Chocolate Caramel Cake

This is my go-to cake for special occasions, as every always loves it. But you do have to love chocolate ~ Caramel ~ English Toffee!  It is a simple recipe, but the add-ins make it rich and delicious.

Chocolate Cake with Caramel .jpg

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (King Arthur available at Amazon)
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • One jar of the best caramel topping you can find, kept in the refrigerator to make it harder.
  • English Toffee
  • Big Malted Milk Balls

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F.   Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring. Then line with 9″ round parchment paper and spray again.  (I buy the pre-cut rounds by Wilton – available at Walmart)
  • For the cake:
  • Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  • Using a serrated bread knife, cut each layer in half so you have four layers.
Putting it together:
  • Make the Chocolate Buttercream recipe shown below.  Pipe or spoon a ridge of the buttercream all around the outside of the first layer.
  • Fill the center with the now hardened caramel
  • Put on the second & third layer and repeat
  • Frost the cake with rest of the frosting (there always seems to be a bit too much)
  • Put the English Toffee in a ziplock bag and crush with your rolling pin or meat pounder.
  • Decorate how you like with the Malted Milk Balls

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Serve with Champagne and have a wonderful time.

Chocolate Caramel Cake

Key Measurements ~ Laundry Room

Get the layout dimensions that will help you wash and fold and maybe do much more  comfortably and efficiently

Laundry rooms rule. If you have the luxury of space, laundry rooms can be more than places to clean clothes; they can be welcoming, accessible places for more activities, such as caring for pets, sewing, doing DIY projects, wrapping packages, starting seedlings and more. Several of my clients consider these spaces crucial to the operation of their homes, even finding a sense of peace when attending to their laundry room chores.

As with kitchens, there are a number of considerations and dimensions to be aware of during the planning stages for a multipurpose laundry room. Below are several functions you might want to consider and some basics for how to lay everything out.

Key Measurements ~ Laundry Room

Can You Go Back?

The other day, before I left Kitsap Kitchen and Bath, my last official appointment was with a lovely young couple that purchased the home my late husband and I built almost thirty years ago. Here is a drawing of the lovely 5,000 square foot home.  Drawing of Gordone.jpg

I wonder how other people feel when they go into a home that you designed, or built or bought and then sold and moved on.  It was lovely that they were such a nice young couple and loved the house.  It was hard, as over the years, the former owners had made significant changes to the interior and exterior that were very different from my initial vision.  The new owners were trying to repair all the things that were left unattended for several years.  My heart went out to them, as so many things need work.

Thirty years later my taste has certainly changed with color choices and was glad even back then, other than a pick tub & toilet in the master (now yucky) I had stayed with classic and beautiful choices.

Gordon front.jpg

This is the original exterior, but it is now light yellow with black trim, and the arches over the entry and the garage doors are now just a rectangle.  The architect was from California and good friend, but the arches and trim had to be repainted every year, as the V in the middle of the arch, opened the grain of the wood, so water got in the wood.  The lovely arch over the fireplace in the living room is gone and the antique Sheraton fireplace surround has disappeared that was above the master bedroom fireplace.  The trees are grown and beautiful!  There is a lot more landscaping that hides the front of the house a bit.

Gordon Living Room.jpg

This a photo from the living room looking into the dining room.  I had those two Captain’s chairs on the right for several years, but tired of them (still tired of them) and sold them ages ago. The columns are telling of the time it was designed and built, but classic lines are still lovely.  The new owners have had the floor refinished with exception of the entry where the last owner put black marble over the wood.  (yuck)  and the lighter color on the floor is much more up to date. I don’t have any photos of the kitchen, but it was a dream to work in, alone or with a party of people.

I would love to be the one redesigning their bathroom, but they did not contact me personally, so in the proper ethical and business since it is totally up to them.  But it does need to be updated, so I am glad they are taking it on.  I think it would be a very challenging, but overall fun project and would really add to the house.

How many of you have ventured back into a home you loved and what did you think about the changes?  Maybe as a design professional, it is harder for me to accept and love change?  How about you?

