Archive for July, 2011

Nothing screams fun like your first visit to a new pediatrician. Yesterday was the Kiddo’s first visit to meet his new Dr. and it was a long drawn out mess. We made it a joint appointment, with his cousin the Bug, and it was scheduled for 1PM. Thankfully I brought some toys and snacks, because we didn’t get seen until 1:50, and taking the time to carefully examine both babies, and get their medical histories down took quite a while, (we didn’t leave until 4!!!) especially while trying to keep two toddlers entertained in a tiny (and hot and stuffy) examining room.

I brought along some Snack Keeper cups made by Nuby, they have tops that are made to look like one of those door seals from Star Trek, and your toddler can put your his or her hand in to grab some Cheerios, the snack of the day, but the majority of them don’t come out. The lid is made of a super soft rubbery plastic and allows just enough room to put a baby hand in, but not enough room to get it stuck, and not enough room to let any Cheerios out. The cups have handles on both sides, and are very heavy-duty, stood up to repeated banging on the table, the trash can, the door, etc. They are also the perfect size for dry snacks like Cheerios and Goldfish, but could also hold a good amount of grapes or even some apple chunks if your toddler is old enough to eat them without direct supervision.

I did notice that the new game for the cups became “Let’s Take All The Cheerios Out And Not Eat Them”, but if your little one happens to be hungry enough to want to eat said Cheerios, the cups work great. They are also good for minimizing mess in the car while headed out on a day trip, or for letting your toddler be independent enough to carry his own cup of crackers or snacks. The lid seals pretty tight, and because of the patterned hole in the top there was no attempt to try to get it off to dump the cups. They are dishwasher-safe, and the ones that I bought from Sam’s Club came in a nifty two-pack with two Sippy cups, and were offered in a variety of girl and boy friendly colors. The journey towards the Sippy cup has been pretty slow, but the Kiddo is warming up to it.

He got all of his shots caught up for our state, which meant two more, which he wasn’t happy about while it was happening, but I managed to distract him pretty quickly by taking him out of the office while the Bug got her shots and walking around “backstage”. He even got two Bugs Bunny Band Aids! Such a brave boy.

I am under the impression that EVERYONE should have an herb garden, as it is a great source of flavor for your dishes, can teach your kids lots of things about growing, planting, caring for plants, hard work, character, etc, and just looks nice. If you have an OUTDOOR herb garden,make sure you are well after the danger of a frost. If you have an INDOOR herb garden, make sure that you can regulate the amount of sunlight that hits your garden, preferably near a south or west facing window, and make sure it stays away from drafts, doors, and protect it from the younger kids, and the cat. Cats will nibble on your indoor herb garden. Fair warning.

There are only a few spices that I can think of that are absolutely necessary in every kitchen, and thankfully they are all easy to tend to, are fragrant throughout the seasons, and some can even be dried and stored for later use. They are as follows:

Basil: My favorite spice. Basil is a plant that starts out as one stem with several large leaves on it, and eventually can reach the size of a small shrub. It grows quickly, taking about 8 weeks from seedling to harvest time, and is used in dishes based in Italy and the plant itself originated in India. Basil compliments the flavors of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and other squashes, and is grown outdoors in the summer, in 1/2 sun.  

Dill: Originated in Egypt. It is most often used in brine recipes for pickling any number of items, from cucmbers to pigs feet. It has a sharp tangy flavor that compliments potatoes, especially the little red ones, root vegetables, eggs, mayonnaise, and cottage cheese. It grows best in full sun, spreads very quickly, and grows perennially, so you won’t have to replant every year.

Marjoram: Comes from North Africa, has been used in recipes since ancient times. Marjoram compliments a lot of fried foods, and has  a spicy sweet flavor that is great with pork and fish. Plant your marjoram in May, and if you harvest it before the first flowers start to appear you can hang it in bunches to dry without losing any flavor.

Oregano: Closely related to marjoram, oregano is a more bitter spicier plant. It is found all over Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It compliments a lot of the same recipes as basil, and gets the same planting, harvesting and drying treatment as Marjoram. 

