Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Safe Way to Thaw Meat

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Cook's Illustrated magazine!  

I have watched America's Test Kitchen on PBS for a long time.....I LOVE this cooking show and have wanted a subscription to Cook's Illustrated magazine but did not want to spend the money.  

So, Cook's Illustrated finally sent me an offer that I could not resist.  And now I can't wait for each magazine to arrive in my mailbox.

Have you ever wondered if the way you thaw meat for dinner the next day is the best way to do it?  You are not alone.

Cook's Illustrated wrote the following "Kitchen Notes" that I want to share with you.

"A Hot (Water) Trick for Thawing Meat"
When meat is thawed overnight on the counter top harmful bacteria grows on the meat.  (So, if you have cooked dinner, had a stomach ache a few hours later, this might have been the culprit.)

There are 2 ways to thaw meat that will prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Method 1
If you are wanting to thaw a thick cut of meat (1 inch or greater) place the cut of meat in the refrigerator.  If it is a thinner cut of meat, place the meat on a heavy cast-iron or steel pan at room temperature.  The metal's rapid heat transfer will safely thaw the meat in about 1 hour.

Method 2 (the better one  :-)  )
Place the cut of meat you are wanting to thaw (chicken, steaks, chops, cutlets or fish fillets) in a glass bowl or dish.  Bring 4-5 cups of water to a boil in a tea kettle or on top of the stove (more depending on what size of a water pan you are using).  Use a stainless steel soup pan or dutch oven, pour the boiling water in the soup pan or dutch even.  Then place the glass bowl or dish in to the boiling water.  Cover with lid.  I think it took these 2 pretty thick chicken breasts about 20 minutes to completely thaw, which was a little too long as the chicken slightly started to cook.

Note:  Large roasts or whole birds are not suitable for hot thawing because in the time it would take them to thaw bacteria would begin to grow.

Information from Cook's Illustrated magazine January/February 2012 pg 30.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Clothes Line in your House

So, I have never been a "hang your clothes out on the clothes line because they come back in smelling oh so good" girl.  Nope.  My grandparents always did.  I hated how stiff my clothes felt (we never threw the clothes back in the dryer to soften them, don't know why).  I would cringe would my grandmother would bring the clothes in the house, knowing how much I as going to dislike that feeling of super stiff clothes.

Me personally, now that I am and adult, I don't want a bird pooping on them.  I just washed them, I don't want to wash them again.  Plus, there is snow on the ground right now.  Not exactly the perfection situation for hanging clothes outside, right?  :-)

So, we came up with another idea.......

We found these at Wal-Mart.  We had to do "site-to-store" to get them.  We could not find them in the store.  I am giving you the link for 2 different ones.  They look different than mine, so I hope they are as durable as mine.  

1.  This one is 20 feet. Choice 1.
2.  This one is 40 feet Choice 2.

Just make sure you lock the rope in well, making it as tight as you can, otherwise you will hang your clothes and they will touch the floor instead of staying up in the air like they should.  

Initially we bought one clothes line.  After hanging it and using it I decided I needed a second one.  :-)  I LOVE my indoor clothes line.  It saves us money when it comes to time our clothes spend in the dryer and if you are like us and have a lot of clothes we like to air dry, this method eliminates the 20 pieces of clothing lying all over the house.

Note:  I have found that if I place my clothes in the dryer on 5 minutes dry and 5 minutes cool and then hang them on the line they are not stiff.  Or you can hang them straight from the washer and toss them in the dryer on air fluff if they are stiff. 

(Additional side note: now that I am making my own Homemade Laundry Detergent my clothes are not as stiff as they used to be in the first place.  I have read that most commercial laundry detergent and softener stay behind in your clothes deteriorating them and making them stiff.)

Happy clothes line and clothes hanging!  :-)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Turkey Breakfast Burrito from The Biggest Loser

I thought this recipe looked pretty good.  Let me know if you try it.  I'm planning on trying it for our Saturday morning breakfast.  


