom.  Lay the pineapple down on the flat cut inside and cut in four equal pieces.  Turn the pieces 90 degrees and cut each piece into 2 wedges.  Next remove any inter core from each wedge.  Repeat with the other half of pineapple.  You should have 16 pieces when done and set them aside.  The red pepper needs to be cut in half from top to bottom and seeds removed.  Cut each half into four quarters.  This should give you 16 pieces of red pepper and you are now ready to assemble the kebabs.  You will need all 12 pieces of Kielbasa, only 12 pieces of pineapple and only 15 pieces of the red pepper.  You can eat the remaining pineapple pieces as you grill the kebabs if you want.  Take the metal skewer and start with a piece of red pepper followed by a piece of Kielbasa and then pineapple.  Repeat this order three more times and then finish with a piece of red pepper.  Do this with the other two skewers and place all three in a sheet pan.  Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the three kebabs and let sit for 30 minutes before grilling.  Remember to pre-heat your gas grill or get your coals to the right heat before starting to grill kebabs.  Turn the kebabs as needed while grilling for around 10 minutes.  You should have some char on all the ingredients on the kebab.  Add more sweet and sour sauce as needed during the grilling.  Serve over rice if you like.

Note:               You can use different meats, vegetables and sauces to make your
                           own favorite combination.

Note:               Be careful when using metal skewers as you can get burned easily.
                           If you don’t have metal skewers try wooden ones.  Be sure to
                           soak the wooden skewers for about 15 minutes before assembling
                           with the food.  This will keep them from burning while you grill
                           the kebabs.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to cut up a Pineapple

I got back late Tuesday night from the cookbook trip to find I screwed up the Tuesday Blog.  I mentioned the two recipes from last week as being the recipes for this Thursday and Friday.  That's what you get doing things in a hurry as you try to leave town.  The recipes for this week are as follows; Pineapple & Kielbasa Kebabs on Thursday and English Walnut Pie for Friday.

Last week's two recipes and the pie recipe on Friday are from friends and family.  Sorry, again, about messing up yesterday but please enjoy the rest of this week.  Here goes.

There is nothing wrong with canned pineapple when you need pineapple for a recipe.  However, it does not hold a candle to a fresh pineapple.  I love to eat pineapple just plain right after cutting it.  But to really bring out the flavor in a fresh pineapple, it needs to be grilled.  Now I'll just cut wedges or even circles and throw them on the grill.  It has to do with the heat and fire bringing out the sugar in the pineapple that enhances the taste.

So let's talk about cutting up a pineapple.  The first thing you want to do is pick out a great fresh one.  A ripe pineapple should have just a little give to it when you squeeze it with your fingers.  You don't want one that is like a rock.  Another test for a ripe pineapple is to pull on green leaves.  You should be able to pull one out with a little effort.  If they don't come out at all, it may not be ripe enough.  If they come out really easy, they may be over ripe.  Which one you want may depend on how soon you plan to use it.

To cut up a pineapple you will need a good sized cutting board and a sharp chef or santoku knife.  Lay the pineapple on its side and slice off the top of the pineapple about 1/2 inch below the green leaves.  Then cut off the bottom again about 1/2 inch into the pineapple.  This gives you a solid base to safely cut off the sides of the pineapple.

Once you have cut the bottom off, place that cut bottom on the cutting board to start cutting the sides away from the pineapple.  Take your knife and cut about 1/4 inch inside the skin of the pineapple going from top to bottom.  You will notice that the pineapple's side curves slightly and you need to follow that natural curve as you slice down the side.  The width of your slice will only be one to two inches wide.  So continue to work your way around the pineapple until all the side skin has been cut away.

There may be little eyelets that did not get cut away.  If they are big or you want the pineapple totally clean of the eyelet, use a paring knife to cut them out.  A few small ones are not going to cause a problem.

There is a center core that is not good to eat and needs to be removed at some point.  You can turn the pineapple on its side and slice circles off at whatever thickness you desire.  These circles can be grilled and served as is but the end user will have to cut the edible part away from that center core to eat.