Parsley: Parsley is used in dishes all over the world, especially in French cuisine. It has a refreshing spicy sweet flavor that compliments almost anything you make with it, and it also makes a delightful garnish. Originally parsley was added to a diner’s plate to be chomped on to cleanse the palate between meal courses. It grows throughout the summer and early fall if outdoors, but dies every year, as it is only an annual.

Rosemary: Rosemary has been regarded for centuries for is mysterious medicinal and magical purposes. It is used the most in Europe and the Mediterranean regions, and compliments root veggies, pork, chicken, fish, and squash dishes. Plant your rosemary well after the last frost and keep it from freezing, as it is very temperature sensitive.

Chives: The chive originated in central Asia, and is related to the onion. It looks very much like a tiny shallot with a long green stem and a white root base. It’s flavor is not as intense as the onion or shallot, but it lends a nice flavor to egg dishes and is great chopped fresh over a sour cream and buttered baked potato. Plant your chives in April, wait til June to harvest, and they will SPREAD.

Thyme: Grows wild on the rocky areas of the Meditteranean coast, with the same growing condidtions as basil or oregano. It loves the sun, so put this pot right in the window, but make sure its away from any drafts or windy areas.

Mint: This sweet and refreshing herb grows anywhere you put it, as long as it is not in full sun. Mint compliments any number of dishes, and is best used fresh as it does not dry well. My dad’s mint garden grew so quickly that a large part of our lawn is now mint. It makes a very nice scent that wafts through the neighborhood when you mow it in the hot summer months.

Catnip: It’s technically an herb, but it has no value to human cuisine. It makes cats act FUNNY. They love it. Grow it and see what happens to your cat. Its quite amusing. It grows much like basil.

Here’s a quick lesson in starting a basic herb garden from HowCast.

After a long day of playing cowboys and Indians or “Oregon Trail”, my family, particularly the Mom of that family loves an easy to make casserole, something that dates back past those hard-livin’ days when everything was made in one pot and stuffed under the coals of a fire. It’s so simple; throw a few ingredients together, put it in the oven for a half hour or so while you set the table and get hands and faces washed and toys put away (yeah, right) sprinkle some cheese or some sour cream over the top, and tada! Dinner’s ready, usually in less than an hour. This casserole combines a staple of most kitchens and favorites of toddlers and big kids every where, hotdogs, with tasty chili and corn bread for a meal that’s sure to make any cowboy or cowgirl, to quote my son’s hero, Mater, “happier than a tornado in a trailer park.”

Chili Dog Casserole

1 package sweet or country style cornbread mix, (as well as the necessary ingredients for it)
1 can chili (with or without beans)
6 hot dogs
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup minced onion (optional)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Hotdogs Sliced Lengthwise

Prep the cornbread batter according to the directions written on the package. Spray an 8X8 casserole dish with enough Pam to leave it pretty well coated, and pour just half of the cornbread batter. Slice your hotdogs into halves, lengthwise, and lay them on top of the mix. Top the hotdogs with the chili and sprinkle the minced onion over the chili, then sprinkle with half of the cheese. Put the casserole dish in the oven for onehour, at 350*F. About five minutes before it is done, or right after you’ve served it, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

To make this a slightly spicier treat, try adding minced jalapenos or fresh and hot salsa to the chili mix. You can also swap the shredded cheddar for Velveeta, for a creamier chili dog casserole.

Happy Cooking!

I am still surprised when I visit families for dinner who don’t put applesauce out as a “dip” for any kind of pork chop meal. It was a huge family favorite, and my mom made sure to put it at the table whenever we served pork.

The history behind this meal duo dates back to the 4th and 5th Century A.D. when the “Apicius”, one of history’s first recognized cookbooks featured a meal that combined both pork and apples and explained that the tart of the apples acid helps the body to digest the pork’s unwieldy fats. Today’s meal combines pork, sometimes not a kid’s favorite, apples, which rank a little higher on the tasty-scale, and Red Hots, America’s favorite cinnamon candy.


Red Hot Apple Cinnamon Pork Chops

************

You Will Need:

4 Pork chops
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup of chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 cups applesauce (chunky preferably, for better nutrients)
1 dozen or so Red Hot cinnamon candies

First on the to do list for this recipe is to make the Red Hot applesauce. Combine the applesauce and the cinnamon candies in a small saucepan over medium heat, and stir until the candies melt and everything is thoroughly combined.

For the pork, heat a skillet to medium high, and brush the pork chops with the vegetable oil. Brown the chops on both sides, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chops, reduce the heat to low, add the chicken broth and lemon juice. Cover the chops and simmer for 5 minutes.

Top the chops with the Red Hot Applesauce.

Happy Cooking!

I’ve seen it hundreds of times, as I walk through the parking lot, mostly filled with unusually large breeds of vehicles, at my local Sam’s Club. Couples in much smaller cars, usually with their “Family Stickers” limited to them, one kid and a very small dog, drive by with apprehension in their eyes, heading to Publix, or Kroger, or another smaller sized supermarket, because they feel like they are getting a better deal. And maybe for some items, particularly items you don’t find in large sizes normally (ethnic foods, etc) it could be, but growing up in a medium to large sized family, with my dad owning his own business, we found ways to make the bulk discount stores work well for us. Does shopping at a huge “membership-required” store scare you off from their pretty significant deals? Do you think your family is too small to garner any benefit from buying in bulk?

For my family of three (two adults, one toddler, and one very teeny dog) I use Sam’s Club for paper and plastic products, meats, frozen veggies, cereal and snackables for baby, and even my favorite vitamins. The caveat is that I also spend a lot on quart/gallon sized Ziploc Freezer bags, and everything I buy must be long-term shelf stable, or must freeze well. I buy beef, chicken, pork, and even fish, either already frozen or ready to cook, and split everything up into portion sizes of one or two or three, put a small piece of wax paper between each piece of meat, and put the portions into freezer bags. That way, when I leave for the day’s errands in the morning I can pull out a baggie of chicken or beef or fish for that night, and put in the microwave or refrigerator for later.

Paper items, toilet paper particularly, is one of the best “secret deals” at the bigger warehouse stores. You can get a months worth of toilet paper, (the comfy kind) for between $12-$18. Same goes for paper towels, napkins, paper plates. I think that’s why they always hide it in the back of the stores by the stock room. If your spending $12 dollars for the biggest pack at your grocery that only gets your through the next two weeks, you’ve saved plenty.

The warehouse stores also offer great benefits for your car, your eyes, your health, and even your electronics budget, giving you significant discounts for quality name brand products like tires, TVs, cameras, cell phones, eyeglasses/contacts and even jewelry.

Memberships are usually the biggest point of contention for most shoppers, but the individual costs are between $35-$100 annually, much less than what you will save in the course of the year. They have four standard memberships, for businesses and individuals, and they now have a college student membership as well (great for savings on laundry soap!). They also have a nifty new feature, the Click ‘n’ Pull, where you can go to the Sam’s Club website, pick out your order online before 5PM on any day, and it will be ready for you the next day at your local store to pick up! You don’t even have to wander the aisles anymore! I haven’t tried the Click ‘n’ Pull yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to it next month. Click here to get a cool preview of how it works.

Sam’s Clubs closest competition in my local market is Costco, which offers many of the same benefits, (plus I enjoy their tasty snack food samples when I go on sample days), but outside of the food market, their closest competitor is BJ’s, for retail electronics, which I only recently moved close to one, and have not yet experienced.

Are you a bulk buyin’ Mama? Do you prefer one store over the others? Tell us your methods, and requirements for shopping in the different stores, bulk vs regular grocers, and feel free to give good coupon & money saving tips to help us all out in this crazy economy. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Happy Cooking!

This recipe contains almost all of my family’s favorite meal items into one dish, and was super easy to make, and can also be easily adapted to suit certain tastes and levels of pickiness. (I like the Hunt’s with Basil, Garlic and Oregano, but accidentally opened the plain kind for this recipe, it’s good either way)

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

**************************************************
You Will Need:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lightly tenderized
1 large handful of baby spinach leaves, makes 1-1/4 cups chopped
1 cup of finely grated cheddar cheese (1/4 of it set aside)
1 can diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Pam cooking spray
8X8 Glass baking dish
Cutting board
Sharp knife

Preheat your oven to 375*F and spray the bottom of your baking dish with a very light coat of Pam, (it helps to remove the baked on bits of cheese when you wash later!) Rinse the baby spinach under fresh clean water and I like to remove the stems, but you don’t have to. Arrange your spinach leaves into a small pile and chop them until they are in uniform thumb-nail size pieces. In a large mixing bowl add your can of diced tomatoes, the chopped spinach, 3/4 of your cheese, and a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir until everything is throughly mixed, then cover with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until your chicken is prepared.

To prepare your chicken, wash your hands with warm soapy water, get a clean dry cutting board, and lightly tenderize both chicken breasts with a meat mallet or your fist. Slice gently into the longest side of the breast, making a neat cut right into the center of the meat, but not too close to the top or the bottom , essentially making a pocket out of the center of the chicken. After handling the raw meat, wash your hands again.

With clean dry hands, scoop spoonfuls of the tomato cheese and chopped spinach mixture into the chicken pocket, and press down gently on the top of the chicken to squeeze out any air bubbles. Place the chicken in your glass baking dish and then top it with any extra mixture you have and finally sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of grated Cheddar on top. Finish the prep with a dash of salt and pepper on top, then put the whole thing in the oven, uncovered, for 35 minutes. I served it with some leftover fried rice from another meal, but it’s pretty filling and delicious just by itself, or perhaps with some garlic bread or a small Caesar salad. If the taste of fresh chopped spinach is too much for your sensitive tastebuds, feel free to steam the handful of leaves for 10-15 seconds until slightly wilted, but I love the texture that the freshly chopped stuff gives the meal, compared to the slightly squishy tomatoes and the juicy chicken breast.

In my research for this post, I signed up to receive a newsletter from Hunts Tomato Products, it’s chock full of special offers, tips, promotions, the occasional coupon, and recipes, all related to your local area, and you also can receive a great Mama-friendly meal idea guide called ReadySetEat, which can help you with those last minute dinner decisions. For more information you can click here. Don’t worry, in the week since I signed up, I have not received a single bit of evil Stuff Posing As Mail.

Happy Cooking!

Late spring and early summer usually remind people of warmer days, trips to the pool, the beach, and vacations to Disney World, but for some people, the sweetest summer memory is a trip to their local farm, or farmer’s market, to get a taste of some of the freshest produce around, grown locally and healthfully.

You can’t beat slicing up a freshly picked cucumber or a juicy watermelon for a cool and refreshing salad, or a handful of plump blackberries to add to a smoothie or top off a cup of Greek yogurt. Here’s a list of when and where you can expect some of your favorite summer veggies to become available.

Avocados:
Known in health markets as a superfood, avocados offer a large number of nutrients and vitamins in a flavorful green package, with the good kind of fats that help your heart and your blood work as effectively as possible. They are an extremely fickle fruit, growing whenever they please, in warm climates, particularly in Florida, where many people have them in their backyards. Farmer’s markets all over the south will usually start to have them available toward the middle of the summer, but the earliest crops are likely to be hard. Let them ripen on the counter or in a paper bag until soft, peel them, slice them, and mash them into guacamole for your kids favorite Friday night Mexican dish, or chill the slices, sprinkle them with salt and pepper for a nutty flavored snack right and an energy boost right before your 3PM crash at work.

