Mmmmm…Sweet and Salty

October 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Let’s be clear: I am not one for salting things. I don’t believe I have ever used a restaurant salt shaker in my life, and I generally halve the salt called for in recipes because it always seems like a bit too much to me. I think the whole “salted caramel” trend that’s been going around lately is an abomination against caramel. But…but. Chocolate covered potato chips are one of my very favorite treats. And I do dig a nice chocolate-cashew combo. So when I came across this recipe for chow mein noodles mixed with cashews and covered in chocolate, I decided to give it a shot. It’s fast, easy, and delicious – definitely a keeper.

So, so nommy.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (the original recipe calls for 3 part chocolate chips to 1 part butterscotch – I didn’t have butterscotch so I just used all chocolate)
  • 1 c. chow mein noodles (maybe a little more – just throw the whole can in)
  • 1 c. cashews

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Melt chocolate (I used my fondue pot, but you can use your microwave or double boiler). Mix in noodles, then cashews. Deposit spoonfuls of mixture on prepared cookie sheet and put in fridge until firm.

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Found It on the Internet Friday #16

October 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Fall has…fallen. The temperatures are dropping, and I’m chilly ALL THE TIME. So when I came across this tutorial for a super easy, lightweight cowl I was all over it. It’s exactly right for chilly-but-not-cold weather.

I’m wearing it doubled — cute, right?

It’s seriously so, so easy. Take an old tshirt (or a new one you picked up on sale or something). Cut the bottom hem off. Then cut parallel to the bottom hem just under the sleeves. You now have a tube of fabric. Stretch that mutha out as much as you can. Start with stretching it your full wingspan, then you can step on one end and pull the other up — the more you stretch it, the longer it will get (obviously) and the curlier the edges will get. I think I might make a few more of these and decorate them with bleach pen designs, or dip dye them, or applique them…

O. M. G.*

May 10, 2012 § 3 Comments

* The “G” is for gumbo.

Yum. Just…yum.

Remember last week I told you about my Shrimp’n’Grits, and promised to tell you all about the gumbo I made later that evening with the shrimpy butter as the base for the roux? Well, here you go. I call this my “Kitchen Sink Gumbo” because, in direct violation of everything I read in my Louisiana cookbooks (specifically Donald Link’s Real Cajun and the Times-Picayune collection Cooking Up a Storm) it involves seafood, chicken, and andouille sausage all thrown in the pot together. And it’s goooood. I tasted it to see if it needed more salt/kick/whatever and said, “Oh, that’s good. [pause] OH. That’s goooooood.”

I’d never made a gumbo before, but there were things I knew I wanted (shrimp, chicken, andouille) and things I knew I didn’t (green peppers — I’m allergic). I ended up consulting all of the gumbo recipes in both of the aforementioned books and then making a bit of a mish-mosh of them all. I think the biggest deviation I made (aside from combining all the meat types) was the roux. All of the gumbo recipes I consulted called for an oil-based dark roux; I wanted to use my shrimpy butter so I ended up with a lighter roux. I think it came out just fine (where “just” = “damned”). I served it over rice, and found that a sweet cornbread makes a nice side.

Recipe

(loosely adapted from recipes found in Donald Link’s Real Cajun and the Times-Picayune collection Cooking Up a Storm)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c butter
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/4 c diced celery
  • 1/4 c carrots, sliced into coins
  • 1/4 c onions (I don’t really like onion a whole lot, and I especially hate chopping onion, so I used itty bitty pearl onions that I just cut in half and threw in.)
  • 1 can Progresso red clam sauce
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb chicken, diced and cooked
  • 1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced into half circles
  • 2-3 bay leaves, crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (1/2 tsp was just enough for me, but I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to spicy)

In the bottom of a large stockpot or dutch oven, melt butter. Add flour to make a roux, and cook until fairly dark (but be careful not to burn it). Add celery, carrots, and onions. Cook until soft. Add clam sauce, broth, and all meats. Boil for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, add bay leaves and simmer for 2hrs (give or take). Add salt and cayenne pepper just before removing from heat.

We Have No Banana Today

January 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

It's so good I failed to take a picture until we'd already eaten most of it. I was busy stuffing my face.

Even Wikipedia doesn’t know why it’s called Monkey Bread. It’s not made of monkeys and doesn’t contain bananas or anything else monkey-related, but it’s definitely delicious. Also, it’s kinda fun to make and totally fun to eat. I used to not make it often, because it’s a yeast dough so it takes a couple hours to make the dough and then another hour or so to prep and bake the bread. And it’s really best fresh out of the oven. So it’s really not particularly convenient to have for breakfast, though it’ll do for second breakfast or elevenses, if you get up early enough. I discovered a few years ago, though, that you can actually bake it the day before, leave it in the pan, then heat it back up for 10 minutes or so (long enough to make the sugar gooey again) in the morning. Everybody wins! Except for the monkeys, because I’m not sharing.

Recipe

(adapted from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon, to taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c packed brown sugar

Set bread machine to Dough. Put yeast, flour, cinnamon, salt, sugar, butter, and water in machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. When dough is complete, turn out onto well-floured board and knead 10-20 times.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter bundt pan. In a small saucepan, melt together butter and brown sugar. Cut dough into 1″ cubes. Dredge cubes in butter/sugar mixture (Yes, it’s hot. Be careful.) and drop evenly into prepared bundt pan. Bake at  375°F for 20-25 minutes (until golden brown).

To serve immediately, place a plate over the top of the pan and invert them together. You may need to give the bottom of the pan a thump after you’ve got them flipped.

