Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Powerful Protiens Melt Down!

Please enjoy another REAL Food REAL Fast video that I made with Angelle
In this video we explore different ways to thaw raw meat from the freezer safely.

I know I have come home from a busy day and found myself ready to make dinner when I realize I forgot to thaw the meat.  Instead of rushing out to pick something up I follow a few simple steps to thaw my meat in time for dinner. 

Watch the video to discover how to say the day!

Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Slow Cooking for Busy Days

I find August to be one of the busiest and most expensive months of the year.  Even worse then Christmas-time.  At least during the holidays other people are cooking too.  To make meal times easier I make 2 Crock pot meals on Sundays in the month of August.  I make enough to freeze extra.
Slow Cooking for Busy Days
Slow cookers are any easy way to make meats that are usually braised in the oven or on the stove top in a Dutch oven. Less expensive and tougher cuts of meat benefit from being cooked slow and low for a long time. This small appliance can save you both time and money. Cooking times are long but prep times are short. Imagine coming home and dinner being ready for you and only 1 dish to clean!
Slow Cooker Basics:
• Braising: Pan searing meat at a high temperature then slow cooking in a covered pot
• Size-Slow cookers are labeled by quart size
• Shape-Oval and round are most common
• Crocks can be stationary or removable; removable are easier to clean
• 1 cup liquid is enough for most recipes
• Remove excess fat before cooking
• Stock and broths can be made in a slow cooker
• Oval cookers work best for roast and larger cuts of meat
• Fill cooker no more than 2/3’s full
• Grease, butter or spray cooker before adding food for easier clean up
• Cut root vegetables small to medium and place on the bottom of the crock this will not only add flavor to the meat but will add flavor to the vegetable and ensure doneness
• Browning stew meat, roast and chops will enhance the flavor and appearance of the food but is not required to make the meal
Prepping Ahead:
• Refrigerate meats and vegetables in separate re-sealable bags or containers. Do not store in the slow cooker crock (it could crack the crock or take longer to heat up)
• When cutting potatoes in advance store in water to prevent discoloration
• Seafood should be added in the last hour of cooking and cooked on hi setting
• Rice and pasta can be added in the last hour of cooking and cooked on medium or can be cooked separately
• Dumplings can be drop on top in the 30 minutes and on high with the cover on
• Cookers vary greatly in size and temperature. When preparing a dish for the first time check for doneness 1-2 hours before recommend time.
• Rotate large cuts of meat or whole chickens half way through cooking to prevent meat and veggies on the bottom being soggy
• 1 hour cooking time on high equals 2 hours on low
• Raw poultry and ground meats should cook for a minimum of 3 hours and reach a temperature of 165 degrees when a probe thermometer is inserted in the center
• Tender vegetables and spinach should be added the last ½ hour of cooking
• Frozen vegetables should be added the last hour of cooking
• Removing the lid can add up to 20 minute’s additional cooking time; try not to peek
Slow Cooker On The Go:
• Place towels in a cooler or box. Secure lid with rubber bands. Place in container and top with a towel and cover. Eat within an hour or plug in and put on warm setting.
Converting recipes for the slow cooker:
• Strong flavored spices and vegetables should be reduced by half to avoid too much of one flavor
• Add hot peppers, hot sauce and cayenne pepper in the last hour of cooking
• Reduce liquids by half with the except of soups and stews
• Less expensive cuts of meat work best for slow and low cooking. For example replace flank steak with round steak.
• Dairy breaks down and curdles during long cooking times. Replace milk with evaporated milk or add in the last 30-45 minutes of cooking
• One dish meals take 8-9 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high, 7 hours on medium
Thickening Sauces, Soups and Stews:
• Gravy-for every 1 cup of cooking liquid (fat removed) add 1 tablespoon of corn starch or 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix corn starch or flour with a small amount cold water before adding to hot liquid. This can be done in a sauce pan or right in the crock turned on high. Cover and cook 20-30 more minutes.
• Thickening with roux-Cook 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoon flour until bubbly. Cook two minutes. Add one tablespoon of Roux for every cup of liquid. Stir and cook covered on high and additional 20 minutes


Other Helpful Posts
Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Sunday, August 17, 2014

All Mixed Up Video

I know many of you have spent a lot of time and money trying to find the perfect kitchen blender for  making smoothies, salad dressings and other kitchen prep.

