Jan 252015

Now, I’ve been eating Chinese take-out since I was a little girl. In fact, whenever I order pork fried rice, it brings me back to the early 1960’s, where I found the best ever pork fried rice at the Salisbury Beach amusement park in Salisbury, Massachusetts. It has been my mission to find a pork fried rice that can compare to that little Chinese take-out stand at Salisbury Beach. I haven’t found one, yet, but I have come close.

Chinese Food StandNot the one from my childhood, but still brings back happy memories

In the early 60s, we spent a few Summer vacations at Salisbury Beach. It was in a small coastal town named Salisbury, Massachusetts, just south of the New Hampshire border. It had one of the best Amusement Parks, second to my favorite, Paragon Park in Nantasket Beach, MA. My favorite attraction of all at Salisbury Beach was the Scrambler. The operator would let me ride it as many times as I wanted without having to buy a ticket; I could ride that thing all day.

Salisbury Beach Fun-A-RamaSalisbury Beach Fun-A-Rama
The Scrambler RideThe Scrambler Ride
Salisbury Beach FunlandSalisbury Beach Funland

At the time, my mother was working at the Kon Tiki Lounge in Salisbury Beach. They used to have some of the best celebrities come to visit and perform. I’ll never forget the time my mom let us in to see Bobby Vinton sing Roses are Red. That was so cool!

Anyway, I digress big time! I started to post about the cool trick I learned to do with a Chinese Take-Out Box with the metal handle. You know the one I mean, right? This trick has probably been around for generations, but I just found out about it recently. Every now and then, I would prefer to just pop the container into the microwave, but because of the metal handle, it can’t be microwaved. I was afraid that if I tried to remove the handle, the whole thing would fall apart. So, I would have to find a plate or bowl, scoop out the contents of the container onto a plate, which is just one more plate to clean.

One day, it might have been on Facebook, I saw a post about how to convert the take-out box into a microwavable plate. When the handle is removed and the box opened, it flattens out into a heavy duty paper plate! Unbelievable!

Chinese Take-Out Box with HandleChinese Take-Out Box with Handle
Opening a Chinese Take-Out BoxOpening a Chinese Take-out Box
Unhook handle from box flapUnhook handle from the box flaps
Chinese Take-Out Box PlateVoila! Instant microwavable plate!
Chinese Take-Out Box Plate

Check out my recipe for Pork Fried Rice – Click Here

Nov 182014

Fresh Baked Sub RollsI took my recipe for My Favorite Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns to see if I could also make good hoagie/sub rolls. I was looking for something similar to Subway’s white sub rolls, not hard and crusty, but with a softer crust, and light rather than too dense.

So, here’s what I did.

Following the same recipe for my bread and bun, using the 3-cups of flour method, I divided the dough in half. I used the first half for five hamburger buns, and the other half for two hoagie rolls. Since I needed hamburger buns, I figured this was a good time to experiment with the sub rolls. If these turned out the way I hoped they would, I will use the 6-cups of flour method next time and make 8 sub rolls. My bread and buns freeze beautifully, so I’m sure these would, too. You can even cut them in half and get twice as many 6-inch sub rolls.

I formed the dough for the sub rolls into two 10-inch long loaves. The end resulted in 11″ sub rolls, so I would suggest making them 12″ long if you want foot-long sub rolls. I baked them for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, as soon as they came out of the oven I brushed the tops of them with melted butter, and covered them with a dish towel, letting them sit to cool for 30 minutes. The steam and the butter is what softens the crust, so this step is very important.

Sub Rolls Rising
Fresh Baked Sub Rolls

Sub Roll Sliced
Fresh Baked Sub Roll Sliced Open

As you can see from the above photos, I need more practice with the shaping. 🙂 The finished product was approximately 11″ long, but if it were shaped a little better, it would be a good 12″ long sub roll.

These came out wonderful! The bread was buttery, light and fluffy, and the crust soft.

I wasn’t sure when I’d get a chance to make a sub, so I put the rolls in the freezer. Next morning, all I could think about was trying the sub roll, so I took it out of the freezer to thaw.

I stopped at Kroger’s deli and bought some Black Forest Ham, Genoa Salami, and Provolone cheese. I couldn’t wait! By lunch time, the bread was thawed, and just as soft and fluffy as when I placed it in the freezer the day before. So, I started gathering all the ingredients for my version of an Italian sub.

Sub Ingredients:

My Delicious Fresh Sub Rolls (recipe below)
Black Forest Ham
Genoa Salami
Provolone Cheese
Red Wine Oil & Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

There you have it. Here are some photos of my masterpiece:

Add MayoLots of mayo – Yum!
Add HamBlack Forest Ham

Add SalamiGenoa Salami
Add ProvoloneProvolone Cheese

The WorksThe Works
Half of an Italian SubI could barely eat half!

This sub was so delicious, I don’t even remember what Subway tastes like! 🙂

Italian Herb and Cheese Sub Rolls

Okay, so the next day I decided to try the Subway recipe for their Italian Herbs and Cheese topping for the sub rolls. I used my recipe for the rolls, and added the herbs and cheese as shown below:

Make 1/8Make 1/8″ slit down center of sub roll
Fill center with herbs and cheese mixtureFill center with herbs and cheese mixture, spread over top
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hourCover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour

Make 1/8Baked Italian Herbs and Cheese Sub Rolls

Oh, my goodness! I wish you could smell these. When my husband came home from work he said it smelled like Subway!

These came out a little bit wide, between 3″ and 4″. It really does take practice to get the rolls the right width and length, and not letting it rise for too long. I’d say the second rise should be for 45 minutes to an hour max. I have adjusted the above directions accordingly.

I just made half a sub with the Italian Herbs and Cheese bread. I made seafood salad and placed it on the bread with provolone cheese. I placed it in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes to toast it a little. Then I added lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayo and oil & vinegar. OMG! It was so good. I ate it before I could snap a photo. *blush*

Following is a revised recipe for my Fresh Sub Rolls:

Printable recipe without images:

This recipe was originally adapted from Allrecipes’ Chef John’s Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Buns recipes, as well as King Arthur Flour’s Buttery Hot Dog Buns.

