Thursday, December 29, 2011


As if having the holidays isn't chaotic enough, let's throw in emergency surgery.  The Thursday before Christmas I had to have my appendix removed...ugh.  We caught it soon enough that there were no complications, but as one ages recovery goes a lot slower!  Just another perk of living longer :-)  I hope to be back in the kitchen and blogging again very soon.  In the meantime, have a safe and blessed New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Four Cheese Cornmeal Stix

Monday was the perfect day to make a hearty soup and what's better to go with soup than crackers? Or in this case, "Stix." Rolled out thin and cut into squares these would be ideal for crackers but I was looking more towards cheese straws.  Easy to make and quite yummy.  These would be a lovely gift to make and give along with with some home made soup.

Four Cheese Cornmeal Stix
adapted from BHG Cheddar Cornmeal Sticks

                                                           (or just use plain sharp cheddar)
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Lightly grease two baking sheets; set aside.
In a bowl, combine cheese and butter and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  Beat with an electric mixer until well mixed.  
Stir in flour, cornmeal, salt, cayenne and nutmeg.  
Divide dough in half.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into 
about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thickness, cut into strips, and gently twist.
Or,roll small amounts of dough into a long tube 
about the width of a straw and cut in desired lengths.

Arrange the strips on prepared baking sheets.  
Bake about fifteen minutes or until bottoms are light brown.
Keep stored in airtight container for up to 3 days
or freeze up to 3 months.
Yields about 24 of the 12 -inch stix

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blue Ribbon Almond Roca Cookies

Hands down Almond Roca Candies are my all time favorite.  I don't buy it any more since I tend to eat most of it.  But when I saw this cookie recipe, in  my Food Network Magazine, I knew that I just had to make it. Its got all the flavors of the candy.  A definite winner recipe!
Blue Ribbon Almond Roca Cookies


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 package toffee bits
1 cup coarsely ground almonds
4 ounces milk chocolate
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend sugars together on medium speed. 
Add butter and mix to form a grainy paste. 
Add eggs and vanilla and mix at medium speed until light and fluffy. 
At low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and then the toffee bits. 
Mix until just blended; do not over-mix.

Place ground nuts in a small bowl. 
Using hands, roll balls of dough into 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls,
 then roll in the ground nuts. 
Place on cookie sheets several inches apart.
 Bake approximately 22 minutes and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

Melt the chocolate with the vegetable oil in a double boiler
or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. 
Drizzle melted chocolate over cooled cookies. 
Place cookies on a cookie sheet and place in freezer 
or refrigerator until chocolate is firmly set.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Easy Chocolate Turtles

Nothing new really. This candy has been seen on the Internet for several years now, 
but that doesn't stop me from sharing these highly addictive treats!  

You just take these ingredients:
1 bag of Rolo candy 
1 bag of M&M’s or pecan halves 
1 bag of pretzels (knots, squares or rounds)

Place the pretzels on a foil lined baking sheet. Unwrap the Rolos and set one on top of each pretzel. 
 Pop it into the oven at 250 degrees for about 4 minutes. 
 The Rolos will look about the same, but that’s long enough to make them soft. 
 Gently place and M&M or pecan on top of each Rolo and press down a bit. 
 Let them cool completely.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cooky - Candies

My mom loves Christmas and she loved baking Christmas goodies. Standing for long periods of time no longer works for her, so I carry on the baking tradition for her (oh darn, eh!!!!) I have great memories of her and I being in the kitchen.  Of course, being a sprinkle addict you can imagine how happy I was helping her out with holiday cookies!  I'm sure I got more sprinkles on the floor than I did on the cookies (I know my kids did!) but what great memories.
This recipe is from my all time favorite cookie book, "Betty Crocker's Cooky Book".  Though the pictures are a bit dated, the recipes remain down right delicious!
Cooky - Candies
Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

1 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate pieces 
1/4 cup milk 
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla, if desired
Food color, if desired

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix butter, sifted sugar, and vanilla well.
Add sifted flour,  salt and rolled oats into butter mixture.
Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into rounds, balls, crescents, triangles and bars. 
Bake on ungreased baking sheet 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden around edges.
Let cool or wire rack.

Chocolate Glaze:
Melt chocolate; add milk; blend until smooth.  
Dip cookie tops in chocolate; then dip into desired toppings.

Powdered Sugar Glaze
Combine powdered sugar, water, butter, corn syrup and vanilla in small bowl;
 mix until powdered sugar is moistened. 
Beat at medium speed until smooth, adding additional water, if necessary,
 to reach desired spreading consistency. Tint with food color, if desired.

Glaze cooled cookies. Let stand until hardened (6 hours or overnight).

Monday, December 12, 2011

SRC: Asian Steak and Noodle Salad

Guess what! Today is my Secret Recipe Club reveal day!  I love being part of the this group.  My biggest struggle is picking what I want to make.  So far, all the blogs I've been secretly admiring have had amazing recipe choices.  
This month my new found love was The Chefanies. A blog from a combination of two Stephanies.  Not only is their blog name clever, but their use of trying to incorporate only seasonal ingredients is fantastic.  I wish I lived in a warmer climate and had access to fresh grown produce... but, that is not the case here in Northern Idaho.  
I was craving salad something fierce and instantly was drawn to their recipe for Asian Steak and Noodle Salad.  Hubby said this marinade is "Amazing."  I have to agree with him.  I made a few minor adjustments; no cucumber and I had to make my own substitute for fish sauce.  I love this book I have, its called; 
Substituting Ingredients, 4E: The A to Z Kitchen Reference. It is my go to book for whenever I lack a certain ingredient. Those who are familiar to my blog know that this happens to me quite frequently!
Secret Recipe Club is the brain child of Amanda, of Amanda's Cooking blog. Check out the web site... it has grown to four reveal days now!

Asian Steak & Noodle Salad
Serves 2
Adapted from Epicurious

For steak marinade
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce (see note)
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped ( I just crushed with the palm of my hand. It was just for flavor anyway!)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 lb flank steak

For salad
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots (2 medium)
1/2 cucumber, chopped (I omitted)
Handfull of cherry tomatoes (I used tomato I had on hand)
1 pack Ramen Noodles (instructions didn't state, but I just used noodles and not seasoning package)
1 medium Granny Smith apples
2 cup Mixed Greens

Mix ingredients of Marinade. Marinate the steak for an hour.
Grill Steak until cooked through. About 3-4 minutes on each side. Set aside.
Cook Ramen Noodles until tender and set aside.
Combine lime juice, water, sugar, fish sauce, red pepper flakes and olive oil to make a dressing.
Mix Salad Ingredients together and add dressing.
Layer ingredients with Ramen on the bottom, then the salad mixture followed by the steak.
Notes: To make your own Asian Fish Sauce substitute, 1 part Anchovy to 4 parts soy sauce.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chocolate Gingerbread men and women

This months "Have the Cake" challenge was to make gingerbread men.  While I love ginger cookies, I'm really not a big fan or rolled out gingerbread cookies... they are too dry and hard.  Still, this recipe was rather decent (still not a fan, but almost!) and it had chocolate.  Come on, you know anything with chocolate just has to taste better!  Frost with royal icing, if desired.

Chocolate Gingerbread Men (and women!)
adapted by Vivian 
original By Sydney Mike

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus
2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted 
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses

Position racks in the top & bottom thirds of the oven, then preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease several large baking sheets, then set aside (or cheat like I do and use a Silpat!).
In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and baking powder until spices & coca are evenly distributed, then set aside.
In a 2nd large bowl, & using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream shortening & brown sugar until smooth & airy, about 1 minute. Beat in egg & then the molasses.
Turn off mixer & add prepared flour mixture, then AT VERY LOW SPEED beat just until crumbly bits of dough form, but not until the mass begins to cohere into a ball.
With flour lightly dust a clean, dry work surface as well as your hands. Turn dough out & knead just until it forms a smooth mass, about 30 seconds.Divide into thirds & cover them with a clean kitchen towel.
With flour lightly dust the work surface again & roll one of the thirds to a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Flour the dough & a rolling pin only as necessary (I like to use a piece of  Cling wrap on top of the dough to prevent sticking).
Use a large gingerbread-man cookie cutter to cut the dough into the desired shapes, then use a metal spatula to transfer them carefully to the prepared baking sheet(s). Gather any scraps, lightly dust again with flour & roll out a 2nd time, creating additional gingerbread men.
Bake for 4 minutes, then rotate sheets top to bottom & front to back; Bake another 4 minutes, or until cookies feel dry but still are a little soft.
Remove from oven & cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Keep no longer than 2 days at room temperature, several more days in the refrigerator, OR up to a month in the freezer.
Original recipe:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Buttered popcorn ice cream with caramel sauce

In a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine there was a recipe for "Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream Sunday."  Intrigued?  So was I! I've been on a sweet and salty kick lately and this recipe just screamed "MAKE ME!" Who was I to disagree with a poor innocent dessert.  It was everything I hoped for and then some.  I made some changes based on the ingredients I had on hand, but kept as close to the recipe as possible.  It really does taste like buttered popcorn and the caramel sauce just takes it over the top!

Buttered-Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae
8 Servings
adapted from a Recipe by Elizabeth Falkner

Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Buttered-Popcorn Ice Cream
2 cups popped popcorn  (I don't recommend using microwave popcorn!) I air popped mine.
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups 2% milk  (using 2 cups whole milk would have produced a creamier texture but I added another     1/2 cup of cream to compensate for the lower percentage milk)
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
8 large egg yolks

Caramel Sauce

Combine sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and cook without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until dark amber in color, about 7 minutes.

Remove from heat; immediately add butter and stir until melted. Slowly add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Add vanilla and salt; whisk until smooth. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 month ahead. Let cool completely. Cover sauce and chill. Rewarm slightly before using.

Buttered-Popcorn Ice Cream
Set a strainer over a large bowl; set aside. Place popcorn in another large bowl. Drizzle butter over and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt; toss to coat. Add milk and cream; cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Stir in corn syrup and 1 Tbsp. sugar.  Purée popcorn mixture in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Using an electric mixer, beat yolks, remaining 4 Tbsp. sugar, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl until thick ribbons form. Gradually whisk hot popcorn mixture into yolk mixture. Return to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard is slightly thickened and an instant-read thermometer registers 175°.  Pour through strainer (important step, don't skip!) Cover and chill overnight.
Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a container, cover, and freeze. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep frozen.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crazy Cooking Challenge:Dark chocolate Kahlua Mudslide Fudge

Once again Tina, from the Crazy Cooking Challenge, has given us a task: find a blog that has fudge and recreate it.  Oh my but there are so many wonderful sounding fudge recipes out there!  I wanted to try them all, but my thighs stopped me.  On Pinterest I had pinned a recipe for Kahlua fudge.  This recipe had been pinned many times. I don't expect that I am the only one that will make this recipe, but I did make some adjustments that may separate me from the others.

 Before I get to those changes, please give a big thanks to La Phemme Phoodie.  She has a wonderful blog that just so happened to feature these delectable bits of fudge-y happiness! Click on the above link and give her some blogger love!
This fudge is fantastic.  Its creamy, and not overly sweet.  Even my mom, who dislikes dark chocolate, gives it two thumbs up!  I added a teaspoon of espresso powder right before I added the chocolate.  The original recipe calls for 3 cups total of chocolate but I only did 2 cups and I omitted the nuts (yes dear, I did that for you sweet husband of mine!)  be sure to click on her link to see the original recipe!

Kahlua Creamy Fudge (Adapted from La Phemme Phoodie)
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 (7 0z) jar marshmallow creme*
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup salted butter
1/3 cup Kahlua Mudslide
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line an 8 inch square pan with baking foil.or parchment paper.
In a 3 1/2 quart saucepan combine sugar, marshmallow, milk, butter, Kahlua and salt. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add the espresso powder and chocolate. Stir until melted. Add vanilla. Turn into prepared pan.
Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until firm. To serve cut into squares.
Serving: Approximately 2 1/2 pounds

 Here's a tip; make the length of the foil, or parchment, a bit longer  This way all you need to do is cut around the pan and pull out the fudge!.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Make it yourself candy: Butterfingers

I try to be good with my eating during most of the year. Yes, I have a sweet tooth, but I really do try to limit myself.  Come Christmas time, though, I go full out in the candy mode.  I love making candies! There is just something so lovely about seeing a plate of glossy chocolates.  
Lately, however, I have been experiencing signs of aging (I guess that's what happens when you are in your 40's) and standing at a stove plays havoc with my fibromyalgia. So when I see a recipe for candy that uses minimal ingredients and is quick to make, I am all over it! 

Candy Corn Butterfingers
adapted from Taste of Home forums
1 lb. candy corn
16oz jar peanut butter (I used a generic brand of  peanut butter)
16oz good quality chocolate, tempered  ( I cannot stand the stores chocolate coatings but they will work if you want to go that route) 

Melt candy corn in microwave on high 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 15-second intervals til melted, stirring after each interval. Stir in peanut butter. Spread mixture in an 8x8 pan lined with parchment. Cool completely. Cut into squares. Dip in melted chocolate candy coating. Lay on waxed paper to set.
Note: I made mine using the stove top with a double boiler.  It worked great!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chocolate Chiffon Pie

Since darling hubby dislikes fruit (I know!!! How unfair is that!!!) I make him a chocolate pie during the holidays.  He will eat pumpkin pie and lemon meringue pie as well, but chocolate is his favorite.  I've got a recipe I've always used for chocolate cream pie (courtesy of Betty Crocker) that I've always made in the past but this year I wanted to try a different recipe.  I thought I would give the Chocolate Chiffon Pie a try that is in my Fannie Farmer Cookbook.  While chocolate cream pie uses cornstarch as a thickener, the chiffon pie relies on plain gelatin.  The pie was rather luscious.  I used a simple graham cracker crust, but it would work in a precooked pastry crust, cookie crust, or whatever other crust you crave.

Chocolate Chiffon Pie      
adapted from Fannie Farmer Cookbook
Graham Cracker Crust
 1 1/2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter.

Chocolate Chiffon
4 eggs, separated
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1 envelope PLAIN gelatin (Knox brand is what I used)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the crumbs, sugar and butter together in a bow.  Press the crumb mixture into a 9 inch pan, including up the sides.  Bake 8-10 minutes; or until lightly toasted.
Using a heavy 2 quart pan, pour in the milk and sprinkle gelatin over it; let soften for about 3 minutes.  Add the sugar, salt, and egg yolks to the milk mixture and beat with beater to blend thoroughly. Cook and stir over low heat until slightly thickened (do not boil); add the cocoa and mix completely.
Remove from heat. Chill until thickened slightly further.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks–like you would for a meringue. GENTLY fold beaten whites into the chocolate mixture–you want there to be plenty of air bubbles, and yes, it will look a little strange.  Spoon into prepared crust and chill until ready to serve