Noreen's Kitchen: 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Classic King Ranch Casserole! Comfort Food Made Better!

Today I am sharing a southwestern Tex Mex classic!  King Ranch Casserole!  There is some question as to where this recipe actually comes from.  The original inclination is to associate it with the King Ranch in Texas.  The largest cattle ranch in all the world.  However, this casserole contains chicken and there is some idea that the only think "King Ranch" about this casserole is the name.  Probably not too many yard birds running around there!  Some speculate that this was some concoction by the ladies of the Junior League of their day or even some southwestern spin on Chicken A'la King.  No matter where the provenance of the recipe hails from, this casserole is a keeper.

This recipe, in all it's goodness, was originally laden with condensed cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups.  While I grew up with those, I prefer not to use them anymore and opt for a more delicious homemade version.  It does not take that much longer to create your own cream base and it is ever so much more delicious!   It is very simple and will render an amazing result that will make you forsake the canned "cream of" soups for eternity!

Layers of corn tortillas, shredded cooked chicken, cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese, all married together with the comforting blanket of creamy sauce made with chicken stock, cream, bell peppers, onions and the only commercially canned item on the list, Ro-Tel, tomatoes and green chilies.  Those are a must for any self respecting King Ranch casserole!  What you have in the end, is a plate full of comfort food love.  When you take your first bite you will be in casserole heaven and I promise this will be going to your next pot luck or church supper with you because it is THAT good!  This reheats like a dream and holds together beautifully.

I also would add this to my freezer banking list of make ahead bulk dishes that "freeze beautifully" as Annelle would say in Steel Magnolias.  I would simply construct the casserole in a heavy duty foil pan, I like the deeper pans that are approximately 9 x 13 in size. Then cover tightly with parchment paper first, then a double layer of regular foil (I like non stick) or a single layer of heavy duty foil, then I like to put the whole pan inside of a two gallon plastic zip top bag.  This will help the casserole stay fresh and avoid the foil popping off while in your freezer(face it, you know it happens!).  Make sure you write the reheating instructions on the bag so everyone knows what to do!



I hope you give this classic Tex Mex casserole a try the next time you want some delicious, southwestern comfort food and I hope you love it!  How can you not love this?!

Watch how I put this delicious King Ranch Casserole together!



Here is the recipe!  You can get a printable version on my website: http://bit.ly/1Px0iJS

King Ranch Casserole:

6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1, 10 ounce can Ro-Tel
    tomatoes & green chilies
1 cup diced red and yellow bell pepper
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 pounds chicken cooked and shredded*
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
15 corn tortillas, cut in half

Mix the two cheeses together and set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy bottomed stock pot over medium high heat.

Add flour and whisk to combine.  Continue to cook for just a minute or two until the flour is absorbed by the butter and the mixture gets a bit bubbly and foamy and releases a bit of a nutty aroma.

Add half of the chicken stock to the pot and whisk briskly to combine.  Continue to stir until the mixture thickens.  This will take a couple of minutes.

When the mixture has become thick, add the remaining chicken stock to the pot and whisk well to combine.    Set this aside.

In a skillet, melt 2 remaining tablespoons of butter and saute' peppers, onions and garlic, for three to five minutes until you can smell their aroma.  

Add the sautéed vegetables to the cream sauce you set aside along with the Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies.  Stir well to combine.  This will be the sauce for your casserole.

To build casserole:

Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole or foil baking pan with corn tortillas.  I like to cut them in half and put the flat part against the edges of the casserole dish/pan.  This gives more complete coverage.

Top with half of the shredded chicken, then layer on 1/3 of the shredded cheese.

Evenly spread half of the sauce mixture over the cheese.

Repeat layers of tortilla, chicken, cheese and sauce.  You should have 1/3 of the cheese and some of the tortillas left for the top.
Cover the top with the remaining tortilla halves and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until the cheese is browned and the casserole is slightly bubbly.

The top will be cheesy and crispy and delicious.

Allow the casserole to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


To Freezer bank this casserole:

Build your casserole but do not bake it.  Lay a piece of parchment just big enough to cover the top but not hang over the sides of the pan.  Cover this with two layers of regular foil or one layer of heavy duty foil and seal all edges tightly.

Place the casserole into a 2 gallon zip top bag and remember to write reheating instructions.

To reheat casserole from frozen, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove casserole from plastic bag and place on a baking sheet.

Bake covered for 1 hour then remove foil and parchment and continue baking 15 to 30 minutes until casserole is cooked through, the cheese is melted and the casserole is somewhat bubbly.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

This casserole can be made in advance and freezer banked for up to six months.

Get a printable version of this recipe on my website!  http://bit.ly/1Px0iJS

Enjoy!



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How To Make Laundry The Easy Way With MyGreenFills!

Today I am sharing with you a product that can change the way you do laundry, save you money and take care of your family better, by getting rid of harsh chemicals, colorants, thickeners and foaming agents. Laundry made simple, like our grandmother's used to do, only even better!

MyGreenFills wants to show you how you can change your laundry habits and make life better for you, your family and the environment at the same time. Did you know that over 6 billion, yes that billion, with a "b", jugs of laundry soap are used every year? That would wrap around the earth SIX times! Where do you think those jugs end up? Most likely in a landfill where they have a half life of 30 to 40 years. Many of them potentially end up in the ocean polluting our waterways and in time our water tables and drinking water and killing wildlife and effecting human health. Those are some compelling reasons to give something new a try!

MyGreenFills offers you the last laundry jug you will ever need. Simply use one packet of the concentrated soap formula and mix with warm water. Each bottle offers you 5 loads of clean, fresh, chemical free laundry. Want to boost your cleaning power? Add some of the Oxygen based laundry brightener and for tough stains, add a teeny, tiny scoop of their fantastic enzyme stain treatment. They also offer a fantastic fabric softener that really gets your clothes static free and soft! 

This is concentrated soap, softener and brightener are just that "concentrated". You seriously only need 1 ounce per load, that is 2 tablespoons! It is certified for use in HE or high efficiency machines and is cruelty free and vegan. If that weren't enough, this company is built from the ground up by people who have backgrounds in business, herbology and homeopathy. They care about the environment and they care about people. That means they care about you. Their creed is incredible and you can find it on their website. I suggest you go and have a look at what they have put forth as their mission statement. I love it and know you will too!

MyGreenFills offers you the opportunity to give this soap a try for free! If you love it you can order more when you need it or you can choose one of their subscriptions for super money saving opportunities. The more you purchase the cheaper it is for you and shipping is always free. I have a family of four, including two teenagers and a scad of pets. We do at least one load of laundry daily. I would select a subscription package to suit my needs and it will come to my door once a month. All I have to do is mix it up!

I have had the opportunity to speak with Stephen Ezell the CEO of MyGreenFills and Selestial Soap company and he was a blessing to me. His passion for his work as well as the passion of his co workers is apparent and it is contagious! So do yourself a favor and give this soap a try! What do you have to lose? You get a free jug just pay the shipping and if you love it, you are helping out a small business owner here in the USA. If you find that this soap is not your cup of tea, all they ask is that you ship the bottle back to them so they can share the love with someone else and the jug won't end up in the trash. 

I hope you give MyGreenFills a try. I hope you love it and I hope your laundry is never the same again!

GET YOUR FREE JUG OF LAUNDRY SOAP HERE:


Thursday, October 8, 2015

All the Juice! None of the Fake! Apple & Eve Organics and Quenchers Juice!





I was given the opportunity to try out Apple and Eve Organics and Quenchers juices by Influenster.com.  We love juice in our house and often have a bottle in the fridge, but I don't love juice that is full of sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners.  I love to get juices that are just that, JUICE!  


I was excited to receive this box and give these juices a try.  I was sent three small juice boxes like the kind you would put in your child's lunchbox and one quart sized container of the Organics Orange Pineapple juice.  Hands down the latter is my favorite!  My daughter Micah thought the same and I had to sneak the end of the carton for myself when she was off on a field trip.  I know, bad mom!  Sad face for her.  Just kidding!




