Food safety and barbecues should go hand in hand. Keeping your food at the right temperature before and after cooking is very important.

food safety

Barbecues are a great time to get together with friends and family. The noise of loved ones, fresh air and the wonderful aroma of barbecued foods is a recipe for a great time. But with this fun comes the responsibility of knowing all of the food safety tips for barbecues.

Proper Refrigeration

No one wants food poisoning, and because of this you need to make sure to keep your foods properly refrigerated before and after they are barbecued.

Foods, and especially meat of any kind, needs to be kept in the refrigerator as long as possible before being cooked. Don’t let the meat marinate on the shelf, as bacteria can begin to grow under these circumstances. Play it safe and move the items in your fridge around the night before so that you have ample room to store all your various foods there on the day of the barbecue.

Keep an Eye on the Temperature

Always know the temperature on the day you are having your barbecue. Whether your meat is being brought back into the house or sitting outside, know what conditions you are working with temperature-wise.

If it is a hot day, be sure to keep the meat in the shade or indoors. Don’t ever allow food to sit in direct sunlight as it can spoil very quickly. If it is hot both indoors and out, put the most sensitive items in the fridge or in a slow cooker, with a sign directing guests where to fill their plates.

Make Only as Much as Needed

When you are cooking items such as meat, make only as much as needed, plus a little more. Although everyone loves leftover barbecue, it is much more important to keep food safety rules as first priority, and to get rid of any leftovers.

Because of this, make smaller batches of food and simply quit once everyone seems to have gotten their fill. If this means that individuals have to wait for second helpings, this is preferable to food spoiling and harming your guests. Besides, they will surely be able to find someone to chat with while waiting for their steak or burger to cook.

What Meat Can Be Eaten Pink?

There are rules of barbecue safety that must be followed if you want to have an incident-free event. Pork and chicken must always be cooked thoroughly.

When it comes to beef, there is a rule of thumb that should be followed. Any meat that has ever been exposed must be cooked. That means that when it comes to steak, you can leave the inside pink if you wish, as long as the outer edges are well-cooked. For ground beef, since all of it has been ground up and exposed at some point, it must be cooked through.

Don’t Cross-Contaminate

Vegetables will not need to be cooked as long as meat. For this reason, leave your vegetable skewers and other non-meat items separate from the meat. Add the vegetables to the grill near the end when the meat is almost cooked, instead of the beginning when raw juices are on the grill.

Barbecues are a good time to showcase your cooking skills. Keep it safe and learn how to make your time enjoyable and free of food poisoning episodes. Follow these rules and you will have a great time as you barbecue, leaving your food safety worries aside.

 

 

 

 

Pizza anyone?

When kids are at that difficult stage where everything is “mine”, you can make their little hearts go pitter-patter by serving them an individual pizza and letting them choose their own toppings. This thin crust recipe may be the answer to that age old question of , how do I do that?

Everyone's Favorite, Pizza

You will need these ingredients:

1 cup of warm water

½ package of active dry yeast (about 1 & 1/8 teaspoon)

1 and ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar ½ teaspoon of salt

3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 cups of bread flour

Blended Pizza Cheese (Mozzarella and Provolone)

Instructions:

This dough does not have to rise.  Using a large bowl, combine the warm water with the yeast, sugar, oil and salt. Mix until the yeast dissolves. Use a wooden spoon, to mix in the flour, ½ cup at a time. Once it’s all mixed together, knead it on a floured counter until it feels elastic.  Divide into 4 parts, roll each into a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Assemble your favorite toppings.  You can use a jar of prepared pizza sauce or make a simple sauce yourself by combining a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce with 1 and ½ Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tablespoon of Italian seasoning and a pinch of sugar.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. A pizza stone will deliver a crispy crust, whether thick or thin. Otherwise a baking sheet will do. Shape each individual dough ball into a round crust about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Add the sauce and a few toppings (not too many) and sprinkle on pizza cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 11 to 17 minutes turning once or twice after 10 minutes if needed to achieve the crust to your liking.