Can You Go Back?

New Laundry Rooms

Whether you have a laundry room with enough space for a built-in bench or just a hallway closet with sliding doors, these trending laundry areas offer plenty of ideas for making the most of every inch. Here are 10 clever ideas from the most popular laundry room photos on Houzz uploaded in the past three months, as determined by the number of times people saved them to their idea books.
New Laundry Rooms

Beyond Granite

20 Kitchen Countertop Alternatives

Stuck in a countertop rut? Explore your options beyond the typical granite and laminate, from unusual materials like glass and metal to more traditional choices like marble and wood.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 8.54.31 AM.png1. Engineered Beauty

One of the most popular countertop surfaces today, engineered quartz is versatile and durable. Its nearly endless range of color options allows you to visually tie an open kitchen to the surrounding living spaces like designer

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 8.55.17 AM.png

2. Smorgasbord of Surfaces

And why stop at two surfaces? In this gorgeous space, perimeter countertops are Taj Mahal Quartzite, and the island combines 3-inch-thick walnut butcher’s block with 14-gauge stainless steel topped by Silver Waves marble.
Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 8.56.45 AM.png

3. Butcher Block

For a warm, cottage kitchen look, opt for butcher-block-style wood countertops. Both decorative and functional, this hardworking surface is ideal for food prep properly sealed, wood countertops are sanitary even for chopping meat. Unlike other budget-friendly options, like laminate, wood is highly heat-resistant so you don’t have to worry about putting hot pots and pans on the surface. I would not suggest putting something directly from the oven to the counter, no matter what the surface.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 8.58.39 AM.png

4. Wood on White

Dark-stained wood adds contrast and a country feel to this white country kitchen. Like natural granite, wood counters can vary widely in the uniformity and graining of their patterns. That variation is part of their appeal.
Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 8.59.53 AM.png

5. Magnificent Marble

Counters of Carrara marble with a polished top function as beautifully as they look. While marble has a reputation for being high maintenance, it can age beautifully with a little care and nothing beats it for rolling out pastry dough. If you are an active cook or a little messy, this is not the surface for you.  Maybe an area for rolling out pastry only.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.01.30 AM.png

6. Green Marble

A stunning twist on the traditional, the green marble finish in this renovated farmhouse kitchen extends to the deep apron sink, creating a continuous line that’s echoed on the insides of the window casings. The overall effect is crisp and fresh, giving the space modern punch that ties in with the home’s contemporary flair.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.02.22 AM.png

7. Paint It

Giani stone paint is a sealant that completely and totally overhauls the look of any countertop. It can be used on anything from laminate to butcher’s block to primed and painted wood, and because it is a finish itself, it should only have to be redone if the surface is ever chipped or damaged.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.03.48 AM.png

8. Cool Concrete

Concrete countertops are highly customizable, you can choose any stain color and texture. Concrete mixes well with many different materials, such as glass, tile, and marble to create a one-of-a-kind look. Aside from its eye-pleasing appearance, it is energy efficient when the temperature in your home rises, concrete captures the heat and releases it when the temperature cools down.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.05.04 AM.png

9. The Eco Edge – Recycled Countertops

Countertops made of recycled glass are colorful, eco-friendly and durable.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.06.29 AM.png

10. Clean and Streamlined

Developed specifically for countertops, Granicrete has the great modern look of concrete, but is seamless and is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation as being bacteria-proof and stain-proof. The waterfall edge here creates an especially sleek look, without the weight and cost of poured concrete.
Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.07.56 AM.png

11. Engineered for Beauty

Granicrete is available in stone-like patterns like the one featured here, perfect in a more traditional kitchen. The surface never needs resealing as “real” concrete would.
Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.09.02 AM.png

12. Soapstone

Say yes to Soapstone countertops as they offer a soft look and can look great in a sleek, modern space. Though pricier than some other countertop options, soapstone is environmentally friendly and durable, offering significant value. Unlike other natural stones, it doesn’t require yearly sealing but regular applications of mineral oil will help to disguise any surface scratches, add sheen and deepen the stone’s color over time.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.11.11 AM.png