Berries: Another healthy favorite, the blue and the black berries offer antioxidants and a sweet burst of flavor, especially when picked right at the height of the season and allowed to sweeten in the warm summer sun. They grow wild all over the US, from New York to Florida, and farmers markets nationwide could feature these delicious fruits, or offer signs saying “Pick Your Own”. Use the berries to spice up a boring green leaf salad, or freeze them for pancakes during the fall and winter months. Canning is also a great way to preserve sweet fruits, blackberry and blueberry jam were perennial favorites in my Mom’s pantry as a kid. Try not to handle your berries too much before you eat them, the riper they are, the easier they bruise and become mushy, and their high water content makes them very susceptible to mold in the fridge, so be sure to use them or freeze them as soon as possible.

Cherries: Spring marks the arrival of the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital, and those bright fragrant pink flowers offer up sweet red fruit as the summer arrives. Cherries are another great source of energy, and nutrients, and many varieties, be they sour or sweet, are available between the months of May and August.

Corn: There’s a anecdote that helped farmer’s gauge their corn as it grew in the early days of our history, “knee high by the 4th of July.” Summer picnics and barbecues often herald giant ears of sweet white, yellow and multi-hued corn with juicy kernels and bright green husks. This is the time of year where it is most often found down to $0.10 cents an ear or even less at your local grocery, but visit the farmers market for the best corn, I’ve found it to be particularly tasty in the areas of Iowa, Central Florida, and Virginia. Its available through most of the summer, but the best crop usually comes after the Independence Day holiday. Look for fresh green husks, plump ripe (not hard) kernels, and a sweet smell, with soft white floss. It was BBQ tradition in my house growing up that the kids would drag big boxes of corn out to the yard and strip every last strand of corn floss from the ears, while the adults had a chance to mingle and prepare the rest of the meal without us underfoot. It worked like a charm. We would inspect our individual ears like quality control officials, critiquing each other’s techniques and racing to see who could get the most corn shucked in the smallest amount of time.

Garlic: Globally, China is the world’s largest producer of garlic, growing more than 3/4’s of the world’s garlic (23 billion pounds) every year, but the United States has just the right climate for garlic as well, it is grown in every state except Alaska, and can grow often throughout the year depending on the climate, but the sweetest and most flavorful garlic comes during the summer months, particularly in Gilroy, California, which is the biggest garlic growing city in the US. If you are substituting fresh garlic for your normal garlic powder, 1/8 of a teaspoon of powdered garlic usually equals a single clove of the fresh stuff.

Limes:
Limes are the only citrus fruit that are in full ripened flavor in the summer, and grow best in tropical weather in the state of Florida. The tangy fruit makes a great topping for fish on the grill or addition to marinades for your favorite chicken dish. Before peeling a lime to use it for its juice, roll it around on your counter-top under the palm of your hand with heavy pressure, breaking up the membranes inside the fruit and releasing the flesh from the rind.

Peaches: I love anything and everything peaches, (really….anything, perfume, the color peach, peach scented fabric softener sheets) but my SO and I experienced the best peaches ever during a drive through Georgia, (after staying at a great friends house!). When I hear peaches, I think Georgia, and for good reason. The best, most plump, sweetest fruit come from from trees that have full sun and WARM weather. Avoid peaches that are not just a little soft to the squeeze, or have yellow or green near the stem. Buy a bushel or two, or even a laundry basket full and make a months worth of peach cobbler! I’ll be sure to drop by for a taste.

Strawberries: Another of my favorite fruits, since I live just a few hours from Plant City, Florida where the land is dominated by strawberry farms. I am willing to walk, bend and lift, for HOURS just to pick my own perfect strawberries, and the ones sold in the grocery stores, while good, I find are often moldy, mushy, or still too GREENish, which leads to sour berries in my experience. Greenish strawberries never taste right, they only ripen to the best flavor while still attached to the plant and enjoying that sweet Florida sunshine. Pick your own, or be very scrutinizing when selecting “strawbs” at the farmer’s market.

Tomatoes: My grandfather had a green thumb for tomatoes. He grew them every summer, and I am still drawn back to those childhood memories at his house on Long Island New York when I crush a tomato leaf between my fingers and smell the spicy sweet scent. The delicate yellow flowers turn into hard green balls which deepen in color and flavor until a sweet, juicy and tender tomato is born. Make sure and see if you can try a tomato at the market before you buy it, even the prettiest tomato might be a little on the sour side, which isn’t always bad, since different meals and different flavors require different ages of tomato.

