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How to Defrost Chicken

I’m spending the day with my daughter today inside since it is snowing!  We’re trying to relax but that’s not easy when she wants to run around.   Right now she is napping and I’m taking a break!

She wasn’t interested in playing when I was preparing the crockpot for the  Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan,  it took several attempts at distracting her in order to defrost the chicken and get all of the ingredients  into the pot.   I found a great tip on how to defrost chicken without making it rubbery.

Tip: Check it out HERE! This is for one chicken breast.

Put it on a piece of foil while you heat your oven to 200 degrees. When it reaches 200, turn off the heat, throw the chicken and foil in the oven, and wait twenty minutes. This will thaw your chicken without cooking it, or creating those tough, over-cooked bits that you get from microwave defrosting.

I was defrosting 4 very large chicken breasts that were in the original packaging so this is what I did.

1.  Heat the oven to 200 degrees and leave it on.

2. Take a cookie sheet and put foil on it.

3.  Place chicken on the foil and then place another piece of foil on top of that.

4. Put it in the oven on the bottom rack.

5.  Since these were very large chicken breasts I gave them 20 minutes and then flipped them over and gave them another 10 minutes.  There were only a few parts that were still frozen!  I then continued with my recipe.

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Applesauce Muffins

This past weekend I made these yummy muffins.  Sorry I don’t have a picture. They were pretty much gone in a day!

I found this recipe in the ad for Giant food – Jan 1 – Jan 7.   It looks like this is from Cheerios website but their recipe section is currently not working.

Applesauce Muffins

2 cups Cheerios cereal (crushed)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup applesauce

1/3 cup fat free (skim) milk

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 egg

1/2 cup raisins (optional, but highly recommended!)

3/4 tsp. baking soda

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.  Crush cereal.  In a large bowl, stir together cereal, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir in remaining ingredients just until moistened.  Divide batter evenly amoung muffin cups.  Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.

Nutritional Information:

1 Muffin: Calories 150 (Calories from Fat 30); Total Fat 3 g (Saturated Fat 0.5g, Trans Fat 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5g, Monounsaturated Fat 1g, Omega-3 0g); Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 170mg, Potassium 110mg, Total Carbohydrate 27g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Soluble Fiber 0g); Protein 3g

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The Best Ham Recipe

I’m a huge fan of Food Network!  I love watching all of the shows especially shows that teach neat tricks and easy simple to do meals.   A couple years ago I saw one of my favorite shows Good Eats – Alton Brown host and it was a show about Ham!   I’ve never cooked a ham in my life.  I knew it wasn’t that hard because City hams are usually fully cooked and besides when I’ve eating a honey baked ham they taste good but not GREAT!   I might prefer Turkey instead.   Well, my mind has since changed.  After I saw the episode of Good Eats – City Ham, I was sold!

City Ham Recipe Source – Food Network – Good Eats- City Ham

I’ve made some adjustments to the instructions see in bold.  I’ve made this at least 3 times and LOVE it!

Ingredients

  • 1 city style (brined) ham, hock end*   I use a Smithfield smoked spiral sliced ham, fully cooked.
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard   I use a basic brown spicy mustard.
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar I use either dark brown or light brown whichever is on hand.
  • 1-ounce bourbon (poured into a spritz bottle)  I just drizzle the bourbon on.
  • 2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies – Yummy!  I use the brown bag of ginger snaps and I ask the hubby to crush them!  This would be a great activity for the kids to do.

Directions

Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Remove ham from bag, rinse and drain thoroughly. Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Using a small paring knife or clean utility knife set to the smallest blade setting, score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut. (If you’re using a paring knife, be careful to only cut through the skin and first few layers of fat). Rotate the ham after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2-inches across. Once you’ve made it all the way around, move the knife to the other hand and repeat, spiraling counter clockwise. The aim is to create a diamond pattern all over the ham. (Don’t worry too much about precision here.)

Tent the ham with heavy duty foil, insert a thermometer, and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature at the deepest part of the meat registers 130 degrees F.

Remove and use tongs to pull away the diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with them.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  I recommend lowering the temperature to 300 degrees.

Dab dry with paper towels, then brush on a liberal coat of mustard, using either a basting brush or a clean paint brush (clean as in never-touched paint). Sprinkle on brown sugar, packing loosely as you go until the ham is coated. Spritz this layer lightly with bourbon, then loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can.

Insert the thermometer (don’t use the old hole) and return to the oven (uncovered). Cook until interior temperature reaches 140 degrees F, approximately 1 hour.  I find that it doesn’t take that long to reach 140 and since I want a crust to get really crunchy it helps to let it roast longer so I lower the temperature of the oven to 300 degrees mentioned earlier.

Let the roast rest for 1/2 hour before carving.

*Cook’s note: A city ham is basically any brined ham that’s packed in a plastic bag, held in a refrigerated case and marked “ready to cook”, “partially cooked” or “ready to serve”. Better city hams are also labeled “ham in natural juices”.

One reason I love having a blog is I can use this to remind myself of recipes and things I really enjoy, plus it is a great way to say to someone “check out my blog!”

