Monday, December 24, 2012

Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Bars

Similar in consistency and goodness to Fudge Nut Bars.  We tried these for the first time this year with the intention of adding them to the Christmas goodie plates.  They never made it to the goodie plate, only to our tummies.

2 1/4 c. quick oats
1 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. butter, softened

1 fourteen-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter (could use creamy and add 1/2 c. chopped salted peanuts)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9X13" baking dish. 
2.  Beat together the oats, brown sugar, flour, baking soda and butter.  Reserve 2 cups and press the remaining crust evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
3.  Combine the sweetened condensed milk, peanut butter and vanilla until blended (I warmed my peanut butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds to make it easier to mix).  Pour over the base crust.  Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and chopped nuts if using.  Crumble the remaining crust mixture evenly over chips. 
4.  Bake for 25-30.  Center will not be set.  Cool completely.

Fudge Nut Bars

A soft oatmeal cookie base and top with a layer of delicious fudge running through the middle.  This is my mother-in-law's recipe.  A favorite on our Christmas goodie plates. they are especially good the day they are made.

6 oz. chocolate chips
1 fourteen ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp butter
¼ tsp salt
½ cup chopped nuts
1 tsp vanilla

1 c. butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar 
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 c. quick cooking rolled oats
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13" pan.
2.  In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine the chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and 1 Tbsp. butter; heat and stir until the chocolate is melted.  Remove from the heat and add the nuts and vanilla.
3.  Cream together the 1 c. butter and brown sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt and oats.  Stir the dry ingredients into the sugar/butter mixture.
4.  Press slightly more than 1/2 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread the fudge filling over crust and drop the remaining dough evenly over the chocolate.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Cool completely then cut into squares.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Easy Homemade French Bread

My friend who is the queen of recipes gave me this one.  It makes two large loaves that are a little bit bigger, and 100% yummier, than those you could buy in the grocery store bakery department.  They turned out golden brown, crispy outside and super soft and excellent texture on the inside, even two days later.  Plus this is a very simple to make recipe.  We ate one half of a loaf for dinner as garlic bread, cubed up the other half and used it in bread pudding, and I've sliced the other and put it in the freezer to use in a french toast dish I'm signed up to make for a teacher's luncheon at my boys' school.  You could easily mix up the dough, bake one loaf and freeze the remaining dough (before the 30 minute rise) for later use as bread, breadsticks, pizza dough, cinnamon roll dough, hoagie rolls, etc.  Just take the dough out of the freezer, allow to come to room temperature and proceed at the 30 rise mark (approx. 3-5 hours total time).

1/2 c. warm water
2 1/4 tsp. (one 7g pkg.) dry yeast
2 c. very hot water
1/3 c. oil
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
6 c. flour

1.  Combine the warm water and the yeast.  Set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, combine the hot water, oil, sugar, salt and half of the flour.  Stir with a wooden spoon (I used my electric mixer instead).
3.  Add yeast mixture and stir.
4.  Add the remaining flour and stir.  Leave spoon in the dough.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Stir and let rest again.  Repeat the rest and stir process three more times (for a total of 5 times). 
5.  Divide dough in half.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Press out to a rectangle.  Roll up (like making cinnamon rolls) and place on a greased baking sheet (one 11X17" baking sheet works just fine) repeat with the other half. 
6.  Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.  With a sharp knife, make 3 diagonal slashes across each loaf.  Brush with egg white. 
7.  Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from the baking sheet to a cooling rack.


You could place an oven safe dish of water on the lower rack of the oven while these are baking to give the crust some extra texture, it's not necessary, but dosen't hurt anything.

Fast Breadsticks

Taisey is my source for great recipes.  She sent me this recipe over a year ago and I just got around to trying it two nights ago.  They are delicious. My usual go-to for breadsticks is my Soft Italian Breadsticks recipe but in a pinch these worked perfectly.  These are delightfully crispy on the outside and soft in the center.  The 'easy' part is that they only rise once for 30 minutes.  Yummy breadsticks in about an hour?  Yes, please!

