Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin Pop

Popcorn with pumpkin pie spice is super yummy and addicting!   I like mine with dehydrated apple slices. It is like a caramel apple without the mess!
Give this easy recipe a try.
Pumpkin Pop
popped popcorn (I used Skinny Pop)
pumpkin pie spice
Optional Add-ins:

candy corn


die-hydrated apple slices
Divide popcorn onto 2 parchment lined cookie sheets.
Melt butter over low heat. Add sugar and spice. Boil for 2 minutes.
Pour over popcorn and stir with a wooden spoon to coat. Refrigerate 5 minutes and stir in an add-ins.
Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Trick or Treat S'Mores Bar

Halloween is so much fun in my neighborhood.   I usually walk down the street and pass out candy with my friend Susan. The guys and our kids hit the streets to get the loot.  Although our kids like trick or treating they really do not eat very much candy.  This of course I do not understand because as a kid that was the all I wanted to do was dress up and run around getting candy.  I would keep some, trade some and give some away.  Well with so much left over candy I have had to come up with places to donate it and different ways to use it.  We have made center pieces and graham cracker houses.
Today I want to share with you how to make a ...

Indoor/Outdoor S'more Bar
1 heat proof container (found mine in the paint section of the hardware store)
garbage bags (this makes the container lighter and easier to move)
rocks or gravel
1 or more gel chaffer fuels (used for catering and sold at large grocery stores)
assorted leftover candy
graham crackers
bamboo skewers
Place bags in the bottom of the container.  I used a galvanized bucket.  I like the look.  Plus it has a handle so it is portable.  Top with foil followed by the rocks.  Nestle chaffer fuel in the center.  It is that easy.  You can make this is big as you want.  Works great as a table-top center piece or as a dessert station at a graduation.  The ideas and styles are endless.

Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween Cookie Cutouts

I just love Halloween!  I love the fall air and the changing of the leaves.  What I love most is all the cool foods you can make.  There are truly no rules and the ideas are endless. 

This year I took a stab at making rolled fondant cookies.  Even though I am a pastry chef and baker rolled fondant has always scared me.  Plus it wasn't that convenient to find all the ingredients in my town.  What's a girl to do? Hit the web-find a recipe with ingredients I have on hand and start baking fearlessly.

I love the results and it was easy.  I adapted the recipe slightly to suit my taste. Carson my son loves these cookies so much and so do I.

Shortbread Cookie Cutouts
butter, softened
white sugar
vanilla extract
lemon extract (optional)
all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla and lemon; add flour and mix well. Divide dough into 4 and flatten into disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 20 minutes before rolling.
Place dough on a surface dusted with flour. Dust the top of the dough with flour and roll to 1/4 inch thick using a rolling pin. Cut shapes with desired cookie cutter. Place on prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, edges will be brown. Shortbread is dry biscuit style cookie.
If using fondant cut outs place fondant on warm cookies or cool and brush with corn syrup then place fondant on top.  Otherwise cool cookies and ice with your favorite frosting.


stick Regular Crisco or 1 cup
Corn Syrup
bag powder sugar
In Kitchen Aid mixer with bread kneader attachment – knead until all ingredients until mixed (this will look terrible).
Pour on to counter and knead for 5-10 minutes until fondant comes together and is workable.
Add paste food coloring (from a craft store – cake decorating section) – Knead in food coloring with your hands, be sure to use plastic gloves.
Roll out the fondant between 2 pieces of parchment or on a silicone baking mat.  Roll to 1/8 inch.
Use the same cookie cutter to cut out the fondant shape. Remove excess fondant but leave the shapes alone on the parchment paper so you do not stretch or distort them.
Put the fondant shapes that are on the parchment paper onto a tray. Put the tray into the freezer.
As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, take the fondant out of the freezer and put on the cookie. If more than one layer of fondant (like a wing) add all layers as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Let cookies dry overnight on the counter.  The next day, take a dry paper towel and blot off excess oil from the decorated cookie.
Cooled Cookie Method: Make and bake cookies as directed.  Cool completely.  Roll the fondant shapes adding powdered sugar as need to make the fondant workable.  If the fondant gets to dry rub shortening on your hands and knead the dough some more.  Brush cookies with corn syrup and top with fondant cut out.  Add other decorations now.
Cookie baked and cooled.  Brushed with corn syrup before adding fondant.
 Fondant rolled out. The eyes are mini chocolate chips.
Fondant applied.
Cats are covered in chocolate ganache.  Taste better than black food coloring.
Eyes are added when ganache is still wet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How Sweet It Is Video

Angelle and I discuss natural sweeteners in this REAL Food REAL Fast video .
Stevia, coconut palm sugar, sucanat, maple syrup and honey are all featured. Different sugars have different qualities and draw backs.  Watch the video to learn more!

Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Powerful Proteins Prepping Video

At least once a week somebody contacts me to see if they can still EAT THE MEAT.  Good Question right?

In this episode of REAL Foods REAL Fast Angelle and I discuss how long cooked and thawed raw proteins are safe to eat.  These are just guidelines and I know many people keep food much longer but remember most food doesn't get better with age.

Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

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


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Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie