Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nutella Blondies

Mmmmm...these are so good! 
 I love, she has the most amazing recipes and her blog is just fun.
 Follow her and you won't be sorry.  
She had this recipe, and I just got around to making them.
Nutella Blondies.

The reason I decided to make them...I found this lovely little bottle at Smith's.  In case you cannot see what it says.  That would be Kroger brand CRUNCHY Hazelnut Spread.  I am not usually one who likes crunchy anything...but I thought I would try this.  Crunchy is HEAVEN!
Spoon dipping helped remove half of the contents of the jar...I needed to save the rest for making a yummy treat.  It was worth it.

After swirling in the Nutella I wanted to just eat the batter...but I resisted and baked the blondies.  
They turned out so awesome and very tasty.

For the recipe, click here.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Bordeaux Candy

See's Candy... do I need to say anything else! :)
Yup...Bordeaux bar.  For as long as I can remember we have always gotten one of these lovely little chocolate bars for Christmas.  They are so good.  But now the price of them is just a little crazy so I decided I wanted to try making them.  Searching the internet and Pinterest and this is the best recipe I could find.
Since it is Christmas time and we all love candy, why not try making some.  
I had good intentions of making them for neighbors...but they didn't get that far. :)


The first step is to melt your butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and let it boil.
Add cream, coffee and salt, boil again and then let it cool.  Add powdered sugar.

You can just stick it in the fridge to let it firm up.  
I went ahead and made my truffle balls and then stuck them in the fridge to get firm.
Then dip them in melted chocolate and let them firm again in the fridge.

You have just made a magnificent truffle.  They are good.  The next time I make them I am going to cut back on the coffee because that flavor was too strong for me.  But otherwise, they are pretty close.

Bordeaux Candy
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4-1/2 tsp Instant Coffee
Pinch of Salt
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
12 oz Chocolate

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan.  Bring it to a boil and let it roll for 2 minutes.  Stir in the cream, coffee and salt.  Let it boil again for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and let it cook for 10 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar and stir well.  Chill until it holds shape.  Roll into small balls or bars.  Melt your chocolate according to package directions.  Dip you balls into the chocolate and let set in the fridge.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zombie Cake

I was having so much fun with the recipe for butterfinger dough, that I just couldn't stop with chocolate-covered fingers as a dish in themselves.
Since I was destined to make a cake for the Elementary School Halloween Carnival, I thought, "Hey. You know what else I could do with edible fingers? Make them look like they're coming out of a know, zombie-unearthing-itself fashion. That would be awesome!"
Too scary for elementary school kids?
I think not.
Have you seen the garbage parents let their kids watch these days?
So let's get this cake on!
First, find yourself some green apple candy corn.
Yep. Green. Apple.
It gives the peanut butter dough a zippy kid-tastic flavor that grosses parents out but kids will eat it up just because of that fact.
Take an overflowing 1/2 cup of the candy corn
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
and melt them in your microwave for about forty seconds then stir.
Keep going in fifteen seconds bursts until the candy corn is mushed completely into the peanut butter.
Add one to two drops green food coloring just to buff out that awful brown and make these puppies look extra rotten. 
Now, as before, feel your inner-child and play it up.
I did ten fingers, including pinkies and thumbs and there was some leftover for snacking.
To get the awesome curvature of real fingers digging themselves out of a bone-yard, I prepped a rolling pin with some parchment tucked around the curve and some rumpled foil underneath to prevent any actual rolling out of that rolling pin, the tricky little devil.
Place your ghoulish fingers across the pin and cool in the refrigerator.
Not pictured: the two 9x9 chocolate cakes I made.
Forgive the oversight and lack of picture. Someday my recipe blogging will improve, I promise.
Alrighty, get your powdered sugar and a medium bowl. Dump about a cup and half in there and give it a heavy dousing of red and blue food coloring. If you give it enough, it will be almost black.
Rad, right? Black icing? Alright, purplish-black.
but Halloween-y enough for our purposes. 
Now give your cakes a nice drizzle all over. Don't make it pretty. It's Halloween. Make it cReEpY. 
 Ready for the fingers? Make your hand look scary, like this, and use it to guide your finger placement in the top of your cake.
In a smaller bowl, whip up a smaller batch of powdered sugar, this time using green food coloring.
Using a cotton swab, dab the fingernails so these green things look like fingers and not worms. As I was assessing the cake after placement, I realized they could be confused with worms if effort wasn't made to made them look finger-like. So even, if these are the nails of a dead dude, we're gonna stick some gooey zombie blood on them just to be sure. 
Since you have extra green, go ahead and toss it around the cake. It looks good in green, too.
Ladies and gentlebeasts,

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sickening Sweets

So I know this is kind of short notice, considering the big Halloweenie is three days away, but if you are looking for some gory goodies to gross out your friends or neighbors...I've got a couple for you!
Before I begin, I need a big shout out to PINTREST, without whom, none of this would have been possible. Thanks, P-diddy. You've some wicked cool ideas.
Let's start with moldable, tasty homemade butterfinger dough.
Yes. Homemade.
Here's what you need;
16 oz. of creamy peanut butter.
a pound of candy corn.
You still with me?
Phew. I'm tired already.
Now, in a microwave safe bowl, melt the candy corn in the nuker for about a minute.
Continue to melt in 15-second intervals until it is no longer candy corn but candy mush.
Add your PB and stir.
You may have to pop it back into the microwave for a few seconds but keep stirring.
Put your back into it!
I know it looks ugly and about now you are wondering if this is a spectacular Pintrest Fail moment. Don't give it up yet! Keep stirring until it is a lovely orange glob of peanutty goodness.
While it is warm and pliable, dredge up some of that inner-child and go to town.
Make some fingers. 
...A funky pair of ears and some noses...
 Don't you just feel like a kid again??? Hurry up! The dough is cooling! And it will crack as it cools if you are playing too rough with it. Maybe you can enlist some little helpers to help you get through the dough.

  Now that you've had you modeling-clay fun, stick the figures in the fridge to cool completely.
Time to go find that bag of chocolate chips you've been hiding from the kids and put it in a double boiler to melt.
Add about a tablespoon of shortening to keep the melt want to be able to capture all the crevices in your art work and thick chocolate, although tasty, is a poor artistic medium.
To begin with, and to prevent premature dough-drooping, I just dipped the bottoms of each piece and put them back in the fridge to get the chocolate hardened.
After that, go find your basting brush, baby.
It's time to paint.
Using fine, even strokes, give your dismembered members a good licking (with the brush). I love the way the chocolate sinks into the crevices and enhances the arthritic knuckles on my witch's fingers. Don't be afraid to leave streaks and even a little naked dough shining through. This ages the pieces and even adds a slightly charred appeal.
Cool in refrigerator.
Not too shabby, eh?
 For the fingers, I mixed up some powdered sugar, water and green food dye for some witch-polish.
After the initial layering of chocolate has cooled, give those nails a coat or two.
Love love love these grotesquely edible parts!
WORD OF CAUTION: This makes a massive batch of dough...enough to fill the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan. For this project, I cut the recipe in half. If you have the help and need a bunch of these, go ahead and make the whole batch. If you are like me, and a lone entity in the kitchen, better half the batch and make your magic a tad simpler.
Next up:
Scared yet?
These little buggers are a ton of fun to eat and show off.
But they are a labor of love in the royal pahtookus to make.
I don't know, if you like long waiting, sticky messes and an hour of extruding slimy, wormy jello out of straws, this may be right up your fun-o-meter!
I hope I don't scare you off them. They are awesome and totally worth the extra effort for a good Halloween party treat.
Here's your grocery list:
6 oz. black cherry jello
3 sleeves unflavored gelatin (the box comes with four but you only need three)
100-150 bendy straws
a rubber band (or two)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups clear soda of choice
you can use 3 cups water. The soda helps with flavor.
non-stick cooking spray
a tall pitcher
First things first, pull out the accordion bend of all your straws. Pull them all to their tallest potential. This lovely rippled feature gives your worms their segmented look.
Using your ninja skills, wrangle the straws together into the rubber band(s) so the accordion-end is pointed down. Put your straw bale in your pitcher, making sure the straws do not exceed the pitcher's height and that there isn't a lot of room around the straws. If there is an excess of diameter room, try putting more straws in the pitcher or trying a different, thinner pitcher.
FYI: the straws will fill to the same point that the area surrounding them fills...i.e. if you stick 200 straws in a fat pitcher your worms may only be two inches tall. If you put 100 straws in a slim pitcher, your worms may as tall as the straw. I know that sounds better, but trust me that you are going to want about two inches of free-space at the end of the straw to aid during extrusion!
Got all that?
Alright. Quit fooling with the straws and lets make some jello. 
Boil two cups of your liquid, be it water or soda.
While that is heating, put your other cup of water or soda in a medium glass or metal bowl and add the three sleeves of gelatin and both packages of jello.
Let that sit together until the other is boiling. Add the boiled liquid to the bowl and stir until completely dissolved, about three minutes.
Now add the 3/4 cup of heavy cream and stir well. The cream will eventually separate from the jello but give it a stir anyway.
Pour this lovely, cloudy concoction over your straws into the pitcher, making sure, as I said, that you have about an inch or two of space at the top.
Chill for three to four hours or until totally firm.
Now, the fun.
You need to prepare a little work space for yourself in order to finish out these wormies. Get a towel, a couple of plates, your cooking spray, an extra bowl for the empty straws and a wide, shallow pan of hot water (not pictured in the picture below. Just out of camera shot on my stove)
Grab one of your plates and give it a quick spritz of cooking spray.
After you have ensured your worms are firm, run a butter knife around the inside of the pitcher to loosen the excess jello. If you can, yank the entire bale of jello straw worms out of the pitcher. If you cannot do this, don't fret. Both times I made these I couldn't get the suckers out.
Now that you are set up, grab hold of one of the straws and yank it out.
See the excess jello clinging? Run your fingers down the straw to clean it off.
Holding the end with one to two inches of head-space ( comes in handy) dip the entire straw in to the hot water for the smallest of seconds. This will loosen the jello and make expulsion easier. Wipe the excess water off the straw onto your towel.
If you have strong fingers, give the straw a steady, firm squeeze down its entire length. The worm should come out with a plop onto your prepared plate.
After about six of these, my fingers were dead. Looking at the other hundred and forty or so, I wanted to cry.
Then, a most genius fact came to my mind;
the human mandible is the strongest jointed system on the body.
I can hold the straw with my teeth!
Now hold on, I can see you cringing...give me credit here, folks. I had no intention of slobbering all over something I intended to give to others.
Very carefully, and avoiding any potential of contamination, I placed the empty end of the straw between my dry, recently brushed and sterilized teeth and used my fingers to extrude the worm from the straw. The outside of the straw was the only contact and seemed a reasonable trade-off to chronic carpel tunnel due to jello-worm-making.
This made the task ultimately more doable. I was able to get through all 150 straws in less than forty minutes using that technique. If it grosses you out, then find another way. Be creative.
After about fifty straws, spray the worms with a quick blast of cooking spray and put the plate in the fridge. Get another plate, spray it and begin another fifty straws. After that fifty, spray, refrigerate and move on. Every so often I would check the worms in the fridge to be sure they weren't congealing.
My first batch of worms were a near fail because they got too warm, were too wet and when they went back into the fridge, congealed together into a big lump of what looked like brain-matter.
Not so with batch number two!
I learned my lessons.
1-keep them cool
2-keep them slippery
3-keep them dry

 Aren't they lovely?
Have a fun Halloween, everybody!
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Monday, September 10, 2012

How To...Shred Chicken

So...this is one of the most amazing things I have ever discovered.
Do you just hate picking through your cooked chicken with forks and knives to get that perfect shredded chicken.  I know I do.  It takes FOREVER!  
Well...I am about to become your best friend forever.  You can now shred that dreaded chicken in less than a minute.  I am so not kidding.  It is so simple and will make your life just that much easier.

1: Cook your chicken, 
2:  While it is still hot, dump it into your stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
3:  Turn it on and let it beat for about 30 seconds.


You are welcome! :)
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

SALSA! there anything more rewarding after a season of weeding, watering and waiting than the first haul of ruby, sun-warmed garden tomatoes?
I contend that there is not!
And what, pray tell, is the grandest thing to do with tomatoes?
(other than stuffing them by the forkful into your face drenched in ranch dressing and black pepper)
My favorite season is neither summer, winter, spring or fall but SALSA SEASON!
And a lovely lady by the name of Mrs. Wages has made my salsa obsession oh-so simple.
If you can find it, grab about fifteen of these. They are a hot commodity so make fast work of it!
Following orders on the bag, blanch your 'maters on the stove and follow their hot-tubbing with an ice bath. This will make it so their skin slips off without fuss. It is a rather grotesque task or I would have captured an image of the event. Lots of oozing and warm liquid.
 Core and roughly chop the skinned tomatoes, trying to keep as much of the goo as possible in your pot. Dump in Mrs. Wages salsa mix and follow directions.

 If you are like me, canning the result comes after the first tasting. Which might be an entire batch so repeat steps if necessary so you have something to freeze or jar, if that is what you wish.
This salsa is yummy no matter how you do it.
So do it!
Don't let your tomatoes go to waste in the windowsill! It's a sacriledge to the garden and all that hard work!

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beef Enchiladas

It is not easy to make beef enchiladas. I have tried for a while now to perfect a recipe.
After my last attempt to make them and my family was very polite and said they were good, but I know they weren't. I decided to try and  figure out what makes them good.
Last night I figured it out and oh my...they were awesome!

Beef Enchiladas
1 lb hamburger
1 can diced green chiles
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup olives, chopped
2 cups shredded cheese
1 can green enchilada sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a pan brown the hamburger with onions and green chiles. Mix in the olives and one cup of cheese. Then mix in half the can of green enchilada sauce. Place the meat mixture into a tortilla, roll up and place in a baking dish. Repeat until all the meat mixture is gone. Cover the enchiladas with rest of the green sauce and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes if you like them soft, closer to 30 minutes for crunchy. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

So this just amazed me! You can make your own sweetened condensed your home...and more than likely you have everything in your pantry. With the prices in the store this will definitely help with your pocketbook!

