Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer – Blooming Spices

Boost up the flavors of your spices by ‘blooming’ them first to help them release their maximum flavor!

When using spices we often just add them in at the end of a dish or right at the beginning. While both methods will give you spice flavor you’re probably not realizing that by not blooming them first, you’re not helping them reach their maximum spice level. You see the key to great success in any dish with spices (albeit hot or just flavorful) is about timing. Granted you’ll get more flavor out of a dish if you add the spices when you first start cooking it like you would with chili rather than adding everything at the end. But timing is just half of the key; the other half is blooming the spices.

Okay, okay, okay ‘explain what blooming is Lori!’. I hear you guys loud and clear.

When I thinking ‘blooming I think of a Bloomin’ onion! lol

Weekly Menu

Get out of that same ol’ recipe rut and try one of these delicious and easy recipes this week! This week I highly recommend making the Potato Gnocchi in a Bacon Cream Sauce and the Crack Chicken Casserole – Tots, Crispy Bacon, Cheeeeese and BBQ Ranch Sauce!!

Happy Sunday TKW Family!  What’s shakin’ in your world? Tis the season and things are ramping up here. Work is making that one final push to get stuff pushed into production before we go into the end of the year freeze which means long hours and lots of work. TKW is always busiest from October to January which yes I start listening to Christmas music around early October. I know, I know, I’m one of those people who actually look forward to when the radio stations go all Christmas music 24×7 for the season. It’s just happy music; stuff that makes you feel good and for many of us, reminds of our childhood.

Christmas for me was such a magical time of year. You all know my story – youngest of 6 from a very, VERY poor family. We simply didn’t have stuff and going to the store to buy things like clothes or the latest and greatest toy just really didn’t happen. However Mom and Dad always found a way to get us each at least one “new” thing from the store. They’d often go without and sometimes they wouldn’t pay a bill just so we’d have a nice Christmas. They always made it so special and Mom would make $20 spent on each kid look like we had a million presents. I think that’s why I get so excited when I see lots of presents. It’s not so much about what’s inside of it but rather seeing all the pretty papers, bows and ribbons. Mom would put so much thought into each individual present that she’d even make unwrapping a single packet of gum exciting.

What we lacked in money and ‘fancy’ things, we made up in other ways a million times over. From the foods from scratch to the homemade gifts. I can still remember sneaking down one Christmas Eve night to go to the bathroom and seeing my new “used junkyard” bike that my Dad made for me. He would go to the local junk yard and find parts, sand them up, slap on a new coat of paint and voila! Beautiful purple banana seated bike. And because Mom was who she was, she put silver tassels on the handles to make it more “Lori”.

What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Go Crazy & Jelly Bars (Cookie Butter Peanut Butter & Jelly Crack Bars)

Taking PB&J to a whole new level! Crunchy chocolate pretzel crust, raspberry awesomeness, creamy ‘butter’ filling, and decadent chocolate ganache make these bars over the top CRAZY!

So this recipe is one of those “I need something sweet and I don’t care if I have to eat peanut butter out of the jar” type of recipes. Actually full disclosure, that’s how this recipe came to be. I was starving and wanted something sweet but also something fast. Peanut butter!  Peanut butter is my go-to dessert/sweet/protein/just-get-it-in-my-mouth-as-fast-as-possible food. I was in my kitchen, working on some recipes but didn’t have time to make myself something real to eat so out came the spoon and jar of peanut butter.

Yes, I’m one of THOSE people who eat peanut butter out of the jar. It’s my jar so I can do whatever I want. So I’m sitting there, happy as a little piggy with a newly found mud puddle when I “accidentally” grabbed the spoon from the jar of cookie butter. It wasn’t intentional though I can’t say if it wasn’t subliminal. Anyway I was like “OH! Well that’s a nice surprise!” You see I was working on my Ultimate Cookie Butter Cream pie and had it out along with a big bowl of ganache at the time.

Go Crazy & Jelly Bars - Cookie Butter Peanut Butter & Jelly Crack bars

So there I am, in the kitchen a spoon in each hand and a fretted look on my face as I really needed a third hand to scoop the ganache. That’s when I decided to whip up a few buckeyes. Well about halfway through making the filling I decided to incorporate the cookie butter and then I realized I needed a textural element thus the pretzels. See while I like traditional buckeyes, I prefer a crunch to them so often I’ll add pretzels to it or rice cereal.

Whether you go straight cookie butter, peanut butter or both, you’re going to love these bars!

Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer – Getting rid of air bubbles in cake batter

You make the perfect cake batter. It tastes like pure heaven. You bake it and when you turn it out you find that it’s full of air holes and pockets. Find out today how to stop this from happening!

I was asked over the weekend “How do get your cakes to not have those funky hole-y type textures and holes all through out it?”. It was from that discussion that I found that they really didn’t understand some cake baking simple concepts – room temperature ingredients, creaming butters, sifting dry ingredients, prepping the cake pans to air pockets in the batters.  Stuff that, honestly, I tend to take for granted as I’ve been baking for decades that I just assumed people knew the basics. Shame on me. So today, let’s cover one of the basics – air bubbles in your batter.

The type of flour you use is important. When I make cakes most of the time I use cake flour as it doesn’t have as high of a protein count as AP flour. The higher the protein, the more gluten. Like you would never use bread or pizza flour to make a cake. Well you could if you wanted a chewy cake. But even if you use cake flour, if you over mix it you can cause gluten to form. Thus leading to holes in your cakes.


Just bang the pan!

Weekly Menu

Get out of that same ol’ recipe rut and try one of these delicious and easy recipes this week! This week I highly recommend making the Guinness Corned Beef Reuben Pizza and the Crispy Baked Taco Muffin Cups!

Happy Sunday TKW Family from a very soggy Pittsburgh. This is the time of year I hate. It’s rainy, dreary, cold, gray, muddy and just depressing. It’s that transitional period where summer is trying to hold on just a little bit longer but winter is kicking at the door trying to get in. Living in Pittsburgh this is the time where you pray for a 4-day dry out period so the ground can harden up and not be so soaked for you to pick up the 9 bajillion leaves. I know many of you said to leave it, that it enriches the soil and so forth but no. It kills the grass and anything that tries to go in the spring. How do I know? Cause it killed ours the one year we didn’t pick up the leaves in the one section. However, at that first year of us raking 5 acres of leaves (seriously thought my arms were going to fall off that year), we went out and bought a commercial leaf-sucker-upper-mulcher thing that connects to our tractor. It’s still not an easy job and will easily take ours to do our property but it’s a necessary evil.

This past week was kind of a blur as I honestly can’t remember anything ‘special’ I did other than work. I dread the next 3 weeks as I’m going to be crushed with work but it’s kind of the norm really – rush to get as much in before Thanksgiving as let’s face it, once Thanksgiving hits the office becomes more and more bare. You figure most folks save at least a weeks’ worth of vacation for this time of year. Are you one of them? I am though it kind of just happened as with my shoulder surgery and all.

God can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving? And now the Hallmark Channel  is playing Christmas movies 24/7. So I’ll admit that I’m kind of loving that. It’s funny as for years I never watched tv as I had a job that ruined tv for me. You see I worked in the media industry whose software was used by the networks to schedule their shows, episodes, commercials and so forth. I got ‘trained’ to not watch tv for enjoyment but rather to see whether or not the software worked and that there were no glitches.  Like did you ever watch tv and a commercial comes on only that commercial ‘breaks’ or cuts off too fast? Or what about the same commercial airing back to back? Yeah that’s bad in the media industry. So when that happened within minutes my phone would ring and all hell would break loose.

How do you spend a rainy Sunday?

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