Makes: 8 servings 
Prep time: 10 minutes 
Total time: Under 30 minutes

Burrito Turkey Mix 

1-1/4 pounds extra lean ground turkey breast
1/2 cup wheat bran, if desired
1-1/2 cups canned black beans (Eden Organic brand if using canned or use dried beans....NO BPA this way.)
1/2 cup unsweetened organic apple sauce
1/2 cup organic green bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup organic red bell peppers, diced
1 egg + 1 egg white, free range and organic if you can
1 teaspoon chili powder
1-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1-1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1-1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt, if desired
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

*Optional Convenience Tip: Replace all spices with Annie's Eats Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe (another great blog!) 

Mix all seasonings really well into turkey breast. Then put in the egg, egg white, apple sauce and the wheat bran, and stir very well. Let it sit for half an hour or overnight covered in the refrigerator, minimum 15 minutes. Spray the pan, add the ground turkey mix, brown it and break it up into pieces with a wooden spatula while in the pan. Add chopped bell peppers and sauté with meat for about 5 minutes, continuously breaking up the turkey into smaller pieces. Drain the beans, and then add to the pan. Cook for another 2 - 3 minutes. 

Optional Add-ons:
  • 1 ounce shredded light cheddar cheese (45 - 60 calories) (no Rbgh in the cheese)
  • Fresh Salsa (Meijer makes a great organic salsa in glass)
  • Guacamole
  • Lime Juice
  • Hot Sauce to taste
Spray pan with cooking spray and scramble 2 egg whites. (34 calories, 7grams protein) 

Serve with one of the following:
  • 2 organic corn tortillas or 1 large whole wheat tortilla (80 calories, 5 grams fiber)
  • 1 piece whole grain toast (80 calories, 5 grams fiber)
Add 1/2 cup fresh raspberries (32 calories, 4 grams fiber)

TOTAL for the entire dish (Burrito, side of egg whites, raspberries):
296 calories, 14 grams fiber, 29 grams protein 

Nutrition Label per 1 serving of burrito filling:

Versatility and Portability of this Recipe
  • This turkey mix recipe is a protein-packed staple with great versatility and portability. Make a batch, use half for the breakfast burrito and save the rest for other quick and easy meals. Or cook half as burrito mix and make turkey patties with the rest. The possibilities are endless!
  • Wrap a patty in tin foil, pair it with a fruit and you've got the perfect on-the-go snack solution. (Same thing people do with string cheese).
  • Use the turkey patty as a healthy protein to add to a green salad for lunch.
  • Pack some of the turkey mix in tupperware and also use it to top a salad for a quick and healthy lunch.
  • Make patties in bulk in advance and freeze them, wrapping each one separately, so you have several quick prep on-the-go meals on hand. A few minutes in the microwave and they're ready to be eaten on your way out the door.
  • Keep some leftovers for dinner. Add some brown rice and cooked vegetables, and you've got a perfectly balanced, healthy and delicious meal.

Adapted from The Biggest Loser NBC Website (My changes are use organic where you can.  And know where your meat comes from.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Soup

Ok, so I will have to admit it......I Kerri, have not gone 100% can free in my house. 

Whew, that feels better to get that off of my chest.  I have tried and failed.  I should not say fail, there are less cans in the house, but there still are cans.  So, yes I still have a few cans of things in my pantry.  And half of them are BPA free.  I found the line Eden Organic.  All of their cans are BPA free.  Pretty cool, huh'?  But after tonight, there will be one less of the bad cans, for sure.

So, I was planning to make this cheeseburger pasta dish that we all love.  I went to the pantry and I could not find a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup.  I panicked, crap, this was the plan, now what was I going to cook?  Then I remembered a recipe I had found a long time ago and had done nothing with it, except for file it away in my binder labeled Healthy Recipes.  I am laughing, I am not sure cheddar cheese soup is "healthy" but my goal in starting this binder was to find ways to replace the foods we were eating with ones that were healthier for us, here not buying this soup in a can was healthier to me.  

So, anyway, I dug out this recipe, made it in no time and it is delish!

Here it is....

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Soup
3 tbsp organic butter (Meijer makes organic butter that we love)
3 tbsp unbleached organic all purpose flour (King Arthur is my fav)
1 cup organic milk
1 cup organic or at least rBGH free shredded cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a stainless steel saucepan over medium-low heat; add flour and whisk until smooth and bubbly.  Remove form heat; gradually add milk, whisking to keep smooth.  Return to heat and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly until thickened.  Add cheese and stir until melted.  Add salt. Sooo easy and sooo much better than from the can.  Enjoy!!