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk 
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Dry Powdered Milk
1/2 Cup Water
1 Tbsp Butter

Put sugar & powdered milk in a blender. Put water & butter in a microwaveable dish & let it come to a boil in your microwave; about 45-60 seconds. You can also use your stovetop as well. Keep an eye on it. Add water/butter mixture to mixer & blend until combined. Scrape sides if you need to & blend again.*Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

So super easy! Now go make some goodies with your homemade sweetened condensed milk! :)

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Friday, July 27, 2012

P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps

My husband and I went out one afternoon with some friends to P.F. Chang's.  We have never been there, but we were told that the lettuce wraps were amazing.  In fact, that they have had dreams about them.  Well...I knew that they had to be good so we ordered them.  Oh.  My.  Goodness!
They were tasty...and I had dreams about them that night.  
I wanted them again and again...and again.  Yum.
Well, I knew that there had to be copycat recipe out there for them so I searched the internet and found one and tried them out on my family.  It was a hit...even with the kids.  Who knew.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do.  I think we have a new favorite!

I wish mine looked like this...but this is what they look like in P.F. Chang's :)

First, you need to make the stir fry sauce.  
Mix Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar and Rice Vinegar together and set it aside.

This is where it is going to make the most time.  
You will need to cut up your chicken breasts into small cubed pieces.

Take olive oil and sesame oil, let it heat up and then stir fry your chicken until it is done.
Once it is done, remove from the pan and leave your oil in the pan and keep hot.

You will need to cut up your mushrooms into cubes as well.  
About the same size of your chicken pieces.

Chop up your onion, and slice water chestnuts into small cubes as well.

You might need to add some more olive oil to your pan, add garlic, onions, water chestnuts, mushrooms, chicken and the stir fry sauce all into the pan.  Cook everything until the mushrooms are tender.

I usually buy a whole head of lettuce, wash it, cut in half and place in a bowl.

Take leaf of lettuce, place as many rice noodles on there as you want (lots for me...I like the crunch)

Then spoon on your chicken mixture.
Wrap your lettuce around it and eat.  Once you start you cannot stop. :)
Keep making them and eating them until full.  

P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Iceberg or Romaine Lettuce
Rice Noodles

Stir Fry Sauce:
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Rice Vinegar

Mix well and set aside.

Chicken Mixture:
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Seseme Oil
2 Chicken Breasts, cut into small pieces or cubes
1 can Water Chestnuts, drained and cut into small pieces
1/2 - 1 Cup Mushroom, cut into small pieces
1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, minced

Combine the olive oil and sesame oil in a pan or wok, heat until it shimmers.  Add the chicken and stir fry until cooked.  Remove and allow the chicken to cool.  Reserve the oil in the pan, keeping it hot.  Add more olive oil if needed.  Add your garlic, onions, water chestnuts, mushrooms, chicken and stir fry sauce back into the pan.  Cook everything until the mushrooms are tender.  Wrap the chicken mixture with rice noodles and lettuce. 
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Did you say Banana Frosting?

I work in a small office so when it's someone's birthday on my team, I ask them what kind of cake they would like and then bring it in for them.  So when I asked my boss what kind of cake he would like for his birthday and he told me "Spice cake, with banana frosting!", I had to bite my tongue.  Banana frosting?  Spice Cake WITH banana frosting?  WHAT?!?!  My facial expression must've given me away though because he then explained to me that his grandma used to make it.  I just smiled and told him I would try.  Well believe it or not, it turned out AMAZING.  Seriously amazing.  This just might be my new favorite.

Spice Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 pkg white chocolate Jell-O pudding (or vanilla)
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup salted butter, softened until easily spreadable

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.  Whisk dry ingredients and spices in a large bowl.  Mix milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a 2-cup measuring cup.
Beat softened butter into dry ingredients, first on low, then medium, until mixed well together.  The mixture will be very grainy, pebble like.  Add about 1/3 of the milk mixture and beat on low until smooth.  Add remaining milk mixture in two stages; beat on medium speed until batter is just smooth.  Pour batter into cake pan.
Bake about 30-40 mins, when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out clean.  Let cool for about 5-10 mins and then turn cake onto rack to cool.
Banana Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 banana, just green on the ends (as pictured above) (if you use an overripe banana, it will be too sweet)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Cream the butter, then add a cup of the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments.  Then add 1/3 of the mashed banana, mix well.  Add another 1/2 cup of sugar, the next 1/3 of banana.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla.  Add the last 1/2 cup of sugar and the last 1/3 of banana.  Mix until it's fluffy and creamy, adding sugar as you need.

Seriously.  Try it.  You just might like it!  :)
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