Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hot Pickled Sausage and Eggs

One thing that my youngest son really enjoys are the Tijuana Mamá hot pickled sausages.  They are a little on the pricey side though, with each one costing about $1.60. 
I wanted to send in him back to college next month with a supply so he could have some when he felt like it.  We decided to try making our own version and see if we could get them close to the store bought and for a much cheaper price.  Although our version is not exactly the same as Tijuana Mamá's they are pretty close and whole lot cheaper. 
Here is how we made our version of Tijuana Mamá's hot pickled sausages~
Gather the following ingredients for the brine 4 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Cayene pepper
10 whole black peppercorns
4-5 cloves of garlic, leave 2 whole and mince the rest
2 tablespoons of salt
1 teaspoon basil
1-2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
For the sausages we used 3 packages of Bar-S chicken hot dogs which I cut in half.
In a large saucepan add the vinegar and water.  Add the 2 whole garlic, minced garlic and the spices and bring to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool. Fill prepared canning jars with cut hot dogs and cover with the brine till all hot dogs are covered. Tightly close each jar and set in the fridge for 2 days before enjoying your sausage. I was so tempted and after 2 hours I just had to try them. Oh yeah they where pretty bombing. After 2 days they will even better, trust me y'all. 
This recipe will make enough brine for 3, 1/2 quart jars and one 1/2 quart jar of pickled eggs.

Here is rundown on the cost:
We bought 3 packages of Bar-S chicken hot dogs for $3.00. We cut the franks in half for a total of 48 sausages. The vinegar and spices I already had on hand so I only averaged the cost of the hot dogs. In the end we had a total of 48 sausages about 3" long at a cost of .07 cents each. I think we did pretty good.  The eggs were about ,75 cents for the six eggs. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Simple Fixins

Using up the last of the Christmas goodies sent from a friend made for a simple yet tasty breakfast this morning.  Served it up on my prettiest Cowboy China and it was as pretty to look at as it was easy for clean up.  Hey, when you are enjoying your vacation you want to enjoy every minute of it.  Cleaning a mountain of dishes shouldn't have to happen every day.  Just sayin y'all.
Have a tasty day y'all. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Messy Happens...

Half the fun of Christmas is all the cooking, baking and goodie making.  I love the way that food brings people together, makes them smile.  All the cooking,  baking, and goodie making gets messy though and makes for a much needed clean up.

Our lives are messy too and we need a clean up.  The good news of Christmas is that the little baby born that day was royalty dressed in human form and He came to be our Savior.  He came to live and ultimately die so that we could take our messy, sinful lives and get the best clean up ever.  A brand new heart.  He loved us so much that He was willing to take on human form and walk among us, to show us how to live.  Heaven's perfect gift sent to us on Christmas day.

This Christmas my prayer is that each of you might know Him.  The savior who came to us as a baby and lived among us to show us the way to live.  The Savior King who sacrificed His own life so that we can take our messy, sinful lives to Him and receive a clean heart in exchange.  How awesome is that.  Best gift ever was God's son Jesus born for us.   Have a blessed Christmas y'all.

Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:11

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Gifting

Friends, here is a quick amd simple Christmas gifting idea that is easy to whip up and is as pretty and festive as can be. Homemade hot cocoa mix. Add a few marshmallows, homemade or store bought and you have a simple yet festive gift that anyone would appreciate. Here is my super easy cocoa recipe.

Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix

2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup special dark cocoa powder
 2-1/2 cups dry milk powder
 1 teaspoon salt
 1/2 cup Nestle's dark chocolate baking chips
 2 tablespoons corn starch

 Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In batches pulse through the food processor until all is incorporated and chocolate chips are fairly ground up. For gifting place hot cocoa mix in festive canning jars.  I found these Quattro Stagioni Italian canning jars at Ross. They are very pretty and were a great find.

Attatch the following instructions to the jar of cocoa mix:

For one cup of hot cocoa mix 1/3 cup of cocoa mix to 1 cup of boiling water. Add 2-3 marshmallows and enjoy!

Here are a couple of flavor variations you might like to try.

*For minty cocoa pull out your official candy candy cane smasher and smash up a few, 2 or 3 should do it. Add them to the cocoa mix.