To serve the next morning, leave in pan and reheat at 375°F for 10-15 minutes (until butter/sugar mixture is gooey again). Serve as directed above.

No…more…pie…

January 3, 2012 § 1 Comment

Yeah, pie.

Wait! Yes! More pie!

At our house, instead of milk and cookies, Santa* gets beer and last year, pie. This year, Zack wanted to bake cookies for Santa (He specified chocolate — we made Chewy Caramel Cookies without the caramel centers. Continuing my baking slump, I managed to leave out the baking soda. They still came out okay, but a little dense and oddly textured.), while Becky wanted to do pie again. I asked her what kind of pie, and she said cherry. Now, I am not a fan of fruit pie as a general rule, Kit doesn’t particularly care for cherry pie, and Zack would probably eat about half a slice. So I suggested that perhaps Mommy could ask Santa what kind of pie he might want and we could make that. After she recovered from the idea that Mommy has Santa’s phone number, she agreed that was a fine idea.

Amazingly enough, Santa chose the easiest pie Mommy knows how to make: 5-minute Pudding Pie. The first time I made this pie, I was extremely skeptical. These sorts of recipes are always either incredibly messy (making the easy recipe not worth the hellish clean-up), horrible to actually eat, or just flat-out lies. 5-minute Pudding Pie literally takes about 5 minutes (if you’re using a prepared crust — it takes about 10 if you make your own crust), it’s delicious and creamy, and you use a single bowl, a whisk, a spoon, and a measuring cup (so, easy cleanup).

I did, of course, manage to screw it up by buying two different flavors of pudding so it wasn’t as nommy as it could have been. But it was edible and really, at this point, that’s a win. Usually it’s really delicious and creamy and people will think you’ve spent hours making a mousse pie. Oh! And you can use sugar/fat free varieties of all the ingredients! WIN!

* As many of you know, I have some conflict about the whole Santa Claus thing, because really [SPOILER], it’s a big lie we tell the kids and I feel pretty strongly about not lying to the kids. Which is not to say that I insist on smacking them in the face with the truth, but just straight up lying really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I realized this year that if I could switch out “Daddy” (or “Mommy”) for “Santa” in the sentence, I can live with it. For everything else, I waffle between “I don’t know” and just outright changing the subject. So far, so good. Honestly, I’m kinda hoping my kids are smart enough to figure it out early and relieve me of this burden. I do plan to carry on the Santa tradition even after they’ve figured it out…”Santa” isn’t really about the fat guy in red velvet and fur to me, it’s about generosity and love and fun, and I’m totally un-conflicted about wanting my kids to have those things in their lives, always.

Recipe

(from the Jell-O Pudding box)

Ingredients:

  • 1 crumb pie crust
  • 1 1/4 skim milk, cold
  • 2 3.5 oz pkgs instant pudding (whatever flavor you want your pie to be)
  • 1 8oz tub whipped dessert topping, thawed

Combine milk, pudding, and half of whipped topping with whisk in a large bowl. Whisk for 1 minute (mixture will be thick). Spoon evenly into crust. Top with remaining whipped topping.

Serve immediately or refrigerate.

FREE Pattern! Sangria Swirl

December 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

The other day, I came upon this delicious, unlabeled yarn. The colors were beautiful, the yarn was nice and chunky so I knew it would work up fast, and it felt just lovely in my hands. I did some measuring and weighing and figured out that I had about 450yds total. Perfect for a scarfy-shawl-thingie! What I wanted was another Clapotis but I knew it wasn’t nearly enough yarn for that. Then I thought maybe I’d just do another drop-wrap shawl, but I didn’t really want another big triangle, and so I thought I could do a rectangular one. And then…then I thought about doing a rectangle on the bias, similar to how the Clapotis is shaped.

So I sat down, cast on a couple stitches, and started to play with it.  Love. It. It spirals and stretches and you don’t really have to think much about what you’re doing. It can be worn as a scarf (doubled — it’s really long) or stretched out and worn as a wrap. Best of all, even for slow knitter me it was a crazy fast knit. I think it took me <20 hours all told, and I was figuring out the pattern as I went. Without further ado, I give you the Sangria Swirl:

It's a shawl!

No, wait! It's a scarf!

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Measurements:

72″ x 12″

Materials:

  • App. 450 yds bulky yarn
  • Size 11(8mm) needles

Instructions:

CO 3.
Increase section:
Row 1: kfb, k to end
Row 2: purl
Row 3: kfb, k to end
Row 4: purl
Row 5: kfb, k to end
Row 6: purl, wrapping yarn twice around needle for each stitch (drop extra wrap when working next row)

Repeat these 6 rows a total of 14 times (84 rows, 45 stitches) Note: if you want to make your project wider, work more repeats of this section, and then work the same number of repeats of the decrease section, below

Work even section (no net increase or decrease):
Row 1: kfb, k to last 2, k2tog
Row 2: purl
Row 3: kfb, k to last 2, k2tog
Row 4: purl
Row 5: kfb, k to last 2, k2tog
Row 6: purl, wrapping yarn twice around needle for each stitch (drop extra wrap when working next row)

Repeat these 6 rows a total of 22 times (216 rows, 45 stitches) Note: if you want your project to be longer or shorter, work more or fewer repeats of this section

Decrease section:
Row 1: k to last 2, k2tog
Row 2: purl
Row 3: k to last 2, k2tog
Row 4: purl
Row 5: k to last 2, k2tog
Row 6: purl, wrapping yarn twice around needle for each stitch (drop extra wrap when working next row)

Repeat these 6 rows a total of 14 times (300 rows, 3 stitches)

Bind off remaining 3 sts. Weave in ends.

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