One of my favorite recipe blogs, Two Peas and Their Pod, put out a recipe for this Salted Caramel Easter Popcorn and I had to try it. What makes it Easter-y? The color of the M&Ms. So really, you could make this whenever you want. And I want to make some more right now.
Salted Caramel Popcorn
6 cups plain popped popcorn (1 bag microwave popcorn, if that's the way you're going)
2 cups salted pretzels, coarsely broken
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini marshmallows
Sea salt for sprinkling
Pretzel and regular M&Ms
In a large bowl, combine popcorn and pretzels. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and water to boil over medium heat. Boil, without stirring, for 8-12 minutes, until mixture is amber in color. Watch carefully! It will go from white to extremely burnt very quickly. So keep a close eye on it, especially after minute 8. Remove from heat and slow add the heavy cream, being careful as it bubbles up. Stir in mini marshmallows until melted and smooth.
Pour caramel over popcorn and pretzels, using a rubber spatula to stir until mixture is evenly coated. Spread over a baking pan covered in wax paper to cool. Sprinkle with sea salt. Once cooled, break apart and mix in M&Ms. Enjoy!
This was a big hit and was gone very quickly. Next time I'm just going to make a double batch so it lasts a little longer. The crunchy, sweet and salt is very satisfying. And it's great for game nights! Might I suggest eating this while playing Cranium's Party Playoff.
Sometimes you need just a little extra push to make it to the weekend, you know? And sometimes you just want to have a yummy Friday morning breakfast with a good friend. Either way, this coffee cake seemed like a pretty good way to go. And I made mine lactosse-free. So yay!
Cinnamon Coffee Cake with Icing
For the cake:
3 cups + 1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup almond milk*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup butter, melted (in separate dishes)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon
For the icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
5 Tablespoons almond milk*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your cake pans with butter and flour. I made mine in one 9-inch round springform pan, but it took about 50 minutes to bake. If you split it into 2 9 or 8-inch rounds, the baking time would decrease to 20-30 minutes.
Sift together 3 cups flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Using a mixer, blend in milk, eggs, vanilla, and 1/4 cup melted butter. Pour batter into your cake pan(s).
In a separate bowl, blend 3/4 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 Tablespoons flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle the brown sugar mixture over the top of the batter and use a knife to swirl it into the batter, without mixing it in completely. I particularly like to let some of the brown sugar mixture pool at the edges. It creates an nice caramely crust.
Bake for 20-50 minutes, depending on which pans you used.
Meanwhile, prepare the icing: Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Feel free to add more milk, one tablespoon at a time, if you want an even thinner icing consistency.
Once the cake is fully cooked and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and drizzle with icing. Serve immediately. The hotter the better with this baby.
*Regular milk works just fine if that's what you've got. :-)
This is, like, really, really yummy. I know I say that about pretty much everything. But I wouldn't post it if I didn't like it. This one is especially good if you're hosting or attending a brunch. It's just that kind of special. And it is crazy moist and delish.
And so I'll probably make this for the next brunch I'm invited to. So if you want some but don't want to go to the effort yourself, feel free to invite me over for brunch. :-)
I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite dessert recipes for entertaining: Chocolate Mousse.
I love it for four main reasons:
It is really good.
It is really easy.
It seems really fancy, so people think you are extra cool when you make it.
It is made mostly of air, so it can't possibly be that bad for you. Right?
Yeah, it uses six ingredients and takes just about five minutes to make. Well, let's give it ten, just to be sure, but still. Also, if you have a kitchen aid you could almost make this in your sleep. I just got mine and boy, oh boy, am I a satisfied consumer. Or maybe I'm a gruntled consumer. As in not disgruntled. I don't know. I'm writing this late at night. But on to the good stuff:
6 oz. milk chocolate (1 cup milk chocolate chips)
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips)
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Pirouettes by Pepperidge Farms in your favorite flavor for garnishing, if desired
In a microwaves safe bowl, melt the chocolate. Begin with 30 seconds and then microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring between each one, until chocolate is smooth. Set aside.
Separate your eggs into whites* and yolks. Using a mixer, beat on high until white, stiff and foamy. When you take your beaters out, stiff peaks should form and hold their position.
Thoroughly clean your beaters (and bowl, if necessary) and towel dry. On high, beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat again until fully incorporated. Again, your whipping cream is stiff enough if when you lift out the beaters, peaks form and hold their positions.
