Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cocoa Pecan Cookies

This recipe is a spin-off of my Reduced Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies. It is very similar in the area of ingredients and preparation. I was out of vanilla extract, so I used some sugar-free caramel syrup to kick up the flavor a bit. I do recommend to mix the wet ingredients with the mixer but to fold in the flour and other dry ingredients by hand to get the best results.

Thes are good when cold, but for the best taste, warm them up briefly in a toaster oven to make 'em crunchy and warm!

I apologize for the lack of photos, but the cookies disappeared too fast. I should have done it while I was baking - oops!


Utensils:
2 bowls, 4 - 6 cup capacity
1 spatula
1 large spoon for mixing
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
aluminum foil, silicone sheet or parchment paper
1 or 2 cookie sheets
Mixer
small spoon


Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt (iodized sea salt is awesome!)
2 squares semisweet baking chocolate squares, finely grated
1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
2 tablespoons sugar-free caramel syrup
3 tablespoons molasses
3 cups Splenda sweetener (or another sucralose product)
2 cups I can't believe it's not butter sticks (slightly softened)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup pecans



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2. In one bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt, grated chocolate and cocoa powder.
3. Put I can't believe it's not butter and Splenda in the other bowl and cream them together.
4. Add the Molasses and mix well to incorporate into mixture.
5. Add the caramel syrup and mix well.
6. Add the eggs and mix well.
7. Set the mixer aside and add the flour mixture in a little at a time, then mix with a large spoon. Only mix enough to incorporate - DO NOT OVERMIX.
8. Fold in the pecans with the spatula.
9. Place dough on cookie sheet. Each cookie should be about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons in size. I use a tablespoon rounded over to keep size even. Do not press them or flatten out - this makes them a lot "heavier." A regular cookie sheet should hold 12 cookies easily.
10. Bake for 17 minutes until golden brown.
11. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What can you do with leftover turkey?

Leftover turkey is a common item around the holidays, so I decided to give a few suggestions on what to do with all that leftover bird.

The best thing to do with leftover turkey is to mix it into something. This meat is versatile and can be used in many dishes instead of beef, chicken or pork. I put together the following list to give you some ideas on what to make. Most of these items in the list are links to recipes that I thought would be good ones to try out. You may find that some of these recipes come back to your table after you have made them once - if it tastes good, it will be eaten!

Other items in the list have my suggestions or a brief recipe summary, just to keep this post reasonably short.


  • Turkey Salad

  • Chop up turkey into 1/4" to 3/8" pieces, mix with Miracle Whip or Salad Dressing, some chopped pickles, onions and celery. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add other spices such as tarragon, lemon pepper, curry, sage, rosemary, thyme, or garlic to the mix. Experiment by taking some of the "base" and mixing a test batch up to see what really tastes best, THEN adjust the spices on the entire batch of salad. Serve on lettuce leaves or in a sandwich of your favorite bread.


  • Turkey Noodle Soup

  • This is fairly easy and it can use up other leftovers you have from your holiday meal. Cut turkey into 3/8" pieces. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a pan, then add 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic, 1/4 of a medium onion, diced, 2 diced carrots, 1 rib of diced celery. Saute until the vegetables are translucent, then put in your turkey, some chicken or turkey stock. If you like, You can use up leftover giblet gravy here instead of stock or broth. Add water to bring the soup to the desired volume. Bring to a boil and add your noodles. Homemade egg noodles are the best, but just about any noodle will work for this one.


  • Turkey Enchiladas

  • Use my Enchilada Casserole recipe, substituting turkey for the chicken or beef. If you want to you can fry your corn tortillas in the microwave.


  • Turkey Rice Casserole

  • Turkey Pot Pie

  • Turkey Crockpot Surprise

  • Put bite-sized pieces of turkey into a crockpot or large pan. Put in other leftover vegetable items such as carrots, green beans or broccoli. Add some celery, onion, and garlic and anything else you think might be good. Put in some canned tomatoes, stock, broth or water to bring to the desired volume, then cook on low heat until any raw vegetables you have added are tender.


  • Turkey Chili

  • Turkey Loaf

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reduced Carb Cornbread

I am always trying to control my carbs. This recipe is one that I developed through lots of trial and error. You can cook it in a glass 9 x 9 pan, a standard cake tin, or even a cast-iron dutch oven. In the dutch oven method, I heat the pan and put the shortening in, then just pour the batter in the center of the oil. It works really well this way and you get a crunchy bottom crust.

Reduced Carb Cornbread


Ingredients:
¾ cup cornmeal
1 cup soy flour
½ cup wheat flour
¼ cup splenda
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 beaten eggs
1 cup water
4 tsp wheat gluten
butter or shortening to grease pan

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
2. Grease 9 x 9 glass or metal pan.
3. Mix all ingredients until combined
a. DO NOT OVERMIX – just bring ingredients together (unless you want leather – like cornbread)
4. Pour mixture into pan and bake on middle oven rack for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.


No pictures - cooking for the Holiday. Enjoy and comment if you like the recipe. Feedback is appreciated.

Have an awesome Thanksgiving, and May God Bless You and Yours.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Egg Omelette

Everybody seems to love eggs. I am no exception to this rule. I find that an egg omelette along with a slice of buttered toast and a cup of hot coffee is hard to beat for starting your day right. There are a lot of ways to serve up eggs, but the omelette is one of those dishes that just seem to work for me most of the time.

