Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spooky Popcorn Balls

Okay, they're not really spooky, are they? They're so easy...that's what's spooky about them!
I made this first batch plain. The recipe only made up seven of them, but it's not so bad because it's really not that time consuming.
I decided to add some orange jello for color to the second batch. Because of all the jellos in the world, orange is my favoritest. I liked these, it gave just a little flavor (I added half the package to the syrup mixture), but the girl didn't like them.
And because I love salty and sweet together, I added some mini m&m's to the last batch. This was a little tricky since I had to let the popcorn mixture cool off enough to not completely melt the candies, but still warm enough to make into ball shapes. It's all about balance people!
The girl put them in cute little candy corn bags and piled them all in a lasagna pan for passing out later tonight.
I think dentists around the community will be happy with me :)
Here's the recipe I found at Halloween-website.com.
I like it because it's simple and you don't have to use a candy thermometer or anything complicated like that.

8 c. popped popcorn

2/3 c. light corn syrup

2/3 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

Combine the corn syrup, sugar and salt in a large kettle and heat on medium heat while stirring until dissolved. Add the popcorn to the kettle and toss. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until mixture becomes very sticky. Remove from heat.

Shape popcorn into balls with clean hands and cool. Wrap the balls in plastic wrap and seal tightly with a twist tie.

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I know I promised in the last post to share Emeril's black-eyed pea salad. Hope you're not too disappointed. Popcorn balls trump peas everytime :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Emeril's Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

A few days ago I checked out the book "Emeril's Potluck" at the library, and this is one of the heart attack-inducing wonderful selections found inside.
I really am drawn to many of the recipes in this book. When I watch him on TV, I usually think what he's making sounds great, but the ingredients and techniques are just a bit out of my reach. The majority of the food in this book uses normal ingredients (or suggests substitutes) and doesn't look too difficult.
That whipped cream picked just the moment I was about to take the pic to try to slide right off of there.
I cheated a little and didn't make the homemade crust in the recipe. I just bought an oreo crust and made my day a little simpler.
Here's the recipe for ya in all the gory detail:
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups ground graham cracker crumbs
1 cup finely ground Oreo cookies (filling removed....I guess you're supposed to lick it out?)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
6 tbsp granulated sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temp (I just realized I used the whole thing....oh well!)
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp milk
4 oz melted semisweet chocolate
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup toasted chopped peanuts (I just used honey roasted and didn't bother with the toasting)
Chocolate sauce (recipe follows)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Combine graham cracker crumbs, oreo crumbs, butter, and 4 tbsp sugar and stir. Press mixture firmly into 9 inch pie pan and bake for 15 mins. Let cool completely, then wrap it with plastic wrap and place the pan in freezer for at least one hour. Allow the crust to come to room temp before filling.
Combine cream cheese, conf. sugar, and milk in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer until well blended about 1 min. Add melted chocolate and peanut butter, blend for another minute. Combine the cream with the remaining 2 tbsp granulated sugar in another bowl. Beat with mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate and peanut butter mixture until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. To serve, garnish with peanuts, and chocolate sauce.
Chocolate Sauce
3/4 cup half and half
8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp unsalted butter
In small saucepan, bring the half and half to a bare simmer. Remove from heat.
Place chocolate in med bowl. Whisk the half and half in slowly. Add the vanilla and butter to the sauce and whisk until mixed. (this was good stuff, but I have a gut feeling a splash of kahlua would not be out of place here)
I think everyone really enjoyed this, and I'd definitely make it again!
I also made his black-eyed pea salad which I'll share with you next time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just Practicing

I was wishing lately that I knew how to make fancy cupcakes, so I went to Michael's and bought a few things to give it a try. I think Martha Stewart is safe.
The purple-ish one on the right down here reminds me a little of intestines, no?
Hey, it's almost Halloween.
I like this one. Looks like a sea anemone. Where's Nemo?
On a serious note, I really would like to make some nice cupcakes for a baby shower in a few weeks. Something with no piping I think...hehe. I was thinking of getting one of those little cupcake tiers.
Any ideas?? I'd love to hear from you. (pics would be great too)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

And the Winner Is...

The winner of my coffee giveaway is...
as chosen by the random number generator.
Congrats...I'll contact you to get your prize to you ASAP.
And because I hate posts without pictures, here's a little funny for you.
I think John Deere Mom is a teacher so maybe she'll appreciate this one.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips

Don't forgot my coffee giveaway here!
I probably should have said with peanut butter chips and chocolate chips, but the title was long enough as it was.
Found these at the Noble Pig. All her recipes are great, but these are SO good and really easy. And they've got oatmeal in there, and you know that's good for you!
Click here for her recipe, then go forth and make them immediately!
I also made her cheesy pepperoni strata, which I've never tried before.
It was pretty good too, although the pepperoni's I picked out were rather spicy.
When I served this my family looked at me like I had these guys crawling out of my ears. Guess it wasn't their favorite dinner ever, but I enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beer, Cheese, and Bacon Soup

Don't forgot my coffee giveaway here!
I was in a cheese soup mood last night and found this recipe at a fun little site called All Things Cheese, posted by Mr. Cheese (who is somebody I might like to get to know a little better).
Although the ingenious addition of bacon....that was all me, baby.
Below is the recipe and a few adjustments I made.
1 cup diced onions 1 cup diced celery (didn't use) 1 cup diced carrots (I shredded mine) 1 cup diced mushrooms (didn't use) 3/4 cup butter 1/2 cup flour 1 tsp dry mustard 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock 12 fl oz beer 6 oz cheddar cheese, grated 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese pepper to taste
1/2 package cooked bacon, crumbled
Saute your diced vegetables in butter. Then mix your flour and mustard in with your vegetables. Next, add your chicken or vegetable stock to the mixture and cook for five minutes. Finally, add beer and cheeses (and bacon!) to the soup and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. To enhance the experience, serve in a bread bowl!
I also added some tabasco and Worcestershire sauce for more flavor.
This was a bit thinner than most cheese soups, but I kinda liked it that way.
So, about this whole Halloween thing...
I'm just not feeling it. It seems like every year it's just not quite what it's cracked up to be. In fact last year my daughter wrote me a nice little letter letting me know what a let down it was.
So I told her this year we could just stay home and pass out candy, so that's what we're doing.
I wish it could be a nice neighborhood Norman Rockwell experience, but it's just not.
But, if I was dressing up, this is what I would be wearing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coffee Time!

It's giveaway time!
I recently found myself the owner of a few coffee-type items and since I don't even like coffee, I decided to pass them on to you. Because I love you and want you to be happy.
Here's what we've got:
Shown above is something new from Starbucks. Their version of instant coffee. You can read more about it here if you want.
Also 6 different varieties of Nescafe instant coffee.
I know most people don't like instant, but I remember that my mother preferred it. And the more bitter it was, the better.
In the pic above we've got Starbucks house blend coffee, some instant cappuccino (5 servings) and some french vanilla coffee candy. Well the beeswax candles don't really have anything to do with coffee, but I thought they were cute.
And to round it all out a cute little tote to carry your coffee supplies wherever you go.
Da rules:
1) Giveaway will run through this coming Friday (the 23rd) at midnight. I'll try to announce the winner the next day.
2) Continental US only
3) To enter just leave a comment telling me what your favorite coffee treat is. Or if your a weirdo like me and don't like the stuff, just make something up.
If your interested in a contest where the stakes are a bit higher ($5,000!) go check out this one at Boboli.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sesame Cherry Cookies

So I saw this recipe many many months ago at a blog called Appoggiatura, and it stuck in my head. I'm awfully glad it stuck...I love these little cookies.
These are possibly my new favorite cookie. Let me rephrase that...these are my new favorite cookie that doesn't contain chocolate.
Her recipe calls for candied cherry (like you use in fruitcake) of which I had none and couldn't find any. I had some maraschino cherries so decided to try those, and also used some black cherry preserves. I liked the preserve ones best. The maraschinos just kinda just jump off the cookie all at one time when you take a bite and you don't get to enjoy a little with each taste.
Here's her recipe:

Sesame Cherry Cookies

  • 1 C butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 C unsifted all-purposed flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C sesame seeds
  • 1/3 C (give or take) candied cherry halves

Preheat oven to 400ยบ. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add almond extract, flour, and salt and continue beating until the dough is well-mixed. Do not over-mix the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for at least an hour. Chill your cookie sheet, as well. Pour sesame seeds into a bowl. Once the dough is chilled , shape the dough is 1 inch balls. A melon baller or a teaspoon are great to use to help shape uniform cookies.

Roll the balls in the sesame seeds. Place the cookies 1 – 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. If the dough begins to warm up, pop the dough and the cookies in the refrigerator to cool it off. You will probably need two cookies sheets to hold all the cookies.

Press a candied cherry half into the center of each cookie. Bake for 9-11 minutes; the cookies will spread a bit but should not brown.