13. Square Deal

Tile countertops are a great choice if you want an inexpensive material that’s easy to maintain. Opt for handmade ceramics or even off-the-shelf squares from your local big-box store.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.12.03 AM.png

14. Steely Resolve

Stainless steel countertops aren’t just for sleek modern spaces. Here it is used in a country-style kitchen, where the gleaming surface contrasts beautifully with exposed brick and the well-worn bottoms of the homeowners’ cookware. Over time, the counters may scratch and show wear but that’s part of their charm in a space like this and they are super durable.
Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.13.37 AM.png

15. Glowing Glass

A solid glass countertop looks almost like ice, lending a cool, chic feeling to this energetic kitchen. Although it’s more expensive than other countertop materials, glass is growing in popularity for its stain resistance and sleek, dramatic style.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.14.33 AM.png

16. Count on Copper

A custom copper countertop and backsplash add warmth and glamour to this bar area designed. Copper countertops are highly germ resistant but are prone to dents and scratches. Polish it weekly to maintain its shine, or allow it to develop a patina of a burnished brown-black with green flecks.
Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.15.29 AM.png

17. Leather or Not

Leather-textured granite gives the sexy look of skin with all the durability of stone. The look is edgy and trendy without being in-your-face.
Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.17.09 AM.png

18. Double Vision

Two countertops? Twice as nice! A center island topped with quartz by Cambria is a functional focal point in this kitchen, and the countertops around the room’s perimeter are solid black granite. That mix and those materials represent the most current countertop trends.
Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.18.24 AM.png

19. Walnut

Wow With Walnut. Here rustic materials are used to create a coherent style throughout. Distressed wood cabinetry, a copper sink, and faucet, and the material on the counter is walnut with a live edge.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.20.27 AM.png

20. Paper Works

As its name implies, Paperstone is made of compressed paper yet is surprisingly durable. This colorful kitchen uses it in an eco-friendly design.
So have fun designing your kitchen.  There are lots of fun options out there.  Pick wisely for your needs, but do something different.  It is no fun being the same as everyone else.
Beyond Granite

Top 8 Refrigerators For the Modern Kitchen

 An intelligently designed refrigerator not only keeps your produce fresh, but exhibits excellent craftsmanship, ergonomics, and storage capabilities. To take the guesswork out of choosing the right appliance, we’ve rounded up our recommended fridges that prove that form and functionality are not mutually exclusive. Whether you opt for a retro design, double French doors, or seamless cabinet integration, our top picks for refrigerators are sure to keep your kitchen looking cool.

Oh no, where is my Leibherr 36″ French Door refrigerator that I love!  Covered panels, so it blends in and does not jump out at you.  I really like the disappearing refrigerator.  I think it is nice to have one, but mine has always been a little discreet. The photo below is mine.

IMG_7444

Top 8 Refrigerators For the Modern Kitchen

Freeze and Reheat Prepared Meals

getty-freezer-image

The freezer is truly the best meal prep assistant you have.

Freezing entire pre-made meals is a time-honored tradition, stretching back as long as busy cooks have been in a crunch to put homemade meals on the table AKA, since the dawn of freezer technology.

Using your freezer as a kitchen assistant will not only bring some peace of mind to your meal prep but will help foster healthier eating habits by making nutritious, homemade meals readily available during times you’re tempted to swing through the drive-thru for an easy dinner option.

Whether you’re freezing prepared meals for convenience, time, or the health benefits, these tips will help you get the most flavor and quality out of your reheated pre-prepped dishes and ingredients.

Plan Ahead

When embarking on your meal prep experience, pick a dedicated day of the week to hunker down in the kitchen and spend some quality time preparing your dishes to be frozen and consumed later. Whether it’s a lazy weekend afternoon or a free weekday evening, by committing a chunk of time to putting together your make-ahead dishes you’ll have plenty of options ready to go when you’re in need of a quick, easy meal.