Utensils:
nonstick frying pan
cup for holding cracked eggs
fork
spatula

Ingredients:
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp I can't believe its not butter
2 slices of Turkey Ham, chopped
1 slice American Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
ground red oriental pepper (optional)


Instructions:
1. Crack eggs and place them in a cup. Make sure that the cup has a wide enough top and is deep enough to whisk the eggs in.
2. Set stove on medium low to medium - 3 on an electric stove is ideal.
3. Place butter in the pan. Move the pan around to distribute the butter evenly.
4. Once butter is spread out, whisk eggs and pour them into the pan, spreading them across the entire surface. Add salt and pepper.
5. To expedite cooking, use your spatula to work the egg in, pushing from the outside edges to the center of the pan.
6. Let eggs cook until they appear to be almost done on the top. Do not overcook as they will be like rubber if you do...
7. Place the turkey ham in a row in the center of the omelette. Tear the american cheese into strips and place in the center of the omelette as well.
8. Fold over the omelette.
9. Wait for 30 seconds to a minute to make sure the eggs are set.
10. Remove from pan to a plate. Add some oriental chili or hot sauce if you like.
11. Enjoy!

I have made a brief video of me cooking up this omelette - its fast, its easy and its delicious!

Have a Great Day and God Bless!


video




Thanks for the music in the video goes to Dan O'Connor at http://DanoSongs.com Really free, really good music.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen

Kids in the Kitchen
There is a breakdown in the American Family. It appears that we are all too often too busy to do anything with one another. Family members share a unique bond that can never be broken - you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family.

It is for this reason that I regularly involve my kids in my cooking. Many times I will have my son or daughter helping me to mix batter, crack eggs, season something, or help get another bowl or pan for cooking. Lots of kids that I talked to when I was teaching said that they didn't know how to cook. Others stated that they did not want to try because it seemed too complicated. This brings me to a question: How are young people going to get a chance to eat a decent meal when they are on their own, UNLESS they are taught how to cook by their parents?

The advantage for the young person is big - he or she might be able to try to save some money or do something with the money that would have been spent on eating out every night. Another important note here - the time spent teaching them while they are still at home is special. It is a chance for the parent and the child to bond and get to know more about each other. I am glad that there were times that my parents involved me in cooking and other everyday activities - I am a better person for it, and I really enjoyed learning from them.

So the next time that you are wanting to make that "special" dish, or do something where you need your kids help, get it. You might hear complaints at first, but it always works out that they have fun, and you will too!

Have a Great Day and God Bless!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reduced Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies







I have had Type 2 diabetes for several years. For this reason, I am always cutting out refined sugar, or substituting other sweeteners for it. This IS NOT an extreme cut on sugar, just a refinement with things that make a good cookie that isn't loaded with white sugar. I do use molasses in these - I have not found an acceptable substitute for it, and you gotta live a little.

OK, enough of the description, on to the cooking.

I usually try to put in a lot of photos, but this was a brand new recipe, and I had no idea if it would come out good enough to post. My apologies for the lack of pictures or video - the "mad scientist" in me was busy! This is a double-size batch, so it makes several dozen cookies.

Please also note - I NEVER use aspartame in a recipe. I, like 30% of this nation, am allergic to this product. If you want an eye opener, do some research on it. Chances are that you may want to change sweeteners afterward.

Utensils:
2 bowls, 4 - 6 cup capacity
1 spatula
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
aluminum foil, silicone sheet or parchment paper
1 or 2 cookie sheets
Mixer
small spoon


Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt (iodized sea salt is awesome!)
3 teaspoons double-strength vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons molasses
3 cups Splenda sweetener (or another sucralose product)
2 cups I can't believe it's not butter sticks (slightly softened)
4 large eggs
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips (yes, only one package)
1 cup pecans (2 is ALWAYS better, but I only had 1 in the house!)



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2. In one bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt.
3. Put I can't believe it's not butter and Splenda in the other bowl and cream them together.
4. Add the Molasses, then the honey, mix well to incorporate into mixture.
5. Add the vanilla and mix well.
6. Add the eggs and mix well.
7. Add flour mixture in a little at a time. Only mix enough to incorporate - DO NOT OVERMIX.
8. Add in the chocolate chips, mix until they are covered with the dough.
9. Fold in the pecans with the spatula.
10. Place dough on cookie sheet. Each cookie should be about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons in size. I use a tablespoon rounded over to keep size even. Use a cup with a piece of plastic wrap on it to press down dough to 3/8 inch thickness. A regular cookie sheet should hold 12 cookies easily.
11. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
12. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winter Squash with Corn

Winter squash is really great stuff. The downside to it is that it does require a little more work than summer squash. The particular variety that I am cooking today has a very tough outer skin that doesn't become very good for eating until it has been cooked for a very long time, which makes the squash inside the skin like mush. For this reason, the best solution is to clean the squash out of the skin after cooking and to discard the skin - my dog seems to love this, so I give it to her. (She thinks she is human!)


Utensils:
masher
1 bowl, 4 - 6 cup capacity
1 large spoon for stirring
1/8 teaspoon measuring spoon (optional)
small spoon for digging squash out of skins
SHARP knife for cutting up squash
cutting board
plastic wrap for steaming in the microwave



Ingredients:
several small to medium-sized squash
1 can unsalted corn, excess liquid removed
3 Tbsp I can't believe its not butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon of ground red oriental chili flakes (optional)



1. Wash squash well and dry them.
2. Fold a paper towel in half and place it on the counter.
3. Pour 1-2 Tbsp of water on the center of the towel to moisten it.
4. Place your cutting board on top of the paper towel.
5. Place a piece of squash on the board and cut the ends off. Discard them.
6. Cut each piece of squash into 1 1/2 to 2 inch lengths. Split these down the middle.
7. Place pieces of cut squash into a microwave-safe bowl and put plastic wrap over them. Wrap DOES NOT have to be very tight around bowl - it allows the excess steam to get out.
8. Put in microwave and cook on high for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender. Check halfway through cooking to determine ending time.
9. CAREFULLY remove the plastic wrap from the squash. Use a fork to keep your hands clear of steam rising from the bowl. It is best if you let the squash cool before the next step.
10. Using the small spoon, dig the squash out of the skin, discarding the skin.
11. Mash the squash up, add the I can't believe its not butter, stir well.
12. Add the corn, then stir well.
13. Check for saltiness, add salt if necessary, then black pepper to taste.
14. Finally, add the oriental chili flakes to the top of the squash to add extra color and flavor!
15. The best step - enjoy!

