Peppermint Crunch Brownie Batter Bark

So this recipe kinda just happened out of my having WAY too much stuff in my cupboards and more importantly, my not knowing I had the stuff in the first place. Since I’ve been home with surgery I’ve been going stir crazy and I am not one to sit still.  I swear the phrase “ants in the pants” is because of me.  I could never sit still.  Now I wasn’t hyper or the like I just was always into stuff, wanting to learn, understand how something worked.  And since I didn’t require a lot of sleep I learned at a very young age that others (I call you folks ‘sleepers’) need more than 3-4 hours of sleep a night, unlike me.  That being said waking my parents or siblings up in the middle of the night was a big no-no, no matter how flippin’ adorable I was as a child.

Now fast forward to now, being one-armed was an issue for me while my shoulder healed.  I was limited and it sucked but I was bound and determined to do something.  My real job graciously let me work from home while I healed and once my day with that was done I’d try to find stuff around the house to get into.  So the one day I decided to take a deep dive into my ‘snack’ cupboard.  Well wait, it’s not “my” snack pantry but more so 2 shelves are all his of his snacks (along with the entire baking rack of snacks and kitchen table of treats).  2 of the other shelves were some more baking items, sauces and oils for cooking.  As I started pulling stuff out I literally had 4 boxes of unopened candy canes from honestly… I have no clue when I bought them.  Maybe 2 years ago… maybe *blush*

Peppermint Crunch Brownie Batter Bark7

Wha? Don’t judge me. You have crap in your cupboards too… right? LOL

Tuesday Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer – How to Store Celery

So I have this love/hate relationship with celery.  I love it in foods but I hate how it gets in the fridge drawer after a week or so.  It gets mushy and looses its crispness.  Well have I got the best kept secret (til now) on how to properly store your celery AND a bonus… how you can grow your own celery!

I’ve been doing this for years as it just made sense and honestly I think I was at my wit’s end trying any way possible to save celery from dying in my fridge.  It was until I found that if you trimmed it up and then wrapped it in foil that you could easily extend the fridge life of it for weeks! No more tossing it when you only use a stalk or two at a time! Well thanks to  an old issue of Cook’s Illustrated they explain this theory on why it works. You see aluminum foil allows the ripening hormone ethylene to escape. In contrast, a plastic bag traps ethylene gas, accelerating moisture loss and spoilage.

Tuesday Tip
So how do you store it?

→ When you get it home, cut off the top. Save those ends in a baggie for the freezer for stock.
→ For the base, cut it 2″ from the bottom leaving the entire base in tact – save for planting indoors!
→ Take a clean paper towel and wrap around the trimmed stalks.
→ Place the wrapped stalks in a large enough piece of foil to wrap around completely (including the ends).
→ Store in the fridge and use when needed.

How to grow your own – I’ll do a real post later on this but the easiest way is as follows:

 → Rinse off the base and place it in a small saucer or bowl of warm water on or near a sunny windowsill. You want the base side down and cut stalks facing upright.
→ Change the water in the base every 2 days.  Don’t be alarmed if the surrounding stalks began to dry out significantly.  This is normal.  After a week or 10 days you should notice tiny little yellow leaves from the center of the base begin to thicken and start to turn dark green. This is the start of your new celery!
→ Once the leaves start to grow out from the center about a 1/2″, transplant the base stalk to a planter and completely cover the base with dirt leaving only the new leaves/growth exposed.  Also be sure to allow for adequate drainage.
→ At this point water generously but don’t soak it.  You want to ensure that your celery stalks do not dry out.
→ Just let it grow and water it.  It’ll take a while to grow indoors but what you will have is a gorgeous, edible plant!
→ If you only need a bit, just chop off some growth and use in your recipe.  The celery will regenerate new growth.




Weekly Menu

Happy Sunday TKW Family! So this past week has been odd. We had to take my car back AGAIN to the repair center as it still was shaking when started – this makes what, trip number 8 since January? Well as they are repairing it they call Mr. Fantabulous to inform him that my one tire is well… square. No, not round… square. WTH? See when you put true snow tires on a vehicle it gets louder driving on the road. Why? Simple really; more treads the more noise. So as I drove I attributed the loudness to that. Yeah, I was wrong. Here a belt thing-a-ma-bob (yes that’s the girl technical term) broke inside the tire so that’s what was causing the noise. Well since the first day of Spring was Friday we planned on just swapping out my tires/rims for my summer ones.