Choose Your Ingredients Wisely

Not all ingredients are created equal when it comes to freezing, and certain foods won’t fare as well once thawed. Some cream-based products like half-and-half, cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and ricotta are less likely to be a success when reheated, as separation naturally occurs during freezing, resulting in a grainy texture once it’s thawed and cooked.

Raw potatoes shouldn’t be frozen, as they will oxidize and turn black, and leafy greens and lettuces will be unsuccessful in the freezer if frozen raw due to their high water content. Instead, these ingredients should be pre-cooked and incorporated into a dish before heading to the freezer.

Ingredients that are meant to add extra texture to a dish, such as a crumble topping, crushed nuts, or fried onions, should always be added after the dish is thawed. Freezing them with the dish will result in a soggy texture, rendering the crunchy addition pointless.

Nail the Technique

Before slipping your dish into the freezer, it’s essential to allow pre-cooked foods to cool, as placing a piping-hot dish in your icebox will lower the overall freezer temperature, which could result in foods around it thawing and spoiling. If you’re in a rush, rather than using the refrigerator to cool dishes down quickly which will lead to the same issue, give them an ice bath in the sink. For this technique, fill your sink with a shallow layer of water and ice, and lower your hot dishes into it for a few minutes, making sure the water only comes halfway up the sides of your dish.

While your dishes are cooling, make sure your freezer temperature is set low enough, as all prepared foods should be stored in a freezer that is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

As a rule, when freezing food you want the containers to be as airtight as possible. Individually-sized meals should be frozen in airtight lidded plastic containers to limit the amount of outside oxygen flowing into the dish. It’s wise to double-wrap your plastic containers in a layer of freezer-proof plastic wrap if you’re planning on storing the dish for more than a week.

When storing larger dishes and casseroles, make sure to thoroughly wrap the entire container to limit the oxygen flow. Start by completely covering the top of the dish with freezer-proof foil, and then wrap the entirety of the dish in plastic wrap. Depending on the length of time you’re planning on storing, adding a second layer of plastic wrap will result in fresher flavors with no risk of freezer burn.

When freezing casseroles, it’s always best to opt for a shallow casserole dish, which will make for a faster-reheating process, as well as better distribution of heat through the entire dish.

All frozen foods should be marked with the name of the meal, the date it was prepared, and detailed instructions for reheating before being stowed away. This will ensure the food is eaten within a safe time period, and that other family members will be able to reheat the dish properly if you’re not around to lend a hand.

When freezing prepared meats, vegetables, grains, and pasta, it’s wise to slightly undercook to just tender before freezing. Each of these ingredients will cook slightly more when reheated, so they can easily become overcooked if stored well-done.  For tips on how to freeze and reheat premade soups and stews, check out our guide here.

The Size is Right

The size of the dishes you’re freezing will be flexible depending on your personal needs. If you’re prepping food for a whole family, large format meals like casseroles will work in your favor. However, if you’re looking for easy lunches or solo dinners, meal prepping individual portions is a great option.

For individual meals, freezing fundamental pre-cooked ingredients like brown rice, pasta, proteins, and cooked vegetables can make for easy lunches and individually portioned dinners down the line. These ingredients can be stored in separate containers and combined after the reheating process, or portioned out into smaller servings for easy access and portability. These ingredients will keep well in airtight freezer bags or plastic containers, which can be stacked for easy storage.

Casseroles make for the ultimate pre-made, family-sized frozen meal, as most will keep well in the freezer for up to 2 months, and are easy to prep and reheat. Plus, most casseroles can be frozen and stored before or after they’ve been baked.

If you’d prefer to not freeze your casserole in the dish putting that kitchen tool out of use until the dish has been reheated another option is to flash freeze your casserole before removing from the pan and storing separately. To do so, prior to preparing the casserole, line the casserole dish with a layer of aluminum foil and plastic wrap that hangs over the edges. Prepare your casserole and place in the freezer until completely frozen. Then, use the excess plastic wrap to pull the frozen dish out of the pan, and wrap the dish thoroughly in freezer-proof plastic. When you’re ready to reheat, unwrap the food and place it back in the pan for reheating in the oven. Another option is to stock up on inexpensive disposable foil pans that can easily be tossed after use.