Yay, pizza for everyone!

What does Chicken Noodle Soup have to do with a wedding, you might be thinking?  Last week my grandson got married.  He and his new bride did something at their reception that I had never seen before.  They ask some of their family members to make soups for the reception.  My grandson ask me to do his favorite home made Chicken Noodle Soup.

It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t take long to put together in a slow cooker. It’s a soup I have made for him and others several times over the years. I’m going to share the recipe with you, you never know when you might need a memory to share.

Zac’s Chicken Noodle Soup

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You will need:

8 Cups of Chicken Stock

2 Cups of Cooked Chicken, cubed

3 Stalks of Celery, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

2 Carrots, sliced into 1/4 pieces

1 Medium Onion, diced

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Pepper

1/4 Teaspoon Poultry Season

2 Cups of Pasta, I used bow ties but any pasta will do.

Place everything except the pasta into the slow cooker.  Stir to incorporate the ingredients.  Cook on high for one hour then lower the heat to the low setting.  While the mixture is cooking on low, cook your pasta on your stove, as directed on the package, until they are almost done, el dente`.  I have found trying to cook pasta in a slow cooker, will reward you will a gummy mess, most of the time.  So I prefer to cook it on my stove, then drain and add to the slow cooker, stir to well incorporated.  You will want to cook for another 30 minutes on low, allowing the pasta to absorb the Chicken Noodle Soup flavor, then serve while hot.*

*If you have a newer slow cooker, it might have a keep warm setting, if so, place the soup on that setting.  Refrigerate your leftover soup within 2 hours after removing the heat source.

As you can see from the picture, because I was making two gallons, I had to make it in my large soup pot.  If you have a large gathering, you can double the recipe and do like wise.

12 Tips for Soup and Salad Lovers

1. With soup, it is easy to “Cook Once, Eat Twice” (or three times!). Soup is the perfect freezer food, which means leftovers won’t go to waste. Soup will keep in the freezer for a couple months, so don’t hesitate to whip up extra large batches to enjoy now and later.

soup and salad lovers

2. Freeze leftover soup in muffin tins for easy-to-transport single-serve lunch portions.

3. Allow soup to cool overnight in the refrigerator before freezing. Putting hot soup into your freezer can briefly increase the internal temperature of your freezer, which could negatively impact your already frozen items.

4. Don’t add cold milk or cream straight from the refrigerator to your soups while cooking. To prevent curdling, warm the milk and cream up before adding to the simmering soup.

5. Mirepoix is a combination of diced carrots, celery and onion used to add flavor to soups, stocks and broths. The smaller the pieces are cut, the faster they will release their flavor.

6. When making soup, “sweat” aromatics, like onions or garlic, first. Simply sauté these ingredients in a little olive oil or butter until they are soft. This will release their flavors and enhance the final taste of your recipe.

7. Give your soup a chance to cool a bit before adding final seasoning. When soup is boiling hot, it is difficult to tell whether or not it actually needs more salt or other seasonings.

8. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to broth-based soups before serving to “brighten” up the flavors. Citrus has a natural fresh taste to it that will liven up the other flavors in your soup.

9. Save time cleaning up by making your salad dressing in the same bowl you plan to serve your salad in. Mix up your dressing ingredients and let them sit for a while to give the flavors a chance to meld. Then add the rest of your salad ingredients to the bowl and toss to coat right before serving. If you make more dressing than you need for one salad, simply pour off the excess into another storage container before adding your salad ingredients.

10. When making homemade vinaigrette, add a little Dijon mustard or mayonnaise to emulsify the mixture. This will help hold together the oil and vinegar (or other acidic components) longer.

11. No one likes a soggy salad. Don’t add dressing until right before you serve it to keep your lettuce crisp.

12. It’s important to thoroughly wash lettuce before eating it, but it can be challenging to get it dry enough to hold your dressing. If you eat a lot of salad, a salad spinner is definitely worth the investment.