*For cocoa with a kick add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to the mix.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Improv Cooking Challenge: Marshmallow Mania

For December's Improv Cooking Challenge we were given the colors "Red" and "Green" instead of ingredients. Oh My! What to do? With such a wide open palate the possibilities were numerous. Let's just say I tried quite a few different recipe ideas using Red and Green in a number of different ways. I finally settled on something that brought sweet memories from my childhood. ~Marshmallows! Mom made them every Christmas. They were always a special treat.

Now since my mom did just plain old vanilla marshmallows, I had to get out my old thinking cap and see what I could do to incorporate Red and Green into the challenge in more ways than just food color as mom would do. There were many different color options. My favorite was the edible glitter.
For the colors/flavors I decided on peppermint. Although it is a green leafy herb it is most represented as red. Then I chose coconut for the green. Now I know you're probably thinking, coconut?? Well, it might be a bit of a stretch but young coconuts have a green outer shell. That counts right?

I also dyed some popsicle sticks in of course Red and Green, and added some fun Red and Green straws as holders because I used cookie cutters to make some shaped marshmallow popcicles.
It was a fun time. 
A sweet treat messy time. 
It was a Cammie's Kitchen Adventures Marshmallow Mania Marathon.
So... without further ado, may I present you with~


*Gathering all the ingredients.

*Letting the unflavored gelatin bloom.

*Cooking the sugar syrup. 240 degrees is the magic number.

*The syrup it ready and it's HOT. Pouring it into the mixer is a slow and careful job. They make those splash guards for a reason. :)

*Almost there. Whip, whip and whip some more. About 15 minutes should do it! 

*Ready for the pan.

*First batches one pan of coconut marshmallows and one pan of 
peppermint. (pictured are the coconut) Now to let them sit 
uncovered overnight. Waiting is... Oh. So. Hard!

* The official Christmas Candy Cane Smasher for the peppermint marshmallows.

*Cutting the shapes from the peppermint marshmallows.
*What to do with all these scraps??

*I know.  I will use them for Hot chocolate. Yummy!

Basic Marshmallow Recipe
2 cups corn syrup
3 cups pure cane sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tablespoons pure vanilla or I like to use vanilla bean paste
5 tblsp. flavored gelatin
Confectioner's sugar
Prepare two 9x13 cake pans. Spray each with a little Pam. Measure out 5 tblsp. of unflavored gelatin. Don't go by the packets, as they can vary. Place the gelatin in your mixer bowl and add one cup of water and allow it to "bloom" for thirty minutes. The gelatin will absorb all of the water and look like a blob, but not to worry, that is how it should look. About 20 minutes into the  "blooming time" start the sugar syrup.  Place the sugar, water, corn syrup and salt in a large heavy bottomed pan on medium heat. Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved, turn to high heat and bring to a boil. Place the thermometer on the side of the pan so it is not touching the bottom. Boil the sugar syrup, with out stirring, until it reaches a temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the heat and carefully pour into your unflavored gelatin while the mixer is slowly mixing. When all of the sugar syrup is incorporated gradually bring the speed up to high and and continue whipping at high speed for 15 minutes. At this time you can add you vanilla or whatever flavorings you have decided to use. Whip an additional minute or two and you can then pour your marshmallow mixture into your prepared pans. Let the marshmallows sit out overnight uncovered. The next day turn them out onto a cutting board that has been liberally dusted with confectioner's sugar. Using a pizza cutter (my preference) or knife sprayed with a smidge of Pam. Now you can cut the marshmallows into strips, then cubes. Or you can try using a cookie cutter of your choosing. The thicker cutters work best. Toss the individual marshmallows in a ziplock bag with the confectioner's sugar to coat all sides. Shake off the excess and store in an airtight container until you are ready to enjoy.

For more fabulous Red and Green recipe creations check out the links below.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thoughts From The Kitchen...

~~Cammie's Kitchen Adventures thought for the day~~
Mary Frances from LOVE-the secret ingredient says~
"Pour love into your cooking and it will always taste better."