Well that was the plan until I woke up yesterday to see a blanket of white covering my driveway, yard and everything in between. So wait, Thursday it was like 50F and Friday it’s SNOWING? WTH Mother Nature! Are you going to menopause cause these mood swings have got to go lady! Someone give her a shot of tequila, some chocolate, a Midol and a hug. Damn! And get this… Saturday was 53F! Oy! No wonder people are sick and miserable here right now in the ‘Burgh. I love, love, love this city but I absolutely HATE our weather! If I could move Pittsburgh to Scottsdale, Arizona I would. LOL

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So I started PT and yeah, it sucks as it hurts but I’m trooper and push through the pain. Plus man I so miss working out. Thankfully those 10 pounds I gained since December are off. I swear bread is a killer for me. I just look at a bagel and BOOM! Instant 2 pounds on the thighs! So I cut back drastically on the breads/carbs, increased my proteins and veggies and what I found what I was doing was ‘picking’ at stuff. And that’s not me. I’m not a grazer-type-of eater. Are you? Mr. Fantabulous is though not so much anymore.

This past week unfortunately he was down for the count with a pretty wicked head cold. I swear we went through 4 boxes of tissues, 8 quarts of  magic “thoup” or that would be chicken soup in “sickese” and a gallon of orange sherbert. Well I shouldn’t say ‘we’ as I wasn’t allowed to touch the “thoup” but only to heat it up and put it in the bowl AND scoop him out the sherbert. Oh no, I couldn’t eat any.  He may need it because he “thick in the head” (sick in the head).  LOL But honestly it broke my heart to see him so sick; so pitiful. I’m a very nurturing person and since we don’t have kids he’s like my big kid so I really spoil him.

However he felt better on Friday which mean Saturday I wanted to clean out 3 rooms. Just literally 3 rooms and it wasn’t a lot.  I actually got the one done myself, with a single arm in about a few hours.  Just more or less putting stuff in boxes for charity and getting rid of clutter.  Spring Cleaning if you will.  With my having surgery he’s been sleeping in the one spare room as he’s a tosser/turner/sleep-not-on-his-side-of-the-bed kinda guy and I was fearful of the lug rolling on me or touching my shoulder by accident.  Well with him being sick that spare room literally looked like a bomb went off in it from him. So when he started feeling better I gave him 1 task for Saturday.  Literally one thing. Clean out the spare bedroom (which literally would have taken me an hour tops to do). Oh he picked up the crap off of the floor and moved a rocker however it needed a lot more done. But then he got distracted and decided since it was nice out we needed to burn our trash (papers and stuff). So fine, he gets the tractor with the pull trailer out, loads it up with 9 million boxes of paper stuff to take to our firepit to burn.

I go down as I am the official fire starter (insert her Beavis “Yes, yes, fire, fire, fire” imitation here). We get there only he decides that it needed cleaned out (the fire pit – which I told him in October to clean it out before winter came). He goes to get the excavator and the battery is dead so we have to hook it up to my car and jump it. Fine, he cleans it out which took 4 hours BECAUSE he then decides it needs rebuilt.

This firepit is 10′ around and a good 2 1/2′ high! NOW, in the 45F weather he decides it needs rebuilt and if I “was a good wife” I’d sit there and keep him company. So yes I sat there, in the chilly weather (which killed my shoulder from the cold) for 4 hours in the mud while he decided to play Bob the Builder.

So fine, he scoops everything out, rebuilds the fire pit and loads the crap in the trailer to haul to our scrap pile. He pulls the tractor 4′ forward, I scream for him to stop. Why? Because I told him and he didn’t listen when I said he was putting too much in, the weight of the crap made BOTH tires in the trailer go flat.

After another 45 minutes of getting 2 air hoses over to the trailer, he gets that filled up. FINALLY 5.5 hours later we all the crap burned, stuff put away. Mind you, the only thing he had to do today was clean the one room that would have taken 1 hour.

We get up to the house, muddy and me in tears from the pain. Do you know that man actually said “What’s for dinner honey???”

What came out of my mouth next I will not repeat as it so far from ladylike it would make a trucker blush. I ended it that it would be wise if he slept with one eye open tonight.

So the room isn’t done which means he has 2 for today to do. Which translates to him not doing that but painting the house and putting on a new roof! LOL

And with that my dear TKW Family, I’m signing off and going to see what, if anything, is getting done in this house today.  Plus Mr. Fantabulous’ birthday is Saturday the 29th so I have some planning to get done.

Have an amazing week!

Best Kitchen Wishes!

♥ Monday – Crockpot Ham Potato Bean Cabbage Stoup
♥ Tuesday- Ultimate New York Strip Steaks
♥ Wednesday - Breakfast Pizzas
♥ Thursday - Spinach Chicken Caprese
♥ Friday – Coconut Panko Crusted Baked Tilapia – Regular or Gluten Free
♥ Saturday – Stuffed Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Cheesy Ranch Centers – Regular and Super Hot
♥ Sunday – Happy Birthday Mr. Fantabulous! Meatball Stuffed Manicotti
♥ Dessert of the week - Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Waffle Sandwiches




Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Chicken Meatballs

Chicken meatballs aren’t something new here. When I introduced my Margarita Chicken Meatballs to my Stuffed Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Cheesy Ranch Centers you guys went nuts!  Then you guys asked for a super healthy version and who I am to deny you?  Thus came my Protein Packed Chicken Parmesan Florentine Meatballs. These meatballs are not only super healthy and packed with protein but they are friggen delicious!  I’ve been preaching to you all for years.. eating healthy doesn’t have to taste bad!  You should never have to sacrifice taste for making food healthy!