Rick and I took the time to taste the three Quenchers juice boxes in Berrylicious Lemonade, Razzberry Apple Splash and Fruit Punch Burst.  I took each one and poured the juice into a clear glass so we could see what we were drinking.  If you are on the internet you have most likely seen the horror stories about juice boxes floating around and I personally love to see what I am drinking and figured you would like to see it as well!  These juices are clear and contain no artificial additives, preservatives, colors or flavors.  This is straight up blended juice with not additional sweeteners.  My husband said they were clean tasting and I couldn't agree more!  They don't leave you feeling like you need to drink a glass of water after you just had a glass of juice!


Overall, these juices were satisfying and delicious and I will be seeking them out in my grocer's juice aisle!  The Organics juice was my favorite, orange pineapple is one flavor we love.  In addition to that, the Organics juices also come in Tart Cherry and Natural Apple flavors.  I love their carton style!  They have a twist off cap for ease of pouring and the container is eco friendly and leaves a low impact environmental footprint!




I hope you will seek out these juices and give them a try I think you and your family are going to love them!  The next time you need juice for your child's lunchbox, see if you can reach for these Apple and Eve Quenchers they are all the juice with none of the fake!

Watch our YouTube review of these delicious Apple & Eve Juices!


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Food Storage! Just Shove it................ Under the Bed!

Yesterday I posted a blog that talked about basic food storage.  I had a number of questions.  Many times I get people asking me how to amass a food storage without going broke.  The answer is simple.  Food storage is not something you do out of fear.  It is a way of life.  Our grandparents put food up for the winter because fields and gardens were not producing.  They had root cellars to keep produce like apple, onions, carrots, potatoes etc., cool and fresh.  They kept chickens for fresh eggs and meat.  As a society, we have drifted away from the agrarian lifestyle to the point where many do not know how to subsist without going to the drive through or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven.    I say that everyone should have a food storage, not matter how large or how small.  It is important to shop sales and only buy things your family will eat.   

Shopping from paycheck to paycheck can be tricky when trying to start a food storage but it is not impossible.  You need to learn how to shop properly before you can have what you need for a rainy day.  There are many ways of doing this, but I say just do it.  Start small.  Make your weekly or bi-weekly grocery list and set your budget.  Then add these things to each grocery trip. 

1 pound of dried beans
1 pound of long grain rice
1 canister of salt
2 cans of tuna or chicken
2 cans of vegetables
2 cans of soup
1 canister of old fashioned oats
1 jar of peanut butter
1 jar of jam or honey

OPTIONAL
5 pounds of flour
1 bag of sugar
1 box pancake mix (the add water and stir kind)
1 bag or box of raisins or dried fruit
1 package of instant milk or 2 quarts of shelf stable milk or nut or soy milk
2 packages of pasta
2 jars of pasta sauce
1 flat of bottled water

These things can get you started with a food storage.  You can adjust to your family's taste and you can add or subtract or multiply the amounts you choose to add.   

I also have a number of people asking me where can they store the food.  A lot of people live in small apartments but still want to be prepared.  The answer is simple.  The unused spaces in your residence can yield great storage space for your food supply.  You can reorganize your closet and make room on a high shelf.  You can dedicate a portion of a pantry closet for nothing but preparedness.  My personal favorite is under the bed(s).  There is untold storage opportunity under a queen sized bed.  You can purchase flat under bed boxes from the big box store.  I have three queen sized beds in my house.  None of them have "stuff" under them, they all have food and preparedness items under them.  Yes, my girls complain from time to time, but they understand.  Under one of the beds we use the boxes.  I can get 12 of these boxes, stacked by 2 under the bed.  We have all of our beds raised up on cinder blocks to give us an extra foot of storage space.  The boxes hold everything from home canned items (I can fit pints and half pints in these jars) as well as dry goods like baking supplies, rice, dry beans and even commercially canned foods such as veggies and fruits and even canned milk.  Where there is a will there is a way and this is the way that works for us.  The bonus is that my children can no longer shove massive amounts of flotsam and jetsam under their beds to forget about and later be toted to the dump.

