Foodie Friday: Creme Brulee

My husband and I have hosted an adults only Christmas party the last two years, and our hope is to keep hosting it for many years to come. One of my favorite things about hosting this dinner party is cooking a fancy meal and setting a really fancy table, using my wedding china and most beautiful Christmas decorations. I want to make creme brulee for dessert this year, but decided I needed to practice and choose a flavor. Last night I tried out my first recipe, which was a classic vanilla.

Let me tell you, creme brulee is pretty easy to make. If you can make scrambled eggs and real hot chocolate, you can make creme brulee! BUT you definitely need the right tools. I bought myself some adorable little creme brulee ramekins and a butane kitchen torch to be ready for my new recipes. What I didn’t think about was the fuel for my torch. When I realized my error, I sent the hubs to the store to buy some. He got what he thought would work…. zippo lighter fluid. I told him it would not work because we needed butane fuel and this fluid was something else. He went back to the store and returned with butane fuel. In the wrong kind of dispenser. Alas, that was the complete gamut of options for us in our hometown. I tried using a particularly strong lighter we had for our grill. It took me about 10 minutes to caramelize a 1 inch section of one creme brulee portion! Needless to say, we just ate it as is. It was pretty good, but would have been so much better if my torch had been properly fueled up.

 

Capture

The picture is what my creme brulee SHOULD have looked like! Click the picture for a link to an easy to follow recipe!

Now I plan to try out two more recipes/flavors before I make my final decision for my Christmas party menu: butterscotch and  coffee! I can’t wait!

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QuickTip Tuesday: Time Management Tip

Image result for ernest hemingway

Do your most important task first thing in the morning when there are fewer distractions and your will power is at its strongest. When Ernest Hemingway was working on a book, he used to start writing as soon after first light as possible to get the job done!

Foodie Friday: July Menu

What? July already? I can’t believe how fast June has come and gone. I know I say this every summer, but it has really just slipped right through my fingers! May and June turned out to be great months for my family. We had a family reunion at Beaver’s Bend State Park over Memorial Day weekend; I spent a spa weekend in Sulphur, OK with my mom and sister; and my husband took me and the kids with him to an Edward Jones conference in Branson, MO at Big Cedar Lodge. I think that last trip was the favorite of my two littles. We stayed at a beautiful resort with five swimming pools and enjoyed Dolly Parton’s Stampede. My favorite meal, though, was at the Artesian Hotel in Sulphur. I am going to try to recreate the creme brulee we had there!

Now it is time to start thinking about fireworks and hamburger cookouts! My July Menu is full of grilled meals because it is really warming up in central Oklahoma! I am going to try to avoid using my oven for the most part. As always, you can find recipes on my July 2018 Menu Pinterest Board. Enjoy your July!

July 2018 Menu

July 2018 Menu

Foodie Friday: Shrimp Etouffee Recipe Review

Screenshot 2015 02 06 16.11.44 407x416 - Shrimp Etouffee Recipe
** Not my picture. I took this from the blogger who shared the recipe linked below.

I tried this recipe for Shrimp Etouffee. Although it has been on my planned menu before, I actually never got around to making it until last week. Something always came up on the week I was planning it, and it got bumped. Let me tell you, it was awesome!

I have never successfully browned a roux before. A roux is a mixture of fat and flour. In the case of this recipe, it was butter and flour. For a lot of Cajun/Creole recipes, the roux needs to be really dark. Browning the roux makes me nervous, not gonna lie. BUT I followed the instructions in this recipe and it worked out very well. Don’t be alarmed if it starts to smell a little like popcorn (or at least that’s what it reminded me of) but don’t get overly confident and think you can just leave it. It is time-consuming to stand over the pot, but you definitely do not want your browned roux to become a burned roux. When following the recipe, my roux turned a beautiful reddish brown and it was great! The rest of the recipe is easy-peasy.

I used brown rice for my shrimp etouffee because it was what I had on hand. I do not recommend doing this. The brown rice does not stay neatly in the little scoop shape. It falls apart. White rice would hold up much better.

Note, if you or your family are sensitive to spice, do not put the full tablespoon of creole seasoning. I did use the whole tablespoon but I omitted the cayenne pepper and halved the hot sauce and it was still too spicy for my kids. Next time I will only do half the amount of Creole seasoning.

Regular Home Maintenance to Keep You Healthy

healthy home

Everything about your home, from the chemicals you use to the way your furniture is arranged can have an effect on your health. One common thing that has a negative effect is moisture in the home. It is important to keep your home dry and clean. Dampness in your home can encourage pests and mold, both of which can make life difficult for family members with asthma and allergies. Cleanliness also helps reduce the chance of pests.

Honestly, mold has been on my mind lately because our air conditioning unit has been leaking onto the ceiling of my daughters’ bedroom. Last night my  husband was able to find the source of the leak and repair it, but the ceiling was still wet.  In fact, it’s been wet several times in the last several months due to the a/c leaking. I am very happy it is fixed (and that we didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a repairman) but I am still concerned about the damage that was done.

Side note: “Toxic Mold” is not really a thing. Mold itself is not toxic, but molds can release a substance called mycotoxin which is toxic to humans and animals. Mostly, molds can cause allergic reactions which is especially concerning for people with asthma or allergies.

To prevent mold growth in  your home, you basically need to control the temperature and moisture in the air. Places that are at high risk for mold growth include bathrooms, the kitchen, and the laundry room because that’s where you’ll find the most moisture. But there’s also potential for excess moisture around air conditioners and windows. Some tips to help you minimize moisture are:

■ Decreasing bathing time
■ Not over-boiling liquids while cooking
■ Washing only full loads of laundry
■ Venting combustion appliances to the outside (such as your dryer) also removes
carbon monoxide, a killer gas.
■ Opening windows often to allow for circulation when the humidity level outdoors is
not too high.

You can also use a dehumidifier if your home is especially humid. For more information on preventing mold, you can read this fact sheet UGA Extension Service.

If you’ve already got mold, what then?

  1. Fix the Moisture Problem: Mold cannot grow without moisture. Listed below are some common causes of household moisture problems:
    ■ Roof and plumbing leaks.
    ■ Overflow from tubs, toilets, or sinks.
    ■ Excessive use of a humidifier.
    ■ Inadequate venting in the kitchen
    or bathroom.
    ■ Poor venting of household appliances
    (clothes dryers, stoves, etc., should be
    vented to the outside when possible).
  2.  Dry Wet Materials: Especially when overflow or flooding has occurred, drying
    of wet materials should begin immediately to stop mold growth. Fans and dehumidifiers can help in this process. You may need to discard the items if you cannot dry them well within 48 hours.*
  3. Treat or Dispose of Contaminated Materials: Before beginning mold treatment
    and clean up, you should consider using protective equipment. This equipment
    includes rubber gloves, eye goggles (preferably without vents), outer clothing that can be easily removed and/or discarded, and a filter dust mask. Some items that have been affected by mold can be saved, some cannot.
  4. Clean Your Surfaces: Non-porous materials such as hard plastic, concrete, glass, metal, and solid wood can usually be cleaned of mold. Scrub mold off with detergent and water and then dry completely.
  5. Disinfect Your Surfaces: After cleaning hard surfaces, you may choose to disinfect them. Mixing 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bleach per gallon of water provides an effective disinfectant solution. Allow the solution to dry on the surface of the treated areas rather than wiping up. Open windows while doing this to prevent inhaling fumes. Also, remember to never mix bleach and ammonia—they can produce toxic gas.
  6. Close the Door on Mold: Mold will take any opportunity to grow in your home. Stay alert for moisture problems, musty odors, and other signs that mold may be forming. Following mold prevention guidelines is the best safeguard against this uninvited and potentially harmful guest.

For more information on getting rid of mold, there’s another fact sheet from UGA Extension.

QuickTip Tuesday: Exercise Outside

I know. It’s hot out. Indoor exercise offers climate control which is great. BUT getting outside now and then can break up the monotony of gym workouts, and being out in nature has positive emotional benefits separate from exercise. Include your family in a hike, bike ride, or nature walk. The family that plays together could also stay fit together!