Chocolate Covered Strawberries

In our house we make chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s every year.  So many people ask for us to make them some thinking it is too timing consuming or tricky to do and honestly, they are one of the most simply things you can make.  There are a few things to know, so today’s post will be about the things some things might now.

The easiest chocolate to use is chocolate chips.  For every 1 cups of chips you use, add one tablespoon of shortening.  The shortening does not change the taste, nor does it make them greasy.  The shortening thins out the chocolate a bit and makes it much easier to dip the strawberries.

Your strawberries must be dry because water will seize your chocolate and then  can’t be used and will have to throw it away.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave, start with 45 seconds.  Stir the chocolate and then continue to put in for an additional 30 seconds at a time stirring well after each session.  When there are no lumps left in the chocolate it is ready to use.

If you find your microwave just won’t melt the chocolate for some reason, then chances are it has been exposed to moisture and while you can use the chips for cookies and such it is no longer usable to melt for dipping.

Watch my video to see how very easy it is to make chocolate dipped strawberries and make some for Valentine’s!

Pork Loin Freezer Prep

Freezer Preparation of Large Cuts of Meat

Your local grocery store of butcher will often have large cuts of meat on sale for much less per pound than a smaller cut.  In my area, this is especially true for large cuts of pork.

I am bewildered by the fact so few people take advantage of the significant savings available by purchasing this way.  This week I purchased a large loin of pork for just over $12 that will make a couple very good dinners for us, but even more meals for people with smaller families.

The trick to purchasing this way is to ensure that you package them properly for the freezer so they last for months without any damage.  I am a huge fan of vacuum packing for several reasons.  First of all,  if you vacuum package food it will last longer in the freezer, often twice as long as it prevents freezer burn and ice crystal formation.  Secondly it allows you to add spices to your meats and vacuum seal them together then, during the defrost process your meat continues to marinade resulting in a very flavorful cut of meat.

For pork cuts, such as in the video, I mix olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic salt and black pepper.  Using fresh rosemary is always preferable but when I don’t have any fresh I don’t hesitate to use dried rosemary.  I rub it all over the roast, then I place in the vacuum seal bag and seal it.  I then freeze it and when we want to eat it I allow it to unthaw in the fridge or if I am in a hurry a bowl of cold water.  I then allow it to come to room temperature before cooking it in the oven.  Some people prefer to sear it prior to putting it in the oven and that method works just as well.

Cook at 325°F until your meat thermometer registers at least 145°F (up to 160°F).

It takes just a few minutes to cut, season and vacuum pack a couple of roasts and not only do you save money, it allows you to season them in advance which results in a more flavorful roast.

Seasoning Recipe:

3 tbsp olive oil (vegetable oil if that is all you have)
3 tbsp  fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Mix ingredients together and rub over roast and then package and freeze.  You can double or half the recipe depending on the size of the roast you are preparin

This is the food saver I use to package things at home.  You can purchase it on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com

Dog Cookies For Charlie

Santa can’t forget Pugadorable Charlie

charlie-cookies

I am doing everything I can to make this Christmas a better one, to celebrate the season given my limited means.

We have a rescue dog, a Pugadore called Charlie and he is Pugadorable as we like to say.  I always say that we didn’t rescue Charlie, he rescued us.  He has brought so much love and laughter into our lives.  He has breathed new life into us, and perhaps given me a reason to try again.  I guess what they say about giving is right, you always get far more back than you give.

So this Christmas marks the one year anniversary of us officially adopting Charlie.  Since it is not only Christmas, but a celebration of his adoption we wanted to do something special for him.  Cookies seemed to be a good idea since we could make him healthy cookies without preservatives and they wouldn’t cost us much as we already had everything on hand.

We had all these cute mini cookie cutters for dog biscuits and my daughter and I had a lot of fun using them.  Since they aren’t too big, they work for all sizes of dogs. We let Charlie test them and he liked them, however, I tasted them and I was a little less impressed.  They were ok, well, they were sort of tasteless, but then again, I’m not a dog.  The dough though was a fantastic one, so easy to roll out and you could reuse the scraps over and over again, so I think I will make them again, only next time I think I will cut down on the pumpkin a bit and substitute it with more peanut butter to give him more flavor.   If you want to purchase the dog cookie cutters, you can purchase them here:

Helpful Hint:  In order to fit them into the container again easily just snap a picture of how they fit in and refer to it later 🙂

If you want to try out the recipe click here:

Update:  12/27/2016:  I would not recommend these cookies.  Charlie really doesn’t like them, they ended up staying “spongey” and ended up going moldy very quickly even though they were stored in an airtight tin.  Dog cookies should be crunchy and not mold within a few days.  I will continue to look for other recipes and let you know when I find one that lives up to my expectations, and Charlies’s.