July 29, 2010

Morselette

Pin It The last time I bought a jar of mayonnaise, the jar was round rather than square.  My first thought was the design reverted back to the way it used to be many years ago.  When I put the jars side by side, they looked to be the same size.  Perhaps that's what the manufacturer wants consumers to believe.  


Mayonnaise Comparison


When I looked at the labels, the square jar held 32 ounces of mayonnaise; the round jar, 30 ounces.




What products have you found that are shrinking?


© Margaret's Morsels

July 25, 2010

Christmas in July

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It's July 25 and retailers, such as the home shopping channel QVC, are telling me it's Christmas in July.  I'm not ready to buy Christmas presents or decorations, but all this talk about Christmas makes me think about turkey and dressing.  What's a girl to do when she wants turkey and dressing in the middle of summer?  When the craving hits, I pull out a recipe I found years ago called Stuffed Breast of Turkey.  It satisfies the craving without heating up the kitchen roasting a turkey.

Margaret's Morsels | Stuffed Breast of Turkey
The only other ingredient you need is hot water.

Instead of a turkey or turkey breast, this recipe calls for turkey breast cutlets.  If the cutlets come four to a package, you can halve the recipe or buy two packages and cook the whole recipe.  The cutlets are stuffed with packaged cornbread stuffing and covered with jars of turkey gravy so there's no additional cooking required.  The cutlets cook in one hour, unlike a turkey which can take all afternoon.


I've been making this dish for a long time so I want to share some tips I've learned through trial and error over the years.
  • You really do need to pound the cutlets.  If you omit this step, the cutlets won't be nearly as tender.
  • If you can't find an 8 ounce package of stuffing, use half of a 16 ounce package   The larger package comes in handy if you need more stuffing for the top.
  • If you spoon the stuffing down the center of the cutlets, it helps the stuffing stay in place when you roll the cutlets.


Margaret's Morsels | Stuffed Breast of Turkey
The stuffing on the turkey breast cutlet.



Margaret's Morsels | Stuffed Breast of Turkey
The stuffed and rolled turkey breast cutlet.


  
If you serve this dish to company, be prepared for a lot of accolades.  The dish is not only impressive looking, but looks as though you spent hours in the kitchen.  When you tell your guests it really wasn't that much trouble, they'll think you're being modest!




Margaret's Morsels | Stuffed Breast of Turkey


Stuffed Breast of Turkey
8 Servings

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cornbread stuffing, divided
2/3 cup hot water
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
8 turkey breast cutlets, slightly pounded
2 (12 oz.) jars turkey gravy

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups stuffing, hot water and butter; mix well. Put an equal amount of the stuffing mixture in the center of each cutlet; roll each cutlet tightly.  Place cutlets seam side down in a greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.  Pour gravy over the cutlets and sprinkle the remaining stuffing over the top.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350° for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes until heated through and no pink remains in the turkey.


© Margaret's Morsels


July 21, 2010

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

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Margaret's Morsels | Vanilla Ice Cream


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!  There's no better time to scream for ice cream than July since it's National Ice Cream Month.


When I got married, my husband and I registered for, and received, an electric ice cream maker that used rock salt and ice, lots and lots of ice.  I used it a half dozen times and then put it in the back of the closet, pulling it out only for special occasions.  It was just too much trouble to use.


Several years ago, I bought an automatic ice cream maker that does not require rock salt or ice.  I was so impressed with how easy it was to use, I sold the electric ice cream maker at a yard sale.  The automatic ice cream maker not only looks different from an electric ice cream maker, it works differently too.


Margaret's Morsels | Vanilla Ice Cream
Automatic Ice Cream Maker

The automatic ice cream maker comes with a bowl that contains a liquid inside its walls.  The bowl must be put in the freezer for 24 hours before you make the ice cream.  The liquid in the walls freezes which lets you make the ice cream without rock salt or ice.  Once the bowl is frozen, put the bowl in the ice cream maker, insert the paddle, put on the lid and turn the unit on.  The bowl starts turning and you pour the thoroughly chilled ice cream mix into the bowl through an opening in the lid.  Twenty minutes later you have ice cream.

Although this ice cream maker has a lot of pros, it also has some cons.
  • You need to plan accordingly so you have plenty of time to freeze the bowl, chill the mix and, if desired, let the ice cream harden before you serve it.  I generally start the process two days before I'm going to serve the ice cream. 
  • It's not as large as a regular ice cream maker so you can't make more than 1 1/2 quarts at one time.  Since most ice cream recipes make more than that, it's a good idea to purchase a second bowl.  If you don't, you'll have to freeze the bowl again before you can finish making the batch.
  • The ice cream mix must also be made a day ahead and refrigerated so it's very cold when your pour it into the frozen bowl.  
  • Unlike the old ice cream makers that had to be packed with rock salt and ice and allowed to "ripen," this ice cream is ready to eat as soon as it's done.  If you like soft ice cream, this is a good thing.  We prefer a firmer ice cream so I immediately transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze it overnight.
Margaret's Morsels | Vanilla Ice Cream
Soft ice cream is ready in 20 minutes.