The Italian herbs and cheese topping was adapted from http://www.copycatrecipeguide.com/How_to_Make_Subway_Italian_Herbs_and_Cheese_Bread. They also have the recipe for Subway’s bread at http://www.copycatrecipeguide.com/How_to_Make_Subway_Bread

Check out my post, I’m Re-Learning How To Make Bread, for some tips that I picked up while re-learning how to make bread. The information that I came across helped me understand how each ingredient affects bread baking. It is from this research that I developed “My Favorite Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns” Recipe. See post for more detailed instructions and images.

Sep 092014

I can’t tell you how delicious these buns are. You are just going to have to trust me and try them yourself. They came out just as I hoped. Light, fluffy, and sweet. The texture is perfect and won’t fall apart. This recipe makes a nice loaf of bread and dinner rolls, too.

Making the Dough:

In large mixing bowl, dissolve sugar in water. Sprinkle yeast on top and stir. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, until foamy.

Dissolve sugarDissolve sugar in warm water
Sprinkle yeast on topAdd yeast and stir
Let sit until foamyLet sit until foamy, 10 to 15 minutes

Whisk into yeast mixture eggs, salt, milk, and melted butter (always measure butter after it is melted).

Add eggsAdd eggs
Add saltAdd salt
Add milkAdd milk
Add melted butterAdd melted butter

Stir all liquid ingredients. Add potato flour/flakes, and all-purpose flour, one cup at a time. Mix well, pulling dough away from sides of bowl and form into ball.

Stir liquid ingredientsStir all liquid ingredients
Add potato flour or flakesAdd potato flour or flakes
Add flour one cup at a timeAdd flour one cup at a time
Mix well, pulling dough from sides of bowl and form into a ballMix well and form into a ball

Place bowl in stand mixer with dough hooks. Knead for 5 minutes, stopping to manually scrape dry flour mixture into the center, and until dough is soft and sticky (sweetened dough does not require as much kneading). Otherwise, knead by hand for 8 minutes. If the dough sticks to a silicone spatula add a little more flour.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. I use my new Norpro Silicone Pastry Mat with Measurements. Dough will be sticky and elastic but will not stick to your fingers.

Knead a few times, fold and form dough into a round ball, tucking loose ends underneath.

Using dough hooks, knead for 5 minutesUsing dough hooks, knead for 5 minutes
Kneaded doughKneaded dough
Transfer dough to floured surfaceTransfer kneaded dough to flour surface
Knead a few times, fold and form into a ballKnead a few times, fold and form into a ball

Wipe out stand mixer bowl and drizzle or spray bowl with olive oil. Turn dough over until thinly coated with oil on all sides. Cover bowl with foil, plastic wrap or a towel (not terry cloth). Let dough rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size. For the 3-cup flour recipe, I like to use an 8-cup Pyrex measuring bowl so I can see how much it has risen. With my large stand mixer bowl, the 6-cup flour recipe rises to above the top of the bowl (see photo). Punch down (let the air out) and transfer risen dough from bowl to floured work surface. Divide in half.

Spray bowl with oilClean bowl, spray or drizzle with oil
Place dough in bowl and turn to oil all sides
Set in a warm place and let sit 1 to 2 hours, until doubled.
Punch down downPunch down dough

Weighing and Dividing the Dough

I weighed the dough using my EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale. It weighed 3.7 lbs., or approximately 60 ounces. Then, using my pastry scraper/chopper, I divided this into two sections, 30 ounces for the hot dog buns, and 30 ounces for the hamburger buns. That comes out to approx. 3 oz. per hot dog bun, and 3 oz. per hamburger bun, maybe a little less.

Weighing the doughWeighing the dough
Dividing the doughDividing the dough

Directions for Hot Dog Buns

First of all, I am making New England style hot dog buns. If you are familiar with Howard Johnson’s buttery grilled hot dog buns, you’ll know what they are. Unlike regular hot dog buns that are rolled up into individual tube-shaped buns, these are baked in one long rectangle, then sliced on both sides and grilled, along side the hot dogs.

I just bought a New England style hotdog pan specifically for this recipe. As you can see from the photo, the pan has 10 sections on the bottom, which you don’t see when the dough is spread into the pan.

So, like I said, instead of rolling up individual buns, I rolled out the 30-ounce section of dough into a long rectangle, 6″ x 15″. I placed the dough into the pan, pushing it into all four corners, and leveling it as much as I could. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 25 to 45 minutes, or until the dough reaches the top of the pan.

Hot dog buns rising

Hot dog buns rising

Brush melted butter along the top of the buns. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let the pan sit for 10 minutes, and then turn it out onto a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely.

As you can see from the photos below, the bottom of the buns becomes the top, and the top becomes the bottom. The buns rose a bit more than I expected, so after they cooled, I trimmed off some of the excess. They still turned out pretty good. Slice buns along indentations. Then, slice down the center of each bun, but not all the way.

Hot dog buns top

When turned out of pan, the bottom becomes the top

Slice each bun down center

Slice each bun along indentations, and then again down the center but not all the way through

To grill hot dog buns, brush all sides with melted butter and place on grill or skillet, along side hot dogs, and grill until nice and toasty. Then, brush inside of each bun with melted butter, add grilled hot dog and favorite condiments. These grilled hot dogs are so good! I will never buy another hot dog bun again.

New England Style Hot DogGrilled New England Style Hot Dog

I was dying to try one of these with a lobster roll.

Half-eaten Grilled New England Lobster Roll
Grilled New England Lobster Roll –
I always forget to snap the photo before I start eating it *blush*.

If You Prefer Nicer Looking Buns:

Okay, so afte reading an article about the New England Style Hot Dog Buns at The Fresh Loaf, I decided to give this a try. It is much more time consuming, but I have to admit the buns look very nice. They are rounded, instead of flat, since you don’t have to flip them over like you do with the New England Style Hot Dog Pan method, which is its intended use.

I rolled out a long rectangle, placed it in the greased hot dog pan, patting it down and into the corners. I then turned out the dough onto my pastry mat and divided them along the indented grooves. Very clever, I thought.:)

I then rolled each piece into a tube, pinched the ends and seams, and placed each one into each groove of the pan seam side down.

I baked them for 15 minutes. I remove them from oven and immediately brushed the tops with melted butter. I placed a dish towel over it and let sit for 30 minutes. The steam and the butter is what softens the crust, so this step is very important.

