Adam brought fudge home from work a few days ago and it was so good that it inspired me to make my own. For some reason, I like peanut butter fudge better than chocolate (but of course I'll glady enjoy both!). I am usually nervous about making candy because it needs to be so precise but this turned out well. It's rather firm but that might be because it cooked too long so really don't let it boil over 3 minutes as it says in the directions - if you like your fudge a little soft, boil just under 3 minutes.
3 cups sugar 3/4 cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 Tablespoon butter 7 oz. jar of marshmallow cream 12 oz. creamy peanut butter
Butter a 9 inch x 13 inch dish, line it with parchment paper and butter the parchment. You can really use any size pan - just depends on how thick you want your fudge.
Mix sugar, cream, vanilla and butter in a medium saucepen. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add marshmallow and peanut butter. Stir well and immediately pour into prepared pan. Let cool completely, cut into small pieces and store in the refrigerator. ;
Boilo! The coal region's hot toddy! Our friend Nick came over one evening and taught us how to make this delicious beverage. We enjoyed it while decorating our Christmas tree. The great thing about this recipe is that you can add whatever quantity and variety of ingredients that you want. There are many variations but this is what we did:
1 2-liter bottle ginger ale 2 oranges, quartered 1 lemon, quartered 2 cinnamon sticks 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds 1 Tablespoon whole cloves 2 Tablespoons candied ginger, chopped 2 Tablespoons mulling spices (optional) 10 oz honey 2 1/2 cups Four Queens whiskey (or any cheap whiskey) 1/4 cup moonshine (optional, if you know someone who makes it)
In a large pot over medium/high heat, add the ginger ale, oranges, lemon, spices and honey. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to warm/low. Add the whiskey and moonshine. Enjoy warm!
My mom made this bacon for BLTs recently and it was so delicious! I gave it a try this weekend. It's super simple.
You need bacon and brown sugar.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on the sheet. I used a cooling rack or you can use a rack from your roasting pan.
Place the slices of bacon on the rack. Sprinkle just a little bit of brown sugar on each piece of bacon.
Bake for 15 minutes and then flip the slices of bacon. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until it reaches your desired crispiness.
I put sugar on both sides of my bacon and it can out caramelized and super sweet - it was more like a candy than a breakfast side dish but I loved it! Remember, a little sugar goes a long way. Although, as I was eating this I was thinking, this would be so good on a Christmas cookie platter. ha!
The other night we had some chicken thighs and legs to use up. I know lots of people say thighs are the best becauase they are so flavorful but I just haven't gotten on that ban wagon yet. I still prefer boneless skinless breasts. It's just neater and more appealing to me. But we had this chicken on hand - thanks to Adam's winnings at the gun club - so we wanted to prepare it for dinner.
I was looking around for a basic recipe and came across a method for baking bone-in, skin-on thighs and getting a really crispy skin so that's what we tried. I had some legs to bake too but they didn't turn out as crispy - don't know why.
But those thighs were so crispy!! The skin turned out so well and so delicious!!!
Chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on (you can use other chicken pieces too) Olive oil Sea salt or kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Pour a tiny bit of olive oil on the baking sheet and spread it all over the pan.
Remove the chicken from the fridge and let it sit for awhile to get the chill off. You can place the chicken on a plate in single layers between paper towels. Then use the towels to dry off the chicken the best you can. Next, drizzle the pieces with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher or sea salt. Place on the baking tray skin side up.
One of my favorite candies are caramels! I just love the super sweet taste and creamy texture. So when I saw a recipe for caramel sauce with apples I knew I had to try to make it to eat on vanilla ice. I was a bit nervous because I do not have much practice with candy making and I think it really takes skill. But I tried this anyway. And I've made it 4 times until it turned out semi-correct. But it was still so delicious! I don't think I let it cook long enough to get the deep caramel color, but it still tasted good! Maybe you can try the recipe and see how it works for you and then let me. I just love caramel apples too much to give up on this!
I am rather ashamed to write about this, especially if a certain Caramal Maker reads the post. It just makes me appreciate her candies more and what talent and precision it takes to make a good caramel.
Core apples and thinly slice, cutting each slice in half (I peeled my apples too but that's up to you).
Spread sugar evenly in a large skillet set over medium heat. Let the sugar sit, untouched, until it begins to melt.
Using a fork stire the sugar until it has completely melted and turned a medium caramel brown.
Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream. Stand back a little because it will foam and may splatter. Return to the heat and whisk until the sauce is smooth - this is where I always have trouble because the sugar solidifies onto my whisk but I found if you keep cooking the sauce. It will all incorporate nicely.
Set over low heat, whisking occasionally, until ready to serve.
In the meantime, melt butter in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook until the apples are beginning to turn brown.
