Sunday, September 30, 2007

Now Accepting Plastic

I don't know about you, but I rarely write checks anymore - nor do I carry cash - I use plastic; both debit and credit cards. The card I use for any given transaction depends on several factors, not the least of which are the perks related to each card. With my personal debit card, I get cash back that adjusts to the top three spending categories each month. One of my business credit cards gives extra points for grocery and fuel purchases. Being a personal chef, 90% of that card's usage is groceries - Cha-Ching!!

In my business Your Place Gourmet - Personal Chef Service I've decided to accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express cards. I find it terribly irritating when the particular store or service provider, from whom I'd like to make a purchase, doesn't accept the card of my choice. I wanted my clients to be able to use their favorite card. I also wanted to offer payment plans and automatic billing to my regularly scheduled clients.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Grapeseed Oil?

Have you tried this stuff? It's fabulous! It's got a higher smoke point than olive oil, no cholesterol, and expands when heated so you use less. I had someone send me a bottle to try it out and I'm hooked! Natural grapeseed oil is absolutely flavorless and light. The infused oils are terrific too. So far, I've tried garlic infused and butter flavored. Next on my list to try are jalapeno and zesty lemon!

Another thing I learned about grapeseed oil is that the bargain-priced oils tend to be chemically extracted, rather than expeller pressed. Chemically extracted?? YUCK!

I found the Wildtree Herbs products to be the best for my dollar, but couldn't find anyone in my area who sold it. So... I became a culinary consultant for the company in order to purchase it directly. I don't do home parties and such - just not my thing - so this territory is wide open if someone wants to do that. If that's you, contact me and I'll get you hooked up.

Speaking of Wildtree, the products helped me get dinner on the table in a flash today. I cubed up some pork tenderloin and tossed it in the slow cooker with some Wildtree Asian Ginger Plum marinade & dressing before I left the house for my son's lacrosse practice. Once we returned from practice, I heated some garlic infused grapeseed oil and stirfried some Asian veggies in a snap. Brown rice rounded out the meal. This dinner was healthy (as the Wildtree products are all-natural and cholesterol free), quick, and delicious! My husband packed up the leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Asian Mini Buffaloaves with Honey-Garlic Sauce

Last week, I hit the pavement in search of locally grown/produced foods. I ended up purchasing some buffalo and some honey. The buffalo was from Arizona Buffalo Company in Buckeye and the honey was produced at Uncle Mac's Honey Company, which is located in Laveen but the products are only sold in Goodyear at the SwapMart.

At first, I created dishes using each ingredient. I made honey-peanut butter bread in the bread machine and bison bourguignon in the pressure cooker. Both recipes were outstanding! Now to create some tasty meal using both buffalo AND honey in the same dish. After tweaking some classic dishes, I came up with a play on meatloaf, "Asian Mini Buffaloaves with Honey-Garlic Sauce." My 14-year old (who initially turned his nose up at the idea of "buffaloaves") just finished up his second helping. Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Asian Mini Buffaloaves with Honey Garlic Sauce

1-1/2 lbs ground buffalo
1/3 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
3/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 egg
1 garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix lightly but throughly to blend. Too much mixing will make the loaves tough.
Spray insides of muffin cups with cooking spray. Divide meat mixture into 12 muffin cups.
Bake at 275-300 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Remove from pan and serve immediately with honey garlic sauce.

Combine ingredients in a sauce pan.
Cook and stir on low heat until hot and bubbly.
Serve loaves and sauce with rice or Asian noodles.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Herb Gardening For Dummies

Growing tired of spending $4 for each little package of fresh herbs at the grocer (then having half of them go to waste), I decided to invest in one of these hydroponic gardens so I could grow my own herbs, then harvest only what I need each day. I'm sure I could have created a cute little dish garden on my own - much more cheaply too - but I know from past experience that I would forget to water it and all that good stuff.

This is my herb garden, about 10 days since set-up. The pods that still have their little "greenhouse caps" on them are later sprouting varieties. For my first attempt at herb gardening in water, I've got Mint, Italian Basil, Dill, Thyme, Parsley, Purple Basil, and Chives. This is also the first time I've taken a picture with my phone. I hope my herb-growing skills are better than my photography skills.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Personal Chef for Pups?

With the recent news of contaminated pet food and treats, I have received a few requests to make all-natural pet products - ie: offering pet personal chef service. Currently, I am recipe testing several items (my three pups are the lucky tasters!) and hopefully should have something to offer my pet clients within the next couple of weeks. I'm working on kibble (dry) dog food as well as fresh/frozen moist dog food, doggie biscuits and cookies, as well as doggie birthday pup-cakes!

Stay tuned to this blog and to Your Place Gourmet for updates.