1 1/2 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
3 1/2 c. flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. butter, melted

1.  Mix all the ingredients except the melted butter, in a large bowl (or electric mixer).  Knead for 3 minutes.  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. 
2.  Heat oven to 375*.  Spread melted butter onto an 11X17 baking sheet. 
3.  Roll out the dough about 1/4 to 1/2 thick and cut into strips with a pizza cutter.  Twist slightly, if desired and place breadsticks about 1/2 apart on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with garlic salt, choice of herbs (either.rosemary, basil, and/or thyme, crushed finely) and grated Parmesan cheese.  Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes (I did this on a cooler day by preheating my oven to 200, turning it off and placing the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes, then pulled it out to finish rising then preheated my oven to 375*).
4.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Yield: 20-25 breadsticks

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chicken and Rice Bowl with Teriyaki Sauce

Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you off, it is quite simple to prepare and is very yummy.


2 c. brown rice
3 c. water
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk (about 1 1/2 c.)
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 can black beans rinsed and drained

Teriyaki Sauce*:
2/3 c. soy sauce
2/3 c. water
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sesame oil
4 cloves garlic
1 to 2 Tbsp. ginger, minced
2 tsp. garlic chili sauce
2 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 carrots, peeled and grated
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise then cut into 1/4" slices
1 1/2 c. broccoli florets

4 chicken breasts, grilled with salt and pepper to taste, then cubed

For Rice:
Bring water, coconut milk and sugar to a boil, add rice.  Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.  Stir in the beans; recover and continue to cook for an additional 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the teriyaki sauce.

For Sauce:
In  medium saucepan mix all the ingredients except for the cornstarch/water slurry.  Bring to a boil then add the cornstarch/water.  Continue to boil until thickened.  Remove from heat.

For Veggies:
In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add veggies and saute just until crisp-tender.

To serve: layer rice, veggies and chicken in a bowl.  Drizzle with teriyaki sauce.

*You could use a store bought teriyaki sauce and add an additional 1 tsp. soy sauce, the chili sauce, 1 tsp. ginger and thicken with cornstarch/water slurry.   

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Cheesecake

My friends and I have a monthly recipe exchange night where everyone brings a written recipe and a sample of that recipe for everyone to try.  Really it's an excuse to eat and chat with my girls. 
The theme this month was guilty pleasures.  It truly was an enchanted evening (even if most of us nearly slipped into a sugar coma, we had paramedics on stand-by).
I love cheesecake with an un-natural passion. I love chocolate and peanut butter with an un-natural passion.
Chocolate cheesecake?  Yes, please
Peanut butter cookie dough?  Yes, please
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Cheesecake?  ....  I think I just cried a little from the joy in my heart.
The Cheesecake Factory used to have a cheesecake with this same name, and to my dismay they took it off their menu.  I have searched the Internet high and low to find a knock-off recipe for my well beloved, but have been unsuccessful in my hunt, so I took matters into my own hands.  Next time (and oh yes, there WILL be a next time) I might add dolops of peanut butter into the cheesecake as well as the cookie dough.  If you just want a chocolate cheesecake recipe (omit the cookie dough and proceed as written) this one would be a stunner on it's own, but adding the peanut butter cookie dough makes me sigh. 

1 1/2 c. crushed Oreos
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1 c. sugar
2 1/2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. flour
3 eggs
1 c. sour cream
8 oz. melted semi-sweet chocolate, slightly cooled
1/4 recipe Peanut Butter Cookie Dough -- uncooked.

1.  Lower one oven rack to lowest setting, place a 9X13 in baking pan filled half way with water.  Set one oven rack on middle setting in oven.  Preheat oven to 350 (if using a silver spring-from pan, 325 if using a dark, non-stick springform pan).  Lightly grease the bottom and side of 9" springform pan (I place a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of my springform pan on the bottom, then greased the sides, it makes me sad when part of the crust sticks to the pan and not to my lovely piece of cheesecake).  In mixing bowl, combine Oreos and butter.  Press onto the bottom of the pan and set aside.
2.  In large mixing bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla; beat with electric mixer until light and creamy.  Add flour and beat until smooth.  Add melted chocolate and sour cream; mix well.  Add eggs, one and a time, mixing on low speed after each addition, just until combined. 
3.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Roll peanut butter cookie dough into 3/4" balls and drop at random intervals over batter; use the end of a wooden spoon to push cookie dough into the batter until it is completely submerged.
4.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, until center is almost set.  Run a knife around the rim of the pan; allow to cool completely before removing the edge of the pan.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. 

Will keep for up to 1 week refrigerated.

We found we liked it better when the cheesecake had been sitting at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Macaroni and Cheese

You never know what kind of gems you will find on the back of packages.  I found this recipe on the back of bag of dried pasta.  I added my own secret ingredient (I guess it's not super secret if I'm sharing it here).  I love queso cheese, especially the kind in the #10 can that you can buy at Costco.  I find it delicious.  I added it to this mac and cheese and it gave it just a slight hint of spice, and extra creaminess that was exactly what I like in macaroni and cheese.

8 oz. small elbow macaroni
3 Tbsp. margarine or butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. mined onion
3/4 c. queso nacho cheese dip
2 c. (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. bread crumbs

1.  Cook elbows according to package directions; drain.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 2-quart baking dish; set aside. 
2.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour; cook for 3-4 minutes.  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook stirring constantly over medium heat, until sauce thickens.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Add onion and both cheeses; stir until cheddar is melted.
3.  Stir cheese sauce into elbows.  Transfer to prepared baking dish.  Top with bread crumbs. 
4.  Bake 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Thursday, September 6, 2012


One of my new goals for the school year is to have a real breakfast for my kids before they leave in the morning.  Cereal only occasionally.  I've had this recipe in my binder for years and have never tried it until this morning.  I don't know where I found it but it's title says it's the recipe for the pancakes at a restaurant chain who claim they have pancakes from around the world. 
For some reason the recipe as I have it in my binder does not include any liquid.  I added some milk just to get it to a batter consistency, I'm not sure how much it was.  Probably less than 1 cup, maybe 2/3 cup.  Also it might need a little salt, I'll add maybe 1/4 teaspoon next time. 
They were very good.  A little sweeter than store bought pancake mix recipes.  The texture was excellent.  I will use these as my go-to pancakes from now on.

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/4 c. flour
1 egg
1/4 c. sugar
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. cooking oil

1.  Preheat skillet over medium heat.  Use a pan with nonstick surface or apply a little non stick cooking spray.
2.  In a blender or with a mixer, combine all of the remaining ingredients until smooth.
3.  Pour the batter by spoonfuls onto the hot pan, forming 5" circles.
4.  When the edges appear to harden, flip the pancakes.  They should be light brown.
5.  Cook on the other side for same amount of time, until light brown.

Yield: 8-10 pancakes

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

I originally found this recipe while looking for a cookie that had a piece of Snickers bar in the middle.  I found I was pretty underwhelmed by the candy being in the middle.  However, the peanut butter cookie part was possibly the best PB cookie recipe I'd ever had.  So here is the recipe minus the disappointing snickers bar in the middle.

2 large eggs
1 c. sugar
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Granulated sugar

1.  In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter, peanut butter, vanilla and eggs.  Beat well.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; mix until just combined.

2.  Shape dough into 1" balls, rolls in granulated sugar.  Place 4" apart on ungreased baking sheet, use the tines of a fork to flatten out the balls and make the traditional peanut butter cookie pattern. 

3.  Bake at 375 for 11-13 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack.  Store in a tightly covered container to keep them moist.

Hoagie Rolls

These turned out really tasty.  I used them for Sausage, Pepper and Onion Sandwiches.  The rolls were a little like ciabatta bread; crisp on the outside and soft in the middle.  I'm not super and making them look pretty, but they sure do taste great!

1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. warm milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. mince chives
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
3 1/4 c. bread flour
3 tsp. active dry yeast

1.  In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order suggested by the manufacturer.  Select dough setting.

2.  When cycle is complete, turn dough on to a lightly floured surface; divide into 9 pieces.  Shape each into a 4 X 2 inch rectangle.  Place 4 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. 

3.  Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 9 rolls

Sausage, Pepper and Onion Sandwiches

I made these for Adam's birthday, because he loves sausage and peppers.  I served them on Garlic Hoagie Rolls, and they were a hit with the whole family.

1 1/2 lbs. dinner sausage of your choice (you can use 3/4 pounds each of two different flavors/heat levels)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 Anaheim chilies, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
salt and pepper to tasted
2 or 3 pepperoncini finely chopped + 2 or 3 Tbsp. juice from the pepperoncini jar

4 sandwich rolls
3 Tbsp. butter
garlic salt

1.  Place the sausage in a large nonstick skillet.  Pierce the casings with a fork.  Add 1-inch of water to the pan.  Bring liquid to a boil.  Cover pan with a lid, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

2.  Heat a second skillet over medium heat.  Add oil, garlic, onions, Anaheim chili, and red pepper, season with salt and pepper.  Cook veggies until tender-crisp.  Drain sausages and return pan to the stove, raise the heat to medium high.  Brown and crispt the casings.  Remove sausage from the pan, slice into 2" pieces on an angle, return to the pan to sear.

3.  Combine the cooked peppers and onoins to the sausages.  Add pepperoncinis and juice to the skillet.  Toss and turn the sausage, peppers and onion. 

4.  Split the sandwich rolls, spread with butter and spinkle with garlic salt.  Toast under the broiler until golden brown.  Pile the meat and peppers in to the garlic rolls and serve.

Yield: 4 sandwiches

Carrot Cake Cookies

Who doesn't love carrot cake?  Only silly people.  Who doesn't love cookies?  No one I've ever met!  So who wouldn't love carrot cake cookies? 
I made them for a friend's baby shower and they were absolutely wonderful!  They are moist and delicious, and the cream cheese frosting was divine. 

1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 c. (packed) finely grated peeled carrots
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1 c. powdered sugar
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place raisins and oats in small bowl; add 1/4 c. water.  Let soak until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl until fluffy.  Beat in egg, then carrots.  Add flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon; beat to blend.  Stir in raisin/oat mixture and walnuts.  Drop batter by level tablespoonfuls 2" apart onto baking sheets.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown (they will be soft).  Cool 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
2.  Beat all icing ingredients together in medium bowl until smooth.  Slather onto the cooled cookies and try not to devour them all!

Yield: about 40 cookies

Snickerdoodle Cookies

I am always on the hunt for a perfect snickerdoodle cookie.  I don't know what it is that I love about them so much, it's the unique zing that the cream or tartar adds.  I like them crunchy on the edges and soft in the middle.  And anything with cinnamon sugar is always welcome on my tongue.

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 c. sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Blend in flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt.  Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.

2.  Mix the 2 Tbsp. sugar and the cinnamon.  Roll balls of dough into cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets.

3.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set.  Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Yield: about 48 cookies

Chocolate PB Blossoms

I love-love-love chocolate and peanut butter together, I say it is one of the world's greatest treasures.  These are different than the traditional peanut butter/chocolate kiss cookies in that they have cocoa in the dough. 

48 unwrapped milk chocolate kiss candies
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Granulated sugar

1.  Heat oven to 375.  Beat shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl until well blended.  Add brown sugar and 1/3 c. white sugar; beat until fluffy.  Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well.  Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to peanut butter mixture.

2.  Shape dough into 1" balls.  Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. 

3.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set.  Immediately press chocolate kiss into center of each cookie.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely.

Yield: about 48 cookies

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mango Quinoa Salad

Thank you to Tiara for this delicious and very healthy recipe!
How to cook quinoa: to avoid a bitter taste, be sure soak the quinoa in water for about 15 minutes then drain through a fine sieve.  It's 1 1/4 c. liquid to 1 c. uncooked quinoa, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.  You can use either water or broth, the broth will give it more flavor.
I've made this with peaches in place of the mango with fair results.

2 c. cooked quinoa at room temperature, or chilled
1 14 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium mango, peeld and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 green onions, sliced
1/2 c. cooked edamame beans (removed from pod)
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl.  Add mango, red pepper, green onion, beans, edamame and cilantro.  In a small bowl combine vinegar, olive oil and lime juice.  Whisk until smooth and pour over salad.  Toss to combine and add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Thai Peanut Salad

Thank you to my friend Tiara for this wonderful recipe!
The recipe calls for red leaf lettuce, but I like it made with broccoli slaw (sometimes called rainbow slaw) that you can find premade in the produce section.  If you use the broccoli slaw, omit the cabbage and carrots. The peanut sauce is a little spicey so play with the porportions of the peanut sauce to vinaigrette to get the right heat/flavor you are looking for.

Red leaf lettuce
Purple cabbage
Sliced carrots
Red bell pepper, sliced
Honey roasted peanuts
Shredded or sliced roasted chicken

1/3 c. Thai peanut sauce (found in the ethnic food section of the grocery store)
2/3 c. Red wine vinaigrette

Combine the dressing ingredients well and toss over the salad.