Reheating 

In order to make sure your food is as safe as possible for consumption, food should always be thawed in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. Once initially thawed, foods shouldn’t be refrozen, unless they’re completely cooked before heading back into the freezer.

For those in a rush, the microwave can be an easy method of thawing and reheating (if the portion size is right). If using a microwave or high-capacity toaster oven it’s wise to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the center of the dish from time-to-time to guarantee it’s reached a safe 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

In order to safely thaw a prepped casserole, transfer the dish to the fridge for 24 hours before cooking. Then, cook the casserole at the same temperature as the recipe originally called for, adding an extra 15-20 minutes to the time and checking the temperature of the dish occasionally.

When reheating a pre-cooked casserole, you can go directly from freezer to oven. Cook the dish at the same temperature you would if cooking it fresh but give the dish an extra 20 minutes, checking the progress of the dish intermittently to make sure it’s heating properly, but not overcooking.

When reheating a casserole dish in the oven, leave the foil layer in place, folding back the corner or cutting a few slits in the top to allow steam to release from the dish. Rotate the dish occasionally during reheating to allow for even reheating.

Once you’ve gotten into the freezing groove, your meal prep is all but guaranteed to be a breeze even on your busiest of days.

Freeze and Reheat Prepared Meals

How To Cook Chicken Like a Pro 

This is an article from Hello Fresh about how to cook chicken.  I thought it had some good ideas, so am sharing it here. 

 

cooking chicken-guide-HelloFresh-spanish-one-pan-chorizo-chicken

Chicken is an extremely versatile and popular type of protein, and Americans consume about 92 pounds of it a year. But despite its popularity, people still struggle with basic cooking techniques. Whether you prefer boneless skinless breasts, bone-in skin-on parts, or even the whole bird, the challenge is the same. How do you cook it evenly, lock in flavor, and keep it juicy and moist? And if you’re a skin lover how do you get the skin perfectly crisp?

No two parts of the bird are the same, and I’m sure you’ve found yourself overwhelmed in the meat aisle at your grocery store wondering which part is best. But don’t panic! We’re breaking it down and dishing out all the tips and tricks to help you cook chicken like a pro.

Whole Chicken

cooking chicken-guide-HelloFresh-whole-chicken

Few dishes are as quintessentially comforting as a whole roasted chicken. The aroma alone screams Sunday supper! And while you only need a few simple ingredients like salt, pepper, and perhaps some fresh garlic and herbs, the trick to a perfectly roasted chicken is all in the technique. Additionally, buying and roasting a whole chicken is really affordable, and leftovers make a perfect second meal. Of course, you can default to a rotisserie chicken, but mastering the art of roasting a whole chicken is a lot easier than you may think.

Tip #1: Dry = Crispy

Start with a 4-5 pound broiling or frying chicken. Dry the chicken well (inside and out) with paper towels. For best results, open it from the package in the morning or even the night before and leave it on a rack in a roasting pan uncovered in the fridge.

Tip #2: Salt is essential

Season generously all over (inside and out) with salt and pepper. A good rule of thumb is about 1 Tablespoon salt for an average 4-5 pound bird, and I prefer a Kosher-style salt, like Diamond. Plus the salt acts as a brine and will keep the chicken very moist.

Tip #3: Season beyond salt

If you are seasoning it with more than salt and pepper, combine your spice mixture (I love the simplicity of freshly minced garlic and a mix of herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme) in a bowl, then rub all over. Again, don’t forget about the inside of the bird! Feel free to season in advance to boost flavor.

Tip#4: Don’t forget the cavity

To add some extra moisture and flavor, cut a lemon, onion, or even an apple in chunks and place in the cavity along with a sprig or two of herbs/bay leaves. As the chicken roasts, these aromatics will release moisture and flavor — just remember to remove before carving.