Ingredients for A Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup

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Potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables. You can do so many things with them, including this wonderful simple soup.

You will need:

4 Cups of Chicken Broth

1 ½ Cup of Whole Milk

2 to 2 ½ Cups of Potatoes, cubed

¼ Cup Celery, thinly sliced

¼ Cup Carrots, thinly sliced

½ Cup Sweet White Onions

¾ Teaspoon of Salt

¼ Teaspoon of White Pepper

4 Ounces of Cream Cheese, room temperature, cut into one inch pieces

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Add the oil to a six quart soup pot, heating it over medium high heat.

When the oil gets hot, add the carrots, onions, and celery. Cook for two – three

minutes while stirring. Turn the heat down to simmer.

Add the chicken broth, potatoes and spices, cooking until the potatoes are

fork tender [about 10 minutes].

Add 1 Cup of the milk, while stirring, to avoid curdling. When the milk has reached the same temperature as the cooking soup, drop in the cream

cheese, allowing it to melt for a couple of minutes before stirring the soup,

once more.

Taste the mixture to be sure you do not need to add more salt or pepper.

If more is needed, do so now.

Add the corn starch and the rest of the milk to a small bowl and mix well.

Slowly pour the mixture into the hot soup, stirring, until the soup thickens. Reduce the heat to warm and allow the soup to cool.

Serve with a good hardy bread or an assortment of crackers.

Options:

[1] Top with your favorite shredded cheese.

[2] Slice a couple green onions and sprinkle on top.

[3] A couple tablespoons of Bacon Bits will add lots of extra flavor.

[4] Add a pinch or two of Red Pepper Flakes to the cooking soup,

to add a little kick to the soup.

[5] Float a pat of butter on top of the hot soup.

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Potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables. You can do so many things with them.  Baked, Fried, or Hashed, they are simply one of the best all around food items.  This wonderful simple soup recipe will delight anyone who eats it, give it a try on a cold Autumn night.

You will need:

4 Cups of Chicken Broth

1 ½ Cup of Whole Milk

2 to 2 ½ Cups of Potatoes, cubed

¼ Cup Celery, thinly sliced

¼ Cup Carrots, thinly sliced

½ Cup Sweet White Onions

¾ Teaspoon of Salt

¼ Teaspoon of White Pepper

4 Ounces of Cream Cheese, room temperature, cut into one inch pieces

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Add the oil to a six quart soup pot, heating it over medium high heat.

When the oil gets hot, add the carrots, onions, and celery. Cook for two – three minutes while stirring. Turn the heat down to simmer.

Add the chicken broth, potatoes and spices, cooking until the potatoes are fork tender [about 10 minutes].

Add 1 Cup of the milk, while stirring, to avoid curdling. When the milk has reached the same temperature as the cooking soup, drop in the cream cheese, allowing it to melt for a couple of minutes before stirring the soup,once more.

Taste the mixture to be sure you do not need to add more salt or pepper.  If more is needed, do so now.

Add the corn starch and the rest of the milk to a small bowl and mix well.

Slowly pour the mixture into the hot soup, stirring, until the soup thickens. Reduce the heat to warm and allow the soup to cool.

Serve with a good hardy bread or an assortment of crackers.

  • Options:

[1] Top with your favorite shredded cheese.

[2] Slice a couple green onions and sprinkle on top.

[3] A couple tablespoons of Bacon Bits will add lots of extra flavor.

[4] Add a pinch or two of Red Pepper Flakes to the cooking soup, to add a little kick to the soup.

[5] Float a pat of butter on top of the hot soup.

