December: the month for cooking….
For any of you that are doing any cooking at all this month, I have a few tips for you:
1) Pie Crust requires rolling and resting: To prevent pie crust from shrinking, stop stretching the dough when fitting it into the pan. The more the dough is pulled, the more it will snap back to its original shape in the oven. Instead, roll out the dough, and let it rest for a couple of minutes to relax the gluten in the flour. Then ease the disk of dough into the pie pan, avoiding any suggestion of stretching it to fit. Bob Fila – Chicago Tribune
2) When making cookies, remember to let your cookies sit for a complete minute on the pan before moving them to a rack to cool. They are easier to pick up and they will hold together better if you do this.
3) During this busy month, use your crock pot to cook most of your dinners….Last night I cooked spaghetti sauce in the crock pot. After a busy day, all I had to do to get dinner on the table was to cook the spaghetti strings and ladle on the sauce. There was enough sauce left to freeze for another meal later in the month. I don’t know what I would do without my crock pot. This recipe came from the food section in the Houston Chronicle and it has a wonderful ginger tang to it. Yumm........
SOY GINGER CHICKEN
Drumsticks and thighs hold up to long, slow cooking without drying out. If you prefer, you can substitute all thighs or all drumsticks for the combination. Cooked white rice is a natural accompaniment, but feel free to use pasta, such as fettuccine or linguine, instead of the rice. With either, there'll be enough sauce to go around.
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2/3 cup cilantro, chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches long), peeled and cut into thin strips
5 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (1 cup packed), divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 chicken drumsticks and 4 thighs, (about 2 1/2 pounds total), skin removed
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Cooked white rice, for serving (optional)
Slow-cooker method: In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together soy sauce, sugar, garlic, cilantro, ginger, 1/2 cup scallions, vinegar, coriander and pepper. Add chicken and carrots; toss to coat. Cover and cook on low until chicken is tender, about 6 hours. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat from surface of cooking liquid.
In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Ladle 1 cup cooking liquid into measuring cup; whisk to combine. Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened, about 1 minute. With slow cooker turned off, stir in cornstarch mixture.
Serve chicken with white rice, if desired, and garnish with cilantro sprigs and remaining 1/2 cup scallions. From: The New York Times/Special Features
Makes 4 servings, each 269 calories, 8.5 grams fat (2.3 grams saturated); 29.5 grams protein, 18.5 grams carbohydrates and 2.1 grams fiber.
4) A quick guide to varieties of olive oil. Did you know this about olive oil?
• Extra-virgin olive oil is the strongest olive flavor of the four varieties of olive oil. It's best used for drizzling, salad dressings, marinades, sauces, stews and soups.
• Virgin olive oil shares extra-virgin olive oil's strong flavor but is slightly more mild. It's best used for grilling, sautéing, drizzling, salad dressings, marinades, stews and soups.
• The oil simply labeled "olive oil" is much milder and better suited for cooking. It's best used for baking, frying, grilling and sautéing.
• Light olive oil is the mildest of the four varieties and is best used for baking, frying, grilling and sautéing.
Tip: For baking, simply substitute equal amounts of olive oil for vegetable oil.
Now that Thanksgiving is past, I am in full swing for Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. I went by our church bookstore and bought a small nativity scene to give as a gift to a special friend. Our church Christmas party is this weekend and my brothers birthday party is the next day. Today I hope to get my ginger bread dough made in put in the frig for cooling. It is a tradition, in our family, to send these delicious cookies out to those that love them. If you are interested in the recipe for those wonderful Gingerbread cookies, just click here.