December 30, 2010

Fondue POTS

Fonduing meats and seafood has to be one of the easiest ways to gather around a table and enjoy a meal with family and friends. It takes a little bit of prep and a fondue pot or two, or three and you will be on your way to a fantastical night of Fondue!

One rule if you are setting down for a meal of fondue is to make sure you have no more than 4-5 people at a pot, 3-4 is the perfect number. We use two pots for 9 people (5 adults, 4 kiddos). Too many forks in the pot at once will bring down the temperature of the oil, and crowd the cooking space. Do not use a ceramic pot for meat, the high cooking temperature will crack the pot, you will want to use metal pots with a fuel heating element or an electric fondue pot for meats and seafood.

Here 7 easy tips for Fondue that will get you off to a wonderful night of food, fellowship, and fun!

TIP#1 PREP! Prepping ahead of time is KEY! I usually will have all my meats and seafood cut and in separate bowls, in the refrigerator, the morning or even the night before we are planning to fondue. You will not need as much as you think you would.

Suggested amount for 8-10 people. (I always have left overs, I throw leftovers in freezer bags, and freeze to use for the next fondue or in other recipes.)

3 chicken breasts trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 1/2 -2 pounds of filet mignon trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes (don't chince out on the steak filet is so tender and cooks up to perfection)

5-8 medium sized shrimp per person, I buy the shelled, tail on, raw ship in the 30-40 count bag

5-8 sea scallops per person, if they are super large I sometimes will cut them in 1/2. I would not recommend using bay scallops, as they are too small.

TIP #2 Fill your metal pot 2/3 of the way with cooking liquid (oil or broth). Make sure you light cooking element a 1/2 hour before you want to eat. We use cans of Sterno Cooking Fuel. Warming your oil or both on stove top before filling pot, will cut down on the time it takes to bring liquid to a boil. You want your liquid to be bubbling, at about 350, degrees before you start to cook your food. An electric fondue pot takes the guess work out of getting the temperature right. If cooking with sterno cooking fuel make sure you have extra cans handy in case fuel burns out and you need to light another can of fuel.

TIP #3 We use vegetable oil for our oil pot. But there are many other options. The website GoFondue will give you other ideas if you want to try something different. I spice up our broth with, 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, and the juice of one orange, I use chicken or vegetable broth. Feel free to use your imagination when spicing up your broth!

TIP #4 Divvy up each choice of meat into 3 bowls each and spread them around the table so everyone has each choice within reach. Do not put raw meat on your eating plate...this gets tricky with kids, touching raw food and such...I feel like the raw meat nazi by the end of the meal with my kiddos. It helps to keep wet wipes and plenty of napkins with in reach.

TIP #5 Know which fork is yours! Fondue forks usually have different colored tips or special markings on the ends. Take note of what forks you have so as not to get your bites mixed up with your other table guests.

TIP #6 Keep it CASUAL. I buy the nicer disposable plates. Then if there is raw meat contamination you can just grab a new plate and start over. Use your judgment, we always have kiddos at the table, if you are doing adults only then by all means use your nice plates if you want. There are even some fun plates, with compartments, you can buy if you want to have compartments for raw meat and then a spot for your food after it's been cooked, they are super nifty.

TIP #7 Relax, eat slow, enjoy! If you are fonduing with kiddos let them get up and move around. Sometimes we are at the table for 1-1 1/2 hours, there is no way my 8 year old can sit that long. As long as she stays in the same room, I let her get up from the table.


Butter is always the favorite. I have these cute little butter warmers that have a candle under them to keep the butter melted and warm. But my sister always makes a few dipping sauces. Here are a few of our favorites. We also use bottled sauces like Sweet Baby Rays, and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, and Soy Sauce.

Ginger Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup shredded fresh ginger

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup sweet sherry or Mirin

1/4 rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Whisk together in a saucepan, bring to low boil, cook for 3-5 minutes, remove from heat, let cool.

Sweet and Tangy Sauce

1/4 cup Asian Fish Sauce

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (bottled works too)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 minced garlic cloves

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Whisk together in a saucepan, bring to low boil, cook for 3-5 minutes, remove from heat, let cool.

Horseradish Cream Sauce

3/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 whole scallion, white and green parts finely chopped

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Whisk together and store in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

The above recipes were taken from Rick Rodgers cookbook "Fondue- Great Food to Dip, Dunk, Savor, and Swirl", which I would recommend having if you are into the Fondue thang... There are also many helpful hints on the "world wide web", if you Google fondue millions of options will come up.....but on second thought, if that will stress you out, just stick to what I have told you and you should be just fine.