If you’re looking for a meatless meal that satisfies, look no further. This isn’t an exact recipe, it lets you choose your favorite vegetables, herbs and spices.  Instead it is meant to inspire you for your next veggie only meal.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Then open your refrigerator and see what is in the vegetable draw.  Choose your favorites and begin chopping up some veggies.  Next add some herbs, such as, Basil, Cilantro, Oregano or mint.  Drizzle with Olive Oil, then lightly toss.  Add a pinch or two or my favorite spices, salt and pepper, lightly mix to mingle the flavors.  Using two pieces of foil, [or as many as you need] divide the vegetables and place on the foil, folding them into small pouches.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes for a hot crunchy texture or 35 minutes for a completely cooked meal. 

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In this photo, we have pattypans, peppers, onions and tomatoes with basil, parsley and oregano.  You can also add, fresh mushrooms, eggplant, garlic and plenty of other veggies.  Most will work well in this little quick and easy [no] recipe meatless meal.

Take care when opening the pouch as steam can burn fingers and noses, if gotten too close.  The aroma will be amazing but don’t stop there, add a drizzle of your favorite balsamic reduction or soy sauce, then serve over rice, pasta, Quinoa or just have it by itself.  With all the flavors and texture of this meatless meal you will not miss the meat at all.

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If you prefer your food grilled, this [no] recipe can be done on your grill, also.  Just be sure to use one of the vegetable baskets made just for grilling so your chopped veggies will not fall through the grill while cooking.  Complete the cooking before adding the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar or Olive oil to the hot vegetables.  Toss to incorporate the flavors before serving. Serve with some slices of warmed french bread that has been sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese for a meal to remember.

 

Have you tried the NEW OLD health food? What, haven’t heard of it? It’s called Bone Broth, a rich broth made from any animal bones that have already been roasted in your meal preparation or bought from your butcher and roasted in your oven.

Roasted Chicken Leftovers

Start by removing the cooked meat, then rinse and crack the bones so they will release their goodness,  if they are still intact, place the bones back into a clean pot, add enough water to cover plus 3-4 inches above the bones and simmer over a medium heat source for 3-8 hours.

  • The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophobic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion.

  • Bone broth reduces joint pain and inflammation courtesy of Chondroitin Sulfates, Glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down bone cartilage.

  • Bone broth can be made from any type of bones you like – chicken, beef, pork, or even fish – but seek bones from organically raised, pastured, or grass-fed animals.

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To enhance the flavor, I add 1 teaspoon of sea salt, one medium onion cut in half, and  1 large carrot, 2 celery ribs, cut into one inch pieces but the flavorings can be any vegetable of your choice.

I’m guessing, by now, you have noticed the NEW OLD health food is an old favorite that our grandmothers have been making for centuries. Yep, the Bone Broth that is the rage of the culinary world, is an enriched broth or stock that cooks from every generation have been making for centuries.

The grandmother that gave you chicken broth for a cold was doing the right thing for you, without knowing it or having a doctor’s education.

As with a lot of things, the old is new again.  If you think you do not have time to engage in the making of this wonderful healthy broth, use your slow cooker for the simmering stage.  You can even leave it over night and have a cup in the morning to start your day.

