Saturday, December 20, 2008

Candy Bar Fudge

This is a favorite of ours to pass out on Christmas as a gift. My mother gave this recipe to me and I am hooked. (Tastes a lot like a snickers bar!)

1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. unsweetened baking cocoa (the good stuff)
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. milk
3 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp van extract
30 caramel candies, unwrapped
1 Tbsp water
2 c. salted peanuts
1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

In microwave bowl put butter, cocoa, brown sugar and milk- put on high for 3 mins.
Stir in confectioners sugar and vanilla.
Pour into greased square baking pan.
In another bowl, heat caramels on high until melted with the 1Tbsp water.
Stir in peanuts and spread over chocolate layer.
Put chocolate chips (both semi and milk) in bowl and microwave with 1 Tbsp butter, until melted.
Spread over caramel layer.
Chill until firm.
Makes about 2 3/4 pounds of fudge!

Sorry I forgot to take a photo of the finished product but it is good! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day - Review

In January I posted about this book and put it on hold at the library. It is obviously a popular book because it is now May and I finally got notice from the library. So I have done a quick read and tried the master recipe. I think it is fantastic and I highly recommend it. It makes good bread and the amount of time and effort is minimal.
The idea is to make up a large batch of dough and store it in the refrigerator using a chunk whenever you need it. The author is big on the minimal effort part so there is no kneading or or other fussy instructions.
I have stolen a review from Amazon and post it here.

From Publishers Weekly
While the phrase artisan bread typically evokes images of labor-intensive sessions and top-notch ingredients, for authors Hertzberg and Fran├žois it means five minutes. An intriguing concept—high-quality, fresh bread in less time than it takes to boil water. The authors' promises of no kneading, no starter, no proofing yeast and no need for a bread machine is based on the concept of mixed and risen high-moisture dough stored in the fridge for up to two weeks (dough is cut into pieces and popped in the oven for fresh loaves as desired). Note: for those tracking minutes, the five-minutes doesn't include the 20-minute resting time for dough or 30 minutes for baking. After concise, introductory chapters on ingredients, equipment, and tips and techniques, readers are presented with the master recipe, a free-form loaf of French boule that is the model for all breads in the book. Three main chapters—Peasant Loaves, Flatbreads and Pizzas and Enriched Breads and Pastries—are filled with tempting selections and focus on ethnic breads and pastries including Couronne from France; Limpa from Scandinavia; Ksara from Morocco; Broa from Portugal; and Chocolate-Raisin Babka from the Ukraine, but the basics (Oatmeal Bread, Bagels, White Bread) are all here, too. A smattering of companion recipes such as Tuscan White Bean Dip and Portuguese Fish Stew are peppered throughout. While experienced bakers and true gourmands will skip this one, those looking for an innovative approach to making bread just might find it in these recipes. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

I made the French boule and a baguette and they turned out very good and so easy. I do have a pizza stone I use for baking bread and I think that does help the crust quite a bit. One of the other interesting things that the author suggests is to check your oven with a thermometer to see how closely it matches what the dial says. we have 2 ovens one was off by about 5 degrees and the other was about 70 degrees off. No wonder things don't always work in that upper oven. I suppose the other downside to the idea is it takes up refrigerator space. We happen to have a spare in the garage so It really isn't too big of an deal. I am definitely sold on this idea and plan on making bread on the days I am home using this recipe.
My recommendation is to order the book from your library (it may take 6 months) or order from or (runs about 17-18$)

There is also a website:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Creamy Rice or Barley Chicken Soup

Soups are always good for this time of year and I feel as if I have to get in all my soup recipes before the warmer season comes. This soup is one my dad made up (he is a gourmet chef) and it is delicious! We had it for dinner tonight.

2-3 boneless chicken breasts (cut up into 1/2 inch cubes)
2 T butter
1/2 cup each chopped onion, celery and carrots
1 qt. chicken stock (I like to use reduced fat and reduced sodium broth or my own homemade broth)
approximately 1/2 cup rice or barley (depends on how thick you want your soup)
1 pt. heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2
chopped scallions to garnish on the top when serving

Melt butter in your soup pot. Put cubed chicken in and brown or sear for 4-5 mins. Then take it out and put aside. Put in your chopped onion, chopped celery and chopped carrots. Saute' until translucent. Add chicken stock and cook 10-15 minutes. Put the chicken back in. Put in rice or barley. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Add heavy cream. If need it thicker, you can add cornstarch mixed with a bit of water. When you are ready to serve, sprinkle some chopped scallions on top for presentation and taste.