That has always been my philosophy. The love you put into your cooking will always shine through in the taste, the appearance, and the presentation.
It doesn't matter if you are having a simple supper or an elegant meal, when you prepare everything with love the meal will be a special treat. I also think meals should be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach; even when they are served on cowboy china.*  
Make mealtime memorable y'all. Your family will thank you for it.

*my funky term for paper plates

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fabulous Finds and Fresh Tastes...

While out shopping at Ross the other day I came across some Lenox China in the Butterfly Meadow pattern.  I got very excited, because I had been eyeing this china for some time.  I had put it on my "someday and a girl can dream" wish lists, because it was way, way out of my budget.  A three piece setting at one of the finer stores will cost about $72.00 and I needed place settings for four.  At that price it just wasn't going to happen.  Well, you can imagine just how excited I was when I saw them at Ross and at the price they were selling for I knew that I could definitely afford to get the setting pieces for four.  So, for way less than the price of one 3-piece place setting I was able to get service for 4.  I was doing a little happy dance inside of Ross.
Here is what I came away with,  4 cups, 4 pasta bowls and dinner plates.  I will look for the salad plates and soup bowls soon, but for now I am soooo happy with my fabulous find.
Excited to try out my new dinnerware,  I planned a lovely dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and a veggie.  I had some brussel sprouts and wanted to try braising them with some of the boiled cider that I had made a few weeks earlier.  Making the boiled cider is super easy. See how I did it  here.  So I added them to the menu. Here is how I put it together.  

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Boiled Cider and Applewood Smoked Bacon

1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
2 slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon, diced
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and cut into medium sized chunks**
1/4 cup boiled cider
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the diced bacon. Cook the bacon until brown and remove to paper towel.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings and discard the rest.  Add the brussels sprouts, apples red onion and boiled cider. Cook this over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the brussels sprouts turn bright green and are tender.  Add bacon, and cook for 2 more minutes more. Season to your liking with salt and pepper. Enjoy!!!

**I did not add the apple chunks this time because my son, the one who loves fruit, just not cooked or mixed with veggies, requested "No Apple Chunks Mom" I have since made it with the apple chunks and it is absolutely scrumptious. They add a nice punch along with the boiled cider .

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Let's Make Lemonade

I was given a ton of lemons, well maybe not quite that much, but it was a lot. With this wonderful bounty of lemons Cammie's Kitchen is sure to have plenty of adventures. For now it's getting them squeezed and the juice frozen for some tasty adventures in the coming weeks. Oh, and I think we'll make a pitcher of fresh lemonade for right NOW!  Yes, it will hit the spot. Plus, I get to use my nice blown glass pitcher. It will showcase the lemonade very nicely, it will be a treat for the eyes and for the taste buds. It's nice to get all fancy every now and then.  Don't you think? Also, I can use my favorite wooden spoon from Polder's Old World Market. I love, love, love my handcrafted spoons that I have purchased from them.
Now let's make some lemonade.

Homemade Lemonade

4 cups sugar
4 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 gallons of water

Heat the sugar and 4 cups of water in a large stock pot until the sugar is dissolved. Cool. Add to a large pitcher, and add 2 gallons of water, lemon juice and stir to mix. If you like you can add some thin slices of lemon to garnish. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Meyer Lemon Curd

Throughout the year I get plenty of requests for lemon curd. This luscious, buttery, lemony spread is most tasty when made with Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons are a hybrid lemon that is more sweet and less acidic than regular lemons. They can a little difficult to locate depending on where you live.  If you can't find Meyer lemons where you live you could use regular lemons or you might use regular lemons with a mix of Manderin orange. Use a 3/1 ratio of lemon to Manderin to achieve a sweeter Meyer lemon like flavor.

Here is the recipe I use for making lemon curd. This is the recipe I learned from my Grandma S.


Zest of 3 Meyer lemons
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
2 large eggs seperated
1/2 cup butter
 3/4 cup sugar

In a large heavy bottom pan, melt the butter on very low heat until almost melted. Remove from the heat and cool. Meanwhile mix the egg whites with the sugar and lemon juice. Set aside. Mix the yolks with the cooled melted butter. Now add the sugar, lemon and egg white mixture and stir to mix. Return to medium low heat and cook stiring frequently with a silicone spatula , to prevent scortching until mixture leaves a thin coat on the spatula. Remove from heat and transfer to a canning jar or other heat safe container. Cool completely before storing. The lemon curd can be stored safely in the refridgerator for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy your lemon curd with English muffins, bisquits, Ritz crackers. The possibilities are numerous.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Traditions

What's the best way to wake your famiy on Thanksgiving? 
With the smell of tamales floating through the house of course. ☺ It works everytime.

It's kind of a Solís Family tradition to have tamales on Thanksgiving/Christmas morning.
I made just a small batch today. Only five pounds
of masa and a pork roast. Almost filled up the tamale pot. 

It's amazing how fast my family can polish off almost a whole tamale steamer of tamales. Yeah, 
we love us some tamales y'all.   Now to make room for some turkey and all the trimmings!
 Happy Thanksgiving y'all!!!

 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. For His mercy endures forever.
 Psalm 118:1

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Soup's On!

The boy can cook y'all. My baby boy is a pretty good cook in his own right. One of the things he can make really well is a vegetable beef soup. Everytime he is home he makes it and we get to enjoy it as a family. His soup has all the usual ingredients you would expect and then some. He likes to add pieces of corn on the cob, zucchini, chayote, potatoes, onions, garlic, cabbage, and of course a few beef bones and the beef. It's certainly packed with loads of good flavor and nutrition. He doesn't have a given recipe, he just throws it all into the pot and lets it simmer till everything is just right.

Soup's on.

My baby boy.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

This is just a test...

Finally learning how to add a pinterest button to the blog. A major accomplishment. Well, at least for me it was.

Glazed Buttermilk Doughnuts

Now that I have your attention let me tell you that these beauties are baked, not fried. Yes, you heard right. These lovelies are BAKED. They are a healthier, not swimming in fat option to the  buttermilk doughnuts from your favorite doughnut shop.

If you want my opinion, and come on now you know you do. I will tell that you really should try these.

Because they are a healthier choice, they are super good, super easy to make, and did I mention that they are YUMMY?

You don't have a doughnut pan?
You can pick one up at Michael's.

If you hurry you can make it back in time for a late breakfast. Oh, and if you take your 50% off coupon you can pick one up for about $5.00 if you go before the end of today because that is when the coupon expires . Now that is a sweet deal. So go out and get your doughnut pan. Then try these baked buttermilk doughnuts.  You'll be glad you did.~
If you don't use buttermilk very often you don't need to make a special trip to the grocery store. Simply substitute regular milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar.

 Baked Buttermilk Doughnuts
 1/3 cup buttermilk
 3 tblsp. unsalted butter, melted
 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, unbleached
 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
 1 tsp. baking powder
 1/4 tsp. salt
 1/8 nutmeg
 1/4 cup sugar
 2 tbls. clover honey
 1 large egg
 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste.

 1 tblsp. milk
 1/4 tsp. vanila bean paste
 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

Preheat your oven to 350°
Whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, nutmeg. Mix the cooled butter with the sugar, honey, egg and vanilla bean paste.  Mix the wet and dry ingrediants together until they are just mixed. Resist the urge to over mix as this will cause you to have a dense, heavy doughnut. Use a piping bag or just a plain old ziplock bag to pipe the doughnuts into your greased pan. Bake the doughnuts for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for one minute in the pan before removing the doughnuts to a wire rack to cool completely. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the glaze.  Dip doughnuts in the glaze to coat. Remove with a fork and place on cooling rack to allow excess glaze to drip off.

*Double the glaze recipe if you want to coat both sides.

This is my version of the baked buttermilk doughnuts from Fauxmartha.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Improv Cooking Challenge: Boiled Cider Caramels

For this month's Improv Cooking Challenge  we were given apples and cinnamon as the ingredients.   I tried several different things before deciding on Salted Boiled Cider Caramels. Just the thought of apple cider and caramel made my mouth water. But together, I could just imagine the caramel, apple, cinnamon explosion waiting to happen in my mouth.

For these caramels to have the intense flavor that they do you really should use boiled cider. You could use just plain old cider, but the apple flavor won't be as intense. The boiled cider is expensive to purchase, but it only costs about $3.00 to make. So being the frugal gal that I am I set out to make my own. Seriously it could not be any easier. Let me show you just how easy it is.