Hot Dug Buns

Directions for Hamburger Buns

Form the 30-ounce section of dough into a rectangle approx. 1/2″ thick. Cut into 10 pieces using a 3-1/2″ cookie cutter. These fit my muffin-top pan perfectly, except that it only holds 6 buns at a time. I was able to make four more with the remaining dough.

Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 25 to 45 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.

Hamburger buns after rising 45 minutes.

Hamburger buns after rising 45 minutes.

Whisk one egg with 2 tablespoons of water and brush top of buns with egg mixture. This will give it a nice shiny glow.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack and serve warm or cool completely before freezing.

Hamburger and New England style hot dog buns

Hamburger and New England style hot dog buns

If you choose to bake bread instead of buns, follow these directions:

Directions for One Loaf of Sandwich Bread

Form 30-ounce section of dough into a loaf, approximately 9″ x 5″. Place into lightly oiled loaf pan. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let dough rise again for about 30 minutes, until it rises about one inch above the loaf pan.

Whisk one egg with 2 tablespoons of water and brush top of loaf with egg mixture. This will give it a nice shiny glow.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack and serve warm or cool completely before freezing.

Printable recipe without images:

This recipe was adapted from Allrecipes’ Chef John’s Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Buns recipes, as well as King Arthur Flour’s Buttery Hot Dog Buns

Check out my post, I’m Re-Learning How To Make Bread, for some tips that I picked up in the last week or so while I have been re-learning how to make bread. The information that I came across helped me understand how each ingredient affects bread baking. It is from this research that I developed “My Favorite Hamburger and Hot Dog Bun Recipe.”

Sep 042014
Braided Bread

French Bread Braid

It has probably been over 30 years since I made bread.

When I decided to make bread again, just a week ago, I found what I thought was a decent bread recipe and took the plunge. I found a simple Amish White Bread recipe on Allrecipes.com. It called for 6 simple ingredients: Water, sugar, active dry yeast, salt, vegetable oil, and bread flour. All of which are ingredients that I already had in my pantry. I don’t remember why I had the yeast, but it was there, too.

But, hold on a second…

Bread flour? Hmm, all I had in my pantry was self-rising flour. I use it for my batter when I’m frying coconut shrimp, fried fish, or onion rings. I asked myself, “What’s the difference?” I mean, self-rising flour sounds to me like it would make the bread rise, right?

My First Attempt at Baking Bread

So, following the directions for Amish White Bread to a tee, except for the self-rising flour, that is, I proofed the yeast with warm water and sugar, and that was successful. I added the remaining ingredients, salt, oil, flour. I rolled it out onto a cutting board and kneaded it for what seemed like forever, approximately 10 minutes. I placed it in a greased bowl, covered it with a dish towel, and let it rise for an hour. I punched it down (in other words, I let the air out), kneaded it for a few more minutes and divided it in half. I then shaped one half into a loaf, and placed it on a baking sheet (would you believe, I hadn’t used a loaf pan in years and it got lost in the last move). I covered it with plastic wrap and let it rise for 30 minutes. Then, I placed the baking sheet into a 350 degree oven and baked it for 30 minutes. Easy, peasy, right? Actually, it really is easy, it’s just that it can be time-consuming, with all the kneading and rising, and kneading some more, and shaping, and more rising…well, you get the idea. It’s best to start early, and then, while the bread is rising, I just go about my business getting other work done.

Finally! My beautiful loaf of bread was done. I removed it from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I then turned it out of the pan onto the wire rack and let it cool completely.

I never did take a picture of it. I wasn’t even thinking of documenting my experiment and posting it on my blog. What was I thinking?

The bread was very dense, not soft and fluffy like bread should be, and it was hard and crumbly and just fell apart. I used the other half to form three hoagie rolls and baked them, too. But, those turned out just as bad. I did take the following photo of the hoagie rolls that came from the same batch of dough. You can probably see from the photo that the bread is more like shortbread, dry, hard, dense and crumbly.

It just goes to show you, one little mistake, like using the wrong flour, can ruin the whole recipe. 🙁

Also, that was the only time I tried kneading my bread by hand.

If at first you don’t succeed…

So, back to the drawing board, or should I say bread board? I thought, before I try again, I should do a little research – ya think? The following tips that I picked up in the last few days helped me understand how each ingredient affects bread baking. For instance,


The standard for making bread is Bread Flour. Other flour can be substituted for part or all of the bread flour. Just remember that white bread flour contains the most gluten, which makes bread rise higher. Other flours will make bread more dense and will not rise as much. And, as I found out from my first attempt at baking bread just the other day, self-rising flour has the least amount of gluten. Flour that contains very little or no gluten must be added to part bread four. For example, rice and corn flour have no gluten. Other flours include whole wheat, rye, oat, soy, and others.

Many of the recipes that I found use all-purpose flour. This seems to be a good substitute for bread flour if that’s all you have in the cupboard. I used all-purpose flour in my next couple of experiments, since that’s what the recipes called for. See a photo of my hamburger and hot dog buns below. They were so much fun to make, but still need some practice. 🙂

Potato Flour/Potato Flakes

According to King Arthur Flour, “Potato flour, ground from peeled, dried potatoes, is invaluable to bakers looking for a moist yeast bread with excellent shelf life. Breads and rolls made with potato flour have a soft, moist texture that’s hard to match. Potato flour also makes dough easier to shape and handle; it increases its extensibility… The starch in potato flour attracts and holds water; substitute 1/4 cup of potato flour for 1/4 cup of the flour per loaf.” I used mashed potato flakes since I didn’t have any potato flour. The ratio would be to add 1/4 cup potato flour or 2/3 cup instant mashed potato flakes per 3-cup flour recipe.

Active Dry Yeast

Most of the recipes I’ve found, so far, call for active dry yeast. I used the packaged kind, which should be mixed with warm water and sugar before it is used. One package of active dry yeast equals 7 grams, 1/4 ounce, or 2-1/4 teaspoons. One 1/4 ounce package of active dry yeast is good for 1 or 2 loaves of bread (3-1/2 to 6-1/2 cups of flour). Whether it is required or not, I prefer to proof my yeast to make sure that it is active. In most cases, fast-rising or instant yeast can be used without proofing first. A container of active dry yeast must be well sealed and refrigerated or frozen.