I have included a video with all the instructions - hope it helps.

If you have need of computer help, hints or tips, go to my website at http://crabbymac.com

Have a Great Day and God Bless!!




video

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies are a favorite of mine. I have taken the raisins that are traditionally in these and replaced that flavor with honey, molasses and cinnamon.

Utensils:
2 bowls, 4 - 6 cup capacity
1 spatula
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
aluminum foil, silicone sheet or parchment paper
1 or 2 cookie sheets
Mixer


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups uncooked oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons double-strength vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup Splenda sweetener
1 1/4 cup I can't believe it's not butter
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2. In one bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon.
3. Put I can't believe it's not butter and Splenda in the other bowl and cream them together.
4. Add the Molasses, mix well to incorporate into mixture.
5. Add the vanilla and mix well.
6. Add the eggs and mix well.
7. Add flour in a little at a time. Only mix enough to incorporate - DO NOT OVERMIX.
8. Add in the oats 1/3 at a time, mix until oats are mostly covered with the dough.
9. Fold the oats in the rest of the way to insure even coverage.
10. Place dough on cookie sheet. Each cookie should be about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons in size. Press down dough to 3/8 inch thickness. Place a chocolate chip or two in the center of each cookie for added flavor.
11. Bake for 13 - 17 minutes until golden brown and crunchy.
12. Enjoy!

Watch the video for step-by-step details...




video

Monday, September 28, 2009

Seasoned Chicken

There are times that you need to have some chicken for a dish. This recipe gives you some chicken that has a great flavor to add to a casserole, pot pie, soup or just about anywhere that you might need some boiled, seasoned chicken. One added advantage to my recipe is you also have a nice chicken stock that is a by-product of the process.

Here we go:

Cookware:
1 3-quart pan
Spoon for stirring

Ingredients:
3 leg and thigh quarters, skinned, cut up with most of the fat removed
2 small to medium size carrots, washed and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery
3 cloves garlic, sliced into 1/8" slices
2 tsp salt (kosher or sea salt for better flavor and nutritional value)
pepper to taste (always put just a little then taste - you can always add, but it is difficult to take out.)
Optional: 1/8 tsp of oriental ground chili or a basil leaf
2 Tbsp canola oil
1-2 quarts water (varies based on size of pan, size of chicken pieces, etc.


  1. Prepare chicken. Hint: when removing skin, use a paper towel to grasp the skin and pull it off.
  2. Prepare veggies. Hint: make sure you wash the carrots and celery well so you can use the stock for soup or other things later.
  3. Add canola oil to pan, turn on to high heat.
  4. Once oil is hot, toss in vegetables, then lower to medium low heat.
  5. Stir regularly,
  6. Once onions are translucent, toss in chicken pieces.
  7. Cook for a couple of minutes, then turn the pieces over until all the chicken is slightly cooked.
  8. Add salt, black pepper, and chili or basil leaf.
  9. Stir
  10. Add water to cover chicken.
  11. Stir.
  12. Cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is tender.
  13. Let chicken cool.
  14. Pull meat off the bones and dice it up or do whatever fits the recipe you are creating.
If you are just wanting some chicken noodle soup, skim off any excess fat, dice the chicken and add some egg noodles. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For more tenter chicken, go to very low heat and cook for 2 or more hours. You may have to add some water as you go, but this stuff should be really tender and tasty.

This also goes well in the enchilada casserole if you prefer chicken over beef.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Enchilada Casserole - Part II







































Today, we are continuing with the second installment for the enchilada casserole.

If you missed it, here is the link to Enchilada Casserole Part I.


Utensils:
large microwave safe bowl
1 10 x 14 inch baking pan or dish
silicone scraper
ladle or cup
non-stick spatula

Ingredients:
2 family size cans cream of mushroom soup
1 to 2 cups of milk for thinning soup
24 fried corn tortillas (see part 1 for instructions)
2 - 3 cups of taco meat
1/2 medium onion, diced finely
2 - 5 small cloves of garlic, minced (if you like a lot of garlic, use it!!)
1 - 2 pounds of grated cheese (I use one-half cheddar and one-half mozarella)
2 small cans of roasted and peeled chopped green chilis (you can substitute jalapeño or bell pepper if you like)


  1. Place the soup and milk in the bowl.
  2. Warm in the microwave for around 2 minutes.
  3. Once mixture is slightly warm, put in the taco meat, green chilis, onion and the garlic.
  4. Heat for another minute in microwave. Mixture needs to be where you can pour and spread it easily on each layer.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350° - place the top rack on the middle shelf, then put a cookie sheet or aluminum foil on the rack.
  6. In the baking dish, pour a layer of the soup/meat mixture.
  7. Place a layer of the fried corn tortillas on the soup mixture.
  8. Pour a thin layer of soup mixture on the tortillas. It doesn't have to cover them completely, as it will spread out during cooking.
  9. Sprinkle a layer of the cheddar and mozarella cheese onto the soup mixture.
  10. Place another layer of tortillas on the cheese and continue the process until you have 3 or more layers of "goodies" in the pan. You want to stop about 1/4" below the lip of the pan to allow for the bubbling of the soup.
  11. Cover the top layer with one last batch of cheese.
  12. Place the casserole into the oven on the cookie sheet or foil.
  13. Bake for at least an hour. It is better if you cook it for 1.5 hours as the fresh garlic and onion have a chance to cook more thouroughly.
  14. Remove from oven and let it cool for 30 minutes before serving (if you can wait that long).
  15. Serve with shredded lettuce, salsa, or pico de gallo.
Hope you like this one. It doesn't last long around my house. Have a great day and God Bless!!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Enchilada Casserole - Part I



  





  





  





  





  





  


  




Everyone has their favorite recipes. This is one of mine. It is simple, easy to prepare, requires only a few ingredients and it is delicious. See the photos for more info.

I have decided to split it into two blog posts to make my posting easier. So here is the first step - cooking the tortillas.

Microwave Fried Corn Tortillas

Utensils:
1 microwave safe plate
1 microwave safe bowl
brush for spreading oil on tortillas
non-stick spatula

Ingredients:
24 uncooked corn tortillas
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Frying corn tortillas - this is usually done in a skillet or deep-fat fryer, but after a lot of experimentation, I found I can easily fry them in the microwave with only 1/4 cup of oil! It is a lower fat and less messy method than the traditional one.
  1. Put about a tablespoon of oil in the plate, then place a tortilla in it, turning it one time to ensure that the oil on the bottom of the plate is all over the tortilla.
  2. Load the brush with oil and baste the top of the tortilla with it.
  3. Place another tortilla on top of the first, then brush the top with oil.
  4. Continue this process until you have twelve tortillas in a stack with oil between them.
  5. Put a layer of oil on the top of the last tortilla to ensure proper frying in the microwave.
  6. Put the bowl on top of the stack. The bowl catches any oil that splatters and helps in the cooking of the tortillas.
  7. Microwave on high for 5 to 8 minutes until the tortillas are fried. It is a good idea to check them during the last 3 minutes of cooking time.
  8. When they are done CAREFULLY remove the bowl and use a spatula to seperate the tortillas. The ones on the bottom tend to stick - this is why you should check them towards the end because they can burn if you cook them for too long. Make sure you don't do this! Your microwave will stink for a couple of days if you burn the tortillas.
That is it...tomorrow we will make the casserole. Until then - Adios!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crabby's Crazy Crumbles



  


  


  



What do you do with the crumbs and small pieces that are left in a bag of tortilla chips? You make my Crumbles!!

This recipe is very simple:

Utensils:
1 microwave safe plate
1 sharp kitchen knife

Ingredients:
Approximately 3/4 to 1 cup crumbs and small chips
1/2 cup mozarella cheese
1/4 medium size onion, frenched
1 slice American Cheese
1/4 cup Taco Meat
Garlic Powder to Taste
Cayenne Pepper to Taste
Black Pepper to Taste
Ground Cumin (Comino) to Taste

1. Put crumbs and chip pieces in plate, spread evenly.
2. Add a layer of mozarella cheese.
3. Mix to distribute cheese.
4. Add Pepper, Garlic Powder and Onions.
5. Add some more mozarella. Layer on the Taco Meat.
6. Tear American slice into 4 long strips.
7. Place strips with one end in the center, going out towards the edge of the plate - one at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions.
8. Sprinkle on the Cayenne Pepper and Comino.
9. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until cheeses are melted and gooey.
10. My favorite step - pull out your fork and enjoy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

White Milk Gravy

Gravy is one of the most versatile foods on the planet. This simple mixture of fat, flour and milk is what REALLY makes Chicken Fried Steak (Country Fried Steak) so awesome. I know that some folks like to put brown gravy on this, but you gotta try the white stuff - as the saying goes, "try it, you'll like it."

Gravy can be put on more than steak. It goes on mashed potatoes, chicken, biscuits, toast, and sausage to name a few. I have tried putting this stuff on just about everything, including a flour tortilla - don't knock it - makes a goooooooood burrito! Mix it with a little taco meat and it is one of the best fillings around. If you like salsa, throw it in too!! I normally love cheese in my burritos - with gravy in there, you don't even miss it.

Anyway, I will try to keep from drooling all over the keyboard and I will give you a simple recipe and method for creating this versatile sauce. This is one of my childhood favorites. Growing up in New Mexico, I had lots of family members that made great gravy. I always thought that milk gravy had to be white, so my first exposure to milk gravy that was brown shocked me.

One of my aunts liked brown milk gravy and on one of my visits she "burnt the flour" on the gravy - I was only about 6 and I was mortified! She ruined the gravy! My aunt was very kind and made a second batch of "normal" gravy for her shocked nephew. I will always remember this and will state to you that the level of caramelization you give the flour is a personal preference - it is a key ingredient in some soup bases. (Yes, gravy makes an awesome base for a soup - thick and rich - just add your flavoring items to it.) So much for the story - recipe time...

Utensils:

1 skillet or deep pan - at least one to two quart capacity
A spoon or wire whisk for stirring


Ingredients:

one half cup of oil - preferably drippings from sausage, bacon, or fried chicken**
one half cup of all purpose flour ***
Milk to thin the gravy with - this varies - so get a couple of cups to start with
Salt and Pepper to taste


Directions:
  1. Place the pan on a large burner on the stove set to medium heat.
  2. Put Oil in the pan, let it warm for a minute then add the flour. Mix with the spoon or whisk to form a Roux (this is the key to a lot of sauces - equal parts of flour and oil).
  3. Stir the mixture until it bubbles and the flour is as brown as you like.
  4. Reduce your heat by half then SLOWLY add a little milk, stirring quickly with your spoon or whisk. You should have a thick paste forming. If you add the milk too quickly, you will get a bunch of lumps. Small lumps are easily dissolved, but big ones make lumpy gravy. The goal here is to make a paste. Keep adding milk until the paste starts to become thin enough to still cover the back of a spoon.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Now that the hard part is done, and you have a thin gravy, you want to bring the heat back up to medium and bring the liquid in the pan to a good simmer. You MUST stir constantly at this point to keep the flour from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the gravy reaches a light boil, it should be getting close to being fully thickened. Note: It is easier to dilute the gravy rather than to boil it long enough to thicken a really thin gravy.
  7. The key item in this process is to get rid of the pasty taste of the flour. Once it is fully cooked you need to add your final salt to it and finally, your pepper.