D-I-Y Popcorn!

We try not to eat microwave popcorn anymore because of the partially hydrogenated everything...but sometimes (especially on a Sunday evening!) nothing sounds better than a big bowl of popcorn. So, guess what? You can make your own microwave popcorn. Here's how:

--Get a bunch of lunchbags--those brown kind like the cool kids had when I was in middle school
--dump a little bit of popcorn into a bag--I probably put in 1/8 cup, and it was a little bit too much.
--bend the end over and tape it good with scotch tape
--microwave it on high for 3 minutes, listening until the pops lessen.

That's it! It worked, and now we'll experiment with seasonings and so on. It's hardly even a recipe, but I thought I'd pass it along since we're excited to have this super-cheap, sorta healthy (hey, I'll dump *real* melted butter on it!) snack.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Homemade Ginger Ale

The kids and I have had fun making a few batches of ginger ale. It is very easy and in my opinion very good but if you think of it in comparison to other commercial ginger ales it is not going to tasste the same. It is a lot easier to make then root beer. Here is what you need:

1) Empty clean 2 ltr plastic bottle with cap
We use our left over 2 liter bottles from club soda for bottling our ginger ale. Wash them out and they are ready to go. It is not recommended to use glass because it is much harder to judge the fermentation. Exploding glass bottles are dangerous. You also need a funnel and a grater with fine teeth.

2) Ingredients for each 2 ltr bottle include:
-sugar 1 cup
-freshly ground ginger 1.5 to 2 tablespoons
-1/4 tsp of yeast
- cold fresh pure water
-optional juice of 1 lemon

3) Use the funnel and pour 1 cup of sugar into the bottle. Add 1/4 tspn of yeast. Cap and shake.

4) Use the funnel and add your ground ginger. If you add the lemon then you should add this to the ginger when you put it in the funnel.

5) Pour water into the funnel and the ginger will wash down the funnel into the bottle. It it gets stuck use a plunger (not from the bathroom it would be too big). I used a skewer to get the ginger moving. Add about half a bottles worth of water then cap and shake to mix the sugar yeast with the water. Continue to add cold fresh water until 1 inch from the top of the bottle.

6) Cap the bottle and let sit for as long as you dare. For the last batch I went about 10 hours or so but you can probably go 48 hours before it explodes. You can experiment. You can easily judge by squeezing the bottle to see hard hard it gets.

5) Open slowly and easily unless you like to clean up a mess. I like to strain off the major ginger sludge with a strainer and pour it back in the bottle. If you think it needs more fizz then you can let it sit out for 8 hrs and it will fizz back up. Put in the refrigerate and enjoy your homemade ginger ale.

Warning: this can contain some alcohol somewhere in the range of 0.4%.

You can experiment with the amount of sugar, ginger, lemon and also how long to ferment it. We haven't tried it yet but it would be fun to see how long it takes to explode the bottle.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I'm so glad that we are back on a roll posting recipes... I've just been cooking from the Deceptively Delicious cookbook, so that is where my recipes have been coming from. I'd like to say again how much I/we like the recipes. We've had the turkey burgers with cauliflower puree twice now and everyone likes them. I tried the oatmeal raisin cookies with banana and zucchini puree and they were great and the kids thought so too. I'll post the oatmeal raisin cookies to give you an idea of what the recipes are like..

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Deceptively Delicious Cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp. trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread, chilled (I just used butter)
1/2 cup banana puree
1/2 cup zucchini puree
1 large egg white
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and stir to mix. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and margarine with a wooden spoon until just combined; do not overmix. Add the banana and zucchini purees, and the egg white, and stir just to blend. Add the flour mixture, raisins, and walnuts, if using, and stir to combine. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonsful onto the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch in between. Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 4-5 minutes, just until they are firm enough to handle, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

On another note... I REALLY like parchment paper. I just bought a roll of Reynold's Parchment Paper, not already cut sheets (which would be nice). I used it on the cookies above and it works awesome. No mess on the cookie sheets and the cookies don't stick to the paper either. I've used it for other cookies and for homemade rolls... I'm hooked.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Potato Sourdough Bread

From ID with love.
This is a recipe from Auntie Pam and Shirley May
Unfortunately, I don't have the recipe to make the starter but I do have the starter and have given it out to others and if you are one of them this post is for you.

To make the bread:
1 cup starter
1.5 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon honey or molasses (I like the molasses)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 package yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole wheat flour (you can also add various grains which I like to do)
4 cups of flour

Mix. Knead. This is a very wet/sticky dough I find works best in the Kitchen Aid. Let raise 1 hour until double then shape and raise again and bake at 350 for 30-35 mins. Makes 2 regular size loaves.

I like this bread for breakfast as toast. I add sunflower seeds, raisins, oats, whatever I find that seems healthy in bulk at Winco.

Replenishing starter
3 Tablespoons mashed potato
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar

Another bread book - Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day

I guess you can tell who is not working today or even this week.
Here is another bread book I am interested in. I requested it from our library but there are 6 people in front of me so no review for a while but it sounds interesting. I heard about it on NPR the Splendid Table . Follow the link and go to Dec 15 and click Listen to hear the interview. By the way, those of you with an Ipod may enjoy subscribing to the podcast for the Splendid Table.

Monkey Bread - the easy way

This is a great recipe that I think came from the Mossman's. It is easy and is a big hit.

1 package of frozen dinner rolls (from the frozen food section)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cups chopped nuts (if so desired)
1 package of vanilla or butterscotch pudding(not instant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick butter

Evening before:
Place frozen rolls in greased tube/bundt pan. Mix sugar, cinnamon, nuts and pudding together and sprinkle over the frozen rolls. Melt butter and pour over the top. Cover and let stand on the counter overnight.

Next AM:
Bake at 350 for 20-30 mins.

Auntie's Sourdough Waffle Pancake Recipe

I am posting this for those of you I have given starter to but anyone else with their own sourdough starter should give it a try. The recipe has been in the family for years as has the sourdough. We have good memories of sitting around my Aunt's table in the morning waiting for waffles. They are very good with maple syrup,or strawberries and whipped cream. We try to make them on the weekends either Sat or Sun.

On the night before:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup evaporated milk or regular works fine (it is what I use)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup starter

Next morning:

1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1-2 tablespoon vegetable

Mix dry ingredients together, then oil, then egg. Add to starter.

This recipe really needs t be doubled to feed our hungry family of five so you may need to adjust accordingly. You can also freeze them and toast them later.

Book Recommendations

I love bread and have found a book I really like. It gives very specific instructions and the limited bread I have made has been very good. The problem is that she makes all these suggestions of things you can buy to make it better (baking stone, silicone liners, kitchen scales, etc etc). So I keep trying to buy all of this extra stuff. Anyway, the book is called "The Bread Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum. She is famous for "The Cake Bible" and she also has a "Pie/Pastry Bible". I had got them from the library and decided I needed a copy for myself. I found them reasonably priced on for new at a price better then some used copies. So check it out if you are interested. You won't find a better price and shipping is 2.95 no matter how much stuff you buy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Easy Chili

1 - 1 1/2# lean gr. beef or gr. turkey
3 cans beans
2 cans tomatoes w/juice (the herb-seasoned is good)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
2/3 c. chopped onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Brown meat, onion, garlic & drain. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 1 - 2 hours. Or put all in crock pot & put on low 3-4 hours.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This is a good basic recipe for Chili taken from "Country Woman" magazine years ago, but I've tweaked it some for our taste since we like it with less meat & tomatoes, more beans & hotter.

1/2# ground turkey
4 cans beans (low sodium if you can find it
(I use 1 can kidney beans, 2 cans pinto beans, 1 can pork & beans
1 can diced tomatoes (no salt added
1/2 can tomato sauce (instead of paste)
2/3 c. chopped onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp. chili powder
(no added salt)
I also add 2-3 cups of low or no-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. carrot puree (optional)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Peanut Butter & Honey on Celery

This is the way I get myself to eat celery. I can eat lots of it this way and there's only 3 ingredients! The honey in the picture is purple - it's Huckleberry Honey from our last trip to Montana.

Put some peanut butter in a cup or small bowl.
Add honey (more or less, depending on individual taste).

Spread on celery - eat - enjoy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

We need updates!!!

We need some updates badly... been awhile.
So, I am recommending a cookbook. Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. It is about sneaking vegetables into your normal food. I love it! I kind of reviewed it on my blog if you'd like to know more.