Watermelons: Available in 44 of the 50 United States, watermelons are a staple of summer fun. Their pink sweet flesh and sharply contrasted black seeds bring on memories of 4th of July fireworks and summer carnivals. Look for a fruit that has a solid “thunk” when you knock on it, with no serious dents or bruises to the rind, but they are the only melon type fruit that does not smell “melony”, even when at it’s ripest. The sweetest fruit comes from regions that have a good amount of difference in temperature between days and nights. Most melons planted in May are ready to harvest by the end of June.

Remember that most farmer’s markets, especially larger ones, follow some regulation, but most are considered “Mom and Pop” organizations, particularly roadside stands, so be aware of things like worms, fungus, and imperfections that you may not be used to seeing while in your local supermarket.And just like you would at the regular supermarket, be sure to wash and fully inspect any produce that finds it’s way into your home, before adding it to your recipes.

Click here for a link to help you find Farmer’s Markets all over the US, and check with your local school district or your local newspaper for information about co-op growing areas, or community gardens that will have produce available, sometimes as an even exchange program, or for work done at the farm!

For Mom’s these days it’s hard to figure out what is truly fact, and what is fantasy when it comes to age old wives tales and myths regarding your health and your body over the summer. Here are 5 myths that have been fully debunked, that should make planning your vacations, meals, and playtime much easier.

1: Don’t Swim After You Eat?
This myth has officially been BUSTED. While it is true that swimming after eating can cause minor cramping in your lower extremities as blood rushes up to your tummy to help with digestion, it is not nearly severe enough to cause anyone to drown. You don’t have to wait an hour after you eat that delicious grilled chicken to join your friends at the beach anymore, and you don’t have to lock your kids in the car just to keep them out of the water once you get there! Always keep a close eye on your family while near any source of water, and protect them with the necessary applications and reapplications of sunscreen.

2: Any SPF Sunscreen Works Just Fine…
WRONG! You don’t get adequate protection from a sunscreen or sunblock unless it is at least SPF 30 . And remember that the fairer your skin, the less protection you get naturally. I am a huge fan of Neutrogena Sport lotions, particularly their Face block, because I don’t have to reapply as often as I do with other brands. I did some serious damage to my skin as an uprotected beach rat wild child, and didn’t know I was putting my self in danger of melanoma, and a wide variety of other skin issues, like redness that still bothers me to this day.

For Mamas with babies, they also have a great “Pure and Free” baby sunblock line as well. Remember that reapplication is key, no matter how high you go on the SPF scale, and that a costly 95SPF sunscreen blocks the same number of UV rays as a 30SPF.

3: Jellyfish Stings Hurt FOREVER
Also not true. While they do hurt, especially the Portuguese Man of War jellies that we get when the eastern winds start to blow in our area, jelly stings can be remedied with a simple spritz of vinegar on the affected area. I have a small spritzer bottle that I’ve filled with vinegar in my beach bag, and it helps take away the sting, and deactivates the little stingers that make the burn. After you’ve let the vinegar soak in, rinse with fresh cool water and apply ice. If there’s any evidence of a serious allergic reaction, (difficulty breathing, hives, unnatural amounts of swelling) seek medical attention immediately.

4: Browned Meat is Cooked Meat
When you’ve got a pack of hungry children gathered around the grill, salivating over the burgers that you “think” might be done, it’s hard to discern whether or not those juices from the meat are really “running clear” or if you’re just hallucinating from hunger. I am a huge fan of meat thermometers. Williams-Sonoma offers a nifty little 4 pack of “mini grilling thermometers” you can plug right into those tasty little burgers, and know for sure whether or not they are finally cooked enough to eat, by reading the internal temperature, which for beef should be no less than 160* F, as recommended by the USDA.

