Simple advice for a better life.

Birthday Party AppetizersWhether you are cooking at home, dining out, or ordering take out, there are almost always some leftovers to deal with after the fact.

There is nothing wrong with having leftovers.   After all, you spent time and money on this food, so you deserve to enjoy it to the last morsel.

Some prepared dishes are not suitable for later use as a leftover…they lose their taste and texture, so it is best to just part with them right there and then.

Numerous others, on the other hand, are still great for at least one or two meals, or even to be frozen for that rainy day when you have no time or desire to cook.

Some people do not like leftovers, and never keep them.  However, if you are like me, you don’t mind them, and feel that you get your money’s worth if you use them.

Most Europeans don’t believe in leftovers….maybe because they hardly ever have any.

They serve their meals already preportioned per plate, and make just enough to feed the crowd they accounted for.  The portions are large enough to satisfy the consumer, so there is no need, or room, for seconds.  Therefore, there are no leftovers.  Any remaining food on each plate, which hardly ever happens, is discarded.  It is almost impolite to ask for a “Doggie Bag”.

Here in the USA we have no problem asking the waiter/waitress to pack up our leftovers to take home with us.

It is very important to keep track of your leftover food in your fridge, which is one of my pet peeves.  I almost feel like I am a fridge police, whether it is at home or at work.

There is nothing worse than seeing “old” food sitting in the fridge way past its safe consumable time.

My personal time line for using up leftovers in up to 3 days…4 being the absolute max.

Now I will share my best way of using up leftovers, and keeping your fridge fresh, and ready for restocking.

Since most of us work full-time, and don’t have much time for cooking during the week, we prepare extra food on weekend, to hold us over for couple of days.  Then by mid-week, it’s time for some take out.  By Thursday we have leftovers to use, or lose.

I consider Thursday  a “Leftover Smorgasbord Dinner Day”.  We pull out all the leftovers from the past few days, and add something new if needed, and call it a day.

Everyone is to create their own plate of food from the smorgasbord spread available.  We also use disposable dishes and utensils that day, to save time on clean up effort.  Whatever food is remaining after this dinner, gets discarded for good.

This is the BEST way to free your fridge of leftover food, and to prevent any food from hiding in there for too long.

Since we have no dishes to wash on this day, we devote our time to cleaning up the fridge, and getting it ready for fresh food from Friday or Saturday shopping.

It works very well every time, and it also is fun, economical, and stress free.

I suggest you try it too, and share your comments.

Have fun!

Standing Prime Rib Roast  - just roasted in a dutch ovenStanding Prime Rib Roast  -  just roastedStanding Prime Rib Roast  - sliced for serving

Prime Rib is one of my favorite “special occasion” dinner meats, because it is so flavorful, even with very little additional seasoning.

Prime Rib tends to be a little pricey, so I only make it once I find a nice piece reasonably priced.  You want to buy a piece with at least 3 ribs (6-9 lbs), which will generously serve 5 – 8 people.

Today I will share my Prime Rib roasting experience with you.

You will be quite surprised how simple it is to prepare, and how impressive and tasty is the outcome.

My dutch oven was a great vessel to roast it in, but any heavy pan will do.

Ingredients:

  • 7 lbs of Standing Prime Rib Roast (3 ribs)
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Onion Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Paprika
  • 1 Tbs. Black Pepper, ground
  • 1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt (optional
  • 1 Onion, peeled and quartered
  • 10 Peppercorns
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 twigs of Rosemary (optional)

Directions:

  1. Remove the meat from packaging, and rinse off, or wipe it down with damp paper towel (I always like to rinse my meat before cooking….just because…).
  2. Place the meat on a platter, on the counter, and leave it out for 2 hours uncovered,  (to get it to room temperature, and for the outside surface to dry up a little).
  3. Place the meat in a roasting pan, ribs down and fat side up (I used my Dutch Oven).
  4. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  5. Using a basting brush, baste the olive oil all over the top and sides of the meat.
  6. In a small dish prepare the meat rub, by mixing together the Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika, Black Pepper, Italian Seasoning and Kosher Salt (see TIP below).
  7. Spread the meat rub all over the oiled meat.
  8. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns (and Rosemary is using).
  9. Do not cover the pan.
  10. Roast the meat in a preheated over for 3-4 hours, basting from time to time.
  11. It is very important to have a good quality meat thermometer, to check the temperature of the inner part of the meat, to reach 125-130 degrees F.  Start checking the temperature periodically after 2.5 hours of cooking.
  12. If you like to have your meat medium done, remove it from the oven once the meat reaches 125 degree F, cover loosely with aluminium foil, and let it rest for at least 20 minutes or even an hour, at room temperature.  The resting period is very important, to keep the juices in the meat, making it very tender.
  13. Before serving, remove the aluminum foil, and cut off the ball of the meat away from the ribs, running the knife along the side of the ribs and meat.  Wrap the ribs and refrigerate for future use, to prepare Prime Rib soup stock.
  14. Slice the meat against the grain, into serving slices (thin or thick…your preference).
  15. Serve with your favorite gravy, incorporating the juices remaining in you roasting pan.
  16. My favorite is Au Jus  gravy , served with Prime Rib.