I was inspired in my journey to food storage by Wendy DeWitt.  She has several videos on YouTube that you can find.  They are all basically the same presentation but she will update them every couple of years.  Her food storage plan is geared toward the LDS community.  I am not a member of the LDS church, however she gives a lot of good advice and even though I may not subscribe to her particular religious doctrine, I do enjoy the advice she has shared with regard to taming the food storage beast.
Here is her most recent updated presentation.  I hope this helps many of you who may think that food storage is just too big and too scary to even approach.  I hope that this gives you inspiration and encouragement to start today, even if it is just a box of macaroni and cheese and a can of tuna.  Do what you can with what you have and you will be doing good for tomorrow!



Remember, that in the event of an emergency, the time to prepare has passed.  In my case I am a Christian who has been called to help others.  We must always put back, not only for ourselves, but for our neighbor.   Jesus teaches us in  Matthew 25:40 "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  So you see having a food storage is not just about taking care of yourself, however this is something we must all do.  In the end, we pray that we never need to have it, however if we find that we have extra we are able to bless someone else with it if they are in a time of need.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Preparing Your Pantry Out of Love

I recently shared a video about the current food shortages brought about by economic collapse in Venezuela.  A friend of mine for many years asked me what I thought were my top 10 items to have on hand with regard to food storage.  This is what I shared with her.  While I went over ten items, I still think these are important things to consider.  I also advise that people do not begin a food storage out of fear.  Only out of love for yourself and your family.  Being prepared is a virtue.  Hard times fall upon all of us at different places in our life.  So it is best to have a little more than we need to make sure that in a time of want we are ready to face what is important.

Here is the video that I posted:





There are many ways one should be prepared. Since I live in a hurricane area, we have taken that mindset. We have been through one major hurricane and learned a lot. But for now, let's just focus on food.

When I started my food storage (taking a lesson from the nice LDS people I know) I took from them and then I took from other sources that said I should live by this manta: "Store what you eat and eat what you store". This means, if your family does not like oatmeal than it is pointless to purchase 300 pounds of oats for your food storage! Yes that may sound a bit exaggerated, but many people have done just that. Storing food just for the sake of having food in the event of a crisis/emergency or economic collapse is not the smartest thing to do. You must love what you are storing otherwise you are going to open yourself and your family up to what is commonly called "appetite fatigue". Even if you think you will eat anything if you are starving, thing again! You won't!

Here are some things that I think everyone should have on hand. You can figure out how much you want to store based on the number of people you plan on feeding. I like to tell people to start off small. It can be as simple as adding only a few things to your cart when you go shopping. It does not have to bust your budget and don't feel like you have to go and bulk up on emergency supplies for long term food storage from the LDS cannery or online purveyors. While I do have those things, they came later. 


#1 WATER: You should have at least 72 hours worth of clean drinking water. The recommended amount is 1 gallon per person per day, however this is only for consumption and cooking. Not for bathing and washing up dishes etc. So with that in mind, I have a 3 month supply of water that is stored in our shed. We have re-purposed juice bottles, washed them, filled them up and put a teaspoon of bleach in them. The bleach will dissipate and the water will be fine for drinking. We rotate these out once a year. 



#2 WATER FILTER. We live near a creek so in the event that our water supply is exhausted, we can use the creek or we also have rain barrels. We would need to filter that water before drinking. We have a Berkey water filter that will actually filter river water and make it drinkable and safe.



#3 FOOD: This list is enough food for a family of four for three months. It could last longer if rationed.



20 pounds of Rice. Rice is one of the backbones of every food storage plan. It is filling, nutritious and with the use of varied seasonings and condiments, highly adaptable in a variety of tasty meals. The choice of white, brown or a combination of the two is up to you. White rice has a longer shelf life but brown rice has more nutritional benefits.


20 pounds of Pinto Beans. Like rice, beans are the backbone to every food storage plan. You may substitute white, kidney or other types of dried beans but honestly, pintos are one of the least expensive dried beans.

20 cans of Vegetables. Green beans, peas, corn and canned tomatoes are good choices. Let your taste and budget guide you. Buy what you currently eat and enjoy.

20 cans of Fruit. Peaches, pears, pineapple, fruit cocktail – again, this is your choice. Fruits add a nice sweetness to life and these days we all could use more of that.