Notes:

Always remember that a Roux is one-half flour, one half oil - simple, but good! This is how you control how much gravy you are making.

**(I like to make chicken gravy after frying my buttermilk chicken, just get some of the fat out of the pan, making sure to get any loose crumbs that are dark brown, NOT black.)

***if you have some leftover dredging flour from frying chicken, remove any lumps and use this stuff - why waste it?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

A couple of days ago I promised to give the recipe for Buttermilk Drop Biscuits. This is a favorite of mine and is a spin-off of my Mom's recipe (she used regular milk). If they are done right, the outside is crunchy with a soft inside - mmm, mmm, good! So much for my gabbing, you want the recipe, so here it is:

Utensils (Hardware, for you computer folks):

1 or 2 nine inch cake pans or a cookie sheet, preferably non-stick
2 quart (or larger) bowl for mixing dough
fork for mixing dough
measuring spoon


Ingredients:

2 cups of All Purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder (you may substitute 1 tsp of baking soda if you don't have the powder)
1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk (original recipe uses milk, buttermilk just makes them better)


Directions:
  1. Place oven rack in the middle position, then preheat it to 425° Fahrenheit. Once oven has come to temp, mix dough.
  2. Put flour, salt and baking powder into bowl. Mix with fork to distribute the baking powder and salt into the flour more evenly.
  3. Add 1 cup of buttermilk, use fork to mix together. Add enough of the remaining milk to the dough to make it slightly sticky to the touch - you may have to add more or less milk due to the humidity, the moisture in your flour, etc. Mix ONLY ENOUGH to make the dough come together into a ball. If you overmix the dough, you will make a tough, chewy thing that I really don't consider a biscuit - it is more like a bagel or pizza dough, but not near as good.
  4. If you have nonstick pans, parchment paper or silcone mats, go to step 6.
  5. Put some vegetable oil in the pans to avoid sticking.
  6. Using a spoon or your fingers, tear off pieces and form into small balls about 1 and 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. The larger the biscuits, the longer the cooking time. If you make them too small, the center will not be soft and chewy.
  7. You should end up with around 10 biscuits.
  8. Drop each ball into the cake pans or on the cookie sheet. Leave at least 3/4 of an inch or so between each biscuit to allow for them to rise. (You don't want them to run together, as this ruins the crunchy part of the biscuit.)
  9. Place them in the oven. They will take between 15 to 20 minutes to bake. Remove when there are small brown areas on them (see photo). It is rare to have really even browning, unless the dough is fairly dry, but that results in a dry biscuit, too.
  10. You can brown them further if you like, just be careful not to overcook, as the centers will become very crunchy, too. (I will sometimes do this if all I am wanting them for is biscuits and gravy. I break them into little pieces and mix into the gravy - crunchy and delicious!)
  11. If you want to butter the biscuits, you need to do this while they are still hot. Just be careful when hadling them, OK?
Here is a photo of the resulting fare:




I thank you for checking out my recipe. Check out other items in this blog.
If you need computer help, hints or tips, go to my website at Crabby's Place.
May you have a wonderful day, and God Bless!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

There are very few things on the planet that compare to a meal consisting of fried chicken, biscuits and gravy.

This is one item that most of us wish could be on the menu at LEAST once a week. This meal has, due to health concerns, been limited to once or twice a month for most of us. But when I want to celebrate, THIS is one of my favorite combinations. I believe that life is too short to restrict myself from an occasional piece of chicken, a biscuit, and to top it all off, some gravy for the biscuit.

We must love fried chicken. The history of this dish goes back to medieval times. Furthermore, a Google search will net some 13,300,000 pages on this item. It is so popular that there is even a vegan version of this dish. That shows a lot of support for an item categorized under the topic of "Bad Fats" on the American Heart Association's website. Ok, so it is not health food, but it sure is very popular for an unhealthy food.

Biscuits and Gravy have been around a long time. The history of this wonderful combination seems to center around necessity.

There are also a three other things to consider:
1) The drippings from bacon, sausage and fried chicken are VERY tasty.
2) Earlier in our history there was an attitude about wasting anything.
3) You need to stretch your money as far as it will go - biscuits and gravy are inexpensive to make

To make the chicken, we need to look at what type of fried chicken you want. You can fry it with just the skin on it, low and slow. You can dredge it in eggs and flour and fry it. You can take chicken that has soaked in buttermilk, dredge it in flour and spices and fry it up. Today we will work on item number three - Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

Prep and Cooking Time: 8+hours for soak (the longer the better), 30 minutes to 1 hour to fry

Utensils: 1 wide, deep pan for frying (with lid, if possible), 1 metal or plastic container for soaking the chicken in buttermilk, quart or gallon plastic bag for dredging chicken, fork for placing chicken into bag for dredging, tongs for removal of chicken

Ingredients: 1 to 2 cups of buttermilk, chicken for frying, 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups AP flour, 1 tsp Tarragon, 1 tsp pepper, 1 and 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground oriental chili, or paprika, or cayenne (your choice), 1-2 quarts Vegetable oil for frying - I suggest peanut or canola due to better heat resistance

Instructions:
Prep:
Trim up chicken and cut into pieces. Wash off pieces with COLD water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place chicken into a large metal or plastic container. It is better to have a large, flat surface here to conserve on the buttermilk. Pour buttermilk over the chicken. Lift each piece and roll around in the buttermilk to ensure even coverage. Place plastic wrap (not aluminum - this could corrode due to the acid in the buttermilk) over the container. Place in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
Once soak time is over, remove chicken from the bath and follow the dredging and cooking steps.