 

Enjoy!

 

TIP:  Some cooks prefer to omit the salt, because they feel it draws the juices out of the meat during cooking, but I like to flavor my meat with salt.  If you prefer to have a crusty top on your meat, you can first roast it at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower it to 275 degrees until done to your preference.   I prefer the meat being tender evenly throughout, hence cook it at the lower temperature from start to finish.

During the last hour of  roasting time, you can bake some russet potatoes in the oven, to serve with the roast.

 

Diaper Cake - right side view 2I was very excited about an upcoming baby shower for someone at work, and decided that it would be fun to make another diaper cake.

The first ever diaper cake I made, was for my daughter’s baby shower, almost 7 years ago.  If you are interested in my cake assembly instructions, you may click on the link above.

A couple years later I made a diaper cake for a baby shower for my daughter-in-law, so this time I was excited to make my third creation.

Since it has been said that pictures “speak a thousand words”, I will share my cake pictures from several different angles.

The diapers and the accessories for this cake were part of the baby registry, so it was very easy for me to put it all together.   I also crochet a blanket for the baby, plus a tiny one for the puppy placed at the top of the cake.

Hopefully you will find these pictures enjoyable, and will be encouraged to create one of your own, for someone special.

 

Diaper Cake - right side view 3

Diaper Cake - left side view

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diaper Cake - first layerDiaper Cake - front viewDiaper Cake - top layer

Diaper Cake - back side - Blanket

The baby blanket was draped over the back of the diaper cake, as in the above picture.

If any of you made diaper cakes before, and would like to share your pictures with me via email, I would love to post them on my blog.

Thank you!

Crocheting Scarfs for My Grandchildren

Red Scarf - fringesGray Scarf - with fringesCamouflage - close up view

I have been bitten by the crocheting bug, and have been crocheting scarfs and hats for my grandchildren.

It all started when we could not find an appropriate hat for my grandson’s Halloween costume (he was a Minion), so I crocheteded one for him, and the rest is history…

Now I will share pictures and type of yarn used to crochet some of these scarfs, which made nice Saint Nicholas gifts.

 

Red Scarf   Red Scarf - fringes

 

 

 

 

Red Scarf - brand and type of yarn

This yarn is sooooo soft and fluffy, it made a very nice scarf for my granddaughter.  As you can see in the top picture, I also made nicely tied fringes for that scarf, to make it a little more special.  She loves it.

I also am sharing the brand and type of the yarn used, as well as the hook size H-8 (5 mm) hook, and a pattern created by rows of single and double crochets.

Gray Scarf - with fringes  crochet camouflage hat

 

 

 

 

Gray Scarf - brand and type of yarn

 

I crocheted this gray scarf for my grandson,  using the above type of yarn, which is also very soft and very suitable for children scarfs, hats, gloves, or sweaters.  I also crocheted a camouflage hat with a gray trim, to go with the scarf.

 

Camouflage scarf

Camouflage - close up view

 

 

 

 

Camouflage scarf - brand and type of yarn

 

Here is another scarf I crocheted, out of the yarn type displayed above, but this one is not as soft and cuddly as the previous ones, hence more suitable for hats or sweaters.

Now that I have a collection of yarn and crocheting hooks, I have been “inducted” into an actual, full-fledged Grandmotherhood…It’s quite an honor, don’t you agree?

If you like to crochet or knit, please share your experience with all of us.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Sausage and Herb Stuffing – Recipe

stuffing ready to serve 2Stuffing is a must Thanksgiving Dinner menu choice, alongside the roasted turkey.

In the past, most cooks baked the stuffing inside the turkey cavity, but now most of us prepare it separately, in the oven or on a stove top.

Every year I like to try different stuffing recipes, so this time I will share one with herbs and Sweet Italian Sausage.

Roasted turkey ready to serve

My latest favorite turkey roasting recipe is by Martha Stewart.

This recipe yields enough stuffing to accompany an 18 lbs. turkey.

Herbs and spices for stuffing

 Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter (or Canola oil)
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery (2 stalks), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and shredded
  • 1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage, without casing
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. Thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Crasins
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white bread cubes
  • 3 3/4 cups wheat bread cubes

 Directions:

  1. In a medium frying pan, heat the butter, and saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot, and apple.
  2. Remove from pan into a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. Add the sausage into the same frying pan, and cook for about 15 minutes,  stirring often, to break it up.
  4. Mix in the Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, salt and pepper.
  5. Remove from heat and add to the sautéed veggies.
  6. Preheat to oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Mix in the eggs, Crasins, and Parsley.
  8. Fold in the bread crumbs.
  9. Pour the broth over the mixture, and toss lightly, to incorporate evenly.
  10. Spoon the stuffing into a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish.
  11. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
  12. Uncover, and bake another 15 minutes.
  13. Serve hot. (see TIP below)

 

TIP: If you like your stuffing quite moist, you can use some of the broth/pan juices from the turkey roasting pan, or additional chicken broth, and drizzle over the top of the baked stuffing, before serving.

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