20 cans of Meat. Chicken, tuna, shrimp, salmon, Vienna sausages, beef stew and yes, even the ubiquitous Spam will satisfy this requirement. Did you know that you can even purchase canned roast beef? Again, let your taste and budget guide you – there is lots to choose from.


4 pounds Oats. A bowl of oatmeal topped with canned fruit can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner.


2 large jars of Peanut Butter. Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein, with plenty of calories for energy and sustenance


5 pounds of Powdered Milk. Milk is a great source of protein and other nutrients. In addition it is filling and can be used to top your oatmeal cereal or stirred into your coffee as a flavor enhancer.



8 pounds of Salt per person per year. Our bodies need salt to survive and maintain electrolytes.



10 pounds of Pancake Mix. An all in one pancake mix (such as Krusteaz) only requires the addition of water to make up a batch of batter. As with oatmeal, a big plate of pancakes, perhaps with some honey or jam, will make a satisfying meal that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.



20 pounds all purpose flour for baking. Wheat contains all 9 amino acids necessary to sustain human life. If you plan on baking bread you will also need to store leavener.

10 pounds corn meal. This can be used to make corn bread and even corn meal mush as well as added to thicken soups and stews. 

20 pounds sugar. Sugar is necessary in cooking and will boost your calorie intake. If we are in an emergent situation and are unable to get things from the grocery store, sugar may well be used like $$.



2 pounds of Honey and 2 large jars of Jam. This can be included as part of your sugar in your food storage.


10 pounds of Pasta. Pasta is familiar and easy to fix. Pasta is a dense form of wheat but so much easier to deal with when you are first starting out. Besides, it is a fabulous comfort food.



10 cans or jars of Spaghetti Sauce. Quick and easy meal that is filling and satisfying. Box of cooked pasta, heated with a jar of sauce, bam, dinner is served. 


20 cans of Soup or Broth. Soup is an easy one pot meal that you just heat and eat. In a pinch it can even be eaten cold right out of the can.

One large jug of Oil. Choose olive oil, coconut oil or some other cooking oil, but definitely get some. Oil is essential for good health, fueling our energy stores and providing support for fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients as they work their way through our system. Remember to rotate the oil in your storage on a regular basis to avoid rancidity.

Spices and Condiments. Adding some spices and condiments to your food storage pantry will allow you to vary the taste of your storage foods, thus mitigating some of the boredom that is likely to occur over time. The exact mix of spices and condiments is up to you but some suggestions include garlic, chili, Tabasco (hot sauce), salsa, oregano, thyme and black pepper.

5 pounds of Coffee or 100 Tea Bags. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant. In an emergent situation this can be a plus. Store whole bean coffee or coffee that is vacuum sealed in blocks or bags for best freshness. Herbal teas can also be used as medicine. Get yourself a book on what does what. 
2 large bags of Hard Candies. Hard candy can go a long way toward making an unpleasant situation bearable. Butterscotch drops, peppermints and even lemon drops are good. My husband also likes to keep TicTacs. When eaten and while drinking water they cool your mouth and give you the sensation that the water is cooler than it is.

You will also need a way to cook the food if you don't have power or gas. A camp stove, Gas BBQ or Charcoal BBQ are good options. Make sure to have enough extra fuel. A campfire will also work.

Lastly, you will need a way to protect yourself. This means a weapon.  If you are not comfortable handling a weapon, I suggest you get trained in how to use one.  The simple truth is, that is this economy collapses there will be roving maurauders who will not think twice about killing you to take what you may have.  I am not trying to instill fear, just common sense.  This country was built on people who were not afraid to protect what was theirs and we will not keep our freedom if we allow others to take it from us!


There it is in a nutshell.  Food storage 101.  Do it for any reason.  Do you live in an area prone to hurricanes or tornadoes, how about flash flooding or snow storms?  How lovely would it be the next time you are faced with a situation like that to know you had what you needed and did not have to brave the grocery store to fight for the last loaf of bread or flat of water.  Having what you need on hand is also a great hedge against inflation.  Buy on sale at today's price and eat it several months or even years later when it may be even more expensive.  If you are injured or lose your job, you have a cushion.  If a friend falls on hard times, you have the ability to share and be generous.  Those are just a few reasons everyone should put something extra back.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Homemade is Best! National Can It Forward Day August 1, 2015!

