Friday, December 23, 2011

Cappuccino Almonds

Cappuccino Almonds

2 to 2-1/2  Cups  Almonds
1/2  Cup  Powdered Sugar

1  Tablespoon  Cocoa Powder
1  Tablespoon  Instant Coffee
2/3 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Toast the Almonds in a shallow baking pan at 350* for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Set aside to cool.

While the Almonds are toasting:  Sift together the Powdered Sugar, Cocoa Powder, and Instant Coffee, set aside.

While the Almonds are cooling:  Melt the Chocolate Chips in a large glass bowl in the microwave, about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir the toasted Almonds into the melted Chocolate Chips, mixing well with a fork until completely coated.  Carefully pour the Powdered Sugar mixture over the Chocolate Almonds, stirring until the Chocolate is completely covered with Sugar and Almonds are well separated.   Spread Almonds onto a parchment-covered baking sheet in a single layer.  Chill until the Chocolate is firm.

We received this recipe in a newsletter from a Realtor many years ago.  So simple and easy to make, and fun to give, too!   When I was making this yesterday, I ran out of 'ordinary' instant coffee (I was making a 10-X batch).  I filled in the remainder with Starbucks VIA Mocha-flavored instant coffee--Oh, yum!  A pouch of the VIA contains just slightly under 2 Tablespoons instant coffee; I used 3 pouches to measure a heaping 1/4-cup.  Enjoy!

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

For the Crust:
32 chocolate sandwich cookies, finely processed into crumbs
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt

For the Ganache:
1½ cups heavy cream
20 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup coffee flavored liqueur

For the Filling:
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1½ tbsp. all-purpose flour
1½ tbsp. dark rum
2 tbsp. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ tsp. mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 large eggs

For the Topping:
1½ cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Garnish:
Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, as desired

Crust Directions:
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the chocolate cookie crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan (at least 3 inches up the sides).
Ganache Directions:
Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes. Add the coffee flavored liqueur and whisk in small circles until a smooth ganache has formed. Pour 2 cups of the ganache over the bottom of the crust. Freeze until the ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve the remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature for later decorating. 

Filling Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F and position a rack in the middle of the oven. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until well blended. Beat in the flour. In a small bowl, combine the rum, espresso powder, vanilla and molasses, stirring until the espresso powder dissolves. Add to the cream cheese mixture and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition.

Pour the filling over the cold ganache in the crust. Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the top is lightly browned, puffed and cracked at the edges, and the center moves only very slightly when the pan is lightly shaken, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool 15 minutes while preparing the topping (maintaining the oven temperature.)
Topping Directions:
To make the topping, whisk together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Pour the topping over the hot cheesecake, spreading to cover the filling completely. Bake until the topping is set, about 10-15 minutes. Return to the cooling rack and let cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and let cool at least 3 hours, until completely chilled and set.
Finishing Directions:
Gently warm the remaining Ganache until just spreadable and pour over the chilled Cheesecake.  Gently tip the Cheesecake until the Ganache is evenly spread.  Return to refrigerator until Ganache is firm, at least 1 hour.  Using a thin-bladed knife (a boning or fillet knife works great), carefully run the knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the Cheesecake, taking care to not damage the Crust.  To finish, wrap a warm towel around the outside of the springform pan to help loosen the crust from the sides. Carefully remove the springform. Transfer the cake to a serving platter.  Garnish with chocolate-covered espresso beans as desired. Chill until the ganache is completely firm, at least 6 hours. 

I found that this was easiest to make in two days: on Day One I made the Crust and Ganache in the morning and the Filling and Topping in the afternoon.  I refrigerated the Cheesecake overnight and on Day Two I completed the Cheesecake with the remaining Ganache topping and the Espresso Bean garnish.  As an alternate finishing method, the firm reserved Ganache can be piped onto the Filling with an icing bag and decorative tip.

Original recipe from Annie's Eats.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cheap Eats >> Creamy Parmesan Tomato Soup

Creamy Parmesan Tomato Soup

Uses a Crock Pot

2-3  14-oz.  cans  Diced Tomatoes, undrained
2  large  Carrots, finely diced
1  Cup  Celery, finely diced
1  Cup  Onion, finely diced
4  Cups  Chicken Broth
1  Bay Leaf
1  teaspoon  Dried Oregano
1  Tablespoon  Dried Basil
1/2  Cup  Butter
1/2  Cup  Flour
2  Cups Half-and-Half or Milk, warmed
1  Cup  Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Place the Tomatoes, Carrots, Celery, Onion, Chicken Broth, and Bay Leaf into the Crock Pot.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft.