Heck I’ve created so many meatballs recipes on here that it has it’s only subcategory on the website!
Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Chicken Meatballs2

A few weeks ago I shared with you my latest meatball recipe, Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Meatballs made with beef and pork. These seriously stopped both Mr. Fantabulous and I in our tracks.  See while he likes cheese he doesn’t “love it”. I know he’s a weirdo but he’s sexy and can lift super heavy stuff so I keep him around.  LOL  Please… I adore that man and would be lost without him!  But when it comes to cheese he can either love it leave it.  Me, on the other hand, has an entire fridge drawer dedicated to just cheese.  So when I decided to make a batch of meatballs I wanted to incorporate some cheesy awesomeness into them. Just by stuffing some cheese in the middle the outcome was so incredible that I may just permanently switch to making my meatballs this way for when I make meatball subs.  For him I won’t have to add extra cheese on top (again he’s weird) and for me I’ll get a double whammy of cheese… cheese in the middle and cheese on top!  WIN WIN!

You know it’s all about that cheese, ’bout that cheese

Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer – Bacon Grease

In my house growing up, saving bacon grease was a part of life. Whenever Mom got done cooking up a few pounds of bacon she’d let it cool ever so slightly and pour it into the official bacon grease can – an empty coffee can with a plastic lid. This can sat on the back burner for eons and when Mom needed to fry up some eggs, onions or even sear beef she reached for a scoop of the bacon grease.  Olive oil was unheard of in those days.  We had vegetable oil, Crisco or butter.  Those weren’t cheap but bacon grease; that was something we always had on hand and it added such an amazing depth of flavor to whatever you fried in it.

I don’t care who you are but the best eggs are fried not in butter but in bacon grease.  And onions… you fry them badboys in some bacon grease and I’m your best friend.  Okay yes I know it’s unhealthy but think of it as a ‘seasoning’ to your dish.  Just like butter or other oils everything in moderation.  So fast forward to my kitchen today… well okay maybe not today as it’s an utter mess thanks to the never-ending construction project here.  I think I’m the only kitchen that has an oven, blender, pressure cooker, 2 Marshall stack amps, a Diezel amp, 3 guitars, about 100′ of cables, case of lights and oh yeah.. somewhere there is a table and chairs too.  But on my counter I have a glass mason jar full of luscious bacon grease, or bacon fat as some may call. In it you can see those rendered nuggets of bacon pieces in the mix of the grease.

Tuesday Tip
Now I’ve yet to see a definitive way as to where to store it – in the fridge or on the counter. I leave mine out only because that’s what Mom and Grandma did though it does make sense to keep it in the fridge as it does contain teensy pieces of cooked bacon. I’d err on the side of storing it in the fridge if I were you just to be sure. I figure for me it hasn’t made me sick thus far so why change (knocks on wood here). What I have changed is how I store it.  Mom used a coffee can and I use a glass mason jar.  The idea of storing it in metal kind of freaks me out only because I’m afraid of rust and other bad chemical reactions.  Plus I loathe the taste of coffee and I would gag if my bacon grease some how became coffee flavored.  Plus as oxymoronish as this sounds I want my bacon grease to be healthy (ha!) and don’t want to risk metal chemicals leaking into it.

When it comes to pouring it in the jar, let it cool slightly before pouring it in.  I don’t want to risk pouring hot liquid into a glass jar and having it shattered.  Most importantly here is if you store yours in the fridge you MUST let it come to room temperature (the jar) before pouring the grease in it.  Be safe here people!  Once cool, top with your lid and store.

Steer far, far away from storing bacon grease in plastic.  Why?  Have you ever tried to clean a plastic container that had something oily or greasy in it?  It’s virtually impossible! The molecular makeup of plastic is very close to that of fat. Which makes bacon fat very difficult to clean from plastics.  Go with glass here.

So now that you have a lovely little stash of luscious bacon grease, what can you use it for?  Oh lawd child.. the possibilities are endless!

Fry your eggs, potatoes or any vegetable in it!
Use it in place of regular oil to pan sear meats.
Add a bit of it to your cookie or brownie batter to give that subtle bacony flavor.
Add an AMAZING flavor to caramelized onions by adding a tsp or 2 to your pot.
Spread or drizzle it on top of your pizza crust before adding your toppings.  Your pizza will ROCK!
Make bacon mayo!
Add it to pancakes, waffles, french toast or really any breakfast food.
A bit of bacon grease to cakes, muffins and cupcakes will give you a great savory flavor.
Really the skies the limit!

I have used bacon grease/drippings in several recipes on here. Trust me on this folks, this stuff is liquid gold!




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