The best part of summer, for me is my garden.  I loathe summer for any other reason.  I hate the heat, I hate the humidity and heck, I can't even say I like the beach that much.  I am much more an autumn/winter kind of girl, but summer does have one perk and that is the satisfaction of seeing hard work come to fruition through the garden.  This time of year we have lovely offerings coming out of our garden in the form of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, peppers and berries.  We have plums and lemons as well.  While we can all year long, this time of year is really crunch time because you want to can at the peak of freshness.  So while summer may seem endless and canning may never seem to end this time of year, the good folks at Ball have made it a fun celebration of an age old tradition!  

National Can it Forward Day will be celebrated and observed on August 1st this year and is an homage to home canning.  A way to bolster those of us who may have been canning for many years and a way to encourage those who have an interest but just don't know where to start!  So I hope you will join me and others on Saturday to celebrate National Can it Forward Day!  You can tune into the Ball website for a live demonstration and lots of great presentations all day long.  You are going to love the learning opportunities that will be presented!  Here is some information on what you will be able to see and learn on this fun day celebrating home preserving!

Join us on Saturday August 1st for International Can-It-Forward Day! Now in its 5th year, Can-It-Forward Day will broadcast live from the new state-of-the-art Jarden Home Brands headquarters in Fishers, Indiana, celebrating the joys of fresh preserving. To showcase the simplicity of home canning and spotlight “Made From Here” recipes, four blogger ambassadors from across the country will share their preserving expertise during the live webcast: Food in Jars’ Marisa McClellan of Philadelphia, PA, Hoosier Homemade’s Liz Latham of LaPorte, IN, Southern Plate’s Christy Jordan of Hunstville, AL and Yesterday on Tuesday’s Malia Martine Karlinsky of Seattle, WA. Viewers will also get a behind the scenes look at recipe testing and development and the science behind ensuring safety and the highest quality of all home canning recipes.
In addition to American favorites, the International event also features flavors from Australian Chef Rebecca Sullivan demonstrating recipes from down under. Participating via web internationally, canners in South Africa, Australia and the UK, will also join by making and sharing their own favorite canning recipes!

DETAILS:

  • Tune in to the live webcast of canning demonstrations from 11:00am – 4:00pm EST, featuring an integrated chat function to submit your home canning questions to be answered in real time. New this year, there will also be an exciting celebrity mason jar auction unveiled during the webcast!

  • Share what Made From Here means to you by hosting a home canning party on Saturday, August 1!

  • Share your home canning creations, tips and tricks via social media with the hashtag #canitforward.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bringing Home The Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine





I recently had to replace my stand mixer.  After a couple years of anguish, much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I finally had to decide what to do.  I so loved my yellow Kitchenaid, which I still have sitting on the shelf and do employ to do lighter tasks,  however a bread kneader, she is no longer!  After much research I chose the Bosch Ultimate Kitchen Machine and boy am I ever glad I did.


At first glance this mixer is not like what you might be used to!  First off it is a marvel of German engineering.  The bowl sits on top of the belt driven motor instead of underneath the beater blades or dough hook.  It may look like something out of a mid century, post modern fairy tale, but I tell you, this thing is a beast in the kitchen!  I really don't mean to sound like a sales person.  I am simply singing the praises of what I hope, will be the last mixer I will ever need! 

The Bosch boasts an impressive pedigree.   An 800 watt belt driven motor with overload and restart protection, 4 speeds and a pulse /momentary switch, 6.5 quart bowl that will hold up to 15 pounds of bread dough, The basic model comes with a dough hook, wire whips and plastic driver, splash cover and lid.  The base has suction cups on it to steady the machine on your counter top and it won't "travel" down the length of your kitchen.  Everything is dishwasher safe, however I still hand wash mine and all it's parts.  The entire bowl and spindle are detachable for easy clean up and sanitation.  It comes with a 3 year warranty on the transmission.  Whew and WOW!!