An hour before serving remove the Bay Leaf.  Using a hand mixer or immersion blender, blend the Soup until it is slightly chunky.  Ladle out 4 cups of Soup into a dish, leaving remaining Soup in the Crock Pot, set aside.

In a medium saucepan, prepare a roux by melting the Butter and stirring in Flour.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 5-7 minutes.  Slowly stir 1 Cup of hot Soup into the roux.  Add the remaining 3 Cups Soup, stirring until smooth.  Transfer all to Crock Pot.  Stir together and add the warmed Half-and-Half or Milk and Parmesan Cheese, stirring until smooth.  Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.  Cover and cook on LOW until Soup is hot through, or up to 1 hour.  Serves 8 to 10, about 2 quarts.

Oh, Wow!  This is one amazing soup!  So easy in the Crock Pot, and tastes like it came from an exclusive little bistro.  If you like Tomato Soup (and we sure do!), you will love this soup.  It's hard to believe that it is Cheap and can be even cheaper if you use your home-canned tomatoes.  I found it on Pintrest (356 Days of CrockPot) and have adapted it slightly and made the instructions a little easier to follow.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cream Cheese Danish

Cream Cheese Danish

This makes 3 family-sized Danishes--perfect for gift giving!  These freeze very well, just thaw and serve.

Danish Dough
1  Cup  Sour Cream
1/2  Cup  Sugar
1/2  Cup  Butter
1  teaspoon  Salt
2  packages  Yeast
1/2  Cup  Warm Water
2  Eggs, beaten
4  Cups  Flour

Cream Cheese Filling
2  8-oz.  Cream Cheese, softened
3/4  Cup  Sugar
1  Egg, beaten
2  teaspoons  Vanilla
1/8  teaspoon  Salt

2  1/2  Cups  Powdered Sugar
1/4  Cup  Milk
1  teaspoon  Vanilla

For the Danish Dough:
In a medium saucepan, cook the Sour Cream, Sugar, Butter, and Salt over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5-10 minutes or until well blended.  Cool to room temperature.  Dissolve the Yeast in the Warm Water (110-115*).  Add Sour Cream Mixture and Eggs.  Gradually stir in Flour; dough will be very soft.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day:
Combine all Filling ingredients and mix until well blended, set aside.
Knead the Danish Dough 5-6 times.  Divide into 3 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a 15" x 9" rectangle.  Spread each portion with 1/3 of the filling.  Roll up jelly roll style from the long side and place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet, tucking the exposed ends underneath the Danish.  Cut 4 X's on the top of the Danishes.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Bake at 375* for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown but not dark.  Cool and glaze.  Makes 3 Cream Cheese Danishes, each serving 6.

And here they are, ready for the Oven

This is in the "Senior Selections" cookbook my class compiled in the way-back-when; I don't know whose Mom sent it in but I'm so glad she did!  The original recipe said to divide the dough and filling into 4 portions; I like a larger Danish to give and so I make it into 3 portions.  I usually make this each Christmas--so easy and good--it's hard not to eat more than one slice.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Candied Popcorn

I recently came across this cheerful recipe and thought I'd share it with you.  So fun to take along to Christmas celebrations where a 'smallish dessert' is needed.  It would also be fun for a Dr. Seuss or a Rainbow-themed Birthday Party.  Adapt the flavors to suit your taste or color needs; it's so simple!  You will need just three ingredients:

16-18  Cups  Popped Popcorn (unflavored, unsalted)
1  14-oz.  Sweetened Condensed Milk
1  3-oz.  box  Jello--flavor of your choice

Preheat oven to 250*.  Place Popcorn in a large, clean paper grocery bag and set aside.

Mix the Sweetened Condensed Milk and the Jello in a small saucepan; heat over medium heat until the Jello is dissolved, stirring often.  Watch carefully, as this can scorch!  When the Jello has fully dissolved, pour over the Popcorn and still well until all Popcorn is evenly coated.  Transfer Popcorn to a large, deep roaster which has been well coated with butter or non-stick spray (I use a deep foil lasagna pan).

Bake on the lowest oven rack for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Watch carefully; if the oven runs too hot or if the Popcorn is too close the element, it can scorch.

Turn out the baked Popcorn onto a sheet of foil which has been well coated with non-stick spray.  Enjoy when cool.  Store in a tightly sealed container.

