Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chicken Florentine, Individual Portions

 I found these cute little ramekins at Target right before Halloween. I had planned on using them for a recipe to be featured in the magazine I write for but totally forgot about them.

This would and will not be the first time I forget about a prop that I have purchased…LOL

My house is full of odd plates, bowls and silverware.  Nothing really matches and I rarely have more than two of any one thing.

It's a bit eclectic come dinner time.  I try to stick to basic white when it comes time to buy sets of bowls and plates in large numbers.  This makes the addition of all of my little mismatched dishes work in perfect harmony.

I have made this recipe before from the 2009 edition of Cooks Country magazine and it turns out great every time.

I decided I would make it again but do them in the ramekins.  It worked great and made cleanup so much easier.  Leftovers were a piece of cake.  All I did was cover them up with Saran Wrap and refrigerate. The kids could microwave the leftovers without any issues.

I served mine in the ramekin with a salad on the side of a large plate.  For the purpose of pictures and so that you could easily see the combination of chicken, spinach and sauce, I spread it out on a plate below.

When you finally add the ramekins to be broiled, remember that everything is already cooked.  All you are doing when you add it to the oven is melting the cheese.  The reason this is important to know is because you are working with a cream based sauce and over cooking it can cause it to break down and get runny.  It still taste really good, just not as creamy.

There are lots of recipes that can be made into individualized portions.  Some of my favorites are lasagna, shepherds pie and eggplant parmesan.

Do you have a delicious dish that you like to make in single portions?  If so, leave a comment below and share. I am always looking for new ideas of great recipes.

Recipe: Chicken Florentine
Makes 8 individual sized portions

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cups of fresh spinach, washed and dry
4 cups of cooked chicken, cubed
1/4 cup of onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups of water
1 cup of heavy cream
6 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Use a cookie sheet to line your 8 ramekins together. This makes it easier to transfer in and out of the oven.

In the bottom of each ramekin, add chicken.  See photo.

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and add spinach.  Toss for 2-3 minutes until wilted.  Add the spinach to the ramekins on top of the chicken.  See photo.

In a saucepan, a bit more olive oil and saute onion and garlic.  Add broth, cream and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Sauce should start to get thicker the longer it has simmered. Ideally you want about one cup of reduced broth/water/cream sauce.

Remove from heat once desired thickness has been reached and stir in 4 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice.

Add the sauce to the top of each ramekin, over the spinach.

Add the remaining Parmesan Cheese to each cup.

Turn oven to broil.  Add cookie sheet with ramekins and broil for 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve immediately or pour onto plates and serve.

Monday, November 5, 2012

224. Greek Lasagna (Pastitsio)

I honestly do not remember last year being this cold.  I am freezing and we are only in the early months of a long and cold winter it would seem.

I have been craving casseroles; this one in particular, Greek Lasagna.  I call it a casserole because it is basically an all-in-one type of meal.

I love the layers, the meat sauce and the béchamel sauce on top.  Together the combination is out of this world.

Don't be put off by the cinnamon in the meat, it really gives this dish a unique and yet familiar flavoring.

As with all of my pasta dishes, I use gluten free choices.  My favorite are those made with rice. I don't like the flavor of the corn or the texture.

I had a bit of béchamel sauce left over and so the next day I tossed it together with some noodles, baked it and boy did my kids scarf that quick meal up.

Let me know how you like this dish if you try it at home.  There are variations of this all over the internet, let me know if your recipe is a bit different too. I am always up to trying something new.


Recipe:  Greek Lasagna

One box of elbow pasta, cooked according to directions and drained (I used gluten free noodles)
Meat Sauce (recipe below)
Bechamel Sauce (recipe below)

Meat Sauce

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 tablespoons of tomato sauce (you can use paste, I just did not want to waste the rest of the can)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef
1/2 cup red wine
1 (15oz) can of tomato sauce ( I used my 3 tablespoons above out of this can)
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese ( you can use Romano cheese too)

Bechamel Sauce

5 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of flour (use brown rice flour for a gluten free version)
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 cups of 2% milk
2 cups of heavy cream
1 1/2 cups of grated Romano Cheese
3 large eggs
1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil.  Add onions and cook until soft.  Add 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and cinnamon.  Cook until mixture starts to darken.  Add ground beef.  Cook until meat is no longer pink.  Add wine.  Let simmer until wine has reduced to about 1 tablespoon.  Add tomato sauce and simmer until thick.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Stir in romano cheese; salt and pepper to taste.

