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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Peanut Brittle

About a week or so ago, I tried to make a nut brittle. Being new to having my own household, sometimes I realize in the middle of things that I’m missing an item and have to figure out where I put it. On the rare occasion, I realize I actually don’t *have* that item. Such was the case last week, when I tried to make this nut brittle and realized that I did not have a candy thermometer. I had a meat thermometer, and did my best to improvise, but the two aren’t entirely the same :P. While I could tell the flavors were there and the recipe *WOULD* have come out rather nicely- my lack of a thermometer made me overcook the sugar and gave it a bitter taste.

So I promptly picked up a candy thermometer while I was at the store on my latest visit. All excited about the prospect of making some kind of candy of sorts. I still had a whole container of salted peanuts, so I decided to start simply, and do peanut brittle. This one was incredibly easy, and turned out quite beautiful!

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light- color corn syrup
  • 2½ cups salted peanuts
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

Butter a large baking sheet; set aside. In a microwave- safe glass bowl, combine sugar and corn syrup. Microwave on 100 percent power for 5 to 7 minutes or until sugar dissolves and mixture is bubbly over entire surface, stirring twice.

Stir in peanuts. Microwave, uncovered, on 100 percent power for 4 minutes. Stir in the 2 tablespoons butter and the vanilla. Cook, uncovered, on 100 percent power for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the candy reaches hard- crack stage (302° F). and syrup is a clear golden color. After 2 minutes of cooking, stir peanut mixture every 30 seconds.

Stir in baking soda. Immediately pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading the mixture as thin as possible. Cool brittle completely. Break it into irregular pieces. Place brittle in a plastic bag; seal.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Dessert, Nut, Peanut

 

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Crunchy Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

This recipe is an adaptation of one I found in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I changed around quite a few things, so maybe I should just say that I got the “general” idea there? Tom helped me in the naming of these cookies, since they are *very* chocolately. With three forms of chocolate in them, this will satisfy your craving for something sweet…. until you finish the cookie… and you’ll be wanting another. Believe me, I can attest to this!

I am not generally known for making crunchy cookies. Tom has always said that he loved my cookies because they were soft and moist. These however, he loved as well, even though they have a definite crunch to them. I’m tempted to try them again sometime and change around the ratio of wet to dry, eggs to flour, ratio and maybe the length of baking to see if I could also make these into “Chewy” cookies… but that’s for another day and another time.

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup shorting
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Beat in the cocoa powder. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Stir in the semisweet chocolate pieces, walnuts, and milk chocolate pieces.

Using a teaspoon, drop dough onto ungreesed cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Col on cookie sheet on a wire rack for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Chocolate, Cookie, Dessert

 

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Pork Steak and Peppers with Creamy Parsley Sauce

Thursdays one of my favorite days of the week, is the one day in the week that Tom *usually* is not working. For this reason, I normally like to make Thursday dinners extra special. My husband had been asking a lot about having one of his favorite dishes that I make- a sausage, pepper, and onion dish- something that I’ll have to tell you all about another time. I went to the store, all intent on getting some sausage, unfortunately the price was astronomical! Bummed at how to make this still work, I started trying to think of alternatives. Peppers and chicken, peppers and steak, but I doubted on the steak, because that price too was rather steep. And then I saw the pork steaks…. BEAUTIFUL marbling, along with a rich bright red color was all I needed to let me know that that was what I was taking home with me.

You could accompany this dish with rice, pasta, or potatoes. Tom is a huge fan of pasta, so I thought I would make him one of my signature pastas to go alongside this. Originally, I didn’t have a sauce of any kind to go with this dish, but watching Food Network has really gotten to me…so I decided to invent! I think it came out very well! My very first sauce!!! 🙂

Peppers:

  • 2 Red Bell Peppers
  • 3 Orange Bell Peppers
  • 2 Yellow Bell Peppers
  • 5 medium small onions or 2 large onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Parsley chopped and for garnish
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper

On a cutting board, slice and cut the red, orange, and yellow peppers into large chunks. Cut onions in half, and then each half in fourths. Add peppers and onions into a large pot. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Season with Italian seasoning, Garlic Salt, Cayenne, and pepper. Slowly cook on medium heat, stirring frequently.

 

Pork Steak:

  • 4 thin sliced pork steaks, bone in
  • McCormick Garlic & Herb seasoning

Spear the pork steak with a fork or a sharp knife. Season with the Garlic and Herb Seasoning, massaging the herbs into the pierced openings of the pork. In a heated frying pan, sear one side until the blood starts to secreat through the bone and you have a nice tan color on one side. Flip and sear the other side. Lower heat if the meat is not finished to let it cook through.

 

Creamy Parsley Sauce:

  • ½ cup of cooked pepper/onion mixture
  • ½ cup coarsley chopped parsley
  • 2 heaping tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Cayenne Pepper

In a food processor, blend pepper/onion mixture with parsley until very fine. Add olive oil and sour cream. Add seasonings to taste. Spoon onto plate in a desirable flourish.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Creamy Parsley Sauce, Meat, Onions, Peppers, Pork, Sauces, Vegetable

 

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Fettucine Aglio E Olio with Lemon Baked Chicken

I remember when I was young, trying to say “Aglio e Olio”. I think for years, I wasn’t even entirely sure what it meant. I just knew this dish was one of my absolute favorites. I remember cooking this up on days when life just wasn’t going well. Lemon slices in water are a must for this dish.

In this dish most especially, make sure you have high quality Extra Virgin Olive oil, such as Filippo Berio. Oil and garlic are the two stars in this dish, and you will not regret the extra money spent on quality olive oil. Also, whereas most dishes you could possibly subsitute the cheese, do not do so in this recipe. Only use a sharp sheep cheese, such as Romano Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano. Again, this is worth the extra money, you will not get the same effect with a softer or milder cheese.

  • 1 lb Fettucine pasta
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsley chopped
  • Extra Virgin olive Oil
  • ¼ c chopped parsley
  • ¼ c grated Romano Pecorino

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add fettucine and season with salt. In a small frying pan, lighty sauté the garlic. Set aside while pasta finishes cooking. Chop parsley. Toss cooked pasta with garlic infused olive oil and chopped parsley.

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 large lemons
  • Dried Oregano
  • Dried Basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Move the rack to the middle of the oven. Remove skins from thighs and drumsticks. Place in a 13×9″ pan. Spear each piece with a sharp knife or fork. Squeeze lemons over the speared chicken, and season with dried oregano. Cover with foil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until juices come out clear.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Chicken, Main Dish, Meat, Pasta

 

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

Somehow, cooking has a solace all of its own. No matter what major crisis is going on, no matter what happened “at the office”, there is always that simple joy of mixing ingredients together and coming out with a delight.

These cookies are like little jewels of pumpkin bread sprinkled with the sweet delectableness of creamy chocolate. Both the dark mysterious flavor of semi-sweet, and the bright cheerful butteryness of white chocolate combine in a beautiful duo.

When Tom came home tonight from his training at the firestation, he insisted that he had to have several cookies in order to do his homework “properly”. Not overly sweet, but intensly irrisistible, these cookies are perfect for fall and autumn.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 generous tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper.

Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Pumpkin

 

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Turmeric Rice with Venison and Beans

As I have said in the past, my husband is a hunter and so there is a lot of venison to be had in our household. Constantly on the hunt for new options and ways to use it, I often feel like I’m on the tv show “Chopped” as I am given this pound of ground venison meat and wonder to myself “how am I going to use it this time?”

I’ve looked online for various ideas, but it doesn’t seem like venison is too popular of a meat to cook with. This creation came about because of the fact that Tom was asking for rice, and I wanted to use some of the venison in the freezer. Compromise, one of the greatest aspects of marriage, so I’m learning!

  • 4 cups of white rice
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 lbs ground venison (or beef)
  • Ground Tumeric
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Parsley, coarsley chopped
  • Frozen corn
  • Frozen Beans

In a medium pot, put rice, water, salt, pepper, and enough tumeric that the water turns a vibrant orange yellow. Bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Cook approx. 10 minutes, or until there is barely no water left in the bottom of the pot. Set aside.

In the mean time, using a spatula, break the two pounds of venison up in a frying pan on medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Be generous, as venison tends to soak up salt. When meat is almost cooked through, gently lay the frozen corn and beans on top, and let thaw- do not over cook.

Rice can be served separate from the meat and vegetables, or it may be combined in the large frying pan with the meat. Toss rice with a fork, adding parsley a little at a time. Sprinkle with Cayenne Pepper.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Main Dish, Meat, Rice

 

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Soft Pretzels

I have always wanted to “conquer” getting bread to rise. For some reason, I have never had success. The first time I made this recipe, the dough did not rise at all. I was so disappointed and discouraged! I decided that I was going to conquer this issue I had with bread. So I went online and read and read and read. Hoping to take some tips with me from all blogs I read, I decided to attempt the dough one more time.

FINALLY! Success! I purchased new yeast and new baking soda. I warmed the oven to 200 degrees F and let the dough rise inside the oven. I let it double its size and then punched it back down.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 tbs packed light brown sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups all purposed flour, more for kneading
  • 2 tbs butter, softened
  • 1 tbs fine salt
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • coarse salt

Warm milk in a saucepan until it reaches 110 degrees F; pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and 1 cup of flour, stirring with a wooden spoon. Dice two tablespoons of butter and soften. Add to dough; stir in the remaining flour and fine salt to create a sticky dough.

On floured surface, knead dough adding flour until smooth but still slightly tacky. Grease bowl, shape dough into a ball, and place into bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place. Let rise for an hour, until dough doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet. Punch the dough to deflate it, and divide into 8 parts. Roll and stretch dough into 20 inch ropes. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.

In a shallow baking dish, dissolve ½ of baking soda into 3 cups of warm water. Gently dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution, arrange on greased baking sheet, and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Bread

 

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