Margaret's Morsels | Vanilla Ice Cream
The ice cream after being frozen overnight.


My favorite ice cream recipe is the one my mother used.  I have no idea where the recipe came from, but it's the only one she ever used.  The only change I've made is using egg substitute instead of raw eggs.  Well, that and the fact that I don't need rock salt and ice!

Vanilla Ice Cream
3 Quarts

egg substitute equal to 6 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
3 qt. whole milk
1/4 cup pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

You need a very large bowl.  If you don't have one, make two batches using half the ingredients in each batch, or halve the recipe and make 1 1/2 quarts.

Put egg substitute in a bowl.  Add sugar; stir.  Add the remaining ingredients; mix well.  Pour into freezer container and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

If you use an automatic ice cream maker, you need to refrigerate the mixture in advance.  It's easier to pour in the machine if you store it in gallon jugs or 2-liter bottles.  Shake or stir the mixture before pouring it into the machine so the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.


© Margaret's Morsels





July 16, 2010

Morselette

Pin It I want to include a feature that will, I hope, elicit comments and opinions about a particular food related topic.  I wasn't sure what to call the feature since it's too small to be a morsel.  My husband thought I should call it a "morselette."  I love the idea and will be posting morselettes periodically.  I hope you'll take time to share your thoughts about these topics.

Monday I wrote about deviled eggs  (A Tisket, A Tasket, A Gently Used Picnic Basket).  What do you put in your filling for deviled eggs?  Do you sprinkle the top with paprika or do anything to garnish the eggs?


© Margaret's Morsels

July 12, 2010

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Gently Used Picnic Basket

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Margaret's Morsels | Deviled Eggs


Recently, while cleaning out a closet, I found a picnic basket my husband and I received as a wedding present.  We used it a few times, but it's been over a decade since that basket's seen the light of day.  It seems as though there's never time for a picnic.


When I was a kid, we went on picnics at least once a month.  My mother fixed the same meal for every picnic:  fried chicken, deviled eggs, baked beans and bread and butter sandwiches.  The sandwiches were nothing more than butter spread on bread, sandwiched together and cut diagonally, but they sure were good.


I remember those picnics everytime I make a batch of deviled eggs.  I use the same recipe my mother used.  It only uses four ingredients and isn't very fancy, but it's always the first plate of deviled eggs to be devoured at a potluck dinner.  I double the recipe when I'm fixing these for a crowd.


Normally when you cook, you use the freshest ingredients available.  This is counterproductive, though, when it comes to boiled eggs.  Eggs are much easier to peel if you use older eggs.  Egg shells that are easy to peel leave a prettier egg white, which is important when you're using them for deviled eggs.


Everyone has a preferred method for boiling eggs.  It seems as though there are as many ways to boil eggs as there are fillings for deviled eggs! I'm not saying my way is the best way or the right way.  It's the way my mother taught me and I've always had excellent results.  When I boil eggs this way, I don't end up with a green band around the yolks which is a telltale sign of overcooking.


Put the eggs in a saucepan -- make sure you use a pan size appropriate for the number of eggs you're boiling -- and cover the eggs with water.  Put the pan on the stove and turn the burner to high.  When the water comes to a boil, put the lid on the pan and remove the pan from the burner.  Let the eggs sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.  Drain the water and cover the eggs with cold water and ice cubes.  When the ice cubes melt, peel the eggs.


Margaret's Morsels | Deviled Eggs
Cooked the way my mother taught me.


Once the eggs are peeled, cut the eggs lengthwise and remove the yolks. Put the yolks in a small bowl and mash them with a fork.  Make sure to mash them thoroughly so the filling doesn't have any lumps.  Mix in the remaining ingredients, blending completely.


My mother always scooped the filling into the egg whites using a spoon, but I use a disposable pastry bag.  The bag is quicker and not as messy.  If you want to make the eggs even prettier, put a cake decorating tip in the pastry bag before you add the filling.  The easiest way to fill a pastry bag is to stand it upright in a clean glass, turning the top down over the edge of the glass like this:


Margaret's Morsels | Deviled Eggs




Once the bag is filled and removed from the glass, twist the top of the bag to close it and cut off a small corner at the bottom.  You're now ready to fill the egg whites.  Once the eggs are filled, store them in a covered container in the refrigerator.  It's best to make them a day ahead of time so the flavors have time to blend.


deviled-eggs | Margaret's Morsels
The finished product.


If you take deviled eggs on a picnic, be sure to keep the container in a cooler with ice.  If you want  a really good meal to go with the eggs, add some fried chicken and baked beans.  Don't forget the bread and butter sandwiches.

Deviled Eggs
6 Servings

6 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup mayonnaise

Cut peeled eggs lengthwise in half; remove yolks and mash with a fork. Mix in remaining ingredients.  Fill whites with egg yolk mixture.  Keep refrigerated.


© Margaret's Morsels


July 7, 2010

A Corn-Y Post

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Margaret's Morsels | Microwave Corn-on-the-Cob


Summer in the South means heat and humidity.  It also means grocery stores, farmer's markets and roadside stands are a veritable cornucopia of produce.