To proof yeast: In the same bowl that you will use to make your dough, start by adding hot tap water (temperature must be between 105 and 115 degrees) and whisk sugar until dissolved. Sprinkle yeast on top and stir. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, until it looks foamy. The water must be warm in order to activate the yeast, but if it is too hot it will kill the yeast.


Fat added to bread dough will inhibit the formation of gluten. The bread will not rise as much as a loaf made without fat. On the upside, fat, especially butter and olive oil, add a lot of flavor to the bread. Butter keeps the crumb tender and will improve the shelf life by a day or so. Almost any fat can be added to a bread dough, such as butter, margarine, vegetable oil, olive oil, and shortening.


Eggs added to dough help with rising. Eggs are a leavening agent and will make the bread dough rise very high. Also, the fat from the egg yolk will help tenderize the crumb and lighten the texture a bit.


When proofing the dough, the yeast eats some of the sugar. Adding a little extra sugar will add flavor and sweetness to the bread. It also helps with browning, tenderizing and holds onto moisture to help keep from getting stale. However, too much sugar will inhibit gluten production which, of course, will become more dense and won’t rise as much. Therefore, try to keep the sugar to a minimum using approximately 2 tbsp of sugar per cup of flour. In most of the breads that I have made lately, I have used 2 to 3 tbsp of sugar for 3-cups of flour (one loaf). Also, for added moisture, you could try adding honey, maple syrup, or molasses.


Always use the recommended amount of salt. Salt helps strengthen the gluten. Too much salt will affect the way the yeast works.


Milk vs. Water?

Substituting milk for water will produce a sweeter, more tender loaf of bread. The sugar in milk, which is lactose, is not eaten by the yeast, so it is left to add more sweetness to the bread. It also adds some nutritional value because of the additional protein. The bread will also assist in browning the bread.

When researching milk vs. water, I read that using milk instead of water will produce a slack and softened bread with minimum oven spring. Apparently, it includes an agent known as Glutathione, which will reduce your bread to a soft dough. We must first destroy this agent before adding it to the ingredients.

To do this, the milk must be brought to a temperature of 190 degrees. I assume that this is why many bakers that use milk in their bread, scald it first. Then, add a little cold water to bring the temperature back down to 110 degrees.

I also read that you should proof the yeast with warm water (105 to 110 degrees), and add the milk after. But, if you proof the yeast with milk, scald it first and then lower the temperature or it will kill the yeast. Wow! So many variations and things to think about. I can see why it would be easy to ruin what seemed like an easy recipe.

However, I’m pretty sure this problem is solved with pasteurized milk.

To avoid the issue of whether to scald the milk, use 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk instead of liquid milk. It tastes just like regular milk when it’s in bread, even if it doesn’t taste so good otherwise.

In Summary

So, what have I learned from all of this? Well, let me see if I can summarize it a bit.

First, use bread flour or All-Purpose Flour. Bread flour has more gluten and will rise higher, but many recipes call for all-purpose flour and I have had success with it, so far. I used all-purpose flour for my hamburger and hot dog buns, and they came out great!

Then, use fat. Butter adds a lot of flavor to the bread, and keeps the crumb tender and will improve the shelf life.

Then, use eggs. This helps make the bread rise, and it tenderizes the crumb.

Add some additional sugar. It will add sweetness to the bread, tenderizes and holds onto moisture to keep from getting stale. Just don’t use too much or it will inhibit the bread from rising. Use approximately 1 tbsp of sugar per cup of flour.

Then, use half milk and half water. Milk produces a sweeter, more tender loaf of bread, if that’s what you’re going for. In the meantime, until I find out for sure, I will scald the milk and then bring it back down to 105 to 110 degrees. Otherwise, try dry powdered milk.

Another addition that I made was potato flakes, since I didn’t have any potato flour on hand. My rolls came out great!

*So, it sounds like if I do all of that I will end up with pretty sweet and tender bread. There does seem to be some redundancy, and it might end up a little too sweet and tender, but it still sounds scrumptious.

*Note: I just tried this with my hamburger and hot dog buns, and they came out scrumptious! Light, fluffy, sweet and tender. I have also made bread with no eggs or milk, and still came out pretty good. Links to my bread posts are below:

My Favorite Hamburger and Hot Dog Bun Recipe. This is also the same recipe I use for bread.
Fresh Baked Sub Rolls

I now use my old Sunbeam Mixmaster with the dough hooks. Up until now, my standing mixer has only been known as the “mashed potato machine”. Now, I’ve fallen in love with it all over again. Everyone I know has a nice, and expensive, Kitchenaid stand mixer. But, my 30-something year old Sunbeam Mixmaster is all that I need (as long as it lasts, knock on wood). It does shake quite a bit when mixing the thick dough. I have to place a damp towel in front of it so that it doesn’t jump right off the counter! I prefer to do smaller batches, 3 to 3-1/2 cups of flour per loaf, where the dough is much easier to handle. However, I have also done a large batch of 6 to 7 cups of flour for two loaves of bread.

Place dough in stand mixer

Dough Mixing

Mix dough for 6 minutes, 10 if kneading by hand

Clean bowl, spray with oil, and place dough in bowl

Set in a warm space. Cover with plastic wrap or towel and let rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.

Using all-purpose flour, I then decided to make hamburger and hot dog buns.

My inspiration for these buns came from Allrecipes’ Chef John. I also decided to make New England style buttery, toasted hot dog buns. The ones that I remember from Howard Johnson’s, where they grilled the hot dogs and the buns. I will provide the link to my bun recipes as soon as I can.

I haven’t used it, yet, but I just bought a New England style hot dog bun pan. In the meantime, I sliced off the sides of these hot dog buns and grilled them along with the hot dogs, buttering them the same way I do with grilled cheese sandwiches. They were so much better than the photos!

Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns

My first homemade hamburger and hot dog buns – they turned out delicious, thanks to Chef John!

Half-eaten hamburger

Half-eaten hamburger bun

Half-eaten hamburger bun

Half-eaten hamburger

New England style grilled hot dog

New England style grilled hot dog

The following photos show my new bread making setup.