Add the apples to the caramel sauce and stir until they are coated.
Using four bowls or short glasses. layer the ice cream with the caramel apples, drizzling the extra sauce over top. Serve immediately.
If you're not an experienced caramel maker like me, don't worry if you need to try this recipe a couple times - even if you don't get a traditional caramel consistency and color, it will still be tasty with your ice cream. I know from experience.
Last night we had a wonderful dinner. Relatively unhealthy, yes, but we didn't mind especially since my roasted chicken sausage went awry the night before and we were hungry.
We had grilled cheddar, apple and bacon sandwiches and roasted butternut squash and apple soup - the perfect fall meal. It filled us up and made us happy.
Even though I was nervous Adam wasn't going to love the soup he did! And so did I. It turned out very well and I highly recommend making it. It's really quite easy after you gather all the ingredients, chopping them up is the most time consuming part. I am a huge fan of cream soups and I have been waiting for weeks to try this.
1 butternut squash (3lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 granny smith apples, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces (Florentina did not peel them but I did)
2 carrots, sliced
4 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I used chicken)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used a splash more because I love cream!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
In a 9x13 glass baking dish, toss the squash, apples, carrot slices, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, salt and pepper with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Roast uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Stir a few times during cooking.
Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat in a cast iron pot. Add and saute the diced onion with a pinch of salt until transslucent. Add the wine and let it reduce by half. Add the roasted vegetables to the pot together with the stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and using a hand held blender, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the cream and cook an additional 3 minutes.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste if needed.
Florentina also suggests serving the soup with a drizzle of cream, snipped chives and a pinch of ground nutmeg.
You can also add fresh thyme leaves to your vegetables as they roast.
To make the grilled cheese, spread Dijion mustard on 2 pices of bread. Top one slice with cheddar cheese, 3 pieces cooked bacon, a few granny smith apple slices and more cheese. Place other piece of bread on top with mustard side down. Spread butter on the top of the sandwich and place on a hot grill. Butter the other piece of bread before you flip it.
Fall Salad with pear, Parmesan, candied pecans and maple-balsamic dressing!
This is the most delicious salad I've made in a long time! And the dressing turned out so well - there are so many balsamic vinaigrette recipes out there that I've tried and they're usually flat and blah. Well this dressing is so great and slightly sweet from the maple syrup which I love. I had two servings last night!
And this was especially great because the only things I need to buy was lettuce and a pear.
I got this recipe from the Food Network, created by Tyler Florence.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 cup raw pecans (you can do halves or chopped)
1 small shallot, finely diced (I omitted)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup
salt and pepper
Mixed greens and baby spinach
1 pear, sliced
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
To make the candied pecans, set a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the butter and sugar an d once it has melted toss in the pecans and continue to toss to coat and cook evenly, about 1 minute. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with waxed paper (use 2 forks to seperate pecans) while you prepare the salad.
Make the dressing by combining the chopped shallot, Dijon and balsamic vinegar in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while you whisk to emulsify. Add the maple syrup and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Assemble salad by tossing greens and pear slices in a large mixing bowl with dressing. Top with Parmesan and pecans. Or you can arrange the salad ingredients in individual bowls and top with dressing - whatever works for you!
On Saturday, I was planning a nice day at my parents house with lots of recipes to try. No other plans for the day but really making treats and eating them. What I did not plan for was a ton of snow that caused the power to go out. So instead of baking (watching tv, doing laundry, etc.) my mom and I enjoyed cold pizza and candlelight.
But the next morning the power was back and I had some very ripe bananas that needed to be used so I found a recipe for banana bread from Simply Recipes and gave it a try. It was super delicious and moist. I left half for my parents and took the other half home and it really only lasted us a few hours. I will be making more very soon!
I usually prefer nuts in my bread but this version doesn't call for any. And I was ok with that! This makes only one loaf and I like to think that's good so I don't consume too much but then I really miss it when it's gone.
3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed (I used 4) 1/3 cup butter, melted 3/4 cup sugar 1 egg, beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon baking soda Pinch of salt 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat overn to 350 degrees
In a large mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix butter into the mashed bananas. Then mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.
After a little hesitation from both me and Adam, we actually enjoyed the pumpkin twist on the old classic! The flavor was much more complex than the typical ricotta and mozzarella filling. And when you think pumpkin, don't think sweet. Think dimension and savory. Although I think I would serve it as a side dish with some meat, just for texture.
And if you us low fat ricotta (of course I did not - I used whole milk ricotta. yum!), this dish has less calories (and more flavor!) than the traditional recipe!
My Aunt Donna mailed me this recipe (thank you!!). It's from October 2011 Country Living magazine.