Tip #5: Truss and tuck

Truss (tie) the legs and tuck the wings. Not only does this make for a prettier presentation, but it also helps keep the breasts from drying out while cooking.

Tip #6To baste or not to baste?

There are some people who love to dot their chicken with butter or brush it with oil before cooking, and then baste while it’s roasting. However, if you like the skin crispy, I’d advise against this since brushing and basting tends to reduce the crispiness factor.  Every time you open the oven, the temperature drops, so it’s best to keep the chicken at an even temperature and let the oven do the work.

Tip #6: Slow and steady

I’m a fan of 350º F all the way unless you’re in a hurry. On average, you’ll want to cook your chicken about 15 -20 minutes per pound to keep the white meat moist and ensure the dark meat is cooked through.

Tip #7: Roasting pan, sheet pan, and more

A traditional roasting pan that you line with a rack is sufficient since it will keep the bird elevated and allow the bottom to crisp. However, a shallow sheet pan will also allow the sides to crisp up more. I’m also a fan of roasting the chicken in a large cast iron skillet, which retains heat very well.

Tip #8: Check for doneness

Don’t poke your chicken too often while it’s cooking. Instead, set your timer for the estimated time, then insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone). If it registers 165º F, it’s good to go. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of the thigh (also avoiding the bone), and if the juices run clear, the chicken is ready.

Tip #9: Be patient and let it rest

Don’t rush to carve that chicken right after you’ve taken it out of the oven. Not only is it too hot to handle, but letting it rest for about 15 minutes will allow the juices time to redistribute.

Chicken Breasts

cooking chicken-guide-HelloFresh-creamy-dill-chicken-breasts-green-beans-roasted-potatoes

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are perhaps one of the hardest working proteins around.  They’re high in protein, low in fat, and cook relatively quickly. But perhaps the best part about this cut of chicken is its versatility since chicken breasts can be marinated, grilled, pan seared, sautéed, roasted, sliced and diced for simple stir-fries, threaded onto kabobs, or even shallow fried as cutlets when stuffed or pounded.

Despite their popularity, chicken breasts can be challenging to cook — especially when there is a significant difference between the thick and thin part. And unfortunately, it’s easy for this cut to become tough and rubbery when overcooked. But with these basic tips, you’ll be well on your way to moist and delicious chicken breasts in no time.

Tip #1: Smaller is best

Look for smaller size breasts, if possible, 6-7 oz is best. If you end up with ones that are extra large (between 8-12 oz), cut them in half horizontally for more even cooking, pound them out for cutlets, or slice and dice ‘em into small chunks for stir-fries.

Tip #2: Pat dry

Always make sure you pat the chicken with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. If you’ve marinated chicken, make sure the marinade is shaken off and chicken is dry. Most marinades have salt so you can skip salting if you’re starting with a marinated chicken breast.

Tip #3: Don’t overcrowd

Start with a wide frying/sauté pan that helps keep splattering to a minimum (nonstick is okay but not essential). If you crowd the pan, the breasts won’t brown as nicely and leave enough room for turning. Consider if you’re going to be adding other ingredients like veggies or pasta.

Tip #3: Choose cooking fats wisely

Heat about two teaspoons of oil (regular olive oil is fine, but extra-virgin is not the best choice here due to its low smoke point). I like adding a knob (tablespoon) of butter at the end, which adds a nice flavor and color. In most cases, medium-high heat is best and will create a good sear. However, if it’s getting dark too quickly, you’ll want to adjust your heat slightly.

Tip #4: Leave it alone

If you want a nice sear, try not to move the chicken for about 5-7 minutes once in the pan. If the chicken is sticking, it’s probably not ready and won’t be golden brown.  Try to avoid over-flipping. Turn it once and don’t touch again for an additional 5-7 minutes. Again, the goal is golden brown color on each side.

Tip #5: Be patient and let it rest

Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving to allow for carry-over cooking and time for juices to redistribute. You’ll want to look for an internal temperature of 165°F, but if you don’t have a thermometer, pay attention to the following: Has the chicken shrunk while cooking? Is it somewhat firm to the touch? If you don’t have a thermometer, make a small cut into the thickest part and check that the juices run clear and flesh is no longer pink.