ONE FINAL NOTE: This is the only official time chart I could find. But I don't totally agree with it. I would cook the steak at least 90 seconds. Shrimp is done when it is pink, and shrinks up which is usually 90 second or 2 minutes at the most, same for scallops. Chicken I would go a good 3 minutes. These are the cooking times I have found to work. Here's a chart I found.

This table was taken from

I hope all this information is helpful and does not overwhelm. Fondue is so easy and fun! I hope you try it. If you don't have a Fondue pot, I am sure someone you know does and would be willing to let you borrow it. I have lent mine out many times. It's nice to share. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments and I try to help you out the best I know how.


post signature

December 27, 2010

cheese FONDUE

A three course meal of fondue has become the tradition around our home on Christmas Eve. Which just so happens to be my birthday.......we used to go out for dinner, but at some point when the kids were little and going out for dinner with them was not actually relaxing, at all, we started fondue. (Forgive me Sweet Seestor, but if my memory serves me correctly you gave me a fondue pot for my birthday...right?) A fondue pot as a gift and now six years, and 3 additional fondue pots later, we consider ourselves fondue aficionados....humbly speaking of course.

Fondue is not for the hurried eater. It's all about taking your time. One bite at a time. Conversation. Moving around a little. Taking turns. Remembering which fork is yours. Patience. Laughter. Lots of good food, one bite at a time, did I say that already?

I did a little research a couple years back on fondue. A friend and I auctioned off a fondue party for our school, so I thought I'd better know my fondue history. Fondue originated in Switzerland, it was a way for the peasants to use up their odd bits of cheese and day old bread. They would throw the cheese in a pot, pour in some liquor or wine for good measure and dip in their day old bread. Voila! the fondue pot was born. Now we think we are all fancy, when really we are just copying common farmers in Switzerland. Fancy or ordinary, fonduing is a casual, relaxing and super easy to do. You need not be a lover of the kitchen, by any means, to pull off fondue .

Let's start where they started with the cheese. I have tried many a cheese fondue recipe....believe me. This one has come from a few years of tinkering with it. This particular recipe would be considered traditional fondue. A fondue pot made out of stoneware works best for cheese fondue, I've found out the hard way that metal and cheese are not friends. However, the electric fondue pot from Rival, with it's non-stick surface, works fabulous for cheese and chocolate! I use my metal pots for broth and oil....but I will get to that at a later time.

Cheese Fondue
6 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
4-6 ounces Brie cut rind off and cube
4 teaspoons of cornstarch
2 tablespoons Kirsch Liquor (if you can't find it leave it out)
1 1/4 cups dry Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
1 lemon juiced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-2 dashes nutmeg
1 garlic clove peeled and sliced in half
dippers: french baguette cut into cubes, sweet mini gherkins, roasted mini onions, red peppers sliced, sauteed mushrooms, mini fingerling potatoes roasted, granny smith apple slices

Serves 6-8

Shred Gruyere cheese and prepare brie, toss in a bowl with the cornstarch set aside. (You can actually do this step hours before and put in refrigerator until you are ready to melt the cheese.)
Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the garlic clove. Light burning element under fondue pot. Add juice of one lemon, and half of the wine, gradually add cheese, stirring continually with wooden spoon or rubber spatula. As cheese starts to melt continue to add the remainder of wine and cheese. Don't loose heart it will seem like a large lump of cheese that you can't dip anything into for a little bit. Keep stirring. When cheese gets bubbly add in the pepper, dash or two of nutmeg and tablespoon of Kirsch liquor if you have it. Continue to stir until smooth. This process may take 15-25 minutes.
Remember fondue is not for the hurried eater, relax, pour your guest a glass of wine and take turns stirring your cheese fondue.
I gave you suggestions above for dipping, these are things we have found to be our favorites over the years. Feel free to have fun and add your own favorites.

Here are two other flavors of fondue that we have tried at our party's and found to be quite tasty: Blue Cheese Fondue with Rosemary Toasts, this fondue is to die for, if you are a lover of blue cheese like will be dipping everything you can get your hands on in it. One word YUMMY! Unfortunately no one else in my family loves blue cheese like I do, so we rarely do this one.
Irish Cheddar Stout Fondue is another we have tried and found to be quite tasty. Like my mam always said, "Beer and Cheese does the body good!" Well not really but, she shoulda said it. This mama says it.

I hope if you have a fondue pot you haul that baby out, dust it off and give it a try. New Years Eve is coming up ya know. What better way to reminisce over the past year than by hanging out around a pot of cheese fondue!

Bon Appetit!

post signature

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Johnson Family Christmas Card 2010

After many years of battling with my children to get a picture for our Christmas card, I threw up my arms and screeched "I surrender!" and went running in the direction of the professionals. I think the year of my surrender was the year I dressed them all in red and wrapped them in Christmas tree lights.....wouldn't recommend this, unless you have very docile compliant children.