Remove meat from heat and set aside.

In a separate pan melt the butter for the béchamel sauce. Add flour and stir to combine.  Stir in milk and cream; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium so this can reduce down to about 4 cups.  Time will vary, but plan on about 15 minutes for this to happen.  Remove from heat once thickened and reduced, add 1 cup of the Romano cheese and stir until smooth.

Using a 9X13 baking dish, add prepared noodles and 2 cups of béchamel sauce; stir and smooth out in bottom of pan.

With the remaining 2 cups of béchamel sauce you will need to add the eggs and yogurt.  This step is delicate because you don't want to scramble the eggs.   In a small bowl, beat the 3 eggs.  Slowly add 1 cup of the béchamel sauce to the eggs, then take the béchamel/egg mixture and add it to the last cup of béchamel sauce.  Stir in yogurt.

Take the above remaining sauce and spread over the top of the meat.  Sprinkle the last 1/2 cup of Romano cheese on top.

Bake 35 minutes.  Let sit for 10 before serving.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Slow Oven Baked Ribs

Ribs are one of our favorite dinners to eat all year round.

I usually make our ribs on the BBQ grill outside.  Now that the weather is getting cooler and I don't really want to be heading outside,  I decided to make this batch inside.

I bought 3-4 pounds of ribs, coated them with sauce and prepared to let them cook for a few hours.

They turned out delicious!

The meat was tender and falling off of the bone.

I used my homemade BBQ sauce but you can easily choose your favorite brand.


Recipe: Slow Oven Baked Ribs

3-4 pounds of pork ribs
1-2 cups of BBQ sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Toss ribs and sauce together.

Place in a baking pan, cover with foil.

Allow ribs to cook for 3 to 4 hours.

If you would like to have a "grilled" look, then uncover ribs and broil for a few minutes, turn and broil again on the other side.  I personally like the bit of charred flavor that is added to the ribs by broiling them for a few minutes.

Brush with more BBQ sauce or eat them as is.

Recipe:  Homemade BBQ Sauce

Makes 3 cups of sauce, after simmering for an hour

1.5 cups of ketchup
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1 cup of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons mustard powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons hot sauce
1/8-1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke (start with less and add more based on your taste)

Combine all of the above ingredients into a medium size pot.  Turn heat to medium high and bring sauce to almost a boil, bubbles around edges.  Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

You will start to notice your sauce getting deeper in color, thicker and reducing.  This is what you want.

Sauce is good up to 2 weeks.


Molasses Cake Bites

I have cut recipes out of magazines for years, like maybe 30 years.  I finally went through all of my binders and sorted and threw out many of them.

I was amazed at how many duplicates I had clipped.  I really like anything with a white creamy sauce, ginger, molasses, pumpkin and pasta.  LOL

This is a recipe that I clipped from my years of subscriptions with Martha Stewart.  The original recipe can be found here.  Of course the original is not gluten free but mine is.

Working with my favorite, almond meal, I was able to create a spongy and delicious alternative to this yummy recipe.  ENJOY!

Recipe:  Molasses Cake Bites

1 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup of tapioca starch
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/3 cup of butter
1/3 cup of sugar
1 cup Molasses, unsulfured
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a square 8X8 baking pan with a piece of parchment paper.  This will allow the cake to pop right out of the pan, see image below.  Spray the sides with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.

In a kitchen stand mixer bowl, add butter and sugar.  Beat on high for 4 minutes until pale and fluffy.

To the butter and sugar, add the egg whites and molasses.

With mixer on low, add the dry ingredients.

When combined, beat on high for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Smooth top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  The cake will have a spongy feel when gently pressed in the center.

Let cool completely and then gently flip pan onto a smooth surface, I used a cutting board.

Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares and coat in confectioner's sugar.

NOTE:  Do not stack the cake bites too high.  The weight will cause them to flatten and may make them stick together.  I would recommend storing them two high in an air tight container up to 3 days.  I stacked mine for the purpose of pictures only.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Reuben Dip

Last week I made a couple loaves of gluten free pumpernickel bread.  It turned out wonderful and you can find the recipe here.