Source: City Ham – Alton Brown – Food Network

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How to make Liquid Foaming Hand Wash?

dial

I’m a huge fan of Dial complete and other liquid foaming hand wash.  For several years I would buy the refills at Walmart.  Now, I look for good deals everywhere I go.   I’ve tried in the past to make my own but it would come out foaming for a day and then it would stop working.   The best deal I’ve found to buy it at Aldi I believe it is under $2 last time I was there. Then here is the recipe for refilling your container!

1. Find some gel like liquid soap.  I recommend gel form because it needs to dissolve.  The creme version will not dissolve and the pump will not be able to foam it.  You can get the gel form really cheap!  You could even try gel shampoo.

2.  Then right before you have completed the original formula approximately 4 tablespoons left,  I recommend this is the best time to refill it!  If you already finished it that is ok.

3.  Add about 3 to 5 tablespoons of gel liquid soap.

3.  Add hot water to the bottle but don’t fill it all the way.  I suggest leaving a couple inches for room to shake the bottle and fit the pump into the bottle.  Some bottles have a line for refilling.

4.  Shake the bottle so that the gel dissolves.  The soap will foam a lot in the bottle.  Keep shaking until the gel dissolves.

5. Tada!  You have liquid foaming hand wash.  Super cheap!

My daughter LOVES to wash her hands with this soap.  I squirt a small amount on each of her hands and she understands to rub her hands together.

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Make Dinner Easy! Crockpot Cooking!

A couple years ago a friend of ours gave me a crockpot that they had received as a wedding gift.  They already had one and didn’t know what to do with it.  I was thrilled to take it!  It is one of my favorite kitchen items.   I love making chilli and meatballs in it.   Recently, I’ve been interested in doing different recipes.

Thanks to several bloggers they mentioned  A Year of Slow Cooking.  Stephanie used her crockpots everyday for a year!  I’m so impressed with the number of creative recipes that she mentions.

Here are a couple that I thought are great especially for working Moms.

Cooking Dried Beans in your Crock pot – Talk about saving money!  You can buy a bag of beans at most stores for $1.00 and that equals 3 – 16 oz cans.  Plus no added salt and other things.  You can freeze the extra for other meals.

French Onion Soap in your Crockpot – Yummy!  Looking forward to try this.

Sausage, Cream Cheese and Rotel Dip  in your Crockpot – I had this at a friend’s house a couple years ago and oh my this is sooo good!

Enchilada casserole in your Crockpot – What a perfect recipe after making the beans

I also found another recipe on cooking dried beans.    I would like to make Buritoes tomorrow and I bought dried pinto beans for $1.00 (equals 3 – 16 oz cans or $.33 for 16 oz)  then this recipe would be really cheap!

Click for Laine’s Easy Pinto Beans in the Crock Pot recipe

A staple around here is pinto beans. We use them in so many dishes, since my husband is Mexican. Here is my favorite way to cook them with relative ease:

Laine’s Easy Pinto Beans In The Crock Pot

3 c. pinto beans (washed and picked over)
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
2 T. oil
1/2 chopped onion

Put all in the crock pot with water to within an inch or two from the top of the pot. Set on high for 5-6 hours. ( You can tell when the beans are done as they will mash easily with a fork.) Now is the time to add 1 1/2 T. of salt. It is important to add it at the end of the cooking time, or the beans will be tough. I do any kind of bean this way. It comes out so good.

After the beans are cooked, there are so many ways I use them. Sometimes I refry them and use them for tacos or burritos. To do this I just take some of the beans and the juice in an skillet. Heat til just boiling. Then I start mashing and mashing, turning down the heat to medium. If I’ve added too much liquid, I will let them cook a little longer to evaporate some of the juice. If not enough juice, I will add a little more. Often I will put some shredded cheese over the top to melt at the end of the mashing.

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Starbucks Gingerbread Latte Recipe

I know this might be early but I can’t help it.  It is that time of year again!  Starbucks will soon have Gingerbread Lattes available at a store near you.  I remember a couple years ago when a friend of mine told me how good they were.  I tried one and I was hooked.  I don’t go to Starbucks that often but when there is an opportunity for a treat I will try and get one of these.  HERE is some more information including nutritional information at Starbucks.com.

About two years ago I discovered this fabulous recipe for the Gingerbread syrup.  I like to make the syrup and use it in Dunkin Donuts coffee, that I make at home.  Yummy!

Click HERE for the source.

Source of Recipe –  Top Secret Recipes, by Todd Wilbur

Gingerbread Syrup
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh espresso
8 ounces milk, steamed (with a little foam)

Garnish
whipped cream
ground nutmeg
Recipe

1. Make the gingerbread syrup by combining water, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Be sure the pan is not too small or the mixture could easily bubble over.

2. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer syrup, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat when it’s done and slap a lid on it.

3. Make a double shot of espresso (1/2 cup), using an espresso machine. Use the machine to steam 8 ounces of milk, or heat up the milk in themicrowave if your machine does not foam and steam milk.

4. Make your latte by first adding 1/2 cup espresso to a 16-ounce cup. Add 1/4 cup gingerbread syrup, followed by the steamed milk. Stir.

5. Top off the drink with a dollop of whipped cream, and a sprinkle of nutmeg.