24 jumbo pasta shells 1 tablespoon olive oil 22 ounces ricotta (2 1/2 cups) 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree 2 1/2 ounces pecorino Romano, grated (3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) 1 large egg white 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup fresh basil, chopped 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped (I omitted) 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1 (26 oz.) jar marinara sauce
Cook pasta shells according to package instructions; drain. Transer to a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside and let cool.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, pumpkin, 3/4 cup pecorino Romano, and remaining ingredients, except marinara sauce.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread sauce in bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 3 tablespoons ricotta-pumpkin mixture and arrange in the pan. Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle shells with remaining pecorino, and bake for 15 minutes.
Or you can do what I did and stuff the shells the night before and refrigerate overnight in an airtight container, in between layers of plastic wrap; arrange shells on sauce right before baking.
What happened last night was something rare. I did something that I always want to do, at least a few times a week. I began preparation for dinner the night before. It felt so good! To know that all I have to do when I get home is pop something in the oven and 40 minutes later, it's dinnertime without all the prep and tons of dishes! And what are we having tonight?? You'll just have to wait to see tomorrow! Hint: think a fall twist on stuffed shells.
Now the original recipe is called Creamy Macaroni with Smoked Bacon but as I was reading the notes with the recipe, Clodagh suggests using spicy sausage in place of the smoked bacon. So I did because it seemed more heartier than just bacon for a main course dinner. I just used spicy Italian sausage.
Here is the recipe with my moderations:
1 box (15 or 18 oz) macaroni 1 Tablespoon olive oil 1/2 cup diced smoked thick-cut bacon OR a pound of spicy sausage cut into 1-inch chunks 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or you can grate a few pieces of stale white bread) 1/3 stick butter
Cheese sauce: 2/3 stick butter 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 2 3/4 cups milk 1 3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese salt and pepper 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan, stir in the flour, and cook for 2 minutes until it resembles a small piece of dough. Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring all the time. Stir in the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Season with salt and pepper, add the Dijon mustard, and stir.
Turn down the heat and cook until the sauce starts to thicken (it should coat the back of a wooden spoon). The cheese sauce should be creamy in texture; if it becomes too thick, add more milk.
While the cheese sauce is simmering, add the pasta to a large saucepan of salted boiling water and stir for about 30 seconds so the pasta doesn't stick together. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain.
Place another skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook until done.
Pour the pasta into a 10 inch baking dish, followed by the cooked sausage, followed by the cheese sauce, making sure the sausage and the cheese sauce is evenly distributed over the pasta.
Place the sausage skillet back over medium-high heat. Add the butter and once melted, stir in the bread crumbs and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the cheesy macaroni and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top is golden.
A few years ago I stumbled across a cooking blog called The Culinary Couple. It is written by a very charming couple living right here in Pennsylvania! Together we have chatted online about local places as well as Germany - they too have a big love of the country and food! I even used posts from their past trip to Munich as inspiration for places to visit on our honeymoon.
The Couple has recently welcomed a son to their family so they reached out to me to do a guest post on their blog. I was, of course, excited to contribute!
Last night for dinner I was planning to make plain, ole spaghetti. Nothing special. Then I remembered that I bought a package of bucatini at a DiBruno Brothers in Philadelphia (gourmet food shops sprinkled through the city) when we were visiting my sister for the PSU v. Temple game.
I have come across a few bucatini recipes and read about the unique long, hollow noodle. I was very intrigued. But I could not find it in any grocery stores around me (the story of my life). I was so excited when I found it in the amazing DiBruno Bros. store. See, we originally went into the store because my husband told me to get him something while we were shopping and he was at the Phillies game. I knew he was teasing but when we walked by DiBruno, I knew I had to get him what he REALLY wanted.
Not a shirt.
But some meat and cheese!
So my mom, sister and I browsed the delicacies and found him the perfect treat while I got myself some sea salt chocolate and bucatini.
And you know this bucatini is authentically Italian because there were was no English on the packaging. Love that!
Here you can see the pasta before it's cooked:
And here is the bucatini with some delicious Prego Three Cheese and ground beef. Yum! (I forgot to do the fancy Instagram finish on this pic. Darn!):
For my birthday my mom got me this book, "homemade" by Clodagh McKenna. It's full of great entertaining and decorating ideas as well as recipes. And the photos are so beautiful and inspirational. I highly recommend this book!
So far I have made 2 recipes from it. Today I will talk about one and tomorrow the other.
Yesterday for dinner I tried my hand at mushroom risotto for the very first time! And I think it came out quite well. Adam wasn't fond of the taste - I think it was too starchy for him. But I was proud of it - maybe because of all stirring that goes into making the dish.