The pineapple can be sliced in half from top to bottom and the core removed with a smaller knife.  You can just cut long wedges off the whole cleaned pineapple and work your way around the pineapple as you did when skinning it.  Either way, you can now cut the pineapple into bite size pieces or whatever you want for your need.  I'll grill long wedges or the circles depending on the use I have in mind.

I'm sure you have noticed in grocery stores that they offer fresh pineapple that has been skinned and cored.  It is more expensive but convenient.  They sell equipment that will let you do the same thing the stores does but it is expensive.  I've never looked to see but my favorite shopping sites Kohl'sFood Network and QVC  may offer them.  Check it out.

Enjoy working with and eating your fresh pineapple.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday's Update

While I'm on the road today, I prepared today's blog a few days back.  I have cookbooks in hand and selling some in several towns along our trip.  I continue to get good reviews, comments and compliments on some recipes.  Please keep passing on the remarks (good & bad) so I can see where I need to take the blog as we continue.

Tomorrow I will try and walk you through the cutting up of a fresh pineapple.  The key here is to have a sharp knife and a good sized one at that.

The two recipes that will be on the blog this week are not mine.  They are recipes that I have tried and really like from family and friends.  So I thought I should share them with you.

Because I have received several questions on "What do I do with all my cucumbers?" the recipes on Thursday and Friday deal with cucumbers.  If you like pickles, the Thursday recipe is for an easy recipe that takes no cooking but does need to be refrigerated.  I guess that's why they are called "Refrigerator Pickles" on the recipe.

Friday we have a recipe for a cucumber salad that is delicious and even freezes well for when you're overrun with cucumbers.

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day Weekend.  Next big holiday for food is Thanksgiving.  I'm sure it will be here before we know it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad
(around 8 cups)


7 cups Cucumbers, peeled and sliced (1/4 inch)
1 cup Red Onion, Medium Chop
1 cup Green Pepper, Medium Chop
2 cups Sugar
1 cup White Vinegar
1 tbsp. Celery Seed
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Kosher Salt


In a large bowl combine the cucumbers, onion and green pepper and set aside.  In a medium bowl whisk the sugar, vinegar, celery seed and salt together until all the sugar is dissolved.  This will make more liquid than needed but it is best to use all.  Pour the liquid over the cucumber mixture and stir until well combined.  Refrigerate for two hours or overnight before serving.

Note:               This salad freezes well if you have too many cucumbers on hand.
                           However, it tastes so good it never makes the freezer in our

Note:               I believe you can double the vegetables in this recipe without
                          increasing the liquid.  I have not tried it with this recipe but
                          believe it will work.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles
(3 to 4 quarts)


4 cups Sugar
4 cups Cider Vinegar
½ cup Kosher Salt
1 ½ tsp. Tumeric
1 ½ tsp. Celery Seed
1 ½ tsp. Mustard Seeds
1 Large Yellow Onion, sliced very thin
8 to 12 lbs. Fresh Cucumbers, sliced very thin


In a large bowl mix the first six (6) ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.  This is at room temperature.  Set aside while you slice the onion and cucumber.  It is best to use a mandolin on its thinnest choice to slice these.  Sterilize the jars you are going to use for these pickles.  Divide the onion equally between the jars and then start adding the cucumbers.  Press the cucumbers into the jars as tight as you can.  Wipe the tops of the jars with a clean dump cloth.  Stir the liquid mixture again and pour over the cucumbers until the liquid is within ½ inch of the top of the jars.  Seal the jars with lids tightly and place in the refrigerator.  Let the pickles set for 5 days before trying the pickles.  Pickles must be kept refrigerated and will last for months.

Note:               These pickles taste a long the line of a Bread and Butter Pickle
                           but are different.  You could add some red pepper flakes, a few
                          dry red peppers or some sliced Jalapeno peppers for some heat
                           if you like.

Note:               You may have some excess liquid when you are done.  Just pour
                           it down the drain.

Ideas for Future Effort