Bad Day

So…I’ve busy very busy with band camp all this week. Not the “let’s go and march around and get skin cancer” band camp, but the “let’s go to every sporting event on campus” band camp. Yep, I’m in the pep band. Possibly one of the most time consuming musical groups I have ever been in, but I go to every basketball game on campus and most of the other sport games, so it’s fun.
Anyway, not a great day. I did a masterclass today and there was chair placement auditions for ensemble as well. The last month I have been wondering what the hell I was supposed to be playing for this and all I got word of was prepare scales, arpeggios, and sight reading. So, that’s what I’ve been doing. Well, there was prepared music for this lovely audition, which I never received. I was told they sent it to me, but I have looked through my spam and multiple emails trying to find this music that was sent to me. I was also told I was asked on facebook if I received this music. Not only did I not receive the music, but I never got the facebook message either. I have looked through my archives and history for this message…nada. 
Needless to say I am aggravated. I have a great passion for music, and take it very seriously, and always prepare to the greatest possible extent for my auditions. I ended up going into this blind and sight read, and orchestral excerpt and other two other difficult pieces. I was beyond embarrassed with my audition. Who knows what is going to happen. I’m in the mood that if I could drop the class I would.

No recipe today, just needing somewhere to vent. I will try and be back on schedule next week. 

Strawberry Mousse: Strawberries, and more Strawberries, Strawberries Part 2

So back to the story about all the strawberries I bought. Two pounds down from Strawberry Juice Syrup I made. One more down with a yummy strawberry mousse recipe I found on Recipe.com. Now this may not be news to everyone else, but did you know mousse has raw egg whites in it??? ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA. I’ve been eating mousse this whole time and had no idea, but I also have eaten cookie dough my whole life and known about that. Now, granted, there are egg white substitutes you could use in it, but after researching it, I found some tips when using raw eggs for consumption (who would have thought I would ever say that).
1. Don’t wash the egg.

Now I don’t wash my eggs, but I know some people do, especially when they are going to separate eggs like this recipe calls for. It can spread the bacteria over the whole egg just like when you wash raw chicken, which you’re also not supposed to do. Fun Fact: America is the ONLY country that refrigerates their eggs. It’s because we (America) wash our eggs after the chicken lays them and that washing off the protective barrier and starts letting air into the eggs through the porous shell. I know this probably grosses and terrifies people at the same time (Salmonella etc.), but think about it. When a chicken lays an egg, the farmer isn’t going to have an alarm that goes off so that the egg can be taken and refrigerated right then. It’s going to sit outside for a while and we use those eggs every day. They could sit at room temperature until we use them if they hadn’t been washed. It’s more aesthetically pleasing to us to not have a dirty egg. If you go to the farmer’s market and find someone selling eggs, ask them if they wash them before and discuss it with them. Vendors at the farmers market love when the customer asks questions about their product; if they are annoyed, I wouldn’t buy from them. Why now answer questions if you have nothing to hide?

2. Don’t use the egg shell for separating the yolk from the whites.

Now again I don’t do this because I find I break more yolks this way. I have a nifty little Tupperware egg separator that I got from my momma that is probably older than I am. You can find these on amazon and ebay still. I think Tupperware discontinued them. I found plenty of results by typing in Tupperware Egg Separator. Anyway when you move the egg yolk back and forth between the two shells, you actually make it more likely to get Salmonella because that bacteria is kept on the shell and since the membrane has been broken when you crack the egg, it can now make contact with the shell.4

3. Salmonella is typically found in the yolk.

Well nothing to worry about with this recipe because it’s all egg whites, but there is still a chance the Salmonella is in the whites as well. 

Well, now that I have  made you paranoid about raw eggs and how to handle them here is the recipe for a delicious Strawberry Mousse.

Strawberry Mousse

1 egg white or 4 tsp of powdered egg whites

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup white sugar

2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped

Place the egg white and warm water in a mixing bowl. Now whip at high speed for two minutes using a whisk attachment until the mixtures is light and foamy.

