Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chinese Fakeout: Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

The inside of our garage upright freezer was starting to resemble Antarctica, so it was time to do some defrosting and rearranging. I found a package of chicken breasts that was hidden behind a big chunk of ice. I rummaged through my pantry and discovered a can of pineapple chunks. I always have red bell peppers in the fridge. My husband says that I cook by what I am craving.  Yep, that's very true.  I like Chinese food every once in a while, but there aren't very good Chinese restaurants close by.  That's my my craving radar kicked in-- Sweet and Sour Chicken!

I don't want to mislead anyone into believing there isn't any frying involved, because, well... there is!  The cut up chicken is coated with egg and then tossed with seasoned flour-- then in a seasoned cornstarch mixture.  The chicken is then fried in oil just long enough to brown, but not cook all the way through.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Peach Melba (Peaches and Raspberry) Streusel Pie

This summer themed pie... I've been meaning to share this pie, since I first made it a few weeks ago. I debated whether or not it's too late to share it now, since I thought peach season had come and gone. Then, I saw a fresh load of California peaches at my local Trader Joe's and my debate was over.

I think that pie is good anytime of year, so you could easily make this pie with frozen peaches and frozen raspberries.  It'll work. Pinkie promise! 

Peach Melba is one of my favorite classic desserts.  It's a very simply dessert of vanilla ice cream, with sugary peaches and fresh raspberry purée. (To reach the history of Peach Melba, click here.) So, I got to thinking that making a peach and raspberry pie, topped with a streusel filling and served with vanilla ice cream would be a perfect version of this dessert.

 ...and, I was right.  There are three components to make this pie.

First, the crust.  You can buy pie crust, of course.  But, why?  Homemade pie crusts aren't difficult to make, and I think they taste much better than the packaged ones (plus, I control the ingredients in it.)  I used to make bad pie crusts.  They were tough, from overworking the dough. I'd get frustrated with the rolling pin process, and having it stick to the counter or baking mat (until I learned the technique of roll, turn, roll, turn) and patching up the dough got to be frustrating. I'd break the crust when I tried to get it into the pie pan and I felt like such a baking failure. (Folding the dough into quarters and then opening it up inside the pie plate didn't work for me.

I never gave up, and one day it all came together and I've been making perfect homemade pie crusts ever since.  There are so many tutorials you can find online. My favorite resources are either King Arthur Flour or Martha Stewart.  For this particular pie I made a  Pâte Brisée crust. That's a fancy word for "all butter.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Texas-Style Buttermilk Onion Rings, Kicked up! (Plus, a million thanks to my readers)

As promised, I am sharing the recipe for the "Buttermilk Onion Rings" that I made to serve with the "Juicy Pub-Style Burger" that I posted a few weeks ago.

There's a simple back story as to why I made these onions rings.  We visited Texas Hill Country on a recent summer trip to visit my son.  My husband absolutely loves onion rings, so we placed an order as an dinner appetizer.  They were HUGE-- and they were also delicious.  The onions were soft inside, and the coating had a thick and crunchy coating.  I could see plenty of coarse pepper and the seasoning had a bit of kick to it.  Both of my men devoured them, with relish.  I ate one.. okay two.  Okay, I forget how many I ate (I'm usually not as crazy about onion rings as they are).

When we returned home, to California, I wanted to recreate them, as best as I could,  I wanted to surprise my husband with them since he loves them so much.  I don't deep fry food very often-- choosing to find a way to bake "fried" foods instead.  I've had success with Crunchy Oven Fried Fish and Baked  Coconut Chicken.   At some point, I'll tinker with making a baked onion ring recipe. This time, I decided to stick with deep frying them, just as they were in Texas.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Juicy Pub-Style Burgers (and a little honesty about being a food blogger today)

My fingertips have been hovering above my keyboard.  I'm really not sure where to start this blog post.  Bear with me, for just a moment or two as I digress from sharing this juicy burger recipe that I ground myself-- even though I don't even own a meat grinder.  (This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen.)

Inhale.  I've been blogging for seven years.  Seven wonderful years, that has introduced me to so many wonderful people who love to cook and bake as much as I do.  I've been blessed to attend food blogger festivals, and I have been able to rub elbows with celebrity chefs and celebrity food bloggers.  I've enjoyed some great perks-- like, when the UPS truck shows up with kitchen tools or foods for me to test and develop recipes for.  How could I not love that?!!  Food blogging has been my creative outlet, and has encouraged me to step up my game with what I feed to my family. 

There was a time when I would make some extra pocket money, that I used to pay website designers,  or to purchase cookware or gourmet ingredients.  But, in recent times, the food blog community has changed a lot.  It's become more competitive, and I don't make as much extra cash as I once did. It seems that I've reached a fork in the road, where I feel a little left behind (and somewhat guilty) in maintaining regular food blog posts.  In short, I have broken a few of the Golden Rules of having a successful food blog, within the last year or so.

What rule is that, you might wonder?

I've been blogging rather infrequently-- sometimes with two weeks of no blog posts being posted.  This, I've been told, can cause a loss of readership.  By my recent stats, I can see this is happening.  It's discouraging, for me, because I cherish each and every person who has faithfully been reading my food bog.  I so enjoy visiting my favorite food blogs, and discovering new ones. I spend at average of 2 hours (or more)  to edit and organize my food photos, and to write the blog post.   I have a full-time job that I love, but it has become more and more demanding of my time and energy.

So,  I had to make a choice. I chose to spend more of my time focusing on my family, my health, my job and less time on social media.  That, my friends, is another Golden Rule that I've broken in the Food Blogger community. The most successful food bloggers don't only have beautiful photos and recipes, but they are very active on Twitter, Facebook and blog more than once a week-- some blog every day! 

Thank you to those of you who remain faithful readers of my food bog.  I have no immediate plans to quit food blogging altogether..   I won't allow statistics to make me feel like a failure.  I will continue to share the simple food (and desserts) that I make for my family and friends when I can.  One day, I'll be able to retire. Then, maybe, I can make this food blog my full-time job and be rich! (Just kidding/wishing on that last thought.)

Thank you for listening.  Muwahhh!  Exhale.

Okay... on with this recipe:

It is highly unusual for me to eat burgers from a big chain take-out place-unless, there's a good Mom and  Pop place that char-grills their burgers. Then, I'm in!

While you don't need a meat grinder, you do need a food processor to make this recipe. You also need to buy Sirloin Steak Tips.  Maybe you've seen this cut labeled as Round Tip Steak, Tip Steak, Sandwich Steak, Ball Tip Steak, Breakfast Steak, or Knuckle Steak?

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