Dredging:
Prepare dredge bag by placing the flour, salt, pepper and spice into the plastic bag. I usually use a zipper bag since they are very sturdy. Place the fork into a piece of chicken and place it into the bag, remove the fork, fold over the top a couple of times and shake to cover with the mixture. Open the bag, remove from dredge using the fork and place in a single layer on a large clean plate or cookie sheet. Repeat for all remaining pieces of chicken. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before frying.

Cooking:
Place pan on stove. Pour in enough cooking oil to give you a depth of 2 inches. You CAN use less oil or a shallow pan, but you will HAVE to monitor the chicken more closely and turn it more often to give even cooking - deeper IS better! Turn the burner on to medium-high heat and bring the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I have cooked without a frying thermometer and reducing to a medium setting after the oil gets hot seems to work out well for me.

Once the oil gets hot enough, using the tongs, gently place 3 to 5 pieces of the chicken into the oil. DO NOT overcrowd the chicken, it will not cook evenly, among other things. You also want to watch the temperature on the oil - going above 375 will cook the chicken too quickly and may cause the oil to degrade faster. One item causes raw chicken, the other makes the chicken taste bad or requires replenishing the oil more often. Once you place the chicken in the oil, the oil temperature will drop, then it SHOULD slowly rise back to proper temperature. You want to avoid letting the oil temperature stay too low for very long - this results in greasy, not fried, chicken. Turn the chicken every few minutes to insure even cooking.

Once the chicken is golden brown (see photo), it is ready to pull. If you have a probe-type cooking thermometer, you are trying to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (be careful not to place the thermometer against a bone as this will give you a false reading). Use the tongs to pull the chicken and place it on a plate lined with paper towels. Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve.




Tomorrow I will cover how to make buttermilk drop biscuits. Until then, have fun, enjoy the recipe, and God Bless.

P.S. Check out my website at Crabby's Place

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Why Should a Person Get on Facebook or Any Other Social Networking Site?

I am still fairly new at the social networking sites. I do have an account on facebook, and on twitter, and to be honest, I am really sorry that I didn't get into this sooner.

Email is a great thing. It keeps us in touch with our friends and family. It is really super IF you know the person't email address. If you don't, then you are sunk.

I started using facebook and twitter mainly because I heard how great they really are, and that they are a great way to find folks, develop friendships, and to communicate with others. Because of these tools, I have found a large group of people that have interests similar to mine, and more importantly, I have been touching base with some awesome old friends of mine.

If you aren't on these services, I HIGHLY recommend them. it is so neat to find others out there that look at life similar to the way you do. It is a great way to find out more about your friends or those you want to learn from, and the biggest reason - it is a lot of fun!!

Now that I have given you some food for thought - go out and do some social networking...

Have a super day and God Bless!




twitter: CrabbB

facebook: Brady Crabb in Colorado Springs

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Murphy's Law and Life

Murphy's Law states, "If anything can go wrong, it will." This is also the first rule of two of my favorite things in life - computers and cooking.

I have worked with computers for over half my life. In that time, I have determined that Murphy MUST have been thinking forward, into the future, when he wrote his saying. Anyone who has worked with a computer very much is aware how stubborn the computer can be when you NEED it to work. This evening I was working on a PC at my church. This computer is in bad need of a complete clean up, but unfortunately nobody knows where the cd key or original windows disc is, so reinstallation is out of the picture - unless NEW copies of the software are bought. Add to this the fact that the media software we are using is very resource intensive, and you have a mix for problems.

I kept having program crashes until I finally determined that the problem was a corrupt video file that I kept trying to load. I was saving every so often, but the darned thing kept crashing. After I figured out what the problem was, I found out they aren't going to be using the video clip tomorrow after all. This is definitely Murphy in action.

In the cooking arena - I am sure someone can relate to this - I have had more than once that I started to make a dish that had very specific ingredients that could not be replaced or substituted, and the item either got used by someone else in the house, or it spoiled, and is unusable. It is times like this I feel like Charlie Brown - AAARGH!!

My wife was making a cake for her co-workers and she had a problem with the cake not coming out of the pan. When it FINALLY did, it came out in pieces. She had bought a very large can of frosting, which she assumed would cover the entire cake with some left over. With the cake being busted up, the icing was consumed rapidly, and she still had half the cake to go. Oh well, no problem, let's just make some chocolate frosting to cover the rest of the cake. This is fine, if you have cocoa powder or some blocks of bittersweet chocolate - which we did not have. She thought she could use some of the Almond Bark in the cabinet. For those who don't know, Almond Bark and other candies like it, are used to coat pretzels, nuts, and just about everything during the holiday season. It cannot bu used as an icing and it cannot be thinned with water or milk, only with solid vegetable shortening - Yuck! Needless to say, our FAMILY ended up eating this particular cake.

I don't know about you, but Murphy sure does hang around a LOT at our house.

While on the topic of Almond Bark here is a simple recipe to make the bad things disappear - for now, at least.

Ingredients:

2 Squares of vanilla or chocolate almond bark candy (or equivalent)
1 Cup of dry roasted almonds (salted or unsalted)

Directions:
  1. Place candy in microwave safe cup.
  2. Measure out one cup of Almonds in another heat-resistant cup.
  3. Heat candy in microwave for approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds, stopping at 1 minute and at 2 minutes. (You don't want the candy to get too hot, it will burn.)
  4. Remove from microwave and stir to liquify
  5. Pour over the almonds, stirring quickly to mix the two items together well
  6. Place some wax paper on a cookie sheet or other flat surface, such as a cutting board.
  7. Pour the mixture on the wax paper to cool.
  8. After cooling, break into small pieces
  9. Enjoy!
Here is a slideshow of the recipe - note the high tech, high dollar equipment being used. Only the best at Crabby's Kitchens!!



I hope you enjoy the recipe and have a Super Day, and God Bless!


video

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hard Drives Last Forever, Right?

I used to sell hard drives on eBay. I sold so many that I made PowerSeller status. The only thing is that I sometimes got surprised by the things people expected of me. Case in point: I had a couple of customers that couldn't understand WHY I didn't use their favorite disk testing program to verify my drives. After all, I said that the used drives I sold were tested, and that they passed, so I MUST be using DiskCheckDeluxe (fictitious name) - otherwise, the drives had not been tested - at least to their minds. The thing is that if I had a customer that PREFERRED a particular program or test, I would run it - all they needed to do was ask. If I had the program, I WOULD run it to verify that the drive matched their specs. I have always taken care of my customers, and doing a return or two is a very normal part of the hard drive business.

This leads to the point of this entry. ALL HARD DRIVES WILL EVENTUALLY FAIL, PERIOD. This is a statement of fact. These are made by human beings and the motors will die, or the read/write heads will crash, or the metal on the platter will start to degrade or worse yet, flake off.

That being said, I will let you know what you should be doing with your hard drive:
  1. Do not trust it totally - back up your data regularly.
  2. If you don't like step 1, and lose data that is not backed up, go in the bathroom and chew out the person you see in the mirror.
  3. Do regular maintenance on the drive. A regular repair to the directory structure and a defragmentation AFTER the directory is clean is always in order.
  4. Know where your data is coming from. Make sure you have used "safe hex" and do regular virus scans and spyware scans - the data you may save could be your own.
  5. As a follow-up on item four - make sure you scan all incoming data, be it from the Internet or a floppy (yes, some of us still use these), a CD, or flash drive. Most virus scanners can be set to do this for removable media.
  6. Do not drop your computer, or allow it to be hit by something (or somebody) while the power is on and the hard drive is spinning. This is a great way to cause a head crash. With a head crash you can lose a little, or in the case of a really good scrape, make most of your data unretrievable, even with forensics.
  7. Make sure that the cooling fans in your computer are running well, the blades on the fans are clean, and ventilation is NOT blocked. Fans don't perform well if they can't move the air in, out, and around in the case.
  8. If you do start hearing strange noises from the hard disk, do a quick back-up of your documents and data - I have personally done this - the drive died the very next day.
  9. Consider replacing the hard drive after 3 to 5 years of use. This is especially true if you run your computer constantly, or it is exposed to temperature extremes a lot.
  10. Get an external USB, Firewire, or eSATA drive to backup your data on. These are a very cheap piece of insurance. If not that, backup to CDs or DVDs (seems like I said this before...)
  11. Keep the room that the computer is in as close to 70 degrees as possible. Sixty-eight to Seventy-five degrees is considered excellent.
  12. Don't mess around with the data or power cables on your hard drive unless you KNOW what you are doing. Static discharge or an improperly connected cable can make the hard disk unusable. If you do open the case, discharge the static off your body by touching the metal case BEFORE touching anything inside the case.
  13. Be nice to your computer. It is a device that holds, in many cases, all your important data. It can do this best if you try to follow all of these steps.
Ok, so much for the sermon. I apologize for any offense, but if I did, you weren't doing the right thing for your PC, Mac, Linux box or whatever it is you prefer.

Until my next entry, have a Super Day, and God Bless!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cleaning up your computer - do you REALLY have to?

I spent most of today sorting through graphics and video clips. After more than 8 hours of looking through my stuff, I determined I have GOT to come up with a method of cleanup that is more effective than my old, "wait until it gets really, really full," method.


Don't get me wrong, I do regular clean up on my computers. If I didn't, I would never be able to find anything, and the computers would all be inoperable. It is just that most of us wait until the drive is really too full before we act. Hard disks are not limitless in capacity. They will eventually fill up and threaten your well-being. Your nerves get all frazzled once you lose some data or can't save a critical file to the hard drive, but if you have not got a preventive maintenance program in place, bad things will eventually happen. It is just reality.


The average computer user SHOULD back up his or her data at LEAST once a month. A couple of times a month wouldn't hurt, either.


The first thing to backup are important files, such as your documents. These cannot be replaced, and in the case of things like resumés, you will probably need them about ten minutes after they have been lost. I had this one happen to me a number of years ago. I had accidentally deleted my resumé from my computer, and I found an ad in the paper for a job as a technical trainer at a military base. I looked through all my disks that had documents on them, and I COULD NOT find the file anywhere. OOPS!! To make a long story short, I finally found a coffee-stained copy of my resume and I scanned it into my computer and ran OCR on it.


For those who don't know, OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. Basically, the computer scans in a graphic, then makes the best guess what the words are in the document, one letter at a time. Today this works very well, back in 1996, things were very different. After an hour or so of editing, I got the resumé into the computer and printed it out. It did get me the job, but I will NEVER forget the lesson - BACK UP YOUR IMPORTANT DATA.

So, back up your data and you will be a much happier, saner person. I usually back up my data at least every month, and I never let it slip beyond two months. I would like to mention here a very important critical success factor here - make sure you label the disks you put your archive on. Even if it is as simple as, "Data B/U Jan 02, 2008," it IS important to know where you data is.

If you have the cash, you should invest in a USB, Firewire, or eSATA external drive for your backups. I currently do this prior to major upgrades in software or before migrating my stuff to another computer. There are several backup programs that can do this for you at little or no cost. In this case, I back up the entire drive to make an image of it. Images are a cool idea that started on the Mac, and have migrated to the PC in the last twenty years or so. Before that on the PC, you just used Microsoft's Backup to make the archive of your system. An image of a drive contains all the partitions, operating system(s), software and configuration settings on your computer. Images can be used in conjunction with the right software, to bring your computer back to an earlier state.


Hope this gives you a little food for thought.


Until later, have an excellent day and God Bless.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Learning Curve

"When you stop learning, you are dead."

I remember hearing this statement in my youth. I didn't put much stock in it until I go MUCH older. It seems in the last several years I have had to learn what seems like a lot more stuff than I had to when I was younger. I believe this has to do with the "information age" we are living in.


