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21  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Edible Gold Popcorn on: February 23, 2013 03:05:44 PM
Have an Oscar Party to go too that the newspaper sponsors and  decided I would try my hand at making gold popcorn for the party.

Used some caramel popcorn and a can of Wilton's Gold Color Mist spray that I picked up on the cake aisle in Hobby Lobby.

It actually turned out pretty good, Here are a couple of pics.

The spray actually cost only $4

It sprayed on more yellow looking, but dried gold.

Also tried an Apple, it turned out pretty good, although I think Snow White would have passed on taking a bite.

Story and more pics here.
22  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Valentines Day Lobster on: February 12, 2013 09:05:03 PM
My local Central Market had cold water lobster tails on sale for $5.99 a tail. Thought it would make a great Valentine's Day blog post.

If you have not made lobster tails before, they are actually pretty easy to fix. Here in Fort Worth the hardest part is finding good tails.

There are two basic types of lobster tails: cold water and warm water, and there's a significant difference. Cold water tails, from the waters of Maine, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, are considered the better tasting tail. The meat is whiter, more firm and sweeter. They also cost more and are harder to find in grocery stores. Most restaurants serve cold water tails.

Warm water lobsters, which come from Florida, the Caribbean, Cuba, Nicaragua and Latin America, do not have claws like the true lobsters that come from Maine, and are normally sold just as tails.

How do you tell the difference? First, simply ask or check the label. Chances are, if it's not labeled cold water, Maine or from one of the cold water regions mentioned, assume it's a warm water tail. You can also check the shell; warm water tails usually have yellow spots and yellow bands across the tails.

Here a couple of pics of my lobster dinner I fixed for my wife.

Cold Water tails

Using kitchen shears, cut the top of the first tails shell length wise to almost the end of the tail.

Put tail on its side and push down until you here a crack.

Pick up the tail and work your thumb in-between the bottom of the tails shell and tail meat. Wiggle your thumb around to loosen the meat from the shell.

Work the tail meat out of the top of the shell, leaving it connected to the end part of the shell.

Rinse the tail off with water to remove any bits of shell out of the tail meat. If you see a vein along the back of the meat, remove it. Spread tail meat on top of the shell.

If you are grilling the tails, skewer the tails to keep them from curling up like shrimp on the grill. Just run the skewer through the bottom of the tail lengthwise.

The prep only took a few minutes and is easier than it looks.

My Valentines lobster blog post is here. http://www.dfw.com/2013/02/11/752945/weekend-chef-grilled-lobster-tails.html

There are more pics and a recipe for a bacon butter cream sauce.
23  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Cowboy Beans/Blazing Saddles on: January 26, 2013 01:53:08 PM
How interesting.  Is kombu the same thing as sushi wrap?

Actually, now that I think about it, I really should have mentioned the difference in the story. Shocked
24  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Cowboy Beans/Blazing Saddles on: January 25, 2013 06:11:17 AM
How interesting.  Is kombu the same thing as sushi wrap?

No, the sushi wrap seaweed is called Nori and is made from a red alga seaweed. It is actully more easy to find here in the US than kombu.

Kombu is kelp, it is a lot thicker compared to nori. It is used to make the traditional Japaness broth dashi, and is used to season foods cooked in pots, like I did with the beans.
25  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Cowboy Beans/Blazing Saddles on: January 23, 2013 07:14:32 AM
Was finally able to get some bean humor into the paper today with a story I wrote about making Cowboy Beans Grin

Here is a link to the story.

The Stock Show is in town so we are in full Cowboy mode here in Fort Worth.

Back to the beans. I make my Cowboy beans with pintos, coffee and smoked meat.
I also like adding some kombu (kelp seaweed) to my beans.

Kombu has enzymes that break down the indigestible sugars in beans, making them softer and easier to digest.

If that isn't enough, kombu works all sorts of magic with the taste and texture of beans. They become soft and tender with a thick, silky sauce. The kombu itself does not have much taste other than a salty ocean flavor, but it really enhances the flavor of the beans and adds minerals. It also cuts down on the cook time. Best of all, it dissolves after an hour or so, leaving no trace, other than the beans being more tender and delicious.

All you need to do is fix your beans like normal, just add 2 pieces (3 to 4 inches) kombu to the pot. Start checking your beans early, they will get soft faster with kombu in the pot.

Here are a couple of pics of my Cowboy beans.

26  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Beef Stew Tips! on: January 17, 2013 09:54:37 AM
I'm starving and you post this? LOL, they all look delicious and appreciate the tips because cold weather is soup and stew weather. Have fun at the show.

Thanks lovesclutter. Show starts this weekend, but everybody is already dressing up a little more western. Kind of looks like the old west except for all those dually pickup trucks!
27  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Naan on: January 17, 2013 06:13:02 AM
My wife said it is was really good with garlic and onions in India.
28  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Naan on: January 16, 2013 04:40:08 PM
Wow, that looks good! I am going to have to show my wife. She had to go to India for a month last year for work and really liked the food.
29  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Beef Stew Tips! on: January 15, 2013 07:41:43 PM
It is getting downright cold around here in Fort Worth as the Stock Show comes to town.
Time to make my Stock Show stew. I wrote down some stew tips on my blog that i thought I would share here.

Here are a couple of stew pics first.

And here are my tips:

Beef stew is one of those dishes that is more about technique than recipe, and can sometimes be a little counterintuitive. Tender cuts of meat can end up being dry and tough when cooked in stews. The whole process of stewing meat is to use slow, moist heat to break down the collagen (connective tissue) in tougher cuts of meat to make them tender, similar to braising. The collagen turns into a tender gelatin.

On the other hand, tender cuts of meat are usually well marbled with fat, which makes them tender and juicy. But the same moist heat process that turns tough collagen into tender gelatin will melt the fat out of tender meat and make it dry and tough.

So chuck, round and bottom round are all good choices for stew. Meats that braise well like short ribs and beef shanks are also good. But with this being Texas, I have a soft spot for brisket, and brisket is perfect for stew!

Here are some tips and techniques for making a good hearty beef stew.

Cut your own stew meat. Sure, you can save a little time by picking up that pre-cut package of meat for stew at the grocery store, but whats really in it? Maybe youll get lucky and they sliced up an extra roast that was lying around or maybe it is just all the leftover scraps form a days worth of butchering. I say its best to just pick out a nice 3-pound roast or brisket and slice it yourself into 1 inch cubes, no luck needed.

Know your potatoes. Not all potatoes are created equal. Russets are high in starch and can fall apart in stews. Boiling potatoes like Red and Yellow keep their shape, but can be a little waxy. So try Yukon Gold, which will keep its shape and has enough starch to not be waxy.

Time it just right. Stew meat usually takes 1 to 3 hours to become tender, vegetables take 30 minutes to an hour. So give the meat a head start and put vegetables in the last hour. Also, when using herbs in stew, start with dry herbs at the beginning and finish with fresh herbs at the end. If your stew is not thick enough, add Wondra flour at the last minute for thickening; it does not clump. Just mix a few tablespoons with a little cold water and add to the stew. Give the stew another 5 to 10 minutes and it should thicken nicely.

Give it a rest. Stew tastes better after it has had some time to sit, especially overnight in the fridge. But even an hour or two helps. So if you have time, let it set an hour or two off the heat to let the flavors improve, then reheat and serve.

I have more pics and my Stock Show Stew recipe here on my blog.

I am planning to make a lot more stew this winter so if you have any tips I missed, please pass them along Grin
30  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Re: Herb Garden project on: January 14, 2013 04:17:13 PM
Wow, thanks! I am already planning my updates for next spring!
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