The summer vegetable I look forward to more than any other is corn.  The canned and frozen corn I cook during the off season pales in comparison to fresh from the field.  It doesn't matter to me if the kernels are yellow, white or a mixture of the two.  As long as it's fresh and juicy, I'm happy.


Corn is in season from May through September, but peaks in August. When purchasing corn, look for bright green husks and golden brown silks. The store where I shop has corn packaged with half the husk removed, exposing one side of the kernels.  When it's sold this way, I can press a kernel to see if any milk oozes out.  It if does, that's a good sign the corn is juicy.  Corn is best used right away so don't store it in the refrigerator longer than a day or two.


Margaret's Morsels | Microwave Corn-on-the-Cob
This is how corn is sold at my grocery store.


                              
If you think a microwave is only good for popcorn and heating leftovers, try using it to cook corn on the cob.  Not only is it quick, the corn retains more flavor than when boiled in a pot of water.  If you've never cooked corn in the microwave, it's really easy to do.


Husk the corn and remove all silks.  Wash the cobs with a vegetable brush under cold running water.  Place the damp corn on a piece of waxed paper; add butter or margarine, if desired.  Roll the corn in the waxed paper, twisting the ends to seal.  Put the corn spoke-fashion in the microwave and cook on High.  It takes three minutes per ear to cook in my 1100 watt microwave.  It might take more or less time depending on the wattage of your microwave.  I check the corn for doneness by squeezing the cob with a pot holder.  If it's not tender, I cook it in one minute intervals until it's done.

Margaret's Morsels | Microwave Corn-on-the-Cob
Spoke-fashion in the microwave.

If you've never cooked fresh corn on the cob, give it a try.  If you don't want to microwave the corn, it can be boiled or grilled.  No matter which way you choose to cook it, enjoy fresh corn while it's in season.


© Margaret's Morsels

July 2, 2010

Pie for the 4th of July and an Introduction

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In America, the 4th of July is a day filled with family, fireworks and food.  In addition to celebrating our nation's independence, it's also a day I get some freedom from the kitchen.  My husband fixes our meal that day and I fix dessert.

Although nothing is more American than apple pie, this year I decided to make something cold:  Peanut Butter Pie.  A friend shared the recipe with me last year.  It doesn't require any cooking which is a big plus in the summer.  It's quick and easy to make, but you do need to allow time for it to firm up in the refrigerator overnight.

The recipe calls for 1 cup whipping cream.  If you don't have a stand mixer and don't want to beat whipping cream for 20 to 30 minutes, you can substitute 1 cup Cool Whip.  If you use whipping cream, it needs to be whipped to this consistency:

Margaret's Morsels | Easy Peanut Butter Chip Pie

You can also use different pie crusts.  The original recipe called for a regular size graham cracker pie crust.  I think the filling gets firmer in a deep-dish pie crust, but you can use either one.  If you like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, you might try substituting a chocolate pie crust.  An idea I've had, but never tried, is making a pie crust using crushed Nutter Butter cookies and melted butter.  I think that would add an extra burst of peanut butter.  If you try making the crust, let me know how it turns out.

The first time I made the pie, my son wanted to know if I could put chocolate on top.  He had several ideas on how to do this, but we decided to use a bottle of Magic Shell ice cream topping.  The Magic Shell topping gets hard quickly so I put it on the pie one hour before serving and put the pie back in the refrigerator.  It takes a full bottle of Magic Shell to cover a deep-dish crust.

Margaret's Morsels | Easy Peanut Butter Chip Pie
Without the Magic Shell topping.


Margaret's Morsels | Easy Peanut Butter Chip Pie
With the Magic Shell topping.


If you don't want to use the Magic Shell topping, the recipe includes directions for garnishing the pie.  This pie is delicious, with or without the topping.  It's a great recipe to make on a hot summer day -- or any day -- when you want something sweet, but don't want to heat up the kitchen.

Easy Peanut Butter Chip Pie
6 to 8 Servings

1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 (10 oz.) pkg. peanut butter chips, divided
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cold whipping cream, divided
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and lemon juice in medium bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes; set aside.  Place 1 cup peanut butter chips and sweetened condensed milk in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on High 45 seconds; stir.  If necessary, microwave on High an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and the mixture is smooth when stirred.  Add warm peanut butter mixture to cream cheese mixture.  Beat on medium speed of mixer until blended, about 1 minute. Beat 1/2 cup whipping cream in another small bowl until stiff; fold into peanut butter mixture.  Pour into pie crust; cover.  Refrigerate overnight until firm.  If desired, just before serving, combine remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in small bowl.  Beat until stiff; spread over filling.  Garnish with remaining 2/3 cup peanut butter chips. Refrigerate leftovers.

Welcome to margaretsmorsels!  For years, I wanted to write a newspaper food column.  I never had the time to pursue that dream so I decided to do the next best thing:  write a food and cooking blog.  Rather than write a long detailed blog, I'm going to write morsels:  a bite; a fragment; a tasty dish.  These morsels will, I hope, be informative and inspire your culinary creativity.  Thanks for reading and please check back soon for the latest morsel.  Bon Appetit!


© Margaret's Morsels