These are fake smiles, see my oldest daughters are you freeking kidding me! This is torture. Punishment of the worst degree...being tied up with my brothers in wire with electrical currents running through it. Torture! Torture! See my younger son, he is clenching his teeth and squealing "are we done...?" So this was it, the last year of me playing photographer for our Christmas card.

This year I called Andrea, she is a beautiful, young, mother of two sweet boys, in our church. She is so talented! Check out her website, La Vita e Bella, it's AMAzaZING!

So glad I made them be matchy, matchy. What a great shot!

I love the coloring of this picture...and the background too. Love it!

Ready, Setty, JUMP!

WoooHOOOO! My kids love jump pictures. I have a wall of them in our basement. I'll hafta show ya sometime.....

Oh heart breaker. My older son. If I had to walk past him everyday, in the hallway at school, when I was thirteen, I woulda been a wreck....weak in the knees, and sweaty arm pits. Yes, I had the pit problem way back then.

This makes me feel better....every picture was unbelievable, but even the professionals can't keep my kids under control entirely....I think they were looking at you find unusual articles in alleys...."Hello...lets look back at the camera and away from the syringe on the ground....".

This is my oldest favorite. He was ornery with me for not using it for the card. But I couldn't was too hard to pick. Unlike when I used to take the Christmas card picture and I can't find one good picture.

Oh my older daughter is so tall and younger son.....always irritated because people mistake him for Justin Bieber, my Luke is much cuter than JB, just sayin'! Then my littlest peanut......I'm weeping and gnashing my teeth, tearing my cloths...why! oh! why!.......were is that chubby brown cherub I brought home 8 years ago???? I would love to freeze time right now, such fun ages. 14, 12, 11, 8.

We are so thankful for family, friends, health, shelter, food on the table and cloths on our backs. God is so good........Praying that Jesus is the REASON for your Season.

Many Blessings! & Merry Christmas!
post signature

December 23, 2010

WINNERS of The Pioneer Woman Cooks and CUTE aprons are.....

WoooHOOOO! Are you ready? Drum roll...pleeeezee. Thank you drummer boy! The winners of the Pioneer Woman Cooks signed cookbooks and aprons are:

#1 Cookbook & Cowgirl Apron

the Segard Family said...

We will be snowboarding in Colorado!!

SarahinSC said...

Awesome giveaway! I'll be spending Christmas with family!

#3 Cookbook

Diane said...

Adorable Apron... Sheila, your Mom did a fantastic job!! (perhaps she could sell a few for the 'tour' next year??). I will be sitting back, eating, drinking egg nog, and fellowshipping with family. Oh, I'll also be keeping my eye on Marlin as he keeps his eye/nose on the food :). Love you.

Please shoot me an email leaving your full name and contact information, and we will get your winnings off to you quicker than you can say Frohliche Weihnachten! or Feliz Navidad!

Thanks for sharing what you are all up to over Christmas I loved reading all your comments!
Many blessings!

Hugs to you all!

Luv Ya,

post signature

Winners were chosen randomly by

December 19, 2010

The Pioneer Woman COOKS- GIVEAWAY!!!

Because Christmas is less than a week away..

Because I fed lots of people today....

Because I used this cookbook to feed the crowd.....

Because Elvis stopped by and sang "Hound Dawg" real loud......

Because I love this lady, and her Hound Dawggy........

And it's almost my Birthday...... and my Mom made these cute Frocks! (OK the rhyme ends here....I'm not Dr. Seuss.)

Christmas themed, with snow flakes, candy canes and holly. Adorable!

You can also wear this apron with the bib down.

Cowgirl Apron! Yeehaw!

Look at the detail. I bought this fabric months ago, if you remember I actually asked you what I should do with it and someone suggested I make an apron and give it away. Well, I could have never come up with anything this cute....I knew this. So when my mom was visiting us this Fall, from Florida, I snuck it in her suitcase with the pattern and and a note that said, "Make cute, apron. For blog. Purdy pleeeze."

The pockets are just big enough for a cell phone! I always have my cell phone in my apron foolin'.

Aren't these little Ladies Sweet?!

This is not my backside! In my dreams, look at the bow, not the hind quarter. How'd my mama do that? There's a cowgirl on each tie!

Do you realize how hard it's going to be for me to give this away?

Do ya? Do ya?

Not hard, because I think the world of you all, and wanted something really fun and special to giveaway for Christmas. I don't know what I'd do with out you. (Eat less, and read more books...not that I'm keeping track or anything.)

And the SUPER added BONUS....... Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman, gave me three signed copies of her cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks to GIVEAWAY!!!!!!