Have fun coming up with color combinations.  Here are what some colors look like:

Strawberry Jello

Orange Jello

Lemon Jello

Lime Jello

Berry Blue Jello

Grape Jello 
This was originally a rather strange grey color; I added some food color to deepen the purple


I have adapted this from a recipe originally found on the Eagle Brand website.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bourbon Chicken

Bourbon Chicken

(Just to rest your mind before we get started, this does not have Bourbon in it--it's named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA.)

2  lb  Chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1  clove  Garlic, crushed
1/4  teaspoon  Ginger
1/4 to 3/4  teaspoon  Red Pepper Flakes
1/4  Cup  Apple Juice
1/3  Cup  Brown Sugar
2  Tablespoons  Ketchup
1  Tablespoon  Cider Vinegar
1/2  Cup  Water
1/3  Cup  Soy Sauce
1  Tablespoon  Cornstarch

Hot Cooked Rice

In a large skillet cook the Chicken; remove from skillet and set aside.  Combine remaining ingredients, stirring until well mixed and smooth; pour into skillet.  Stir in the Chicken and bring to a hard boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until sauce is well thickened.  Serve over Rice.  Serves 4.
I found this recipe on Pintrest (link to the original is here). This is quick and easy and uses kitchen staples.  I didn't have the Apple Juice so I substituted some red cooking wine that I had.  I also gave it an Asian twist by drizzling the sauce with some Sesame Oil and sprinkling in some Toasted Sesame Seeds.  Serve with stir-fried Broccoli (seasoned with crushed Garlic and some more Sesame Oil and Sesame Seeds) and you've got a yummy Asian meal ready in just a snap!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fake It >> "Stove-Top" Stuffing Mix

Fake It  >>  "Stove-Top" Stuffing Mix

Boxed stuffing mix is good for one thing: convenience.  But beyond that?  It's salty and full of who-knows-what unpronounceable "ingredients".  And stale? just exactly how long has it been sitting in that box, anyway?  Here is a excellent Fake-It that I think you'll enjoy.  It is easy to make ahead and then store in the freezer until needed.  The bonus? You'll know exactly what is in it, how fresh it is, and have all the convenience of the boxed mix.

This recipe makes 12 cups of mix, enough for 2 batches of stuffing.  Cool the vegetable mixture completely before adding the softened butter or the butter will melt.  If you double this recipe, toast the bread in two batches.

1  (24-oz) loaf  Hearty White Sandwich Bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8  Tablespoons  Butter, softened, divided
1  Onion, chopped fine
2  Celery Ribs, chopped fine
1/4  Cup  Fresh Parsley, chopped fine -OR-  2  Tablespoons Dried Parsley
2  Garlic Cloves, minced
1 1/4  teaspoons  Dried Sage Leaves
1 1/4  teaspoons  Dried Thyme Leaves
3/4  teaspoon  Salt
3/4  teaspoon  Pepper

Toast the Bread:
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350*.  Divide cubed Bread between 2 rimmed baking sheets and toast until golden brown, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through baking.  Cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Transfer toasted Bread cubes to two freezer zipper-lock bags (6 cups Bread cubes per bag), and freeze for up to two months.

Saute' the Vegetables:
Melt  2 Tablespoons Butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add Onion and Celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the Parsley, Garlic, Sage, Thyme, Salt, and Pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Transfer mixture to medium bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.

Make the Seasoned Butter:
Combine the remaining 6 Tablespoons Butter with the cooled vegetable mixture, divide in half, and shape into two logs.  Tightly wrap each log in plastic wrap, then foil.  Place in Bread Cube bag, freeze for up to two months.

To Make One Batch of Stuffing:  Makes 6 cups, serves 6 to 8
Heat 1 1/2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth and 1 unwrapped Butter log in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until butter is melted.  Add 6 Cups frozen Bread Cubes and gently stir until liquid is absorbed.  Lightly pack down bread, cover, and remove from heat.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Stir Bread, replace lid, and let stand 5 minutes.  Serve and enjoy "Stove-Top" Stuffing.

If you shop at a Win-Co grocery, one large bag of their stuffing croutons (in the bakery area during the holiday season) is the perfect amount to make this recipe, eliminating the need to toast your own bread.  Can't get much easier than that!