The Bosch is an excellent choice if you are a bread baker like I am.  I love to make three or four loaves at a time and freeze for later use.  This baby can handle it. In fact, this mixer will mix up to 9 loaves of whole wheat, yes, I said whole wheat, bread dough!  I have shredded chicken breast in no time flat with the wire whips and made cookie dough and banana bread with the cookie paddles, which I highly recommend you get.



If you decide to take the plunge and get a Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine  here are a few suggestions I would like to make.  First get the attachments you are going to use and set the rest on the back burner.  This baby has lots of fun extras that you can add on over time, but right up front here is what I suggest you get:

Mixer with dough hook and wire whips
Cookie paddles with metal housing
Batter whisks because you know you're going to want to make cake!
The dough hook extender for mixing smaller batches of dough.
The bowl scraper which does what it says, scrapes the inside of the bowl so you don't have too!

The dough hook extender is a neat little attachment that Bosch put some thought into.  While many people are not going to make 9 loaves of bread all at once, although this baby can handle it, making just one loaf of bread was a problem for this beast.  So Bosch came up with a solution.  They made a small flared extension that slips over the inner spindle prior to installing the dough hook and then snaps in place hugging the dough blade which rides the inner spindle of the bowl.  This flared little addition helps the smaller batches of dough to ride the outer sides of the bowl and get full motion from the dough hooks, helping the bread to knead and incorporate more efficiently.  That is what you want in a mixer!  Design over decor!  That's all that matters in my book!

Other attachments that you can get include a meat grinder, cereal mill, juicer, slicer, blender, food processor, and flour sifter as well as replacement bowls, whips, whisks and paddles and you can even get a stainless steel bowl, which is on my wish list!

The Bosch may not come in all those pretty designer colors of the competitors, but when it comes right down to it, does your mixer really need to match your spatula?  I think not!  So I'll end it there.  I love my Bosch and if you are looking to upgrade or switch mixers, I highly recommend that you give this one a closer look!  It really does all that it says it does and more!

I have included a couple of my videos for you to enjoy where I am using the Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine.  The unboxing and the first "test" I put it through.  I will also include one of the most impressive publicity videos that I have ever seen for this mixer.  It is what finally sold me on this purchase and truthfully, I have probably watched it more times than I will admit to in mixed company! 

Spend your money wisely and this mixer is an investment that will keep on giving back to you!

I hope you find this information helpful!  As always if you should have questions, drop me a line here on the blog or on my website at info@noreenskitchen.com

Happy Eating!







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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Perfect Pantry Starts with a List



I have had so many requests to share a list of items I keep on hand at all times for cooking.  Of course those would include staples such as milk, butter, eggs, flour, sugar, salt etc.  However we enjoy a wide variety of different cuisines and I like to keep a number of different ingredients on hand so that I can make what we like at any given time.  I am one of those people who absoultely hates to run out of things.  If I am sitting in my kitchen and decide that I want to make chocolate chip muffins and then gather all my ingredients together only to find that I am out of chocolate chips, I am starting the day in a bad mood.  

Being prepared is always best.  I like to buy groceries when they are on sale and I usually stock up when the price is right.  That being said, I always look at this like a hedge against inflation as well because if I purchased chocolate chips during the holiday baking sales and I am eating them six months later then I am most likely saving money because it is very unlikely that chocolate chips are going on sale in June like they do in December.  I like to "go shopping" in my pantry and this is something I pride myself on.  Today I want to focus on a back to basics mindset of what I always have on hand to be able to make basic meals and treats on the fly.  So here is a basic list of what I like to always keep on hand.
 





Oils, Vinegars and Condiments
Oils:  sunflower oil, coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, sesame oil & toasted sesame
Vinegars: balsamic, cider, distilled white, white wine, red wine, rice
Ketchup (Simply Heinz)
Mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
Yellow mustard
Spicy brown mustard
Soy sauce
Chili paste
Hot sauce
Worcestershire
Thai sweet chili sauce
Fish sauce
Sambal
Sriracha
Sweet Relish
 
Seasonings
Kosher salt
Himalayan pink salt (used in place of table salt)
Tri peppercorn blend for my pepper grinder


Dried herbs and spices: garlic powder, onion powder, marjoram, thyme, dried basil, bay leaves, dried rosemary,  cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika, rosemary, thyme leaves, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, nutmeg,
 