Bone-In Chicken Parts/Boneless Chicken Thighs

cooking chicken-guide-HelloFresh-korean-style-chicken-thighs

Chicken legs, thighs, and wings are known as dark meat. These parts are naturally fattier than chicken breast, but also get fat and flavor from the skin. Some people prefer the dark meat because it tends to be more flavorful, but it will take a little longer to cook.

Bone-in, skin-on pieces (even breasts) are best for longer braises, deep-frying, and roasting. They are great marinated and grilled, and certainly less expensive than boneless.

Boneless chicken thighs have a lot of flavor and are just as versatile as the breast. They’re perfect for dicing in stir-fries or quick tacos and take to marinades very well. They can be pan seared and then transferred to the oven to finish cooking, roasted the entire way through, grilled, or lightly breaded and shallow fried. They work well in dishes like chicken chili’s, pot pies, and braises. Just like all poultry, you’ll want to get the internal temp to 165ºF.

Tip #1: Pat dry

Just like the whole chicken and breast, you want to pat the dark meat pieces dry with paper towel. This helps to avoid splatter and increase crisp.

Tip #2: Render the fat

Melting and clarifying animal fat (aka rendering) helps to tenderize the connective tissues. Roasting at high heat or slow braising are the best techniques for this. It’s best to sear in a hot pan first to render excess fat and add flavor. Next, transfer to an oven or add sauce/wine/veggies to the pan and let simmer while chicken cooks.

Eat and enjoy!

How To Cook Chicken Like a Pro 

Top 25 Renovating Mistakes

  1. Buying Cheap Materials

    “One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to home renovation (is that) they try to be cheap when they buy materials. The bottom line is, you’re going to get what you pay for.” “If you’re going to do it, do it. If you can’t afford to do it, wait.”

    2. Inaccurate Measurements

    An inch or even sometimes a half an inch can make a difference. And if your dimensions are off and it’s not equal and symmetrical, you’re not going to get the full impact and effect that you want. If you’re not sure about how to measure or you can’t follow the directions, don’t hesitate at all to call somebody. Ask them to come over and take the measurement for you.

    3. Skipping the Prep Work

    Do it the right way, right away. You shouldn’t avoid your prep work. You want to take the time to do it right and right from the beginning.

    It’s a horrible, tedious process, and nobody likes it, but it saves so much time later on down the way. And that’s what you’re trying to do: save yourself money and time.

 

Top 25 Renovating Mistakes

Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen

I found this article interesting, as all three of my sons and my daughter-in-law love to cook and have made some wonderful meals.  My sons would make me breakfast in bed for my birthday and for Valentines Day, starting when they were eight or nine.  They are all excellent cooks and they definitely know what and where to put a butter knife.  We sat down and ate with candles and cloth napkins whenever we could at home.  I thought it was important that they have good manners and know the basics in the kitchen. I always wanted them to be comfortable with any and all dining situations!  And, you what!  It worked.

According to Tasting Table, Millennials Are the worst generation of cooks in the kitchen

Only 60 percent can confidently identify a butter knife
Millennials Don't Know How to Cook

They might be able to apply Snapchat filters better than you can, but if there’s one thing millennials can’t do, is find their way around the kitchen.

According to a study from Porch, between millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, millennials rate themselves as the worst kitchen cooks of all, with only 5 percent of twenty- to thirtysomethings considering themselves “very good” at home cooking. They rate themselves last in being able to tackle (very) basic dishes like fried eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and lasagna. (Though, they do feel more confident than baby boomers at baking store-bought plop-and-drop cookie dough.)

And while many baby boomers aren’t so great at identifying a salad spinner, Thrillist notes it’s not so bad once you consider about 40 percent of millennials can’t even recognize a butter knife.

The one thing they are good at? According to the study, millennials are the top generation investing in meal delivery services and utilizing internet videos for cooking advice. Hey, at least they’re trying.

 

Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen