Can Your Dishwasher Do This?

I know some items are not dishwasher safe. I just blindy accept this fact and don’t put them in the dishwasher. However, sometimes I ignore this and just put the item on the top rack instead. Well here’s one reason NOT to do that. I originally had an apple water bottle it was the kind that is plastic and set in a metal bottom with a metal cap attached to it. Similar to this water bottle (No endorsements here I was just looking for a similar water bottle):

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Well after a round of my new dishwasher on the top rack this is what it now looks like:

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As you can see it now looks like a test tube…. not a water bottle. The metal thing it is standing next was the bottom of the water bottle. In this picture you can see how much it shrunk:

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Lesson of the day: Listen to what the instructions say. Don’t put something in the dishwasher that isn’t dishwasher safe.

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Rachel Ray Recipes

So maybe it has been two months since I’ve written my last post but I would still like discuss Rachel Ray. After doing a week of Rachel Ray recipes, I determined a few things.

1. Rachel Ray uses pre made things to make things “easier” and “faster” but they sure made my grocery bill more expensive.

2. Rachel’s 30 minute recipes normally took me about 45 minutes (sometimes 55 minutes). I’m assuming this is because she had all the ingredients prepped and ready to cook.

3. The taste wasn’t necessarily worth the cut in time. Sometimes spending another half an hour in time could have made a better meal.

Overall, I wasn’t pleased and wouldn’t normally follow her recipes. I rather spend a little more time (maybe even spend a little less) and make a better meal.

The Best and The Worst

I made five different meals. I picked what I thought looked like the best to me from the book and here was the best part and the worst part. Let’s start with the bad:

I tried making Rachel’s Baby Carrots in a Balsamic Reduction. First of all, the timing was completely off and the carrots definitely needed a lot more time to cook. The reduction was horrible and did not taste good at all. I invited people over for this meal and I chose not to serve these carrots even though they were made.

However, I did find one recipe I really liked the concept of. It was a ravioli lasagna. Basically it uses ravioli instead of lasagna noodles. Ingenious! Her rendition had spinach with artichoke hearts in and a white sauce in between layers of your choice of ravioli.  It was excellent but I think this concept could be modified in multiple ways. Such as a red meat sauce with cheese ravioli. Mmm.

These are my thoughts but hopefully you can determine your own thoughts. I would recommend borrowing her book from the Library though and not spending the cash quite yet.

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Remember NaNoWriMo?

No? Phew. It never happened for us…. obviously. However, I had this ingenious plan for the month! I mean foolproof. I was going to do 30 days of 30 minute or less meals and time them. This was all an inspiration from my poor cousin. She was trying to do a Rachel Ray 30 minutes or less meal. Unfortunately two and half hours later she gave up and ordered pizza. Amen, sister (or should I say cousin?). So I went out and I borrowed two rachel ray books from the library. Yay for libraries! I even planned out the meals for an entire month. I then went out and bought the food for about 5 meals worth of Rachel Ray from her “Rachel Ray 30-Minute Meals 2” book:
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First of all I think that was the most I’ve spent on groceries in a while. Maybe it’s because I bought them all at once instead of slowly? I don’t know, maybe I’m trying to be too nice. However, I think…. no I really do believe for being simple recipes they were too much on the costly side…. Maybe that’s just me. Anyways, needless to say I only went for those five days (or was it four?) and then gave up on Rachel Ray. I wasn’t happy with most of my results. If anyone has different experiences, let me know. Stay tuned for more details.

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Roast Goose is the winner.

So the winner of my little poll was Roast Goose. Phew, I’m glad because a lot you put brains in the other category and I’m happy that didn’t win out. Hopefully you’ll see something more like this:

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I mean it can’t be that hard, right? I’ve actually never eaten roasted goose. But I do have the experience of a chef debonair, aka my father-in-law, coming to help. Actually I’ve never really roasted a big bird before. The turkey is always done by someone else when it comes to Thanksgiving. That’s why this weekend I am experimenting with some Thanksgiving recipes. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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What should we eat for Christmas Dinner?

So we got a generous offer from my father-in-law to send us something in the mail for Christmas dinner. We normally do a Turduckhen and get it from the Cajun Grocer. But this year, we were talking about different options. Help me out and tell me what you would like to see me post about this Christmas.

What’s for Christmas Dinner?online survey

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Navy Beans

For dinner I made sautéed fish with navy beans and the navy beans turned out quite well. First, I would soak them overnight. If you forgot to do this step or decided last minute to make navy beans, don’t worry, it is still possible! Instead of soaking them, you can put them in a pot and cover them with cold water and bring the water to a boil. Then drain them and start with the following recipe (Secretly this is how I made them this time but I still like soaking them more). First I started with these ingredients:

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I chopped up up some bacon and onion and threw them in a pan. If you’re a vegetarian, you can do it without the bacon. If you aren’t a vegetarian, you can even do this with a smoke ham hock instead. Yum. I didn’t have one on hand. So bacon it was!

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When your bacon is cooked and your onions are more translucent, add some garlic.

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After a couple minutes, put everything into a large pot. The onions, bacon, garlic, and the beans.

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Then fill the pot with water. I filled mine with water approximately 2 inches above the beans. I could have done a little less, like 1.5 inches. I guess it depends on how you like your beans. You can also salt and pepper at this point. However, if your using meat, remember that there’s extra salt from your bacon or ham hock.

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Now just let it simmer for an hour and a half or two and you have a tasty tasty side. Do a round of taste tests and make sure it doesn’t need any more salt or pepper.

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Yum. Enjoy.