Because the loaves are short and foccacia like, I decided to make a dip instead of a sandwich.  I love my dips!

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Pizza Dip

This one is right up there is taste and texture to being pretty amazing.  There is just something about warm cheese and bread.

I hope that you give this a try and share how you enjoyed it.

I know that I will get several question or comments about certain things so let me try to answer those in advance.

1.  Yes, this can be cooked in the crock pot.  Allow a few hours for it to get completely warm through out the dip.

2.  You can definitely substitute any type of meat for the corned beef if that is not a favorite of yours.

3.  The swiss cheese can be replaced with another variety, but keep in mind that it's supposed to be similar to a rueben sandwich.

4.  To stretch the dip you can add mayonnaise, sourcream, plain yogurt or more cream cheese.  You may also need to increase some of the other add in's to make the dip shine.  I liked this dip chunky.

5.  This can be made in the oven or warmed up in the microwave.  The white bowl above was heated up in the microwave for 3 minutes.

If you have any other questions please post below and I will try to get back with you as soon as possible.

Recipe: Rueben Dip

2 cups of diced corned beef brisket (I buy this at my local deli)
1 1/2 cups of fried sauerkraut, drained well
1 1/2  (12 oz) packages of cream cheese, soft
1/4 cup of green onion
2/3 cups of mozzarella cheese
8 oz swiss cheese, grated (the whole block will be used in and on top of the dip)

3/4 cups of 1,000 Island salad dressing (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a sauce pan, add drained and dry sauerkraut.  Fry for 5 minutes.  When I make a rueben I always fry my kraut. To fry the sauerkraut you can add a bit of oil and fry until it is browned a bit.  I like the added flavor it gives to the sandwich or dip.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients including all but 1 cup of swiss cheese.  This one cup will be used to top the dip.

Spread dip in a shallow baking pan (I used a round stoneware pan 10X10).

Spread dip with 1000 Island Salad Dressing.

Add remaining cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese and dip are warm and melted.

If microwaving, the time required will depend on the size of pan being used.

Recipe:  1000 Island Salad Dressing

1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup of ketchup
1 tablespoon of pickle relish
2 teaspoons of onion

Put all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Blend until fine pieces are visible, does not need to be smooth.

Taste and adjust flavors according to your taste buds.


Sifting Through Life: Tomato Pumpkin Soup and a Family Trip

Living in Utah, we became accustomed to having a Fall/Autumn break.  It was nice and maybe it was a way that as Utahan's we learned to cope with the winters better.  The winters seemed to never end especially when you are living at 6300 feet.  It was not unusual to have a freak storm hit some time in September and another one ending the snowy season in June.  Yep, 9-10 months some years of snow in some amount.  It could be inches or feet in one day.

The break was a way to enjoy being outside, seeing the beautiful colors and hanging Christmas lights on your home.  I think our last year, we just left them up.  LOL

When you live someplace you get into a rhythm of how your life works and runs.  We have moved often and so we have grown used to changing with the state, the season's and the people.

While in Maryland we have experienced a wide range of weather.  In fact, as I am writing this, there is a storm a brewing.  From what they say, it is going to be a doozy , one to write in the history books.  We shall see.  Today I went shopping and stocked up on food, water and fuel.  We have a generator, a basement and plenty of games. I guess we are as prepared as we can be.

This is what we returned home to on Tuesday, a"frankenstorm"in the making.

We returned from a short camping trip.  Now this is the weird part for me. We are camping in October (Utah just had a snow fall).  I made the arrangements a few months ago to get away for a few days to see the Fall trees with the orange, yellow and reds of the season.  I had no idea of what to expect.

Would we arrive to bare trees with no leaves or would they still be green?  Our summer was super hot and this is the primary reason we don't camp or site see in the summer.  I suppose if you come here on vacation you do what you have to do but we live here and so we try to do all of our outdoor activities in the Fall months.  Believe me it is miserable in 95 degree weather with 60% humidity to find your happy place in crowded museums and camp grounds.

On Sunday we arrived to an empty camp ground filled with the most beautiful orange and yellow trees.  According to the lady who checked us in we had come on the perfect weekend.  YAY for me.