Angelle and I show you our favorite blenders in this short video.  The video includes the Nutri Bullet, The Ninga, Vita Mix and a emersion blender. 

Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Real Food Cookbooks

So many of todays cookbooks call for package foods or fake foods. Together with Angelle Batten and Dr. Sue McCredie I created a line of Ecookbooks for people that want to eat REAL food.  Each book has a theme and comes with information about Real foods and how to spot fake ones. The recipes are geared towards REAL people making REAL food  REAL fast.

Please check them out.  Of coarse they include prepping tips and food substitution ideas.  These books could be the first step you take to having a healthier nutrient dense meals.

Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Monday, August 11, 2014

Steam Team-Using a Bamboo Steamer

Do find that food reheated in the microwave is dry and rubbery? Would you like a another faster and healthier way to cook or reheat food?  Check out this video I made with Angelle a friend of mine who is a family wellness coach.  Her web-site has so much great information and products.

For more information on steaming check out my previous post Reheating with Steam.

Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Flashback Easter Post

Really busy this week.  Check a post from the past for great Easter recipes.
Easter Brunch Ideas

Take it one prep at a time,
Chef Jackie

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring into Easter Treats

I love this time of year.  Everything is blooming and turning green.  Temperatures have begun to warm up and all the birds and animals have returned to the yard.  Well this year isn't so green and it is still a little cold yet but I can here the birds chirping just the same. Avoiding yard work means it is a perfect time to stay in and make some goodies for Easter.

Every year my Mom would make special treats for our Easter baskets.  She really made everything so special.  We loved helping her make sugar eggs and chocolate candy molds.  So many of my favorite memories are tied to all the special things my Mom would make for every holiday and birthday.

I decided to share these memories with my son Carson and make some of our own. I convinced him and my friend Debbie to help me have a homemade Easter treat making marathon.  Here are some of the items we made.


Crispy Spring Pops

  • Make a double recipe of Rice Crispy Treats using Fruit Pebbles
  • Press into a buttered 13x9 pan to make them extra thick
  • Once set, cut into desired size bars
  • Push a sucker stick in the bottom
  • Dip the tip in melted white chocolate and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle wet chocolate with cupcake sprinkles
  • Let dry or freeze for quicker drying
  • Cheater Method: Buy cereal bars and cut them in half, insert stick and dip in chocolate.

Sugared Marshmallow Pops

  • Dip large marshmallows in water
  • Remove excess water with a paper towel
  • Roll in desired colored sugar
  • Insert sucker stick
  • Dry on a parchment line cookie sheet
  • I can't wait to try these on a s'more!


Macaroon Nest

Macaroon Kisses
can sweetened condensed milk
vanilla extract
almond extract
packages flake coconut (5 ½ cups)

solid milk chocolate stars or chocolate chips
chocolate candy eggs (these are Cadbury brand)
Preheat oven to 325. Line baking sheets with parchment and spray with cooking release spray.
In large bowl combine sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and almond extract. Stir in coconut.
Roll into 1 inch balls. Slightly flatten each ball and place a thumb print in the middle.
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately press chocolate star or 4-6 chocolate chips in the middle.  When chocolate becomes melted add chocolate candy eggs into the center.
Cool. Store at room temperature or freeze.

Yield: 4 dozen

Nutter Butter Chicks

  • Dip Nutter Butters in melted yellow chocolate candy coating, remove with a fork and drip off excess chocolate
  • Place on parchment lined cookie sheet 
  • Before chocolate dries use 2 black candy pearls for the eyes and 1 orange Tic Tac for the nose
  • Dry completely before packaging

Chicks in Grass

We used a grass piping tip to make these cute cupcakes.
The baking cups are from Marshalls.

I packaged everything in cello bags so it would keep and then I froze them.
I froze the cupcakes first so I could easily put them in bags without smearing the frosting. 
Happy Easter!
Chef Jackie