Navy Beans Recipe

1lb bag of Navy beans (soaked overnight)
1 rounded tsp of chopped garlic
1 onion
6 slices of bacon or 1 Smoked Ham Hock
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Cook chopped bacon.
2. Add onion and Sauté.
3. After onions are translucent, add some garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute.
4. Put all the ingredients in a large pot. Add water about 1.5 – 2 inches of water above the beans.
5. Simmer for 1.5-2 hours.
6. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve and enjoy!

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Tres Leches

I have been making tres leches ever since I was a young girl and my dad handed me a recipe. That’s right it’s a family recipe but my dad has so graciously allowed me to share :D. At the bottom of this post you’ll find the official recipe of course the credit to my father:

Cake

First you make the cake. The cake is pretty easy and I usually have everything on hand to make the cake. However, before you get started, turn your oven on to 350°.

First you separate the eggs. I go hard core without an egg separator and just use the shells. It’s easier and one more gadget doesn’t take up more space in my cabinets.

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Then you put the sugar and the egg yolks into your beautiful mixer you got as a wedding gift.

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If you don’t have one, don’t get too upset. You can make this recipe by hand. I have! More on that topic later.

Then mix! It will start to look like this:

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Just push down the sides and keep mixing a little more. While this is mixing, I like to get my next ingredients ready:

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You can even butter the baking dish:

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After the yolks and sugar are nice and creamy, fold in the milk, vanilla, flour, and baking powder.

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After this is finished I scrape it out to a new bowl. Yes you heard me. A. New. Clean. Bowl. Unless you have two mixer bowls… then I’m jealous. The consistency should be nice thick and cake like.

Then you do a quick clean of the mixing bowl and put in your eggwhites.

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Beat them for 20s or so and then put in the cream of tartar. Beat the egg whites until they are soft peaks.

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Then add in your sugar and beat until they are firm peaks.

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This shouldn’t take too much longer with an electric mixer. Then pour some of the egg white mixture and gently fold it into the yolk egg mixture. Repeat until it’s all combined:

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Poor it into the pan and put it in the oven.

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I let mine bake for 40 minutes. Now this is when I RUN to the grocery store and get everything else I need because I don’t normally stock things like evaporated milk or condensed milk. I literally ran out of my house because it wasn’t like Owen was going to get up from bed to take the cake out. Not even for Tres Leches.

So when you get all the milk ingredients…Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, vanilla, and rum in a mixing bowl.

Then take the cake out. It should look nice and golden:

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Now let the cake cool. Let me say this again. Let. The. Cake. Cool!

So this is my trick to help the milk absorb faster into the cake, when the cake is cool. (Did I get my point across?) I take a fork and prick it all over. You may want to prick more on the edges so the crispier edge gets more milk.

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In the end it should look like this:

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Add the milk all over it. Try to add it very close to the cake. It you pour it on from too far up it destroys the top of the cake. Been there done that!

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This doesn’t take long, maybe only half an hour. Basically while you are making the meringue it should be all absorbed.

It only took a minute to go from the top of the cake to here:

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Here it is all absorbed:

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To make the meringue:

So start cooking your water and sugar and still once in a while:

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Then beat your egg whites with cream of tartar to soft peaks. The add the rest of the sugar and beat the stiff peaks:

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Then when the sugar gets to 239° slowly add the sugar to the egg white. The hot sugar will cook the egg whites. Mix until the meringue is cool to the touch!

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Now here comes a very important point. If you are making this by hand, do NOT have your egg whites in a metal bowl. I may have once done this once with my now husband. He was not happy, neither were his hands that were holding the bowl for me and my meringue was ruined. We started again….. WITHOUT a metal bowl. Owen will never let me forget this. Can I just say though I was trying to do everything at once. He AGREED to hold the bowl for me! But this is just a cautionary tale.

Anyways. Once the meringue is done. put several dollops onto the cake all over. It’s easier to spread all over then 🙂 The wet cake also clings to the bottom of the meringue and you don’t want cake pieces throughout your meringue. It doesn’t look pretty.

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Then you have Tres Leches Cake:

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With a nice moist cake on bottom and a nice meringue on bottom:

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Now you *should* let this cool in the fridge for two hours before served. But I’ve been known to rush it once or twice. Enjoy!

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Recipe Name: Tres Leches Cake
Category: Desserts
Serves: 10

Cake
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs separated
1⁄3 cup milk
1⁄2 Tsp. tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 Tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 Tsp. cream of tartar

Milk Syrup:
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1⁄3 tbsp light rum

Meringue:
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 Tsp. cream of tartar
3 egg whites

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
2) Prepare the cake:
Beat 3/4 cup of sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy,
about 5 minutes. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour, and baking powder.
3) Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20
seconds.
Gradually add the remaining ¬ cup sugar and continue beating until the
whites are glossy and firm, but not dry.
Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this batter into the
butter baking dish.
4) Bake the cake until is feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out
clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. Pierce the cake all over with
a fork or toothpick.
5) Prepare milk syrup:
Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, vanilla, and
rum in a mixing bowl.
Whisk until well mixed. With a spoon pour all of the syrup on the cake
until all is absorbed.
6) Prepare the meringue:
Place 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a heavy saucepan with 1/4
cup water.
Cook the sugar to the soft ball stage, 239° on a candy thermometer, 6 to 8
minutes.
7) Meanwhile; beat the egg whites to soft peaks with the cream of tartar.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating to stiff peaks.
Pour the boiling sugar syrup in a thin stream into the whites and
continue beating until the mixture is cool to the touch.
The hot syrup “cooks” the whites.
8) Using a wet spatula, spread the top and sides of the cake with a thick
layer of the meringue.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving.

© Gerardo Abascal, 2008

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