Ham and Spinach Quiche

Adam said this is the best quiche he's ever had.  I thought it was tastey too.  The kids were not the biggest fans, but ate it anyway.  They also don't love pie (whose kids are these anyway?!), so maybe I shouldn't have told them it was egg pie, I might have ruined the experience before it even began.
I didn't have a deep dish pie crust, so I made 2 regular 9" pies.

1/2 c. butter
3 cloves garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (4.5 oz) can mushrooms, drained
1 (6 oz) package herb and garlic feta, crumbled
1 (8 oz) package shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
1 c. chopped ham
4 eggs
1 c. milk

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute garlic and onion in butter until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.  Stir in spinach, mushrooms, feta, ham and 1/2 c. cheddar cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon into pie crust.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.  Pour into pie crust, allowing egg mixture to thoroughly combine with spinach mixture.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese and bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes, until set in center.  Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Salted Caramel Pecan Ice Cream

When we were in Paris 4 years ago I had the most amazing caramel I've ever had in my life, it was buttery, sweet and had fleur de sel in it, which gave it a little bit of saltiness, it was indecently awesome. I bought a jar and brought it back I admit I did cry a little when it was gone. I tried to look on line at the company`s website to see if they would ship it to me, it was that good. I would have paid for the overseas shipping, no questions asked. So, when I first saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. The original recipe does not call for pecans, but I think they are the perfect touch. You can leave them out if you would like. This recipe would be heavenly over a warm brownie.
This ice cream is incredibly smooth and delicious, but highly annoying to make.
 Here are my tips:
Use the biggest saucepan you have for melting the sugar. I used a 10-inch pan and it took a really long time to melt -- forty five minutes! Forty-five minutes of stirring and swirling got really old -- really fast.
Really wait until the sugar is turning liquid before starting to swirl. I jumped the gun a little bit and ended up with big sugar chunks I had to break (read: chisel) apart.
My caramel seized when I added the cream, I'd even heated it up to try to avoid this, but my efforts did not work. But if you keep stirring it will eventually start to turn liquid. I did, however, have to fish out about 3/4 c. of melted sugar that would not incorporate into the cream.
My ice cream was a little too salty. I didn't have any flaky sea salt, just regular sea salt. I'm not sure if having the flaky variety would have made it less salty. (I do like salt, but it just seemed a little off.) The next time I make this I'll try adding a little less sea salt.

For the Caramel:
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. flaky sea salt

For the Ice Cream Base:
1 c. whole milk
4 large egg yolks
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. heavy cream

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted

For the Caramel:
Heat the sugar in a dry, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Stir with a fork to heat the sugar evenly.  Once it starts to melt, stop stirring and start swirl the pan to melt the sugar until it reaches a dark amber color. 
Carefully (it will splatter) add the heavy cream; cook, stirring until the sugar has fully incorproated.  Transfer to a heat proof bowl and stir in the sea salt.

For the Ice Cream Base:
Heat the milk in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Prepace an ice bath by setting a 2-quart bowl over a larger bowl partially filled with ice water.  Set a strainer over the smaller bowl; set aside.
In a seperate bowl, whisk the eggs yolks and sugar until they are pale yellow and the sugar is dissolved.  Very slowly pour the heated milk into the egg mixture whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.  Pour back into the orginal pan.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Strain the custard into the top bowl of the ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Add the heavy cream and stir over the ice until cool.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate thoroughly (preferably over night).

Follow your ice cream maker's instructions on chilling the freezer bowl.  Pour the ice cream base, vanilla, and caramel into your chilled bowl and freeze according to directions.  When ice cream is about 5 minutes from frozen, add the pecans until well incorporated.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Basic Cheese Sauce

I use this as the cheese part of my potato cheese soup. I use 6 medium baking potatoes cut into about 1" cubes, boil them with just enough water to cover. When the potatoes are fork tender I add this cheese sauce and it comes out great.