 Making Boiled Cider is as easy as...
 1.Put the cider in Dutch oven.

 2. Let it come to a full boil on high heat.

3. Lower to medium low and let it simmer for 
about 4-5 hours.

4. Stir occasionally, watch a movie, clean house,
 until you get to this point. Now you have made
boiled cider.  AKA Liquid Gold. Seriously this 
stuff just that good. It can be used in so many 
ways. But now I am going to turn it into some
delicious Salted Boiled cider Caramels.

One half gallon of apple cider=1 cup of boiled cider

Let's make caramels.
Add the boiled cider, cream, butter, sugar and 
corn syrup to a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Stir 
till everything is incorporated and the butter 
has melted and sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil.
Reduce to medium-high heat.  Cook for 20-30
minutes or until the thermometer reads 248˚

Now it's time to add the salt and spices. Stir to 
incorporate. Now pour it into your prepared pan.
Don't forget to sprinkle on the sea salt. Now comes 
the hard part. You have to let the caramels sit in 
the pan for 12-18 hours before you can cut them 
up into 1" squares and enjoy them.

My big pizza slicer was very helpful in cutting
the caramel into squares.

Let's enjoy some Boiled Cider Caramels.

Boiled Cider Caramels~~~

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
6 tbls. butter
1/2 cup boiled cider
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
sea salt

This recipe will make about 64 - 1" squares. 

Check out some other great Apple and Cinnamon recipes!!!!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Flavors of Fall

Nothings says fall like pumpkin bread. All spicy and pumpkiny. Shoot, is that even a word? Oh well, even if it isn't,  the smell of warm pumpkin bread wafting through the house is one of the best things during the fall season. Oh, and it is an excellent way to wake everyone up for Saturday morning breakfast.
Here is a simple pumpkin bread recipe that I think you might like. So simple you don't even have to get out your mixer.

Pumpkin Bread

1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1-3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2/3 cup oil
4 eggs
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 baking powder
1/8 cloves
1/2 raisins
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour 2 small bread loaf pans; set aside. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs; mix well. Stir in remaining ingredients, mix well. Lastly add the raisins.  Pour this batter into your greased bread loaf pan. Bake for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the loaves on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove the loaves from the pans and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect

One thing I have never to good at is making pie crust. You know the kind, the flaky melt in your mouth kind like your mama or grandma made. I have always made excuses for not sticking to it and perfecting that perfectly delectable crust. Oh, sure I made a million and 1 excuses. I mean the Pillsbury ready pie dough is so simple right. I can save time, etc., etc.

Well, enough is enough. Time to put my apron on, get the rolling pin out and get to it. My first serious try was tonight. Made the pie dough for a yummy pecan pie.

I will say it wasn't too bad for very serious first try, but there is still lots of room for improvement.

Stay tuned for the next adventure on my journey to pie dough perfection.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fabulous Food Finds

It's not everyday, well at least not where I live, that I can just go to the grocer and pick up some red walnuts. They are a bit expensive at $5.99 for six ounces, but they are delicious and worth every penny for a special treat. Now to decide what I am going to make with them. I better be quick or they might disappear. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In search of the perfect Mac & Cheese

I've eaten plenty of mac & cheese over the years. It is one of my ultimate comfort foods. I mean it has CHEESE. Lots of CHEESE!
What's not to love about cheese?
It can be eaten any time of day and a slice of melted cheddar is quite wonderful and adds a delightfulness to a slice of apple pie. Yes, I did say apple pie. If you haven't tried it I highly recommend it. 

But, I am talking mac & cheese here. I am in search of the perfect mac & cheese. The Mac & Cheese daddy of all mac & cheese. 

Last night I made a modified version of Ina Garten's recipe that uses Gruyere and sharp cheddar. Modified because I left out the tomatoes and the bread crumbs.  The recipe was easy to follow and prepare. I wasn't sure how my family would like the Gruyere cheese or the addition of nutmeg, but surprisingly they enjoyed it and so did I.

Dinner is served!

Did I stumble on to the perfect mac & cheese??? Well, I have got a few other recipes to try so I can't say for sure until I have tried them all.