Using a spatula, gently fold together the chocolate and egg whites, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to fully incorporate all the chocolate. Finally, gently fold the egg and chocolate mixture into the whipping cream.**
Spoon or pipe into serving bowls and refrigerate until serving.*** Serve with Pirouettes if you like. I know I do.
*It is very important that you do not get any yolk in your whites, as it will keep your whites from stiffening up properly.
**Folding, unlike mixing, is a delicate process that involves more of a scooping gesture than a stir. The idea is to keep as much air in the mixture as possible. So be patient, and try to lift the mixture, instead of smash it.
***I used my little 8 oz. mason jars that I bought for the Strawberry Pretzel Salad. I think they look sweet. And the lids make them easy to store in the fridge.But any little serving dishes will work fine. I also spooned mine into a Ziplock bag with an icing tip to get it all swirly in the jars. But let's face it. Unless you're taking pictures, nobody probably cares about how swirly it looks. Especially once they start eating it. Because they will be eating far too quickly to care about presentation. So just save yourself the trouble and use a regular ol' spoon.
This recipe originally came to me from my mother, who used to make
this on special occasions. It was a big deal because of all the implied
fanciness. You know how exciting that is to kids.
made it using all semi-sweet chocolate chips, which you are also welcome
to do. I prefer to use half milk chocolate because that's the kind of
girl I am. But also because I think it is more appealing to all crowds,
even if they aren't crazy into chocolate. But if you are, feel free to
experiment with your ratios of chocolate.
So, even if you think you are not fancy enough to pull something like
this off, give it a try. I promise you that you will come out with
something you like. It tastes good no matter what.
Check out my "Linked and Featured" tab to see where I linked this up!
I like crust. A lot. Anything that's deep dish sound pretty awesome to me. So when I heard the idea of baking cookies in a whoopie pie pan to get a deep dish effect, I thought I would give it a try. I liked how it turned out. I think you will, too.
Also, mint is pretty fantastic. And mint with chocolate - a match made in heaven. So I made a deep dish mint chocolate cookie concoction for book club last month. Next month: Salted Caramel Popcorn. Stay tuned!
Deep Dish Mint Chocolate Cookies
1 package Chocolate Crinkle Cookie Mix
Eggs, water and oil as directed on package
Thin Mint cookies, optional
Milk or semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly oil your whoopie pie pan. Mix cookie mix according to directions on package and spoon two heaping tablespoons of dough into each section of the pan. Press the dough flat.
Crush the Thin Mint or other mint chocolate cookies into small pieces and press into the top of the cookie dough. Also press mint and chocolate chips into the dough.
Bake for 8-12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the cookies comes out clean.
The mint cookie crushed on top is optional, but adds an extra crunch. At first, I made the cookies with just Thin Mints. But they really weren't minty enough. So I added the mint and chocolate chips to the second batch and they were much more satisfying.
I'm thinking that no matter what, deep dish is the way to go when making cookies from now on...
Check out my "Show and Tell" tab to see where I linked this bad boy up!
My almost-sister-in-law, Jami, was confirmed in the Catholic church over Easter. I asked her if she wanted anything special at Easter dinner with my in-laws for a celebration. She said she liked Snickers and wanted some Snickers inspired cupcakes... These are my version.
They have a hidden inside layer that makes them very Snickers-y: A caramel filling. It is G.O.O.D.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together cake mix, water, oil and eggs as directed on the package. Pour batter into prepared cupcake tins, until each cup is 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Place the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl with a lid. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour over chocolate chips and cover. Let stand for 3-4 minutes and then stir to fully blend the chocolate and cream. Place chocolate in the fridge to cool.
Meanwhile, make the caramel: Combine brown sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Cook constantly at boiling point for 2 minutes, until thickened. Allow to cool for a few minutes. While it is still warm, but not too hot to handle, spoon the caramel into a piping bag and use a filling tip (like Wilton 230) to pipe the caramel into the cupcakes. Squeeze as much as possible in there. It's thick, so even when you think you're getting a lot in there, it probably isn't too much.
Once your cupcakes have been filled with caramel, remove your ganache from the fridge and whip on high using an electric mixer for 7-10 minutes, until the ganache is the consistency of thick whipped cream and peaks form and hold their position when you remove the beaters. Frost your cupcakes with the ganache and then sprinkle peanuts on top. Serve promptly and be sure to keep left overs refrigerated.
These are really yummy and should be eaten as soon as possible. I chose to go with a ganache for the frosting instead of my favorite, the buttercream, because a ganache is lighter and a little less intense - which makes it a perfect compliment to the rich caramel filling. However, ganache doesn't hold up as well as time goes on. It really should be consumed within a day or two for optimal results.
Around here we like breakfast. And apples. So last week I decided to try my hand at recreating a yummy breakfast dish my mom used to make. It is very similar to a Dutch Baby Pancake, but with apples and a little cinnamon sugar. It's a tasty and low-sugar way to add a little flair to the morning meal.
Apple Puff Pancake
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups almond milk*
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large or 3 small apples, thinly sliced**
Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Melt the butter in a 9x13 baking dish in the preheated oven.
Meanwhile, whirl the eggs with a beater on high for one minute, until frothy.
Add the flour, milk and vanilla and beat on high until fully incorporated.
Once the butter has melted in the pan, remove it from the oven. Pour the batter into the pan and rearrange the apple slices in rows until they cover the top of the batter. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar and return to oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a fork inserted into the center of the pancake comes out clean.
Serve immediately with maple syrup.
*I like making this with almond milk because it is lactose free, but you could also use regular milk. If you do, the pancake will puff up quite a bit, which makes it really fun to eat. This may also require that you split your butter and batter between two 8x8 pans instead of one 9x13.
**I prefer to use Gala, Fuji or Pink Lady apples, but whatever is your favorite will be good with this.
Also, the corners of this pancake, whether you use almond or regular milk, are the best parts. Since your family or friends won't know that the first time you make this, make sure you steal a corner for yourself!
You know those days when you're out of food but you really don't want to go to the grocery store? Well, I had that sort of day last week. Fortunately for me, my dear friend Amy had shown me this amazing recipe that basically uses leftovers and pantry supplies. And now that I know that, I'm going to make sure the supplies are on my regular grocery list so I can make this whenever. Because it is good.
Yumm bowls are basically anything you want to put in a bowl - think beans, rice, veggies, and any kind of meat you have. Or make it vegetarian since it is full of protein if you have it with Cuban Black Beans. The only necessary ingredient to Yumm bowls is Yumm Sauce from Cafe Yumm. (If you don't live in or around Portland, you can go to their website to order the sauce from their distributor. It's good - and versatile! You can use it for Yumm Bowls, obviously, but also as a spread for sandwiches.)
The first thing I put in my Yumm Bowls was Cuban black beans. They are ridiculously easy to make if you've got some canned black beans in your cupboard. Here's how I adapted this recipe:
Cuban Black Beans
2 (10 ounce) cans black beans
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)
In a medium pot over medium heat, saute the onions in the oil. Add the garlic and saute for about a minute, being careful not to burn. Pour the liquid from on of the cans of beans over the garlic and onion and cook until everything is tender. Add the beans and liquid that remain. Add the cumin, oregano and salt and simmer for 30 minutes. If you'd like to add the vinegar, stir it in just before serving.
So the things that were in my cupboards/fridge that ended up in the meal:
(Serves as many as you like, depending on what you add)
Cuban black beans (see above)
2 cups cooked brown rice
Green onion, chopped
Roma tomato, chopped
Chicken, grilled and diced
Tortilla chips for dipping
You could also add:
Red or green peppers
Anything you can think of
Prepare your bowls by starting with a bed of rice. Add a layer of Cuban black beans. From here, let people make their own - adding whatever veggies they'd like. Top it off with some Yumm Sauce and serve it with tortilla chips and you're good to go. (You can either dip the chips or crush a few on top of the sauce for a little added crunch without all the calories.)
There are several pluses to the Yumm Bowls:
Once you have the sauce, you can make just about anything into a Yumm Bowl.
Yumm Bowls are a great way to use leftovers - any meat or veggies hanging out in your fridge and careening towards their expiration date.
It's easy to keep the dry or canned ingredients (rice and black beans) in your pantry for rainy days.
Kids like this - especially if they like dipping. And the sauce can disguise those veggies.
This meal is insanely cheap. Especially if you're awesome like my friend Amy and make the Cuban black beans from dry beans instead of canned.
It is easy to make this a crowd pleaser. Provide lots of veggie options and everyone can pick whatever they want to put in their bowl.
Did you know it's hard to take an attractive picture of pizza? Well it is. But even though this picture doesn't do it justice, this pizza is really, really, really good.
Ever since my revolutionary discovering of pre-made pizza crust, I've been craving this a lot. Plus, it's a big crowd-pleaser, so I like making it when friends come to visit.
Mama Style Pizza
2 Pillsbury pre-made pizza dough* (or see my recipe for homemade dough here)
Mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced.
2 14 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven as directed on your pizza dough package.
Roll your pizza dough out onto an oiled pizza stone, pan, or a Pyrex dish.
Cover the bottom with a good coat of mozzarella.
Add a layer of diced tomatoes. Arrange your pepperoni in a circular fashion around the pizza until it is covered. Disperse parmesan cheese and olives evenly over the pepperoni.
Sprinkle with basil and oregano. Drizzle olive oil over the top and bake for 17-25 minutes, as directed on the pizza dough package.
The light sweetness of the Pillsbury dough makes this pizza an excellent party choice if you're a fan of beer. And even more excellent if you're, say, having a beer tasting party.
*You can use any kind of dough you like, really. If you have a favorite that you try with this, I'd love to know how it turns out! I'm always on the look out for new recipes or things to try. :-)
Have you met Papa Murphy's Chicken Bacon Rach pizza? If not, you should. It sort of inspired this recipe... although I wouldn't really say they taste extremely similar. Mostly, this is just a yummy white pizza recipe. So if you like that sort of thing... give it a shot.
Some of my favorite food-related memories are from my mom's home-made deep dish pizza. I've been dying to make my own for a while but I currently don't have a Kitchenaid or a bread maker... making the pizza dough making party difficult (not impossible, but daunting, nonetheless). Little did I know they have ready-made pizza dough in the refrigerated aisle of the grocery. *Happy dance!* So now I can finally make my own pizza, and believe me, it's going to be happening quite a bit. If you try this (or come over and I make it for you), you'll see why.
I really wanted to make the pizza like my mom does, which I'll share tomorrow. But Steve loves white sauce, so I found this recipe online and then made him his pizza based somewhat on our favorite from Papa Murphy's.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 cup Italian cheeses, shredded (Parmesan,
1 1/2 - 2 rolls of Pillsbury pre-made pizza dough
White sauce (see above)
Chicken, grilled and diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced small
1 tomato, diced small
1 cup Italian cheeses, shredded (any combination of mozzarella, provolone, romano,
parmesan, fontina and/or asiago should work just fine)
Preheat your oven according to the directions on the pizza dough package.
Cook your chicken and bacon. Chop all your vegetables and have them ready to go.
Oil a pizza pan - the pizza stones from Pampered Chef are amazing. But if you have nothing else, a 9x13 Pyrex pan works very well, too, especially for creating a deep-dish style of pizza.
Make the white sauce:
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir together. Add the milk gradually, whisking to incorporate. Stir in remaining ingredients. The sauce will thicken as it stands.
Spread sauce onto your pizza dough and then add the chicken, bacon, tomatoes, and red onion. Sprinkle with your cheese. Finally, drizzle ranch dressing over the top of everything. Use as much or as little as you'd like.
Bake according to the directions on your pizza dough package, 17-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and pizza crust is golden brown.
Serve with root beer, of course.
Also, feel free to make extras of this. According to Steve, it is even more amazing the next day.
There are few things in nature that I like better than pink trees. Maybe it is how much they contrast with the normally grey sky of Portland. Maybe it's that they mark the beginning of spring and promise summer is on it's way. Maybe it's because they've always been a marked sign of my happy life. I fell in love with cherry blossoms the same time I fell in love with life. And they always symbol newness and bliss. The kind of bliss that makes you almost shudder to think of how blessed you are.
It's on the same playing field as that deafening silence when freshly fallen snow absorbs and reflects all the light and noise and beauty around it. That snow that makes the sky all pink and pure. That clean white frost that covers up all the ugly that winter has left lying around. But I digress.
Back to cherry blossoms.
Do you love cherry blossoms as much as I do? Probably not. I love them kind of a lot.
Even though I know Olivia hates hats, I really wanted to make her a birthday hat to wear for her party, just in case she decided she would like it. She didn't. But it was really cute anyway, so I had to share.
An old headband you don't want anymore
Ribbon to wrap headband
Tulle, cut into 5 in-wide strips
Thick paper to make the cone, or a cone either wrapped in paper or glittered or whatever
Secure the ribbon to one end of the headband with hot glue. Wrap the ribbon all the way around to the other end, securing with glue every couple of inches. Set aside to let the glue solidify.
Roll the paper of your choice (the thicker the better) into a cone and hot glue to secure the ends. Cut off the excess paper so you're left with just a cone. Of course you could use a pre-made cone from either cardboard or Styrofoam that is decorated however you like.
Gather a 5 x 6 inch rectangle of tulle and pinch it together in the middle. Add a bit of hot glue to the fold and stick it inside the top of the cone.
Working in 6-7 inch pieces of tulle, bunch it together to create a fluffy look and glue in the center of the tulle and press onto the bottom rim of the cone, so that half sticks out and half is inside the cone.
Once you're happy with the tulle around the base of the cone, secure the cone to the headband with glue. Let stand to solidify.
And here you can see my creation in action for about 5 seconds before she hated it and took it off. O well. I still like it.
I like trying new appetizers at parties to keep things interesting and, hopefully, expand my repertoire of recipes. (Do you like the alliteration in that last bit? I do.) Anyway, I saw these on Pinterest and decided to give them a try. Of course I ended up adapting the recipe to fit what tasted good and was available at my local grocery store. I'm really just not dedicated enough to go to specialty stores. Call me lazy. But I prefer "resourceful." Here goes...
Coconut Mango Appetizers
Serves 24 guests, with 2 appetizers each
48 wonton wrappers (ask your store clerk to help you find these, but they're probably available anywhere)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp dried ground ginger
4 chicken breasts, grilled and diced small
1 cup coconut milk (you can find this canned in the Asian foods section)
1 cup peach mango salsa, mild or medium (or any kind of mango salsa)
1/4 cup lime juice
Salt to taste
To make the Coconut Mango Filling:
Heat your oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the chicken*, coconut milk, salsa, lime juice and salt. Stirring constantly, cook until the mixture is bubbly and thickened. Let cool before spooning into wonton cups.
To make the Wonton Cups:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly oil or use Pam pray to coat a mini cupcake or muffin tin. Press one wonton wrapper into each of the muffin spots, creasing the folds against the side of the pan so that your coconut mango creation has somewhere to go. Bake in oven for about 8 minutes, until golden brown. (Depending on how hot your oven runs, it might only take 5 minutes, so check then to make sure you don't burn your wontons.)
*To prepare ahead of time: make everything according to directions a day to two days before your party, leaving the wonton cups to be made the day-of. Leave the chicken out of the filling until you have made your wonton cups and are ready to serve. Allow everything to stand at room temperature for about an hour, to let it lose it's refrigerated chill.
**This recipe easily becomes vegetarian without the chicken, which really doesn't seem incredibly necessary, except that it makes the appetizers more hearty and substantial.
***This would be reallly, really good with some shredded ginger on top. I was going to add it myself, but someone threw away my prized ginger. I was sad. But they turned out great, anyway.
Olivia loves craisins. A lot. So I wanted that to be incorporated into the food I made her for her party. I saw these on Betty Crocker and they looked good, so I made them.
Cranberry-Chicken Salad Fillo Cups
Serves 24 guests
3 packages frozen mini fillo shells (45 shells total)
1 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups chicken, grilled and diced
1 cup plain Greek yougurt
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 bushel (6-8) green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Mix 1/2 cup of the dried cranberries with the rest of the ingredients.
An hour or two before serving, remove fillo shells from freezer and spoon cranberry-chicken salad into the shells.
Garnish with remaining dried cranberries, and rosemary, if desired.
*You can make the salad a day or two ahead of time and keep it refrigerated. According to my husband, Steve, the longer you let it sit, the better it tastes (he really liked it on day three).
**You can add toasted chopped walnuts if you desire.
Thinking about what really matters today as I'm buried in piles of laundry that need to be folded and put away... but I have a little teething baby who wants to be snuggled. I'm choosing the snuggling. We can grope around the laundry piles in search of clean clothes one more day...