I’m a believer in cooking more than one meal at a time.  Cooking multi meals at the same time, sets you up for more time in the evening for family activities or just plain sitting and enjoying each other.  If you don’t have time to do, two complete meals, do the prep work for both at one time. Below are three recipes where all the hard stuff can be done at once, setting you up for 20-30 minute meals.
Shopping list for three meals:
2 Pounds of Ground Beef
2 Large Onions
1 Red Sweet Bell Pepper
1 Jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
Small head of lettuce
1 Package of soft tortilla shells
1 Package of Corn Tortilla Shells
3 Packages of Ramen Noodles [chicken or beef]
1 Can of Diced Tomatoes
Assorted Shredded Cheese
1 Package of Taco Spices
2 Roma Tomatoes
Prep by chopping the onions, tomatoes and pepper.
Shred ½ head of the lettuce
Place the vegetables into separate zip lock bags and refrigerate.
Brown the ground beef and ½ of the chopped onions, just until the meat is pink, then cool and divide into 3 equal parts.
Place the meat into air tight containers and refrigerate until needed.
Beef Tacos
1 part of the browned meat
1 package of taco spices
the chopped onions, tomatoes and lettuce
½ to ¾ cup of shredded cheese
Taco shells [flour and corn]
Finish cooking the ground meat, adding the spice package. Place all the ingredients on your table and allow everyone to make their own taco.
Serve with Corn on the cob and some Fresh fruit to complete your family meal.
Ramen Noodle Beef Casserole
1 part of the browned meat
3 packages of Ramen noodles, broken into pieces
¼ cup of chopped onions
1 can of diced tomatoes
3 cups of water
shredded cheese
Using a medium pot, add the ground meat, onions, diced tomatoes and cook until the onions are soft. Add in the water, noodles and flavor packages. Cook over medium heat until the water has disappeared, pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with ¾ cup of shredded cheese*.
Place in a 350 degree preheated oven and bake until the cheese has melted down over the noodles [about 12 minutes].
Serve with a garden salad, using the second half of the lettuce and some of the other chopped veggies.
*Velveeta Cheese can be used here, instead.
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Add the browned meat plus ½ cup of onions and ½ of the chopped red pepper, to a medium sauce pan. Cook while stirring, until the vegetables are soft, then add the jar of sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Using a large pot, heat 4-6 quarts of water. Salt the water until you can lightly taste the salty flavor to enhance the flavor of the pasta. You want it to taste like the ocean not the Dead Sea. When the water reaches its boiling point, place in the pasta of your choice and cook as directed on the package.
When the pasta has cooked, drain well, removing all the water you can, return it to the pot or a serving platter. Some people like to add the pasta into their sauce but I do not. It will soak up the sauce too quickly and in some cases will leave you with a dry pasta dish with no sauce to serve on the side. I prefer to place my pasta on my plate then add the sauce over the top, adding a little sprinkle of cheese.
Serve with warm garlic bread and steamed green beans to complete your meal.  Cooking multi meals at one time will allow you more family time when it comes to putting dinner on the table.

Hassie’s Fried Green Tomato Recipe

Fresh green tomatoes are beginning to show up in the garden just in time to satisfy everyone’s craving for this yearly delight of fried green tomatoes.

fried green tomato recipe
For this recipe you will need:
1 Cup of Buttermilk
1/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup Corn Meal
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/3 Teaspoon Black Pepper
4 Medium Green to Pink Tomatoes [I like my tomatoes to have a little color to them, the choice is up to you, but you do want them ripe enough to not have a strong bitter green taste]
Enough Oil to cover the bottom of your frying pan about 1/2 inch deep.
Slice the tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices, then lay the slices on 2 layers of paper towels, to absorb the liquid.  Too much liquid will keep your dry ingredients from sticking to your tomato slices.  You will need them as dry as possible as you will be adding the buttermilk to act as binder for the dry ingredients.
Fried Green Tomatoes recipe
Mix the dry ingredients and place in a shallow flat bowl.  Pour the buttermilk into medium bowl with enough room to submerge the tomato slices.  Adding buttermilk to this recipe will enhance the fried tomatoes with a little extra zip and tang.
Heat the oil over medium high heat.  Place the tomato slices into the buttermilk, remove one slice at a time, draining off the excess buttermilk,  then dredge through the dry ingredients.  Carefully place the slices into the hot oil.  Fry until a golden brown on both sides [about 2 minutes for each side].
Fried Green Tomato recipe
You can use these golden slices as a wonderful side dish, an appetizer with dip or add them to bacon, lettuce and mayonnaise for a Fried Green Tomato BLT Sandwich.
Sweet Fried Tomato Dip Recipe
1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons of Ketchup
1 Teaspoon Mustard
2 Heaping Tablespoons of Sweet Pickle Relish
Mix all ingredients until thoroughly incorporated.  Store in an air tight container and keep refrigerated between uses.