4 cups hot vegetable stock (I made mine - recipe to follow)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
9 oz mixed wild mushrooms (I only used a 4 oz mix prepackaged and sliced in produce aisle)
sea salt and pepper
sprig of fresh sage, finely chopped (I omitted)
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Melt 2/3 stick butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the onion and 1 chopped garlic clove, and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until softened.
Add the rice and stir for a minute or so to coat it in the butter. Pour in the white wine and let it bubble for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
Every couple of minutes, add some stock, stir and allow the rice to absorb the juices. Repeat until all of the stock has been absorbed and stir continuously.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the remainder of the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the wild mushrooms and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
When the rice is tender and all the stock has been absorbed, remove from the heat and let rest for 30 seconds.
Stir in the mushrooms, the remaining butter, the sage and Parmesan cheese.
Season to taste and serve immediately.
Vegetable Stock Recipe (modified from allrecipes.com)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery with leafy greens
5 garlic cloves
1 bell pepper
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 quarts water
**These are the ingredients I had on hand - you can add so many others: green onions, potato, mushrooms, parsley or other savory herbs, corn cobs, the list goes on. **
Chop scrubbed vegetables into 1-inch chunks. Mince garlic.
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add all ingredients except salt and water. Cook for 5-10 minutes stirring frequently.
Add salt and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain. Discard vegetables.
First of all, look at that picture. Cute, huh? Artistic, even. Well it was taken with my phone by the Instragram app. I think the photos turn out great with this app and I'll be using it quite a bit from here on out. And the best part is that it's easier than using my camera. A lot of times I won't post a recipe just because it's such a pain to find my camera, take the photo in good lighting and in a nice area and then get the photo on my computer. It's much easier using my phone so that's what it'll be for awhile!
On to the chicken stew recipe! This is really a guest post by my mom. She made this for my birthday dinner and it is so delicious! It's Ina Garten's recipe.
3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone in skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 carrots, medium-diced, blanched for 2 minutes
1 10-oz package frozen peas
1/2 cups fresh parsley, minced
For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and diced
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat overn to 375 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts on a foil-lined, PAM-sprayed sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. You will have 4 to 6 cups of chicken.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring until thick. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the heavy cream. Add the chicken, carrots, peas, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10x13x2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half and half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out 12 circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.
Remove stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with the egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubly.
I use Bisquik a lot. It's my go-to base for pancakes and waffles, as well as shortcakes and chicken tender breading. Unless I am making a specialty pancake or waffle recipe, I just think Bisquik makes good, fluffy treats. We eat waffles and pancakes on weekend mornings when we're home and have no plans. For a shower gift, I got Golden Malted Waffle & Pancake Flour from Williams-Sonoma and just over the weekend, I tried it out. You simply add milk, an egg and melted butter to the flour mix and you're ready for the hot griddle.
These cakes turned out very well, but different than Bisquik pancakes. They were thinner, which meant you could eat more :) And since the batter was quite thin, it made a lot of crispy, slightly sweet pancakes.
Two weekends ago, Adam, my parents and I visited my sister at Temple University. We went to the big Temple vs. PSU game and did some tailgating before the game. My mom brought ingredients for cheese and scallion omelets, grilled sausage, hash browns and fruit. While I didn't get a photo of our delicious brunch - it was a noon game - I got some good shots of my family. And even though Temple put a great fight and lost at the end, we had a fun time.
This is a delicious and easy recipe from my friend Jamie. It is in the cookbook I got for a shower gift, Hope In The Kitchen: Wedding Edition.
I ate my chicken just as pictured - over a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil and topped with basil leaves. Adam ate his over a salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Both ways are delicious! The balsamic vinegar infuses so much flavor into the chicken.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Place chicken in a large ziploc bag and pour marinade on top. Let marinade for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Now you can either grill the chicken until done or saute it in a pan. I added some oil to a large pan and pan seared the breasts until done (you can cut the meat into smaller pieces for quicker cook time).
Last evening for dinner we had Coconut Chicken Salad with Warm Honey Mustard Vinaigrette. It was quite tasty and we were both sad that I didn't make enough chicken! We loved the sweet and savory taste of the coconut and chicken so I will definitely make this again as a main course instead of a salad topper.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil spray.
In a shallow bowl, add the egg and beat it. In another bowl, add coconut, panko, corn flakes and salt. Lightly season chicken with salt. Dip each tender into the egg and then the breading mixture. Place on the prepared baking. Spray with more olive oil spray.
Bake for 15 minutes. Flip and bake for 10 more minutes or until cooked through.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Microwave for 20 seconds to warm dressing.
Arrange lettuce, cucumbers and carrots on dinner plates. Top with chicken and then with the warm vinaigrette.
Note: You may have to make more dressing if you chose to have more lettuce and vegetables on your salad.