Gradually whisk in the sugar and fresh strawberries at medium speed. Once all the strawberries and sugar are added, gradually move the speed back to high speed and whip until mixture fills the bowl.

Transfer to your serving bowl and freeze for 4 hours.

To serve, remove from the freezer and garnish with fresh fruit. I used strawberries and bananas.

 

Strawberries, Strawberries, and more Strawberries

I grew up eating an immense amount of strawberries as kid. We had a strawberry patch in our backyard and during the summer I would eat them straight from the garden, unwashed (oh no!) Yea, I did pretty much all those things that have been shunned now, including drinking out of the hose *gasp*!
Anyway back to the strawberries; that is the what this post is all about anyway hence the title. When I moved out of the house after graduation and to Pensacola where Papa Bear was stationed at the time, I found out the cold, hard truth. Strawberries cost a lot! Sure $2.50 per pound doesn’t seem like a lot to some people, but to someone who has NEVER paid for strawberries before, it’s a lot. Even now i cringe at paying $2 for a pound of strawberries.
When I was at Fry’s I picked up strawberries on sale for $.98 per pound! Woot to that! I bought four pounds, which was the limit. Only problem with that was figuring out how to eat that many strawberries before they go bad. It wouldn’t be too hard if Papa Bear was here, but with him gone and Starbuck only on boobie juice still, it was all up to me. I found a recipe for syrup for strawberry juice on Diethood.com that I altered a little bit. Well, not much , I only replaced the white sugar with coconut palm sugar. I love coconut palm sugar and it’s not refined either so it makes your sweets a little bit more “healthy.”

Strawberry Syrup

2 cups strawberries, halved
1 1/2 cups sugar
Glass Container (I used a pint mason jar)

Place half of the strawberries in a large bowl; cover with 1-cup of sugar. Add the remaining strawberries and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for 24 hours.

Transfer the berries and the juice into a large saucepan. Preheat the oven to 170°.Wash the glass bottle; place it on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for 30 minutes. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil; turn the heat down and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Using a spatula, press the strawberries against the mesh strainer to release all the juices.

Remove glass bottle from the oven. Sterilize the  jar flat and ring by placing it in a bowl and pour boiling water right over it.   Pour the juice into the container. Seal and and let completely cool. Store in refrigerator

Diethood used 1/4 cup of syrup per cup of water. I used a little less and just add fresh strawberries to mine. I also stir a couple tablespoons into milk for some yummy strawberry milk, which was a favorite of mine to have at Grandma’s house. Loved this recipe and loved how nostalgic it was!

Using up the Veggies- How Made up Nonsense Turned into A Beautiful Thing

As I already mentioned before. I had to be creative often, which I think stems into why I love cooking so much in the first place. I love creating anything! I just happen to be better at doing it with food than with a paint brush or pencil.

This dish is essentially a veggie stir fry that consisted of all the vegetables that needed to be used soon or they were going to be wasted. I hate wasting anything; I get it from my mother. That woman keeps every milk jug and glass jar to use for something, but I wouldn’t call her a hoarder. Unlike a hoarder, she actually ends up using it; it could be used for an art project or to can with or for storage. She is one crafty lady.

I’m going to give you guys the recipe for this because it was so scrumptious! Again, this is a base recipe; be creative with it; have fun! But if you happen to be one of those people who have to stick to the recipe, it won’t hurt to do so. This is a great Farmers Market meal because you never know what you’re going to find!

Using up the Veggies Stir Fry

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 Olive Oil

1 bunch of asparagus, cut in half

1 red bell pepper chunked

8 oz mushrooms, quartered

Splash of red wine vinegar

Splash of worcestershire sauce

Couple Shakes of Mrs. Dash Original

Preheat your skillet over medium high heat and drizzle the pan with olive oil. Add in all your vegetables and season with red wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and Mrs. Dash. Continuously stir until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. (I love mine al dente). And your done! this takes about 10 minutes including cutting up the veggies. A veggie stir fry makes a perfect, quick summertime meal.

