Happy Autumnal Equinox

AutumnLeaves

It’s the first full day of Fall. Time for soups and stews and pumpkin everything (people are crazy, I’ll just stick to my awesome pumpkin bars).

We didn’t get out to see colors this past weekend, but have marked Friday off on the calendar for a long drive up the Peak to Peak highway. I may have some good pictures to share. There may or may not be a recipe exchange, I haven’t decided yet.

The Peanuts’ Movie has a “Peanutize Me” app that’s going around, here’s mine:

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I think it looks remarkably like me. Enjoy the day and try and forget that it means winter is barreling down on us.  – TaMara

 

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Holiday Gift Ideas: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m busy baking for my annual gift boxes. These won’t be in them, because I”m working on two new cookie recipes I’ve never tried my hand at before. More on that later…

Chocolate Chocolate Cookie

These are pretty and very tasty.  They’re easy and just a touch above regular chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts), chopped

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Sift together salt, soda, flour and cocoa, then add to butter mixture, blending well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack.

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Originally posted Nov 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas: Bacon-Cashew Caramel Corn

UPDATE:  I made two batches of caramel corn last night.  I had some success with the bacon version and better success with the second, nuts and popcorn batch.

First, I was only so-so on the bacon.  The sugar really overpowers it and it loses a lot of what I like bacon for, its salty bacon flavor.  It was worth a try, but not something I would do again. It is a great conversation starter, though.

Second, cooking times.  I lowered the stove top time for the caramel sauce down to 1 minute after it comes to a boil.  More than that it scorches too easily.  I also lowered the oven to 200 degrees after the first 15 minutes.  Ovens vary, so it may just be mine, but the lower temp created a more even caramel effect, less toasty, which the first batch had.

Third, I started with a large roasting pan, then after about 20 minutes moved it to a baking sheet and I cooked the second batch on baking sheets.  It was much easier than remembering to stir it every 5 or 10 minutes.

I’ve made the changes below.

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Yes, you heard me right.

I was searching around for a good caramel corn recipe, I wanted it to have cashews for sure. Then I stumbled across one that included bacon and I knew that was what I wanted to do.  I looked over a half a dozen or so caramel recipes and put together one I thought was both simple and tasty.  Then I added the bacon and cashews.  I’m planning on making this over the weekend – I’ll update you if there are any changes.

You can use the basic caramel recipe and substitute nuts of your choice and eliminate bacon if desired. The recipe lends itself to just plain caramel corn if you like, or use dried fruits or other imaginative ingredients to make it your own. I think the possibilities are endless.  But I think a salty addition is necessary to complement the sweetness of the caramel.

Cashew Bacon Caramel Corn

Note: You can use the basic recipe and substitute nuts of your choice and eliminate bacon if desired.

  • 8 oz maple smoked bacon, cut into eight pieces per strip
  • 12 cups (3 quarts) of popped corn
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups cashews (or peanuts, or peanut/cashew mix)

Skillet, saucepan, roasting pan  baking sheets

In skillet, cook bacon until mostly crisp, drain on paper towels and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Reduce to 200 degrees after 15 minutes of baking.

Place popcorn into a well-greased roasting pan.

In saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes 1 minute worked better. Remove from heat, add vanilla and baking soda (yes, it will foam up). Gently stir nuts and bacon into sugar mixture and pour over popcorn, toss, coating popcorn evenly. Bake, stirring occasionally, until popcorn is a deep golden brown, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours  – mine was done at the 1 hour mark. Cool and break apart.

Opening Day Menu: Play Ball!

First of all, you guys rock! I awoke this morning to a full inbox. Thanks so much for the kind words, everyone should have their day start out that way.

As promised, here is an opening day menu to bring the ballpark to your house. I tried to be as authentic as I could with each dog. Personally, I would grill any of mine, authentic or not. I was lucky enough to have my friends spoil me with authentic Fenway Franks (grilled) and buns while I was back east. They were as good as I remember them. My all time favorite though is the Italian Sausage with grilled peppers. Here in Colorado you can’t swing a metaphorical cat without hitting a brewery (even our Governor is a former brew master), so we have plenty of great choices for a cold brew. Okay, PLAY BALL!!

On the board today:

Pick Favorite (recipes below):

  • Fenway Franks
  • Boston Dogs
  • New York Dawg
  • Italian Sausage w/peppers
  • Denver Dogs
  • Dodger Dogs (adults only)

Vinegar & Salt chips (if you can find them, Cape Cod chips are excellent)

Raw Vegetable Tray (hey it can’t all be junk food)

Pick one:

  • Ice cream in dipped cones
  • Cracker Jacks
  • Popcorn
  • Peanuts in shells
  • Lemonade
  • Favorite Ice Cold Brew

Fenway Franks

The closest I can find to these are to use Ball Park Brand Franks. The secret to these tasty franks is to bring the water to a boil, then add the franks and let them cook until just heated through. If you can find them, authentic Fenway franks are served in white bread sliced rolls (these look like two bun size slices of white bread, joined together at the bottom and sliced open at the top). If not, regular buns will do. Mustard only, please …though I like them plain.

Boston Dogs

Follow in the instructions above and add hot chili and shredded cheddar.

New York Dawg

Follow the instructions for Fenway Franks and add sauerkraut.

Denver Dogs

Split your dog lengthwise, but not all the way through. Flatten on hot grill, keep the rack far from the flame, don’t let them burn, flip and grill the other side. Brush rolls with melted butter and a touch of garlic, toast on the grill. Bring bun & dog together, top with relish or spicy brown mustard.

Dodger Dogs (Adults ONLY)

Get a can or bottle of your favorite beer, take your dogs and use a fork to poke holes around the dogs. In a large, shallow bowl, add dogs & beer and let soak 30 minutes. Now, this is a two-step process for authentic dogs, but if you want, you can skip the boiling part. Bring water to a boil, drop dogs in for 3 to 5 minutes, remove and immediately pop onto a hot grill and grill all sides. Serve in warm rolls, top with spicy beer mustard or relish.

Italian Sausage w/Peppers

Spicy Italian sausage or bratwurst grilled or pan-fried. These are thick, so make sure you cook them long enough to cook completely through (follow pkg. directions) Slice a green pepper in rings and sauté in butter & olive oil. Toast regular hot dog bun in skillet or on grill, add sausage and top with peppers.

Ice Cream in Dipped Cones

  • 4 waffle cones
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 oz package chocolate sprinkles
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream

In a double-boiler (or a saucepan with a Pyrex or metal bowl place on top), add water to the bottom and melt chocolate & butter. Dip top of cones into melted chocolate, then dip immediately into sprinkles. Let cool completely, scoop in ice cream and top with remaining sprinkles

Some Deep Fried Shrimp and a Salad

Mmm…deep fried shrimp.  These I peeled and deveined, patted dry on a towel, coated with flour, dredged in beaten egg, and covered with panko.  A minute or two in 350 oil and Yum!

You’ve met the salad and the dressing, that is, if you read the last post. Might say a word about those peanuts.  I put a handful into a small sauce pan and warmed them over medium heat, then poured in some Chinese cooking wine, a little soy sauce, and a bit of mirin.  Stir that around while it reduces, then dump them on a plate to cool,  Chop them up and sprinkle wherever peanuts would look good.  Have some straight if you’ve a mind to, I sure did.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve started my holiday baking already.  In the oven at the moment are Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They’re easy and just a touch above regular chocolate chip cookies. 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts), chopped

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Sift together salt, soda, flour and cocoa, then add to butter mixture, blending well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack.