Saturday, March 8, 2014

S'mores Popcorn

S'mores Popcorn

On Sunday, 3/9/2014, our church is having a fundraiser to help our missionaries around the world. The children have partnered to have a bake / craft sale. Working with Joanna, I made S'mores Popcorn from the Food Network's 50 Popcorn dishes. Instead of just following their instructions, we used the chocolate sauce from Mocha Popcorn, but excluded the coffee. 

Make the sauce by mixing cocoa powder, sugar and honey.

It takes a long time to mix all this together so you have to call in help.

To keep your helper, you have to feed her samples. I think this is similar to Costco providing you samples on Saturday, so you don't run out when you see all the other shoppers.
After making the chocolate sauce, you need to bring together the standard components of S'mores.
I would like to say that I made the marshmallows and graham crackers myself, but, alas, I'm not that cool.
TIP: We keep our marshmallows in the freezer until ready to use. This helps keep them from getting sticky; but if they do get sticky, which ours did, you just chop them & toss with powdered sugar to make them good as new.
The extra component in this s'mores recipe is the popcorn:

The rest of the story is very messy. Be prepared for a sticky experience. It starts with pouring the chocolate sauce on the popcorn and adding the other ingredients.

 Toss together! This is step 1 of making a mess!
Get help making a mess, that's step 2.

After tossing this together, I poured onto two cookie sheets and baked at 250° for about 5 minutes. The purpose is to melt the marshmallows so you can have a bigger mess before you start messy step 3.
Messy step 3 is portion control. If this was for my family, we'd just eat it out of the bowl, but since we're selling these, we pulled out portions to be bagged up. Have you decided to come to City View Church to get some yet?

The things I do for the wonderful BGMC ministry: sticky hands are just the beginning. :) I'll happily do it again soon.
 Yum!! Layers of chocolate sticky goodness.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cinnamon Apples

Tonight's dinner was pancakes. Rebekah offered to make them, so I was free to make bacon and cinnamon apples. These are a simple add-on to pancakes, and deliver a wonderful freshness to the pancakes.

Recipe 1 apple, skinned and chopped small
2 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
a tiny pinch ground cloves (optional)
1 T butter

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and, optionally, the cloves.
In a small skillet over medium heat, add the butter. After the butter is mostly melted, add the brown sugar mixture.

Add the apples and gently push the apples into a single layer so they are in contact with the butter & sugar. Cook over medium heat, maintaining a slight simmer. They will slowly darken and soften. You can pull them off whenever they are as soft as you like.

 After cooking for just a few minutes:

Move the cooked apples to a bowl and serve or eat right away. YUM!
Chocolate chips add extra YUM :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's Day Fondue

We think this is our 3rd year making fondue for Valentine's Day dinner with our kids. It is not necessarily the easiest dinner to make, because the clean up requires cleaning a lot of dishes.

When we served the fondue, I created a double-boiler with a small slow cooker. On the table, I set the slow cooker on low and added a little boiling water. I set a slightly larger metal bowl into the crock. I poured the finished sauce into the metal bowl to keep warm while we ate it.

Cheese Fondue

Recipe 1 garlic clove
150ml white wine (2/3 cups)
2t corn starch
400g shredded cheese (320g cheddar + 80g mozzarella) (total 4 cups)
pinch nutmeg (optional)

Dippable suggestions: broccoli, carrots, bread, tortilla chips, apples, cooked sausage
  1. Break the garlic in the pot & rub it around on the bottom and sides of a cool pot. Leave the garlic in the pot or throw it out. You choose.
  2. Mix the wine & corn starch in the pot. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the cheese to the warm wine. Mix thoroughly to combine.
  4. Optionally, add the nutmeg.
  5. Serve the cheese.

Chocolate Fondue

Recipe8oz heavy cream
12 oz chopped chocolate
pinch of salt

Dippable suggestions: graham crackers, large marshmallows, cookies, strawberries, apples, macaroons
  1. Heat the cream over medium-low heat. When it is very warm, but not simmering, add the chocolate
  2. Mix thoroughly until a smooth mixture.
  3. Add salt and mix to combine
  4. Serve the chocolate.






Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mocha Popcorn

I'm continuing the theme of popcorn posts. Food Network magazine released a mini recipe book of 50 different popcorn recipes. My last posting was Chocolate & Peanut Butter Corn. That recipe used a honey-based sauce and opened up an idea for a new recipe. Co-worker Mercedes challenged me to make a coffee-flavored popcorn. I could not think of a way to get that flavor on the popcorn without soaking it. Since chocolate is awesome, I used it in the sauce, so I present to you Mocha Corn.

Mocha Corn Heat 1 cup honey, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup instant coffee powder, and 1 cup cocoa powder over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Pour over 16 cups hot popcorn and toss. Spread on baking sheets and let cool. 

TIP:
Since the first time I used this sauce, I learned that the popcorn will soften because of the honey pulls the moisture from the air. This makes the popcorn soften. To dry out the popcorn, simply lay it out on a cookie sheet in an oven set at 200° for about 5 - 10 minutes. You are trying to dry out the popcorn. Watch the food so it doesn't burn. Take it out and let it cool.



Saturday, February 1, 2014

Amish Friendship Bread

About 10 days ago, a coworker asked if I wanted some Amish Friendship Bread starter, which I happily accepted. If you have not had the opportunity to receive a starter, then you have, unfortunately, been missing out. The starter is used to raise a simple & light quick bread.