My kiddos are home from school, so I'm gonna kick off my boots and my tennis shoes, and be a lazy blogger this week....

We have lots of fun stuff planned. Cookie decorating, friends for dinner, movies, pajama days, games, three birthdays to celebrate, and hopefully lots of sledding and skiing!

Here's the SCOOP! There will be THREE winners, chosen randomly.

WINNER #1 will win a signed copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks and the Cowgirl Apron.

WINNER #2 will win a signed copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks and the Christmas Apron.

WINNER #3 will win a signed copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Answer the following question in the comments section of this post:

"What are your plans over the Christmas holiday?"

Movies, baking, sleeping in, visiting Aunt Thelma....let me know in the comments and you will be entered to win.


One entry per person.

No entries after noon on Thursday, December 23.

WINNERS will be announced on Christmas Eve.

Good Luck!

Feel free to spread the love by Twittering and sharing on Facebook...use the share buttons on the sidebar.

Thank you, Thank you, thank you very much!

post signature

December 17, 2010

Johns special EGG NOG drink

Here's a must for your next Christmas Party! Isn't that beautiful and festive? This is the first time I have posted an alcoholic beverage recipe on my blog. I like to try and keep things family friendly and all, but this special Holiday drink was one I couldn't keep to myself.

Remember a couple weeks ago Big D and I went to Chicago to stay with her sister? Well her sisters husband John, was suppose to fix us one of these yummy special drinks of his, but he fell asleep on the couch, and we couldn't rouse him from his deep slumber to make us a drinky. (They have a baby...he's allowed to crash on the too Harmony.)

Big D and I were obsessing over "the special drink" so she called up her brother-n-law got the recipe and we had a party so we could have one...or two. Well really Kenny and I just wanted to see our best pals before Christmas, so we could reminisce and have some yule tide cheer with them and all that jazz. But it sounded like a good excuse to make "the special drink".

This is what you will need. Heavy whipping cream, for whipping. Kahlua, Spiced Rum, low-fat want the real good stuff, and ground nutmeg. Everything in life is better with ground nutmeg on it. Do I hear an Amen sistah?!

I had to go buy Spiced Rum, there was nary a bit of spiced rum in my house. I made fun of Big D, for bringing over a plastic bottle of rum, and then well...I went and bought one too. It was 5 bucks cheaper for goodness sakes! See me squeezing the bottle of rum? Bet ya thought I was real strong for a minute. I wonder if they put the cheap stuff in plastic so.......oh never mind, this babble is going in the wrong direction. Ok I'll say it! So when you get schnockered and drop your bottle it just bounces, and you don't hafta cry in your special drink.

This would be my dusty bottle of Kalhua. It's been awhile ol' boy. Sorry bout that, I should probably get you down more often.

Fill blender 3/4 full with ice, add 4 shots of Spiced Rum and 4 shots of Kahlua, fill to the top blender line with egg nog. Blend until slushy. Pour into martini glasses. (Honestly any glass will do.) Top with a dollop of real whipped cream. (If you need help with that go here.) Then give a sprinkle with nutmeg and serve. This makes 6 drinks.

If you would prefer to make one at a time then it's 3/4 shot of each liquor, and 6 oz. of egg nog, pour over ice.

I'm warnin' you these are VERY, VERY, dangerous. You might just find yourself playing your friends kids guitar and singing the blues. Hypothetically speaking that is.


post signature

Festive FETA Dip!

Hold on to your hats. This dip is so easy and festive it's going to blow you away. It's so easy that I nearly forgot about it! Big D had to send me an email and say "HEY! what about the Feta Dip. Dorko!" She really didn't say dorko, but I bet she was thinkin' it. It's Friday.....we are all going stark raving mad, because we have so much to do. We have five different places we need to be this weekend. If you need to bring an appetizer somewhere and you are pinched for time THIS is the appetizer for you.

Festive Feta Dip
1 14 ounce can petite diced tomatoes with garlic and oil, or any variety will do.
4 ounces feta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or basil (if you are like my friend Jodi and cilantro has an adverse reaction on you)
1 bag of Sea Salt Pita chips or any simple crackers

Here goes! Drain tomatoes, spread them in bottom of a plate with an edge, crumble feta cheese over tomatoes, sprinkle cilantro or basil over cheese. Serve with pita chips!

VOILA! There you have it, the simplest most festive Hors d' oeuvre you will EVER make!

Enjoy! Luv you!
Have a great weekend!
Come back again now ya hear,
Over and out....

post signature

Isn't this ornament adorable? Our old neighbors made this for us...personalized it to our family. They have since moved and we miss them lots. Go check out their website for more unique and personal gifts, all handmade in Michigan!