Years ago, I never made anything real fancy, although a braided loaf of bread, as easy as it is to make, looks very impressive. If you’re a beginner at baking bread, I would suggest making a braided loaf of bread for your first endeavor. This will impress your family and friends to no end, and they will only encourage you to keep on baking! I will post my recipe when I make another French braided bread. Meanwhile, check out the link below for Just a Pinch Recipes’ French Bread Braid.

Braided Bread

French Bread Braid


Instructables – Homemade Bread Recipe

Reluctant Gourmet – Bread Making Ingredients

King Arthur Flour – Water vs. milk as liquid ingredient in bread dough

The Fresh Loaf – What happens if I use Milk instead of Water for bread?

Diana’s Dessert – Tips for Breads, Biscuits, Rolls & Scones

Chef John’s Home-made Hamburger Buns

Chef John’s Hot Dog Buns

Just a Pinch Recipes – French Bread Braids

Aug 272014

Oven Roasted PotatoesI love potatoes! Doesn’t everyone? There are so many different ways to cook potatoes. My youngest loves mashed potatoes, especially when I make them with the “mashed potato machine”, which is my stand mixer. They come out so smooth and creamy…Yum!

But, I get tired of having to take out the stand mixer all the time, so sometimes I mash them by hand. I even cheat sometimes and buy the pouches of Idahoan Butter & Herb Mashed Potatoes, they are so good!

Anyway, I digress.

Every once in awhile, depending on what’s for dinner, I’ll make my oven roasted potatoes. These are especially good when I’m making BBQ chicken or pork chops, or just about anything that doesn’t require a sauce or gravy. We prefer mashed potatoes when I make gravy.


4 medium potatoes, cut into chunks or wedges (I use Russet or Idaho if peeled, or unpeeled red potatoes)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
Basically, whatever spices you want to throw in there.


Preheat oven to 400.

Peel and cut potatoes into wedges. I usually cut each potato in half, and then cut 4 to 6 wedges from each half. The larger the chunks, the longer it will take to bake.

In a large bowl, mix oil and spices. Toss cut potatoes in the mixture and lay out on greased baking sheet. Bake for approx. 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown on outside and tender on the inside.

Serves 4.

Bon Appetit!

I give these 5 stars because they are so good. However, my youngest son doesn’t like anything other than french fries or mashed potatoes, so I had to lower the family rating.

Family Rating: Five Smileys


Aug 222014

I have to say, this is the one kitchen gadget that I have the most fun with! When I first got it, I grabbed every vegetable I had that could be sliced. Apples, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.

The first thing I did was slice up some ribbon sliced apples and cucumbers. You could end up with one very long spiral cucumber. What I do is make a 1/2″ deep slice down the length of the cucumber, so when I used the slicer the cucumber slices weren’t too long. You can also cut them afterward, with a knife or scissors.

I actually prefer to use my Victorio Apple and Potato Peeler/Slicer when I’m peeling and slicing lots of apples, but for a quick slicing job I hand peel the applies and use the Paderno slicer because clean-up is so much easier. The slices are very thin compared to the 1/4″ slices from the Victorio.

Another great use is to make no tears diced onions. Spiral slice a whole onion using the large chipper blade (same as curly fries), throw the long curly onion in a zipper bag and freeze it. Next time you need some diced onions, grab the bag and start pressing it. This will break up the onions into small pieces.

I also made baked curly fries, using the largest chipper blade. I’m sorry I didn’t take photos, but the next time I make them I will. They come out a bit thin, but they are ohhh, sooooo good! You just have to be careful not to overcook them, turning them several times in the oven. I might even try soaking them in water first, or deep frying them.

I also want to try slicing onion straws with the small chipper blade.

I will be experimenting with the spiral slicer for a very long time. I will post recipes when I do.

It took me awhile to get to the zucchini because neither my husband nor I have ever bought a zucchini. I’ve never cooked zucchini, and I didn’t even know what a zucchini looked like. I mean, I had an idea. It resembles a cucumber, right?

When my husband stopped at Kroger to pick up a few things, he called to see if I needed anything. I asked him to pick up a zucchini. I wanted to try out my new vegetable spiralizer so I could make zucchini spaghetti. He didn’t sound too thrilled about that. Anyway, he kept me on the phone while he walked through the produce department looking for a zucchini. I told him it looks like a cucumber. I told him to get one that was straight and not too bent so it would fit the spiral slicer. He found what he thought was zucchini, but he didn’t see any labels on the produce shelf. So, he came home with, not a zucchini, but an English cucumber! It was long and skinny, different than a regular cucumber. Oh well, I’ll get the zucchini next time I go shopping.

English Cucumber

English Cucumber

Finally, when I went shopping a few days later, I picked up two small zucchinis, easily identified by the label in the produce section. I guess my husband wasn’t wearing his glasses that day. 😀


This is what a zucchini realy looks like! You can tell by the knobby ends.

The spiral slicer leaves about a half-inch piece at the end of the zucchini, so leave the knobby ends on the zucchini when placing it on the spiral slicer so that you don’t waste any of the zucchini. After spiralizing two small zucchinis, I dropped the zucchini noodles into boiling water with a lot of salt for a couple of minutes to soften it a little. Some like it crunchy, but I wanted it to resemble the texture of spaghetti pasta. The dryer the noodles, the longer it will have to boil.


Zoodles of Noodles

I then rinsed and drained it in a colander for about five minutes. This process shrunk the zucchini considerably, so two zucchinis only made one serving. That was okay because this was a test for me to try before serving it to my family. I would suggest buying two small or one large zucchini per person. I then rinsed the salt out of the zucchini and drained it again (without pressing it).

While I had regular spaghetti boiling for the rest of the family, and spaghetti sauce simmering in a pot, I heated up some olive oil in a skillet, added some minced garlic, and tossed the zoodles into the skillet for a couple of minutes. I served it in a bowl topped with spaghetti sauce.

At first, it reminded me of Chinese food. It didn’t taste like spaghetti pasta at all. But, as it turned out, I absolutely loved it! I couldn’t get enough. I went back to the kitchen, gathered all the zucchini scraps leftover from the spiral slicer. It leaves a core and the ends, plus the peelings. So, I chopped those up and sauteed them in oil and garlic. Next time, I will not peel the zucchini, the zucchini peels tasted great, too!


Zucchini Spaghetti
This tastes so much better than it looks!

Clean-Up Is A Breeze!