One of my favorite quick dinners is to bake a seasoned Turkey Tenderloin in a glass loaf pan (35-50 minutes at 350*), fix a batch of Stuffing, open and heat a quart of Green Beans, and open a can of Cranberry Sauce, and Presto-Change-O: an "Instant Thanksgiving Dinner!"

From Cook's Country magazine, December/January 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baked Pear Oatmeal

Baked Pear Oatmeal

Serves:  6

1  29-oz  Pear Halves, 1 Cup Juice reserved
2  Cups  Milk
2  Tablespoons  Brown Sugar, divided
1  Tablespoon  Butter
1/4  teaspoon  Salt
1/4  teaspoon  Cinnamon
1 1/2  Cups  Old Fashioned Oats
1/4  Cup  Raisins, optional (I omit)

Cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350*.  Drain and dice Pears, reserving 1 cup juice and one Pear Half for garnish.  In a large saucepan, stir together the reserved Pear Juice,  Milk, 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar, Butter, Salt and Cinnamon.  Heat until simmering.  Stir diced Pears into milk/juice mixture.  Add Oats and Raisins (optional).  Heat until bubbly.  Pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Stir.  Slice remaining Pear Half and place on top for garnish.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar.  Bake for 10-15 minutes longer.  Serve immediately in bowls, passing cream alongside.

Many, many thanks to my dear friend Rachel for sharing this yummy Breakfast dish!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash with Barley -and- Inside-Out Pumpkin Pie

{Before I get started, if you know me, and know me well, you're going to want to stop reading right now and go get a spatula or some kind of scraper--any old kind will work.  You're going to need it.

And if you don't know me very well, I want to clarify one point:  I don't eat mushrooms.  Ever.  Let me repeat that:  I. don't. eat. mushrooms.  Ever.  I loathe them.}

Okay, now on to my post and recipes.

For the last four or so years, maybe longer, I have been a part of a Recipe Circle Letter.  There are seven of us spread hundreds of miles apart who participate, always receiving the Circle Letter from the same person, retrieving our old letter from the stack, inserting a new letter, and mailing it on to the next one on the list.  As moms we can all get stuck in a rut with our cooking ideas and when this "envelope of encouragement" shows up in the mail, well, I for one am always encouraged and receive new inspiration from these dear friends.

About two weeks ago this Circle Letter showed up and filled with fun fall recipes, notes, family photos, and faithful encouragement.  Shelly's two recipes piqued my interest on several counts:  I had never fixed Acorn Squash before, the Inside-Out Pumpkin Pies were adorable, and we were headed to the Pumpkin Field to glean!  What could be more perfect?  I was intending to make these for dinner Saturday night but ended up making them instead for my birthday dinner--they were a pleasure to the eye and to the palate!  Here are the recipes with my notes.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Barley

Serves 2

Olive Oil
2  small  Acorn Squash, about 3-4 inches across
1/2  Cup  Quick Pearled Barley, uncooked
2-3  Green Onion, chopped
1  clove  Garlic, minced
1/2  Cup  Mushrooms, chopped
Salt and Black Pepper
1  Cup  Vegetable Stock
Water as needed
1/4  Cup  Sliced Almonds

Preheat oven to 375*.  Add a small amount of Olive Oil to the bottom of a heavy dutch oven.  Cut the top off the Acorn Squash, reserving the top for another use.  Remove the seeds from the Acorn Squash to create a bowl, discarding seeds.  Place the Squash in the Dutch oven.

In a separate bowl combine the Barley, Green Onions, Garlic, and Mushrooms.  Add the Salt and Black Pepper to taste.  Stir the ingredients together and fill Acorn Squash bowls with the mixture.

Pour 1/2 Cup Vegetable Stock into each Squash bowl, filling to the top with liquid (use additional Water, if needed, to fill bowls completely.)  Sprinkle Almonds on top.  Cover the pot with a tight lid and roast for 35 to 45 minutes.  Squash should be tender and Almonds crisp.  Serve immediately.

Okay, if you know me, and know me well, and if you read that ingredient list thoroughly, red flags should be going up.

"She fixed MUSHROOMS??!!  On her Birthday??!!" 

Yes, I did.
And I ate them.
And they were good.

I'll give you time to get that spatula and scrape your jaw off the floor.

Maybe I am growing up.