Now, I will tell you it is not an easy task to get two teenagers and a workaholic husband excited about taking a few days off, especially when it's not a true weekend.  Our weekend was Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  This is what I heard:

"But I will have homework"
"I have meetings scheduled"
"My girlfriend does not want me to go"…FYI: that was from the son, LOL
"I can't miss even one day, I am swamped"

I am going to fill you in on how this fell on my deaf ears, like I didn't even hear them.  WHY?

It's the same song and dance I hear every time I plan a short trip away.  Every time we come home I hear this:

"I really needed that"
"Wow, that was fun"
"You are amazing parents" (actual quote from this last trip)
"Thank you"

I have learned to follow my intuition as a mother and as a wife.  I can sense when my family is at their breaking points and they are needing a break and a bit of family time.

I used to disregard those small impressions that I would feel along the way.  I would discount my abilities to know when my children are hurting or are sad until a few years ago.  I had a significant experience that taught me I needed to LISTEN and pay attention with my oldest daughter and now I am on high alert.

I had these same feelings this past year and I did just that: listened.  It involved my son this time and I won't go into great detail other than to say I knew he was in pain and having a tough time.  I could sense it.

After a few days I confronted him about it and he remained tight lipped about what was going on.  I talked anyway.  I reassured him that we loved him and would always support him.  We wanted the best for him and he could depend on us to try to understand what was going on.  That whole day I felt a desperation about his situation.  I kept a close eye on him for a few days and he seemed to have found a peaceful resolution out of the deep somber state he had been in.

I soon forgot about that moment because he did appear to be happy again.  I had one other prompting before he started school a few weeks after the above mentioned experience and it was about marching band.  He is one to not disappoint us and yet every time he talked to us about this subject I could tell something was not right.  I told my husband that I thought we should tell him that if he wanted to quit, that we were okay with this but that it needed to be his decision and to think long and hard about this.

He made the decision to not continue with marching band but just band.

Again, this happened and I did not think twice about the two events because they seemed to have worked themselves out.  I can tell you though, that both times I felt compelled to approach my son.

Getting back to this past weekend, we settled into a routine of chatting around the camp fire each night.

Usually we started with the five of us and the girls would get tired and head into the cottage to sleep.  Cory and I were left with Drake to visit and chat about all types of stuff.  On one of these nights he opened up to us about what was happening and how he was feeling just a few short months ago.  I was shocked at what he said.

I will not break his confidence but suffice it to say they were words that as a parent you would hope to never hear uttered from your child.  He was depressed and in a very low state.  He doesn't know why he felt that way.

At that moment my body was filled with goosebumps.  I knew something had been seriously wrong.

We talked, we did not get upset, we expressed our love and a plan of how to handle those feelings if they come again.  We listened.

The weight that was lifted from our son was huge.  His bounce returned. He smiled.  He played soccer and joked with his sisters all weekend long.

Our time together as a family was very much needed to reestablish the trust, love and support that sometimes our busy lives have a subtle way of placing a wedge between us.

The trip was worth the work to prepare the meals and the time necessary to pack.  We went to bed each night rediscovering what our favorite foods, colors and movies were.  We told jokes.  We simply were together in one large room as a family away from the world for a few short days.  Enough time to forge the friendships, solidify the love and trust and balance our souls again.

If my kids heard me say one more time " I could totally live in a one room house" again I think they may leave me at home next time.  You have to remember we are the family that lived in a 30 ft motor home for one year.  I like tiny spaces.  Our cottage was awesome.  I felt like I was living a pioneer life of sleeping, eating and cooking in one big room.  Our beds were a queen, a full and two bunks.   We had a wood burning stove and one table that sat 5.  A trunk and a side table.  That's it.

I loved every minute of it.

I prepared all of the food before we left.  I did not want to be making huge meals the whole time I was supposed to be on vacation too.

So what did I make?  I made tomato pumpkin soup (recipe below), Enchilada soup, Nutella peanut butter cookies, ranch dip for veggies, hummus dip and tuna fish.  We brought yogurt and homemade pumpkin spice granola for breakfast and sandwich fixings for lunch.  We never eat all of the food I bring.  Even when I cut back we come home with stuff.  We did do smore's on one night too.

It felt like old times when we were traveling and it was just us.  I really do miss our time on the road and I anxiously but patiently am waiting for the time we can do that again.  Until then I will be content with our little outings away, as a family, every once in a while.