When given a choice of whether to use my Paderno slicer or a mandolin, or food processor, I choose the Paderno when I can. The clean-up is so easy. Just make sure you clean it right away, before the vegetables dry up and clog the blades. Other than the blades, the slicer is all a smooth plastic that is easy to clean. I use a tooth brush to clean the blades, but the Paderno slicer is dishwasher safe, too.

Note: I bought the Paderno World Cuisine A4982799 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer, and that is exactly what is pictured here. I noticed that there are now several cheaper versions of the slicer, and I cannot verify whether they are the actual Paderno or imitations. I can only recommend the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer because that is what I have, and I love it!

Jul 012014

Peeled hard-boiled eggs, ready to eat

Believe it or not, boiling eggs is pretty easy. The trick, of course, is to not overcook them.

The perfect yolk is bright yellow, not gooey in the center or dark around the edges.

I used to boil eggs for 10-12 minutes, and they usually came out okay. But they were usually a little over done. You can tell an overcooked egg by the color of the yolk. It should be pure yellow, without any dark color. Sometimes they will show a dark ring around the yolk. Most of the yolk is yellow with a little bit of dark yolk around the edges. This isn’t too bad.

Boiled Method:

I finally found the perfect way to boil eggs, and they come out great every time!

Cover eggs with cold water

Place eggs in a large sauce pan. Cover with cold water by about one inch. The pan should be high enough to leave enough room at the top for a rolling boil.

Bring water to rolling boil

On high heat, bring pot to a rolling boil.

Remove from heat, cover for 12 minutes

Remove from heat, cover with lid and wait 12 minutes. That’s it!

Place hard-boiled eggs in colander and rinse with cold water

Place hard-boiled eggs in colander and rinse with cold water. This will stop the eggs from cooking any further. However, I have been known to let the eggs cool in the pot and they still came out fine.

Peeled hard-boiled eggs, ready to eat

Eggs are ready to peel and eat, or dry them off and place back in the container in the fridge.

Mark container and place in refrigerator

I mark my egg container with a sharpie so I know which ones are hard-boiled.

Oven Baked Method:

Another method to cooking eggs is in the oven. I tried it once. As you can see in the photos below, the eggs got brown spots on them. I guess I cooked them a little too long. They still came out okay, but it takes longer in the oven and the stove-top method is easy enough. It’s a good method if you want to cook a dozen eggs or more at a time. In case you would like to try this method:

Place eggs in muffin pan

Preheat oven to 325. Place eggs in a muffin pan. Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove from pan and place in a bowl of ice water for about 10 minutes to stop the cooking.

Peeled baked eggs

I used a larger muffin pan, but the mini muffin pans shown below would work better.


60-Second Microwave Method:

Another quick method to cooking a hard-boiled egg (I know it’s not boiled, but hard egg doesn’t sound right) is in the microwave, but you have to be very careful. Here’s how I do it:

Spray a small dish with Pam or other cooking spray

Spray small dish with Pam or other cooking spray.

Crack open egg into small dish

Crack open an egg into the dish.

Poke hole in center of egg yolk with toothpick

Poke a hole in the yolk with a toothpick.
You don’t want to see what happens if you don’t do this!

Set microwave timer on high for 30 seconds

Set microwave timer on high for 30 seconds.

Microwave egg for 30 seconds

Microwave on high for 30 seconds.

Microwave egg for 30 seconds

Microwave egg for 30 seconds and flip over

Remove from microwave and with a spoon, flip the egg over to the other side.

Flip egg over and return to microwave

Place back in the microwave for another 30 seconds.

Microwave egg for another 30 seconds

You will hear a popping sound while egg cooks, but that is normal and you shouldn’t find an explosive mess when you open the microwave. *cross fingers*

That’s it! Don’t try to cook the egg for a full 60 seconds without flipping it over. You won’t like the results.

Slice or chop hard-cooked egg

I usually do it this way when I’m in a hurry and need an egg for a quick salad or sandwich.

Bon appétit!

May 282014

Pork fried riceI usually make this when I have an extra pork chop, but it would also be good with chicken, beef or shrimp.  You can also add whatever vegetables you choose, such as broccoli, shredded carrots, or peppers. I usually only add small peas. The combined flavors from the garlic, green onions, ginger, and the addition of sesame oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce, makes it oh, so good!


3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
A few drops of sesame oil (optional)
1 pork chop, cooked or uncooked, and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1-1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger (I use a fine grater)
3-4 green onions, chopped (white and light green parts)
A handful of frozen peas or sugar snap peas (or both)
1/4 cup diced frozen or cooked carrots – optional (I sometimes use canned peas and carrots)
1-1/2 cups cold cooked brown or white rice (I use either Minute Rice or long grain white rice)
2 eggs, scrambled
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar


In a wok or large skillet, over medium high heat, add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and sesame oil.

If uncooked, add pork and cook 5-6 minutes until cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Lower heat to medium, heat up a little more vegetable oil, add onion and saute for about five minutes, until translucent. Then, add garlic, ginger, and green onions. Cook about 1 minute.

grated garlic and ginger
I store my ginger in the freezer and grate as needed

Mix in rice and turn heat to medium-high. Let the rice get crispy, about 2 minutes. Add peas and carrots, and stir.

Mix in rice and peas

Mix in rice, stir until crispy, add peas and carrots, and stir

Move rice to the side and add eggs, scrambling them and working into the rice mixture as you go. You might need to add a little more oil.

Add eggs to rice

Move rice to the side and add eggs

Stir eggs into rice rice

Stir eggs into rice

Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and cooked pork. Toss together and serve.

Add soy sauce

Add soy sauce

Add rice vinegar

Add rice vinegar

Chopped pork

Add cooked pork

Pork fried rice

Pork Fried Rice

Printable recipe without images:

Feb 272014

My favorite beef stew recipe - I took this photo when there was only one bowl left, which had mostly carrots and very little meat in it :)This is the best beef stew that I have ever had…EVER! The red wine was the “key ingredient”. It made the soupy broth so delicious, I could have just eaten the broth with bread and butter….Yum!

I took this photo a little too late. There was only one bowl left, which had mostly carrots and very little meat in it 🙂

Normally, I make beef stew with the leftovers from my pot roast. I have never used wine in my pot roast or stew. However, this was so good I will add the wine to the pot roast next time.

This recipe yielded 6 servings.


  • 2-3 lbs. stew meat or chuck roast, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 2 15 oz. cans beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 lb. baby carrots, or several whole carrots cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 3-4 medium russet potatoes, or 6-8 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • fresh parsley for garnish


  1. On medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil to a large dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid.
  2. Add beef and brown well on all sides. Add salt and pepper as the beef browns. Remove beef and set aside.
  3. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the flour and stir for two minutes.
  5. Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute.
  6. Add wine and de-glaze the pan, scraping brown bits on the bottom. Let wine thicken and simmer for five more minutes.
  7. Return beef to pot and add broth, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme.
  8. Add carrots and celery, and simmer covered for two hours, or until the meat and vegetables are tender to your liking. I like my carrots and celery soft, and the meat fork tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Meanwhile, either add potatoes to stew or boil separately. I like serving white potatoes, not soaked in stew.
  10. Preheat oven if you are making dinner rolls.
  11. Throw some biscuits in the oven while the stew sits for approximately 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley.

This is similar to My Mother’s Beef Tips and Gravy, without the vegetables. Just serve over wide noodles.

Jan 122014

Freezing fruits and vegetablesI went on a fruit and vegetable frenzy the other day. I’ve been craving grapes, apples, oranges, and was completely out of onions, peppers, green onions, potatoes, and mushrooms. We had pretty much used up everything in our fridge because we were going on vacation for 10 days. So, when we got back the refrigerator was bare.

Also, we spent a week at my sister and brother-in-law’s in South Florida, and there was so much food; mostly holiday treats, like my sister’s yummy carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, pumpkin cheesecake, rum cake, plus my chocolate chip cookies with candy cane kisses. I know there was more, but I’m still full just thinking about it and we’ve been back for over a week. Anyway, I digress.

So, while craving some fresh fruit and veggies, I went grocery shopping. They say never to shop when you are hungry, but I had sugar plums, apples, oranges, and grapes, dancing in my head. So, I went overboard.

I’m not one to shop every few days; I do my main grocery shopping once every two weeks, and I stock up on items that are on sale. This time, everything seemed to be on sale, so I bought 3 pounds of red grapes, 5 bananas, 3 pounds of apples, 3 pounds of clementine oranges, 1 pound of baby carrots, 1 bunch of celery, 10 pounds of russet potatoes, 3 pounds of onions, 2 bunches of green onions, 1 large bunch of asparagus, 1 small cabbage, 2 heads of lettuce (because they were small), and 2 large tomatoes. I also bought frozen broccoli and spinach. I think I forgot something, but I’m sure it will come to me. Oh, yeah, I had forgotten the green beans, but my husband picked up 3 pounds of fresh green beans when he was at the grocer, yesterday.

We don’t grow our own vegetables, so the alternative would be to get our fresh fruits and vegetables from our local farmer’s market during the season. At least it would be more cost effective than buying from the local grocery store. Come Spring, that’s what I’ll do. Right now, I don’t have to worry about preparing a whole lot of vegetables at a time, but even the small amount that I do buy from my grocer needs to be prepared for freezer storage.

So far, I’ve only managed to eat one banana, some grapes and last night we had fresh green beans and mashed potatoes. So, as I look at all these fruits and vegetables in my fridge, I realize that I have to do something to keep them well preserved. I try to plan my menu for the next couple of weeks, but I know I’ll need to prepare and freeze most of it.

For example, last night we had boneless pork chops simmered in gravy, mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. My son prefers spinach, so we had that, too.

Tonight, we’ll grill steaks, with baked potatoes, roasted asparagus and sauteed mushrooms.

One day this week, I’ll make a pot roast, using some of the potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery.

At some point we’ll have sausage, peppers and onions one night, a whole baked chicken, meat loaf, spaghetti, and baked fish.

Another night we’ll have sloppy joe’s with homemade cole slaw, and let’s not forget hot dogs with mac & cheese, and pizza on the nights when I need a break from cooking big meals :).

I know all of my veggies won’t stay fresh, so I need to start blanching, steaming and raw tray freezing.

I can’t keep mushrooms fresh for more than 3 or 4 days, and I can’t keep 10 pounds of potatoes fresh for more than 7 to 10 days, so I’ll freeze some of those, as well as the peppers and onions. I like crispy celery, but I can still freeze some that I will use for cooking. Okay, here are some of the methods that I have learned for freezing fruits and vegetables.

Freezing Fruits and Vegetables (Unblanched)

Starting with the easy ones first, I can flash freeze fresh strawberries, mushrooms, onions and peppers. These don’t have to be blanched, and since they won’t be stuck together, you can grab what you want from the container.


Green beans – I used to blanch my green beans, but they would come out mushy when I cooked them. After doing some research, I found that there are many gardeners who don’t blanch their green beans. So, I decided to freeze my green beans without blanching. Besides, I’m not freezing them for more than a few months at a time. Since I bought them from the grocer, rather than growing them myself, I washed them first. I then drained and let them drip dry. I snapped off the string ends and cut them in half. If you like them french sliced, do that before freezing. Freezing will change the texture of the beans and they may not cut as easily when thawed. Since I have never done this before, I will have to come back later and report the results (crossing fingers).

Mushrooms – Clean mushrooms by brushing off dirt, do not wash. If they get wet, dry before freezing. They can be frozen whole or sliced. Spread in a single layer on lightly greased cookie sheet. Freeze until frozen, then store in food saver or freezer bags, or airtight container. They will not stick together, so you can just grab what you need.

Freezing mushrooms

You can also sautee mushrooms in butter before freezing. After cooking, bring to room temperature, then freeze in portion sized containers.

Onions – These are for cooking, only. They will be soft and mushy, so won’t be so great on a hamburger unless you like grilled onions…yum! Cut off ends and peel onions. You can freeze in wedges, halves or chopped. Place chopped onions in freezer bags and flatten so they are in one layer. After they are frozen, you can stack the bags. This way, you can just break off the amount you need. Otherwise, tray freeze in a single layer and then place in bags. You can then grab whatever you need. You can also chop them while they are still partially frozen.