Okay, back to the recipe now.  Here are my changes and adaptions:
  1).  I tripled the recipe.
  2).  I couldn't find 'Quick Pearl Barley' at the grocery, so I par-cooked about 1-1/2 cups regular Barley.   I ended up using 2 cups cooked Barley.
  3).  I used 1/4-lb sliced mushrooms and chopped them roughly. {So I could pick out the pieces, if need be.}
  4).  I was out of Vegetable Stock and used Chicken Broth instead.
  5).  My Acorn Squash were on the large side, so they needed longer to cook.  Also, I sliced them in half from top to bottom.

You can fix this dish with complete confidence, knowing that yes, it is good.  Carolyn fixed mushrooms on her birthday, ate them, and called it good.  And for that matter, so did the rest of her family.  They said it was good, too.

Inside-Out Pumpkin Pie

Serves 8

3  small  Pie Pumpkins
1  Cup  Sugar
3  Eggs
1  12-oz.  Evaporated Milk
1  teaspoon  Vanilla
2  teaspoons  Ground Cinnamon
1/2  teaspoon  Ground Ginger
1/2  teaspoon  Fresh Ginger Root, grated
3  Tablespoons  Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350*.  Prepare the pumpkins by cutting off their tops.  Scoop out and discard the strings and seeds; place the Pumpkins on a greased rimmed baking sheet.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the Sugar and Eggs until well mixed.  Beat in Evaporated Milk, Vanilla, Spices and melted Butter.  Blend well.

Pour the filling mixture into the prepared Pumpkins, dividing evenly between the Pumpkins, about 1 Cup filling per Pumpkin.  Bake filled Pumpkins for 45-60 minutes, uncovered, or until the filling is set and Pumpkin flesh is softened.

Stir it all together and enjoy with a friend!

Enjoy this last month of Autumn, my friends!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What a Pintresting Week!

Well, last week sure was Pintresting!  It was time to start being a Doer and not just a Pinner.  Here are some of the things I had fun doing; thought you might enjoy doing them too!

This is my Autumn Brittle via Adventures in Cooking; yum, yum!  If you make this be sure to follow the directions Very Carefully; I scorched my first batch.

These are the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes we had for breakfast on Saturday:

 I actually didn't Pin this one myself, so I don't have a link to it, but here's how I made them:

I mixed
1  Cube  Softened Butter with
1  Tablespoon  Cinnamon and
1  Tablespoon  Sugar
and spooned it into my pastry bag which was fitted with an open round tip (I used a #6).   After my Buttermilk Pancakes were on the griddle and starting to rise, I squeezed the Cinnamon Butter onto the pancakes in a spiral shape and finished cooking and flipping the pancakes.  This amount of Cinnamon Butter was the right amount for a double-recipe of pancakes which fed our family of 6.

I've also been having a lot of fun making these Reversible Headbands from Happy Together.  One ended up going in our Christmas Shoebox, one more is at school on Elder Daughter's head, and yet one more has already been lost.  This is a quick, easy project that uses minimal fabric scraps and is ready to wear in 30 minutes.  I did end up trimming down the pattern to fit a child's head; the original is sized for adults.

And I've had fun making this really yummy Caramel Pear Butter from Knit and Nosh via Beth at Aria Gardens.  I made a 6-times recipe on Saturday and ended up with 20 pints.  My only change was to cut the Nutmeg amount down by half.

And I made the Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls from Beantown Baker and forgot to take a picture.  These were yummy but I want to try to make the Blueberry filling a little thicker than the Baker makes it.  Hopefully I'll get to it before Christmas.

If you "do" Pinterest, you can follow me at carolyn_miller1.  If you want to try out this virtual cork board of ideas and would like an invite, send me your email address. 

Now, if only I could somehow get the Pintrest button to attach to my sidebar...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Had No Intention

I had no intention of decorating for Autumn this year.  None at all.  My one concession to the season was a wreath at the front door.  Sometimes, when I'm tired and overwhelmed, it's the little things, like decorating, that get set aside for the bigger necessities, like laundry and cleaning.

I still have no intention of decorating.

But sometimes best-made plans get changed.

Like when Daddy comes home and announces that one of his clients is finished picking his 12-acre pumpkin patch and that he (Daddy) has permission to glean a few pumpkins for the children to carve before the field is disked under.

So....  We all loaded up in the truck on Saturday to go glean a few pumpkins for the children.  I think the following photos will show how it's hard to stop at "just one" pumpkin a-piece.

(This was the Truck Bed)

We have had so much fun sharing all the pumpkins with Family and Friends.

And no, I still have no intention of decorating for Autumn.  My house is still just as messy as it was Saturday morning...  Must clean it up!

Happy Fall, Y'all!