1/2 c. butter
3 c. chicken broth
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (sharp cheddar gives better flavor)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. flour
1 c. milk
1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce

In a large saucepan melt butter, stir in the flour. Add the milk and chicken broth. Stir until thickened. Add the cheese, the hot pepper sauce and salt and pepper to taste; stir until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All-Purpose Baking Mix

I keep this on hand instead of store bought baking mix. It works just as well and is less expensive. I use it for pancakes, waffles, biscuits, dumplings and any recipe that requires biscuit or baking mix.
I store it in a tall Rubbermaid container with a copy of the recipe taped to the front.

6 c. flour
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. salt
1 1/4 c. shortening (butter flavored or plain)

Combing flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl.

Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Store in a container with tight fitting lid. Will keep for up to 2 months.

For biscuits: Stir together 2 1/4 c. baking mix with 2/3 c. milk. Knead 10 times on lightly floured surface, roll out and cut into biscuits or skip the kneading and simply drop dough into an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about 10 biscuits.

For pancakes: Stir together 2 c. baking mix, 1 c. milk and 2 eggs until blended. Do not over mix. Ladle 1/4 cupfuls onto hot greased griddle or skillet and cook until edges are dry and top is bubbly, turn over and cook until golden brown. Makes about 14 pancakes.

For waffles: Stir together 2 c. baking mix, 1 1/3 c. milk, 1 egg and 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil until blended. Pour batter into center of hot greased waffle iron and cook for 5 minutes to until steaming stops. Makes about 12 (4 inch) waffles.

For dumplings: Stir together 2 c. baking mix and 2/3 c. milk just until soft dough forms. Drop by spoonfuls into boiling liquid, cover and cook for 10 minutes without lifting the lid. Makes about 10 dumplings.

Slab Apple Pie

I found this recipe on another blog and I really love it. It reminds me a lot of my apple crisp recipe, but has a flaky pie crust too, which I love. It's scrumptious warm and at room temperature.

Pie Crust for single layer pie
6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare pie crust according to directions and pat it into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. In large mixing bowl, combine apple slices, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Spread in an even layer over crust. In food processor, combine flour, butter, and brown sugar, pulsing until coarse crumbs are formed, or in a large mixing bowl, combine these ingredients, cutting butter into sugar and flour with a pastry blender or two knives held together. Stir in nuts. Sprinkle crumb top over apple layer.* Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until filling bubbles. Cool completely.
If preparing ahead of time to freeze. Wrap with foil and label at the *. Then, when ready to serve, bake frozen pie at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and continue baking as directed.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Who doesn't love warm homemade bread? No one that I know, that's for sure. My usual hesitation with making bread in the bread maker is that the bread is only delicious for a few hours, but the next day or so it becomes too airy and not as good, I would never use it for sandwiches. I found this recipe on the back of the Gold Medal Flour package and it's very good. I even will use it for making a sandwich. My whole family loves it. After dinner one night E ate 3 whole slices as his dessert. It's also very good as toast. On cooler days when my house is too cold to raise dough very well I will sometimes take the dough out to the car and use that as a proofing box, it works wonderfully; and sometimes if its too cold outside I will use a space heater to heat up my closet and put the dough in there to proof. I'm still want to but am too nervous to try making real whole wheat bread without any white flour. When I do attempt it and it works I'll post that recipe too.
When I made 1 large and 3 small loaves I put the smaller ones in with the big loaf after 20 minutes cooking and they came out great.

4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. butter or margarine
3 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. very warm water
4 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 3/4 to 4 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside. In large bowl, mix honey, butter, salt and very warm water; cool 5 minutes.

To cooled honey mixture, beat in 3 c. of the whole wheat flour with electric mixer on low speed, scraping bowl frequently, until moistened. Beat on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Beat in remaining 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour and dissolved yeast. With spoon, stir in 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 c. of the all-purpose flour until dough pulls cleanly away from side of bowl.

Place dough on floured work surface. Knead in remaining 1/2 to 1 c. all-purpose flour; continue kneading 5 to 10 minutes until dough is smooth and springy. Grease large bowl with shortening or cooking spray; place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Generously grease 2 (8X4 or 9X5 inch) loaf pans with shortening or cooking spray. Gently push fist into dough to deflate; divide in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough with rolling pin into 18X8 inch rectangle. Starting with one 8 inch side, roll up dough tightly, pressing with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal; pinch ends to seal. Fold ends under loaf; place seam side down in pan. Cover; let rise in warm place 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 375. Uncover dough; bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped. Immediately remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each)