Recently, I decided to start publishing on the Internet for a source of income. I didn't think it would be very hard or time-intensive, to learn. Boy, was I wrong. I have discovered that even though I knew a good deal about HTML and about FTP and graphics tools, that this was only the tip of a very large iceberg.


Blogging for profit can be very time intensive - especially if you decide to build and manage the web site yourself. This is what I am now doing. "If you build it, they will come." Yeah, right, this may be true, but you don't get traffic to your blog or your website overnight. Maybe this is true of people that have a few books and ebooks published, but it is not a simple task building an audience. My goal in doing this is to combine two things I love, computers and teaching, to help others out and to try and make a dollar or two to pay for the bills that always seem to be attached to the "low cost startup enterprise."


There are things that I have learned, like the fact that there are a large number of search engines out there - all of which need to be submitted to so your information shows up on the search. I knew about the keywords being in pages, the need for meta data, etc. I just didn't know that the product I was using generated dynamic content to the level where the actual web pages didn't have few, if not any, hyperlinks.


Hyperlinks or links for short, are how we get around the World Wide Web. If you don't have hyperlinks on your page, and all navigation is stored in cascading style sheets and other places, you don't get fully indexed on the search engines. This means more research and more work into finding a workaround for this problem. Fortunately, I found a tool that resolved that problem. The downside is that besides learning about a web authoring tool, I was now learning about the tool that fixed the failing in the authoring tool. What a mess!!


I also learned a very hard lesson yesterday: If you are showing up on the first page of a major search engine, don't submit a new sitemap for your site. I have been waiting for HOURS for my site to be re-indexed so folks can find my site. This could be a problem since I have several videos on YouTube that send folks to the search engine to find me. If you wonder why I just don't give my URL during the video, I'll give you the link here - click on it to go see the site.


http://home.earthlink.net/~crabby/Crabby/Welcome.html


When you have an address that is that long, you DO have a problem! Most folks have trouble with entering www in front of an address, and some have made the mistake of going to a .com website instead of a .gov, .org, .info, or .biz site. Since some folks know this, there are things such as porn sites, spyware sites and the like, that acquire the .com version of certain popular sites. I can just imagine some little old lady stumbling on a porn site when she was looking for information about water sports or viewing the white house's home page. We do live in a world of predators. (Ok, now I will get off my rant on people being sneaky!)


Anyway, to make a long story short, I am learning a lot about the Web and its complexity. I will give you updates later as the story unfolds...


Have an Awesome Day, and God Bless!

Friday, June 19, 2009

An Introduction

I have been working with computers and computing for over half my life. At about the same time I started this, I began teaching - tutoring at work and teaching a Wednesday night class at my church. I really love teaching and I love working with computers. Anyone who doubts this would find out otherwise if they looked at my collection of computer dinosaurs. I have the following items in my posession:

  • A Tandy TRS80
  • A Tandy 2000
  • A WORKING 286 with Windows 2.5
  • An assortment of the old Macs (Classic, SE, etc.)
  • An Apple //e
  • An Apple //gs
  • Several old 386 and 486 towers
  • At least 3 various Pentiums
  • Pentium 3 laptop (more on this one later)
  • Other items that are newer, and some I can't think of at the moment

I started working with electrical and electronic devices at the ripe old age of 9. I have always been a tinkerer, so this only came natural to me. I did well with electronics in High School, beating out the 2 year students for the outstanding electronics student award. (I only took 1 year of electronics!) I graduated from High School and began to work at various jobs in areas such as a cook and waiter in a drive in restaurant, delivery driver, road sign installer, potash mine floatation plant operator, and chemical plant operator to name a few.


I worked for people that I knew I was smarter than, but needed an education to improve my situation. So, 10 years after graduating from High School, I became a college student. I was working towards a degree in electronic engineering. After all my work on the inside of the cases, I KNEW what was poor about the design of these products - case design, component accessibility, ease of repair, etc. This was great until I found myself taking computer classes - I loved this stuff! I started taking more computer classes than were required for my degree. I was taking them for fun - in addition to being an easy "A" for me. I ended up changing my major because my roommate asked an interesting question - "You write and debug programs just as well as I do, so why aren't you a CS Major?" I then talked to one of my computer instructors. He said, "If you want to be married to a desk, go with engineering, if you want to work in the field, go with computers." Since the guy had a Master's degree in electronics and computer science, I figured he had to know what he is talking about. I changed majors within a few days after that, and have NEVER regretted it.


Since then, I have worked as a Data Analyst, an Adult Basic Education Instructor, a Teaching Technician, Proof Operator/Computer Repair Person at a bank, Technical Trainer, HelpDesk Support person, and an Instructor and College Professor. I have also been an eBay powerseller, selling hard drives and cell phones that I refurbished, as well as running my own computer repair service.



I also have a great love for cooking and the culinary arts. I worked for my parents in their hamburger stand on and off for over 8 years. Prepping is the big challenge - you haven't lived until you have peeled 50 to 100 pounds of potatoes in a day!



Everything I have tried in the cooking arena I have eventually conquered (or at least got decent at it). I had some really bad items come out of the kitchen, but I ate my mistakes. That was the greatest motivation to get better - nothing is worse than cooking something that turned out bad and having to eat it. Stir fry was a great challenge - being prepared and cooking at high heat - now, there is a recipe for disaster!



So this is a little of who I am and wht this blog will contain. If you like, you can come to my website at http://home.earthlink.net/crabby/Crabby/Welcome.html to look over my other blog. I also post video clips on YouTube under the ID of TheCrabbyMac. I just started the YouTube stuff, so bear with me if the clips aren't really clean yet. I usually work from photos and video from my camera, so doing screen captures and getting good video of the screen is a challenge - I HAVE to write about that some other time.



Have a GREAT day and God Bless!