I took my one bag of the starter and hugged it and petted it and squeezed it and named him George. Oh wait, that is something else. My 10 days are over. I will give the starter one more feeding and then divide it up so I can take the bags to my friends at Parenting With Purpose (my Sunday school class). I also baked my bread.

Below is a recipe I pulled from the Internet. I will give this recipe with the starter when I give it to my 3 friends. (I think I have more than 3 friends, but it is not confirmed.)


Amish Friendship Bread is not just a delicious and sweet bread, it's also a way to bond friends by sharing countless loaves of bread baked in different kitchens - and it all began from the same bowl of simple ingredients. Choose a few friends and start this wonderful tradition; they'll thank you for it!

Important Notes:
Do not refrigerate.
Avoid metal during the 10 day feeding period. No metal bowls or spoons until bake day.
If air gets in the bag, let it out. It's normal for the batter to rise and bubble as it ferments.

Amish Friendship Bread Schedule

Day 1 - Receive your starter. Nothing to do.
Day 2 - Squish-squash-mush the bag
Day 3 - Squish-squash-mush the bag
Day 4 - Squish-squash-mush the bag
Day 5 - Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Squish-squash-mush the bag
Day 6 - Squish-squash-mush the bag
Day 7 - Squish-squash-mush the bag
Day 8 - Squish-squash-mush the bag
Day 9 - Squish-squash-mush the bag
Day 10 - Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Create bags for your friends by putting 1 cup of the starter into new bags. Write today's date on the bag. You should have 3 bags, but don't be surprised if you have more. Reserve 1 cup for you to bake. When you give the bags to your friends be sure to give them these instructions.

Amish Friendship Bread Recipe

Prepare your loaf pans by greasing them with butter and sprinkling sugar to coat the pans. Combine in a medium bowl:
2/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup starter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 large box of vanilla instant pudding
(optional) 1 cup raisins and 1 cup nuts.

Mix by hand until well blended. Pour batter into the prepared pans. An option is to sprinkle a mixture of brown sugar & cinnamon on the batter before baking it. Bake at 325° F for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans. Makes two loaves of Amish Friendship Bread.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

50 Flavored Popcorns -- Chocolate & Peanut Butter Corn

I have written about popcorn already. As our go-to favorite snack, butter popcorn beats all other snacks. Popcorn is also the most versatile snack I can think of. I make butter popcorn, caramel corn, kettle corn and a few savior flavors like chili corn and bacon corn.

I was so thrilled to see in the Jan / Feb 2014 Food Network magazine, the recipe book insert was "50 Flavored Popcorns". Tonight, I made a variation of #39: "Peanut Butter". My variation was inspired by one of my favorite candy bars - the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

39. Peanut Butter Heat 1 cup honey and 3/4 cup sugar over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup peanut butter and 1 teaspoon each vanilla extract and kosher salt until smooth; pour over 16 cups hot popcorn and 2 cups peanuts and toss. Spread on baking sheets and let cool. (source)

MADCookie Peanut Butter variation:
Replace peanuts with roughly chopped chocolate.
Note: my Chica thinks it should be called "Get-Behind-Me-Satan popcorn"
 




Saturday, November 16, 2013

Brownies

Have you ever agreed to bring a dessert to a potluck? Of course you have, but have you also had to get your daughter to ballet rehearsal for Nutcracker and your son to a speech competition before that potluck? When you don't have time to prepare a homemade dish, you need a trustworthy recipe to fall back on. You need a highly successful recipe.

Ghirardelli brownies can be your saving grace. Yes, it is a boxed brownie mix, but it is the most amazing dessert from a box ever! I would love to have a truly homemade brownie mix that can compete with this dessert, so if you think your brownies are the best, then leave your comments pointing me to your tried & true. Maybe we should have a brownie showdown.

This is a fantastic dessert and super easy to make. I am going to point out a few tips & tricks I have learned help to make the brownies so good.

The box does not require very much from you.
  • A packet
  • An egg
  • 1/3 C oil
  • 1/3 C water
Unfortunately, the box instructions are too simplistic. Admittedly, I am complicating the instructions. I trust the complication / details are going to help you and not harm you.

There are 2 big things I suggest. First, as illustrated here, start with your egg and beat it. As you are beating it, slowly drizzle in your oil. Beat fast enough to make sure the oil & egg are mixed. Now beat in the water. Again, beat fast enough to mix in the liquid. The goal is to have a homogeneous solution.
The next tip is about how you combine this egg mixture with your brownie dry mix. You will pour the egg mixture on top of the dry brownie mix and gently fold them together. Don't beat the tar out of this stuff. Hopefully, you burnt all your energy working the egg together with the oil & water. Remember, you are just mixing enough to bring the dry together with the wet.
You should still see some dry mix. That is okay. It takes me about 20 - 30 seconds to fold these together.
Pour the batter in the pan. If you are like us, you will lick the bowl clean.
I like to try different containers for my brownies. Here I'm re-using a pie tin. Actually, here is another tip, but I don't have any pictures to illustrate. I love using parchment paper to line my pans. It is not waxed paper, but, specifically, parchment. This paper will not melt in the high temperatures of the oven.
Here I cut the parchment paper into squares and shoved them into cupcake holes and filled them with the brownie mix. Doing this gives the brownies the ease of individually selling them and a little cool factor.