Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vanilla Caramels

2 cups heavy cream
½ cup condensed milk
2 cups light corn syrup
½ cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick) softened butter, cut into small cubes.

Prepare 9x9 pan by lining it with parchment. Alternatively, line the pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

Combine cream and condensed milk in small saucepan and place on burner set to the lowest heat setting. You want the milk and cream to be warm, but do not allow it to boil.

In medium large saucepan, combine the corn syrup, water, and granulated sugar over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Use a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals from forming, which will make the candy grainy.

Insert candy thermometer and reduce heat to medium. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and cook until the thermometer reads 250 degrees.

Add the softened butter chunks and the warm milk mixture. The temperature should go down about 30 degrees.

Continue to cook, stirring constantly, so the bottom does not scorch. Cook until the thermometer reads 244 and the caramel is a dark golden brown.

Remove from heat and immediately pour into the prepared pan. Do not scrape candy from the bottom of the saucepan. Allow the candy to sit overnight. It will set up and develop a smooth, silky texture.

Place a piece of waxed paper on counter and lift the caramel from the pan using the paper (or foil) as handles. Flip the top of the caramel onto the waxed paper and peel the paper (or foil) layer from the bottom of the caramel.

Spray a large knife with nonstick cooking spray. Cut into the caramel, creating 1-inch squares. Wipe the blade and re-spray as necessary.

Wrap the squares in waxed paper. The caramels will gradually spread and lose their square shape if not wrapped soon after cutting. Alternately, you can dip them in chocolate once they are cut.

Store the caramels at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chicken Marsala

8 chicken breasts
Flour for dredging
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Olive oil for frying
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup dry white wine, Chablis type
1/2 cup sweet Marsala

Debone the chicken breasts and remove the skin. Save the skin and bone for a later soup stock. Pound the breasts thin between two pieces of plastic.

Dredge the pieces in flour seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large frying pan, saute the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Saute only until the onions are clear, not browned. Remove from the pan and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Pour the white wine over the onion and garlic.

Rinse the pan and heat it again. Add a bit of olive oil for frying and saute the chicken pieces, a few at a time, quickly on both sides. They should just begin to brown. Remove them to a warm plate and finish the remaining chicken pieces. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and deglaze with the Marsala. Allow the wine to reduce a bit and then pour the sauce over the chicken pieces.

Serves 6-8

Recipe from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine
(c) 1986 by Frugal Gourmet Inc.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

2 c dried split peas
2 T olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 bay leaves
4 smoked ham hocks
2 qt chicken stock

Cover dried peas with water and let sit for one hour.

Saute carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and bay leaves in olive oil. Add peas, smoked ham hocks and chicken broth. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours.

Simmer an additional hour, uncovered, or until soup is desired consistency.

Homemade Croutons
Cut sourdough bread into slices, then cube. Put 2 T olive oil in frying pan and saute bread until browned and crispy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cinnamon Butter

Soft Butter (it's up to you how much)
Cinnamon (it's up to you how much)

Put soft butter in a bowl, add cinnamon, blend.

Phew, I'm all tuckered out!

This stuff is delicious on sweet potatoes!

P.S. You can do the same with honey... don't tell anybody.

Chipotle Tuna Salad

1-12 oz. can solid white albacore tuna
5 green onions
3/4 c mayonnaise
2 chipotle peppers
Salt and pepper

Drain tuna and place in a bowl. Add chopped green onions.

Blend mayonnaise and chipotle peppers in a food processor.

Add mayonnaise mixture to tuna and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pile onto lettuce leaves with tomatoes on the side, or make a tuna sandwich (or tuna melt) with your favorite bread.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Portuguese Chicken and Rice

1.5# chicken (thighs, boneless breasts, or whole chicken, cut up)
1 large onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1/2# bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1-1/2 c long grain white rice
1/2 c soft butter
5 T olive oil
1 T paprika
1 T granulated (or powdered) garlic
1 T Old Bay Seasoning
2 tsp dried parsley

Put chicken pieces, onion, bay leaf, and bacon in a pot and cover with water (or chicken broth). Cook on medium heat until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Remove chicken, bay leaf, onion and bacon to a bowl and set aside.

Pour 1-1/2 cups rice into the chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

In the meantime, in a small bowl, combine soft butter, olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, parsley and Old Bay Seasoning.

When the rice has cooked, spread it out in a 9x13 pan, using a slotted spoon. Don't drain the rice... you'll want to get some of the broth into the pan so the rice won't dry out.

Place each piece of chicken in the butter mixture and coat completely. Lay the chicken pieces on the rice. Add the bacon and onions, placing them around the chicken pieces.

Pour the rest of the butter mixture over the chicken and rice. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until chicken is browned and bacon is crisp.

Pumpkin Nut Muffins

2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powdr
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
2 eggs
1/3 c milk
1/3 c butter, melted
1T light Karo syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c sugar
1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c raisins

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger onto wax paper.

Beat eggs, milk, butter, Karo, vanilla, sugar, and pumpkin in a bowl.

Stir in dry mixture all at once and mix just until moistened.

Fold in nuts and raisins. Fill muffin cups to the top.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 15 large muffins.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dad's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dad's Chocolate Chip Cookies
4 cubes butter, softened
3 eggs
2 T vanilla
1-1/2 c sugar
2 c brown sugar
6 c flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
2 c walnuts, chopped
24 oz chocolate chips

Beat butter until smooth; add eggs and vanilla and blend well. Cream the sugars into the butter mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and soda. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture; blend well. Dough will be dry. Add chocolate chips and walnuts.

Form cookies into small balls, or use cookie scoop, and place on a lightly greased sheet about 2" apart. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes about 100 cookies.