Pork Chop Mozzarella Bake

I was needing a cheap meal to make for a couple friends when they come over and was flipping through my recipes on Microsoft Word and came across this lovely piece of work Pork Chop Mozzarella Bake! I remember making this an Papa Bear’s dad joking about this being why Papa Bear didn’t pass his PT (Physical Test). More Navy goodness…yay! 

This is a great recipe for the winter or a cold day. It’s also great for when you need to throw a delicious family meal into the oven and get some more work done. It’s funny how when I made this all I had was the box of noodles that are three different colors. I refused to eat these as a kid, well at least the green ones because “I didn’t like them,” even though the color doesn’t change the flavor. It amuses me the reasons kids refuse to eat things. It’s going to be an adventure when going through this with little Starbuck.

Pork Chop Mozzarella Bake

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1 lb box of your favorite pasta

Olive Oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 boneless pork chops

1 jar of red pasta sauce

2 cups mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350º. Bring a pot of water on to boil and salt the water to season the pasta. Boil the pasta until it is al dente. The time is going to depend on what type of pasta. Rotini like I used in the picture is going to take about 8 minutes.

Drizzle olive oil into a preheated skillet and saute the minced garlic until it is golden brown. Add the pork chops., season with salt and pepper, and braise them. Get the them golden brown on each side and then add a little bit of water to the pan and put a lid on them and cook until no longer pink in the middle. 

Pour the pasta into a 13×9 inch casserole dish and pour 2/3 of the pasta sauce onto the noodles. Place the cooked pork chops on top of the noodles and spoon the rest of the pasta sauce onto the pork chops. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top of the pork chops and noodles and place in the oven for about  minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve with a salad and enjoy!

Cheesy Potato Breakfast Skillet and Chopped

When Papa Bear was in the Navy, there was no telling when he would be home. He could surprise me and be home at noon before I could even have laundry finished or he could not be home until 8. I will not eat without Papa Bear. Eating as a family was numero uno when I was growing up and it’s something that I want to continue with our little family. He on the other hand not so much. His parents don’t even have a table to eat at…umm no! You have to have a table to eat dinner at! No questions asked. Anyway, I digress. Not knowing when Papa Bear was going to be home meant I either had to do a lot of prep for every night (which isn’t a bad thing) or be able to make a tasty home cooked meal in less than 30 minutes. Needing to stretch every penny to get groceries because unlike what is seen to be common knowledge the military doesn’t make a lot of money and there was always at least one more person over for dinner, I had to be creative often! I played Chopped like the Bravo TV show towards the end of paychecks to make a meal.

This Potato Breakfast Skillet is one of them. I always have potatoes and cheese on hand because they can be added to anything to stretch a meal and make it bigger. This recipe is no sweat to cook or prep, it hides a veggie (carrots)  and best of all it is yummy!

Cheesy Potato Breakfast Skillet

Serves 5-6

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3 tbsp butter

2 garlic cloves

10 potatoes, diced small

2 tsp dried sage

Salt and pepper for taste

3 carrots. scraped

5 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper

1 cup Mexican cheese, shredded

     Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the garlic until is it is beginning to turn gold. Put the potatoes in the diced potatoes in the skillet, season with sage, salt and pepper, and stir.

Cut the carrots into chunks and put through a food processor until the tiny! This is how you hide the carrots and so they cook quickly. Add the carrots to the potato mix and stir.

When the potatoes are tender add the eggs to the skillet and stir until the eggs are just slightly runny and well mixed into the potatoes. Turn off the burner and sprinkle cheese over the top of the potato mixture and put a lid on top. When the cheese is melted serve and enjoy.

This meal is good by itself, but it very forgiving! If you like green peppers, add them! If you want to add breakfast sausage or bacon, do it! This was one of my Chopped ideas that has become a staple and has been improvised many times! This is just the base recipe and you can do whatever you want to make this your own! Enjoy!