When done, remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

I got about 22 cookies out of this....I think I would definitely double it next time.

Now a word about sesame seeds. Y'all probably know this already, but when you go to the spice aisle to buy sesame seeds it's over 4 bucks for a bottle (about 1.8oz). But if you go to the Hispanic section where they have all those little packages of spices, it's considerably cheaper. It was 77 cents for 1.25 oz at the store I was at. Guess which one I chose!

Holy Rip-off, Batman!

I got a fun award from Kathy at Three on Food where I get to answer a bunch of questions. Get ready to be fascinated!
Where is your cell phone? in my purse, not being an Iphone
Your hair? eww
Your mother?deceased
Your father? Deceased
Your favorite food? something cheesy, gooey, warm
Your dream last night? a bit violent
Your favorite drink? diet coke
Your dream/goal? not to screw up my kids too much
What room are you in? family room
Your hobby? this
Your fear? let's not go there
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Jamaica
Where were you last night? on the couch
Something you aren't? energetic
Muffins? scones?
Wish list item? um, iphone?
Where did you grow up? Arkansas
Last thing you did? went to get kids at grandma's
What are you wearing? prom formal
Your TV? annoying
Your pets? sbd (small black dog), fish
Your friends? yes?
Your life? mostly peaceful
Your mood? content
Missing someone? sure
Vehicle? mercury
Something you're not wearing? a kilt
Your favorite store? ikea
Your favorite color? brown
When was the last time you laughed? Today
Last time you cried? not sure
Your best friend? going to hawaii without me
One place that I go over and over? work
One person who emails me regularly? Borders
Favorite place to eat? cucina tagliani

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Butternut Squash Dumplings with Brown Butter and Sage

I saw Alton Brown making these dumplings on the Food Network a few nights ago, and when he was just about to taste them, he got distracted by something and never took a bite. I was so disappointed, that I had to go and make them myself.
click the link for the full recipe
The recipe states to use "1 1/2 small butternut squash", but I think it really meant to say to use one small squash, because that's what he did on the show.
The squash I used was actually pretty large...I didn't use all that I scraped out of it. I froze almost half of what I got, and still think I had a bit too much. Or maybe just needed more flour. It was a pretty wet dough.
After getting the dough all mixed up, you make several snakes shapes and cut them into pieces.
This is the only time I've made any type of dumpling other than chicken and dumplings so I really enjoyed it.
The reviews of this recipe were not very flattering over all, but I thought it was pretty good.
But I supposed anything sauteed in butter and sage is probably okay with me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

PW Ribs and Fun Stuff in the Mail

I saw these ribs on PW's site a while back and wanted to give them a try. It was a bit sacrilegious as hubby does a wonderful marinade for ribs which I've chronicled here, that pretty much needs no improvement.
But I'm all about variety, people.
These ribs were tasty, make no mistake. I really liked the rub, it was sweet and a little spicy at the same time. But over all, I'd say I like hubby's ribs better. They have a deeper, tangy flavor. And they're easier...since he makes them :)
A nice surprise arrived in my mailbox from the folks at Country Bob's. It's a beautiful cookbook, chock full o' recipes mostly employing the different sauces and seasonings made by Country Bob's (except for a dessert section that thankfully leaves those out..hehe)
There are a few nice, full color pictures of the yumminess in store, and scattered throughout are some encouraging scriptures .
I'm especially looking forward to trying the 30 minute chili mac! I don't think they sell Country Bob's out here in my vicinity, but hopefully someday.
And last week as part of Foodbuzz's tastemaker program I received two varieties of Nature's Pride whole wheat bread to sample.
I really enjoyed this bread, it's full of little nooks and crannies for your jam to nestle itself into, and it's got a nice rustic feel with little bits of whole wheat throughout it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

Oh my, oh goodness. Words just fail me. Especially with my mouth stuffed full of these brownies.
I found these over at Real Mom Kitchen (click there for recipe) and I thought they looked super. And, sure enough, they are! I love that they actually start with a box of brownie mix...what could be easier?
In other news, I recently received a sample of Arnold’s Dutch Country 100% Whole Wheat Bread. I love getting that free bread on my doorstep. (I received 2 varieties, but this is the only one I've tried yet)
I was immediately drawn to that little horse and buggy on the package.
I thought it toasted up nicely for my morning toast & jam, and each slice has 3 grams of fiber.
If you're somebody who doesn't like your wheat bread with little bits of stuff in it, this one has a nice smooth texture you might like.