I am so grateful for those small whisperings that as mothers and fathers we have access too.  With each new experience it teaches me to listen more as I guide and raise my kids.

Here is the recipe for the Tomato Pumpkin Soup that I made for our first night.  I served the soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.  It hit the spot on the chilly night spent in the "oh, so cute" one room cottage in the middle of the great outdoors surrounded by the most beautiful orange and yellow trees.

Recipe:  Tomato Pumpkin Soup
Makes 4-6 servings.

1 large can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon of dried Oregano
1 teaspoon of dried Basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1 1/2 cups of cream (heavy or light)

In a medium pot, combine all of the above ingredients except the cream.  Bring soup to a simmer.

Let simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cream.

Top with cheese or serve with a grilled cheese sandwich.

More Pictures Below:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Winter Salad with Poppyseed Salad Dressing

Pomegranates have been a favorite of mine for years.  I remember eating them as a kid and spending hours picking out each and every seed.  Pulling back the white membrane very gently so that I would not damage a single kernel.

Once they were all picked I would sit with my bowl and gently scoop a handful into my mouth.  This was the best part.  The snapping and popping of each seed as I bit down.  The juice pooling in my mouth was full of body and rich flavor.  

I don't recall if my Mom ever used them in anything we ate other than to eat them on their own. 

Years ago I was given this recipe at a function and it called for pomegranates.  

I don't buy them like I used to.  My kids can take or leave them.  I always asked for them when I went shopping with my Mom but my kids don't care much if they have one or not.

Looking through my old recipes I found this and decided to make it for our lunch.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed poppyseed salad dressing and when combined with the fruit and lettuce greens my tummy was a happy camper.

Recipe:  Winter Salad with Poppyseed Salad Dressing

Head of Romaine Lettuce
1 cup of diced apple
1 cup of diced pear
1/2 cup of sliced almond slivers
1 cup of grated swiss cheese
seeds from one pomegranate
Poppyseed Salad Dressing (Recipe below)

Toss salad together.

Add salad dressing.


NOTE:  I used a bit of lemon juice in water to keep the apple and pear from turning brown before I tossed them into the salad.  I have also used Sprite.

Recipe: Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

1/2 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Combine above ingredients in a container with a lid.  Shake until blended.  Serve over salad.

Good for 2 weeks stored in refrigerator.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gluten Free Pumpernickel Foccacia

One of the things I love about having a fan page is the interaction and communications that I am able to have with a variety of people from all over the world.

It is not uncommon for me to open my email and find a recipe that has been shared with me.

Usually they are recipes that are handed down through the family and the directions are scratchy or not complete.  Sometimes the recipe has left out an ingredient or a measurement.

If you are not familiar with ingredients and recipe development, this can lead to a bit of stress for the family member or friend.

I had an experience with this when my grandmother passed away a few years ago. I was fortunate to have spent a lot of time with her in the kitchen so I was able to piece together the remnants of the recipes that she left behind.

Kitchen shorthand.

 I think we may all be guilty of this at one time or another in our lives.  I still do it when I go to the book store or sitting in the doctors office, I will take any scrap of paper I can find and try to write enough of the recipe to be able to transcribe it when I get home.  LOL

It just happens when we get busy.  I am trying to be much better about not leaving my kids recipes filled with "kitchen shorthand". This blog is a place that I can share my recipes and the kids will have access to it no matter where they live.

I received this recipe from a friend that had recently discovered they had celiac disease.  She had found it and was wondering if it would be easy to make and if she should make it.  I told her I would make it first to test the recipe.

I love pumpernickel and so this recipe thrilled me.  To find something that I could introduce back into my "skimpy" list of things I could eat was exciting.  I envisioned one rueben sandwich after the other in my near future.

The problem is that some of the ingredients were not accurately listed.  We had the list but not the measurements.

This is where I was able to fill out the recipe for both of us.

The bread is excellent!  The texture is soft. It cuts easily into slices for sandwiches.  The flavor was spot on.

The ingredient list is long, the rising of the dough takes time but some things are just worth the little bit of effort it takes to make a quality loaf of foccacia, especially for those of us that are so limited in what we can and can't have.

Recipe:  Gluten Free Pumpernickel Foccacia
Adapted from a recipe by Donna Nagel

1/3 cup tapioca flour
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
2 1/2 teaspoons of xanthum gum
1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry powdered milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon sugar
7/8 cup of warm water (14 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon of Molasses
1 teaspoon of vinegar
1 tablespoon of light olive oil
1 tablespoon of sugar
2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 eggs, at room temperature

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Stir well.

In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients.  Stir well.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, water and yeast.  Let proof until bubbles are present.

Combine the three bowls into one.  Add eggs. Stir to combine.

The dough will be more like a thick brownie batter.  This is normal when making bread that is gluten free.

Beat with a hand mixer or a table mixer on high for 2 minutes.

Cover the bowl for 1 hour.

Beat again for 2 minutes.

Prepare the cake pans with a spray of vegetable oil.  Scoop the dough evenly into each of the cake pans. It will be very sticky and you won't be able to shape it much.

Let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Bake for 30-45 minutes.

Cool on wire racks.  Once the bread is cool, it can be sliced and stored in an airtight container.  You can also freeze the bread into smaller sizes and thaw when ready to use.

NOTE: The bread does get crumbly after 3 days and would be best stored in the refrigerator if not eaten the first day.

This is how I used the bread.  I made a rueben dip and served it as an appetizer.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

218. Honeycomb Candy (named Seafoam too)

Sweet or salty?

If given the choice between the two, my first choice will usually be salty.  I have never been much of a candy person, even as a kid.

With that being said, I did have my temptations.  Marzipan, peanut butter, dark chocolate and Seafoam. These were my candies of choice.

I grew up buying marzipan candy from See's.  My first introduction to this candy was in the shape of a piece of fruit.  The fruits are cute and some taste better than others, but I really liked it simple.  A cute rectangle square dipped in deep chocolate that I could easily eat in two bites.  My aunt would bring us over all types and shapes of marzipan from England too.  

Along with the marzipan she always brought Crunchie Bars.  We always just got one.  Each of us girls would take our treats back to our rooms and save them for a later day.  

At the end of my 10th grade we moved from sunny California to Oregon.  To say the weather and over cloud skies were a change is an understatement.  It rained a lot.

One of the activities we did to escape the rain was to go to the Oregon Coast.  It was still raining at the beach but they had outlet malls, indoor swimming pools at the hotels, miles of coastline and fun little stores to go and visit.

The two stores we frequented the most were the candy store and The Christmas Store.  This is where I found Seafoam Candy, many know it also as Honeycomb.

I loved this candy!  It was usually dipped in dark chocolate too.  I felt this was even better.

When I became old enough to start making it myself, I did.  It is so simple to make.  You just need to keep a few things in mind.  Let me tell you what they are so you can get in the kitchen and start making your first batch of Seafoam Candy.  Your family will thank me and you later.  (wink)

You will need a candy thermometer.  The candy must be boiled to a temperature of 300 degrees, hard ball stage.  You cannot eye ball this step.

You will want a larger than you think sauce pan when making this candy.  The first time I made it I used a small 3 cup sauce pan, after all, the sugar amount was small.  Well, let me tell you….when you add the baking soda, do you see the bubbles in the candy, this is how it happens.  The reaction is so fast and before you know it the candy is overspilling the pan.

Trust me, use a pot that is 6 cup sauce pan.  Don't be surprised your first time that you may have a few baking soda clumps in your candy.  Once it hardens these can be removed or brushed off.  I try to smash the baking soda with a fork so that there are not any clumps, just a suggestion.

Dipping the candy in chocolate is a bit messy, but really worth it.  The Seafoam on its own can be a bit brittle but dipped in chocolate it makes eating it less messy.

I store mine in the refrigerator in Maryland. It is so humid here that if I don't it gets sticky.  You can also try storing it in an airtight container where you live to see if that works for you.

I hope that you will let me know how your first attempt of this candy turns out in the comments below. It's a fun one to make with the kids because of the reaction toward the end with the sugar and baking soday…don't tell them and watch their faces of delight as the foam is created.

Recipe: Seafoam Candy

Please read the above tips before attempting to make this candy.

1.5 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon of butter, to oil the pan
1 tablespoon of baking soda
1 package of chocolate chips, dark or milk (optional)

In a 6 cup sauce pan add sugar, honey and water.  Bring to a boil stirring constantly.