5: Poison Ivy Is Contagious From Person to Person
Nope! You can only get poison ivy from contact directly with the oils on the plant, and the amount of redness and affliction you get from the plant depends on how much of an allergy you have to it. Rubbing calamine lotion on a friends red itchy welts will only earn you the “Bestest Friend Ever” award, instead of poison ivy yourself. It’s my only allergy, but I consider poison ivy to be my arch-nemesis, and take very good precautions to make sure any one involved in our family’s hiking/camping trips are fully aware of what it looks like, and what to do when you encounter it on the trail. Remember also, that if you are clearing large amounts of land over the summer, that burning poison ivy turns the oils into an aerosol in the smoke, and those particularly sensitive to it can breathe it in. I spent three weeks in bed as a child, resembling strongly the Michelin Man, because of a week of burning brush from our property that contained scraps of poison ivy cuts. Like the picture at right, the leaves are yellowish-green and shiny/waxy looking, the stems are reddish, and look for groups of 3 leaves. Even doggies can get poison ivy, particularly short haired breeds!

Happy Cooking!

Nothing quite like the summer, and moving meals out of the house. After a long hard day of work, or play, it’s nice to enjoy the cooler hours of the day with a family meal out on the patio, or porch, and Cajun Fried Chicken evokes all those memories, with just a few simple ingredients and almost no time at all.

Cajun Fried Chicken

What You’ll Need:
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, thawed
i cup of Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
1 Tbsp of Kosher Salt
I Tbsp Cajun Blackened Seasoning
1 cup Canola Oil
2 Eggs
Paper Towels

Trim any excess fat off of the chicken breasts and set them aside. Mix the bread crumbs, the kosher salt, and the blackened seasoning in a shallow dish, and set that aside. Heat the oil in a frying pan on med-high, so that when you drop a splash of water in the pan it sizzles for just a second and then evaporates.

Crack the two eggs into another shallow dish, and scramble them together, making sure the consistency is even, you don’t want to much egg white, it should all be one color. When your frying pan is hot, dip a chicken breast into the egg, coat it well, then quickly drop it into the bread crumbs, piling more on top. Flip the breast over in the bread crumbs than quickly transfer it to the pan, and be aware that the oil is going to jump around a little bit on you when that chicken hits it. Sizzling oil hurts, so I wouldn’t let kids help with this part.

Let your four pieces of chicken cook on the one side for between 5-8 minutes, until a golden reddish brown, then flip and cook on the other side. When the chicken is cooked through, remove the breast pieces from the pan and set them on some paper towels to drain the excess oil off and get nice and crispy.

Serve the Cajun Fried Chicken with some okra, green beans, or mashed potatoes. It’s sure to be a classic for your family in no time, and it’s pretty comparable to Popeye’s Chicken, without the hassle of going to the fast food place to get it.

Happy Cooking!

Summer is finally here! These few short weeks are filled with beach trips, playground exploring, poolside adventures, and plenty of get-togethers with family and friends. Now the infamous question, “What can I bring???” This recipe will have you saying, “I’ll bring a dessert.”

You can’t go into any grocery store without seeing the strawberries front in center. (At least near me it is like that.) You could also one-up me and pick your own fresh strawberries. (Just the thought of it…..YUM). This easy recipe is great and it does include fresh strawberries, so that may be a serving of fruit too :o) I guess it depends on how strict you are and how much you want to eat it.

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Icing

1 (3oz.) package of strawberry gelatin

½ cup cold water

1 (18.25 oz.) white cake mix

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

3 Tablespoons flour

10 ounces of strawberries

6 Tablespoons of butter

2 cups of confectioners sugar

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Dissolve gelatin in big bowl with cold water.  Stir in cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, flour and half of the pureed strawberries.  Beat for 5 minutes and divide into two 9 inch cake pans.  Bake for 35 minutes.

 

Frosting:

Cream butter, confectioners sugar and remaining pureed strawberries.  Add more sugar until desired consistency.

 

I also made chocolate covered strawberries for presentation. This cake was a real show stopper :o)