Peppers – I always buy red, yellow and orange peppers. My hubby doesn’t like green peppers. Clean and remove stems and seeds. Slice in halves, quarters, or slices. They can also be frozen whole. lay them out on a lightly greased cookie sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes, or until frozen. Then, place in freezer or food saver bags.
Tray Freezing Peppers and Strawberries

Fruit and Cheese

Apples – I found a couple of soft spots on my apples, so I have to hurry up and preserve the rest of them before they spoil the whole bunch. I’m the only one in this family who eats apples, so I must freeze them.

There are a few methods that can be used for freezing apples.

Method #1 – Salt Water:
This is really the simplest way to prepare apples for freezing. The salt water prevents them from turning brown. The apples can later be used for frying, muffins, cakes and pies. If you’re not worried about your apples turning brown, just core, peel, slice and freeze.

You’ll Need:

8-10 C cold water
1/4 C warm water
1 tsp salt

You’ll need a bowl or pot large enough to hold 8 to 10 cups of water, as well as a batch of apple slices. First, pour 1/4 cup of warm water and 1 tsp of salt and stir until it is dissolved. Add the remaining cold water and stir.
Back to Basics Apple And Potato Peeler

Rinse apples in cold water. Peel, core and slice apples. I use my nifty Oxo Good Grips Apple Corer/Slicer after I’ve peeled them, but you might consider buying one of these – Back to Basics Apple and Potato Peeler. It cores and peels the apple at the same time! I love this thing. I used it at my sister’s over the holidays to peel potatoes and it was great!

Drop the apple slices into the salt water. Make sure they are submerged and let sit for a few minutes. Drain in a colander. I tray freeze in a single layer when there’s not too many. Then, place in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible (I use the straw method since I don’t have a vacuum sealer). One tip that I picked up, place wax or parchment paper on cookie sheet. Then, when the slices are frozen, roll up and pour into freezer bags or airtight containers. These can be used in muffins, cakes, pies and for frying. They won’t have a salty taste.

These froze nicely and did not turn brown. They make a great snack while still frozen, but will be soft when thawed. I made applesauce with the thawed apples, and it was fantastic! Since they were already soft it didn’t take long.

Making homemade applesauce is so easy when using frozen apples. I will never buy canned/jarred applesauce again. Here is the recipe I used for chunky applesauce:

4 sweet apples, peeled, cored, sliced and previously frozen
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Since the thawed apples were moist I didn’t add any extra liquid, but if you use more apples you could add a small amount of apple juice or water. I used gala apples, so they were sweet enough and probably didn’t require any additional sugar, but I love the added taste of brown sugar.

Let frozen apples thaw, reserve liquid. Place apples in pot and heat through until soft and mushy. You can mash with potato masher if necessary, or puree in blender or food processor if you like creamy applesauce. I prefer chunky and it didn’t require mashing; I just broke it up with a spoon while stirring. Add vanilla and cinnamon, stir. Serve warm or cold. I prefer it cold.

Some say it’s good to freeze in a sugar/water syrup, or prepare using your favorite apple pie recipe and freeze.

Basic Apple Pie Filling:
3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 T flour
1 T lemon juice
6 c apples (cored, peeled and sliced

Combine sugar, cinnamon and flour. Use immediately or freeze for up to six months.

Method #2 – Lemon Juice:

Mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per gallon of cold water. Dip the apple slices, then lay them on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or lined with parchment paper) for at least an hour, until frozen. Then just put them into freezer bags or food saver bags.

Method #3 – Ascorbic Acid:

Instead of lemon juice, you can brush the apples with a mixture of 1/2 tsp (1500 mg) ascorbic acid and 3 Tbsp (45 ml) water.

Blueberries – No preparation needed. Just spread blueberries in a single layer on lightly greased cookie sheet and freeze for 30 minutes. Then, place in freezer bags or airtight container. I use the same container they came in and place in freezer.

Strawberries – Rinse and cut or pull off stems. There’s a nifty gadget for strawberries that I keep meaning to try, it’s called a Strawberry Huller or Strawberry Stem Remover. Slice strawberries in 2 or 4 wedges each. Spread out on a lightly greased cookie sheet, flat side up, so they are not touching. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, or until frozen. Then, place in storage bags. I love strawberries in cereal, yogurt, or with ice cream and strawberry short cake. Yum!

Shredded Cheese – I buy shredded cheese in bulk, and separate into smaller containers or freezer bags. Add a tsp of flour to each small bag so it doesn’t stick together. It comes out perfectly! Block cheese tends to crumble when thawed.

Blanching Vegetables

Asparagus – Rinse in clean water and cut or snap off woody ends. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare large bowl of ice water. With heat on high, immerse asparagus into boiling water, and bring quickly back to a boil. Don’t blanch too many stalks at a time. Boil 2 to 4 minutes (2 for thin, 3 for medium, 4 for fat stalks). Using a slotted spoon, quickly transfer asparagus to the ice water bath. You want to stop the cooking process as quickly as possible in order to preserve the texture of the asparagus. When they are cold, pat dry on paper towels. You can freeze separately in single layer on lightly greased cookie sheet until frozen, approx. 30 minutes to an hour. Place in food saver or freezer bags, or airtight containers. Place in freezer

Roasting Asparagus:
Update: I roasted frozen asparagus and even though it was softer, it was still good. I prefer to roast it until it is brown and crispy. Lay asparagus spears out on sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and lots of salt, roll around in oil until completely covered. Roast at 400 to 425 for 10-15 minutes, or to desired doneness depending on thickness of spears.

Potatoes – Wash and peel potatoes, then cut large potatoes in half. It is best to freeze whole or in halves. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside. Plunge potatoes into boiling water and blanch for 3 to 5 minutes. This will cleanse and preserve color and flavor. With a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to ice water bath. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Place potatoes in food saver or freezer bags, or airtight container. Make sure potatoes are dry or ice will form. Place enough potatoes for a meal in each bag. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, insert straw in freezer bag and close almost all the way. Draw air from bag, remove straw and close. Store in freezer, they will keep for up to a year. These potatoes can be used for boiling, mashing, roasting, or making potato salad.

Well, I’ll be adding more to this post, so please bookmark this page and check for updates periodically.

If anyone does their own gardening or has any tips regarding preparing, freezing and storing fruits and vegetables, I would love to hear from you. Please comment below, and I would appreciate it if you would like and share this page.