Once the candy starts to boil, add your thermometer and stop stirring.  Let the temperature rise to 300 degrees or to the hard ball stage.  This will take about 10 minutes.

While this is getting to the temperature needed, butter the cookie sheet.  The smaller the pan the thicker the seafoam.

Cookie Sheet:  around 1/4 inch thick
9X13 pan: 1/2 inch thick
8X8 pan 1+inches thick

Once it gets to 300 degrees, turn of heat and add baking soda.  Be careful because it will expand fast.  With a whisk, do your best to stir in the baking soda.

Immediately pour onto the prepared pan  DO NOT SMOOTH OR TOUCH.  It will settle and spread on its own.

Let it completely cool. To speed up the process I do put mine in the refrigerator.

While candy is hardening, melt chocolate.  Either in the microwave or on the stove top.  Use your preferred method.

Break up the candy into the desired sizes and dip chocolate.

Place the pieces on a wire rack to let the chocolate set.  Again, I just add mine back to the fridge.

Store in an airtight container.  Will last about one week.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

217. Pumpkin Spice Granola


This is my third recipe for granola.  It is so easy to make that I just can't bring myself to buy the stuff in the store ever again.

I had my hand on a box the other day because the front of the packaging looked so enticing.  I shook my head and told myself to go home and make a fresh batch.

 I did.

I am so glad that I tried to make Pumpkin Spice Granola.  I wasn't sure if I had gotten the spice combination correct.  Once it is made, it's made.

I am happy to report that it turned out with a strong flavor of pumpkin pie and had the same crunch that my other two granola's have.

I added pumpkin puree to the wet ingredients and I did not know if this would change the makeup of the maple syrup blend.   I was pleasantly surprised.  It added a depth to the pumpkin flavor and did not affect the texture.

I eat this as cereal with milk or served over a bowl of honey greek yogurt.

In fact, as I am typing this I am dabbing the corner's of my lips with a white napkin….oh it's a keeper!

I was so glad to find clusters in this batch of granola.  They are packed full of pumpkin flavor and have a crunchy texture.

I am a strange eater sometimes.  This is one example.  When I open a bag of potato chips I eat all of the folded, doubled over chips first.  In my opinion, these are just simply the best.  They are crispy and when you bite into the many layers, my mouth and mind work together and send the signal that this is how every chip should be. 

It drives my family crazy.

The granola does not have edges that are folded but the clusters do the same thing to my brain.  With every bite it sends a signal of perfection.  As I bite through each cluster, it falls apart and is very crunchy.

Yes, I did go through the bowl and pick out a few clusters.  

I figure to get more of the clusters in your granola, when mixing the granola, use your hands and squish handfuls together and gently dump on cookie tray.  Try not to over stir the first two times you move the granola around.  You could also reduce the amount of oatmeal by one cup to allow for more of the wet ingredient to "cluster" the granola.

I know this is not rocket science but it is what keeps me up at night…LOL

Tell me what food habits you have that drive your family crazy in the comments below.  

Recipe:  Pumpkin Spice Granola

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
2 tablespoons of pumpkin spice (recipe below or use store bought)
2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree

5-6 cups of uncooked oatmeal, just plain old oatmeal
1/2 cup of grated or shredded coconut
1/2 cup of blanched almonds
dried cranberries (optional)
1/4 cup of brown sugar (optional)

NOTE:  With granola you can add a variety of seeds or nuts to the process.  I add any dried fruit after it is prepared.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl combine oatmeal, nuts and coconut.  If you are adding seeds add them know too.

Set aside.

In a medium size saucepan, add syrup, oil, vanilla and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin puree.

Immediately pour over oatmeal mixture.  Toss.

Pour granola onto a cookie sheet with rimmed sides.

Every 15 minutes, gently toss granola.  After about 45 you should start to smell the granola and see a change in color.  It will start to darken.  I let my granola bake for 1hour, stirring it every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven.  I sprinkled some brown sugar over this batch while still hot and gently mixed.  This is optional but does add a nice look and additional sweetness to the granola.

Cool and store in tightly sealed container.

This can be stored for up to one month.  After that quality of flavors may start to break down.

Recipe:  Pumpkin Spice

I made my own.  It turned out great and taste just like pumpkin pie to me.

1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon of cloves
1/4 teaspoon of ginger

Combine together and use accordingly.


Donut Breakfast Casserole

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