Spice blends: several Szeged rubs for chicken, steak, fish and ribs as well as their amazing pizza seasoning,  chili powder, Montreal steak seasoning, Italian seasoning
Vanilla extract, almond extract, Fiore Di Sicilla extract
 

                   Canned Goods and Bottled Items


Canned beans: black, cannellini, chickpeas, kidney
Capers
Olives calamata and spanish
Peanut butter
Preserves or jelly
Low-sodium stock or broth
Canned tomatoes

Tomatoes, canned and paste
Organic canned mushrooms
Evaporated milk
Sweetened condensed milk
Coconut milk
Canned pumpkin
Salsa
Tuna fish
Canned salmon
Canned clams
Home canned chicken, beef and pork shoulder
Roasted red peppers
Chopped green chilies
Pickled jalapenos
Chipoltle chilies
Anchovies
Canned fruit such as peaches, pears or mandarin oranges
Bottled pasta sauce
 



Grains and Legumes
Breadcrumbs: regular, Panko
Couscous
Quinoa
Pasta: long and short cut
Egg noodles
Par-cooked rice 

long grain rice
wild rice
Rolled oats
Barley
Granola
Popcorn

Dried beans,
Split peas
lentils
pinto
black
small red
dark red kidney
lima
garbanzo
navy
 

Baking Products


Baking powder

Baking soda
Dutch process cocoa powder

Powdered sugar
Brown sugar
Cornstarch
Tapioca starch
All-purpose flour
Bread Flour
Granulated sugar
Honey
Lyle's Golden Syrup
Saf instant yeast
Dried milk powder
Instant potato flakes (for baking)
Vanilla beans
 

Refrigerator Basics
Butter
Cheese: 
sharp cheddar, 
Parmesan, 
mozzarella Deli ham
Deli sliced chicken
Deli American cheese
Muenster cheese
Large egg
Milk
Heavy cream
Buttermilk
Vanilla yogurt
Flour tortillas in soft taco and burrito size
Chopped garlic or garlic paste
Lemongrass paste
Ginger Paste
Chili Paste
Dill Pickles
Italian dressing
Grated Horseradish
Better Than Bullion, beef, chicken, vegetable and mushroom
 


Freezer Basics
Ground and whole bean coffee
Chocolate chips
Frozen fruit:
pineapple chunks, 
blueberries, 
strawberries
Frozen vegetables: 
broccoli, 
califlower, 
corn, 
green and wax beans, 
peas, 
spinach
Pierogies
Grass fed ground beef
Ground Pork
Chicken breasts
Pork tenderloin
Tilapia filets
Salmon filiets
Local shrimp
 

Long Storage Produce
Garlic
Yellow or Vidalia onions depending on the season
Potatoes, red, Yukon gold and/or russets
Dried fruit: raisins, apples, apricots, cranberries
Nuts or seeds: almonds, peanuts,  walnuts, pecans,sunflower, chia and hemp seeds
 


Don't let the list intimidate you.  These are things that I always have on hand to make a quick meal, or some bread.  This is a time saver and a security blanket for me during times when there is harsh weather like a freak snow storm or a hurricane watch.  When the kids are home from school and everyone else is scurrying around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to get what they don't have on hand, I don't have to worry about going to the store because I have everything I need to throw together a great breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert.
 
You need to pick and choose what you use the most.  Staples, like flour, sugar, salt, pepper,
eggs, butter, and milk are things everyone should have on hand.  Those things alone will help you to have a good source of protein and you can make at least six different things from those alone.  Add some cheese and you get even more.  We love Asian/Thai as well as Italian and Mexican food so we are heavy on the things we need for those flavor profiles in our pantry and kitchen.  If you like something different, you can absolutely adjust accordingly.  Everyone's "staple" list is going to vary depending on what they enjoy most. 

 
I hope this gives you some idea of what we love to keep on hand.  Also keep in mind that we make cooking videos for our YouTube channel on a nearly daily basis so while our list may be long, we have a reason for that.  This should give you a starting point if you want to get a better grasp on what to put in your pantry.
 
I hope that you enjoyed this little rundown and I hope it helps you!

Till next time, I'll see ya!