Sunday, December 30, 2012

Homemade Marshmallow Cream and Oatmeal Scotchies!

Christmas is over and we are planning on breaking out the raclette for New Year's Eve before starting the traditional diets on Jan 1st. Before all that gets posted however I thought I would post the favorite two recipes that went on the plates this year.
Best Ever Fudge
(the secrets of creamy fudge? Homemade Cream and brushing down the pan)
Homemade Marshmallow Cream
3 large eggs whites
1/4 cream of tartar
2 Tb white sugar
1/3 c. water
3/4 c. light corn syrup
2/3 c. sugar (to be used separately)
1/2 Tb vanilla extract

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until light and foamy. Sprinkle in 2 Tb sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Let sit. In a saucepan melt sugar and corn syrup in 1/3 c. water/ Bring to a boil and stirring continually bring to 246 degrees or firm ball stage. Take off heat and slooooowlllly drizzle in egg whites while beating. Beat 5-6 minutes (honestly, I use to stop early but it's better if you do the full time) till stiff, shiny, and beautiful!

My Favorite Fudge Recipe
1 1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. evaporated milk
2 Tb butter (real butter)
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz marshmallow cream (you just made enough for 2 batches)
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (the better the chocolate the better the fudge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)
Line a 8 inch dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a medium saucepan boil sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt. Now for your secret to perfect fudge. Take a pastry brush and a cup of water. Dip the brush and when the mixture is boiling dip into the cup of water and really wet down the sides of your saucepan. A sweet elderly lady showed me this trick once for making divinity. It gets all the sugar granules that have crept up on the pan and keeps your fudge smooth instead of grainy! Keep stirring and boiling for 5 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234-240 degrees. The stirring also helps to keep the fudge from getting grainy or burnt! Remove from heat and quickly stir in marshmallow cream, chocolate chips, nuts and vanilla. Now use those muscles! The better you can beat the fudge the better the texture! Pour into 8 inch dish  and let cool. Enjoy!
Oatmeal Scotchies

I don't make these often. Something about these cookies makess me to lose all will power and self control. The butterscotch mixed with the oatmeal and cinnamon is the ultimate combination. My husband gets teased about liking butterscotch (I don't know, the guys in our family are wierd) but one taste and no one teases anymore.

Oatmeal Scotchies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Combine, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and butterscotch chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Yep, it's pretty simple and easy.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 1 - 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Banana Muffins

We have been making and eating fudge and I still have all those delicious ingredients for the plates to take to the neighbors but sick kids and Christmas shopping has gotten us a little behind. Last night we did take our browning bananas and make the best ever
Banana Muffins!
I got this recipe years ago from It is my favorite and I have tried a few! It was submitted by Lisa Kreft. You can find the link here!
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins or line with muffin cups. In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. (For this one I add these one at a time to the bowl after creaming all the other ingredients together. I start with the teaspoons and go to the flour with the mixure on high) In separate bowl beat bananas, sugar, egg, and butter. (The bananas are my kids favorite part. We keep them in the peels and my kids mush them lightly instead of mashing them. Then we peel and put them in the bowl.) Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture and spoon into the muffin tins. Don't put in oven yet!!

Crumb Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cold butter
Mix together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with two forks until it resemebles cornmeal (small crumbs).

Spoon crumb topping over muffins, place in oven, and bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean!

We woke up this morning to discover that our elf was enjoying the muffins as well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fancy Dinner Part 2 - Steak, Hollandaise, Asparagus

All the girls in our family agreed that our fancy mousse made in the morning needed a fancy dinner to surprise Daddy. We had previously decided to make rolls, steak strips, asparagus, and hollandaise sauce. Mmmmm
Taste of Home Easy Potato Roll Recipe

There it was, in my fridge, staring at me. The scooped out leftovers of the Potato Skins made here. What to do, what to do. Potato Rolls!

2 pks active dry yeast (1/4 oz each)
1 1/3 cup water (used separately)
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 1/2 tsp salt
6 cups flour

 Add yeast to 2/3 cup of water. Make sure water is 110-115 degrees. My mom can do this by feeling it on her wrist. I turn on the hot and put a meat therm. under it.
 Yeast should start to fizz and bubble. It is okay to stir it gently to get it all in the water. I use to be scared to do that.
This is my oldest girl mashing our scooped out insides a bit. Not pictured is the sugar. It is measured at 2/3 cup and in my kitchen aid. Next add your 2/3 cup shortening and cream. Add eggs, potatoes, salt, yeast mixture and 2 cups flour. Whisk till smooth. Add remaining 2/3 cup water and replace whisk with dough hook. Gradually beat while adding remaining flour. Don't worry about kneading this dough (I have learned the hard way that not all dough has to be kneaded) but keep it up until you have a soft dough that forms into a ball. Add up to 1/2 cup more flour or Tablespoons of water if needed. Put your ball of dough into a bowl and cover for one hour. Punch down and cut into 15 pieces. My girls helped roll pieces and put them in a dish. Cover and let rise again, about 30 minutes.
Once risen they should look something like this. Give them a quick brush with olive oil or melted butter. Bake in a 375 preheated oven for 20 minutes. I turn mine around halfway through since my oven browns the back half faster.
 While the rolls are cooking we looked up our recipe for mock hollandaise sauce. I'm pretty sure I found this on a long time ago but sadly did not credit the cook. It is not nearly as good or thick as the original but nice in a pinch and much easier. (I made homemade with my brother over Thanksgiving. It's kinda sad that he's a better cook than me!)
Blender Hollandaise Sauce
Ingredients -
Remember the egg yolks you didn't use in your mousse from earlier today? You're gonna need them. Yep, all 6
1 squirt Dijon Mustard
1 Tb lemon juice
2 dash hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
3/4 cup melted butter
Blend egg yolks with mustard, Dijon, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Pour melted butter into blender in a steady stream. Put blender in a bowl of hot tap water to keep warm.
For some crazy reason my kids love asparagus. I think it is best slightly crunchy and not mushy. To do this wash your asparagus and break off the lower tougher end. It should snap off easily. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add asparagus and reduce to a simmer. A simmer is when the bubbles are just wanting to break into a boil but can't seem to muster enough energy. Parboil 2 minutes and immediately get those babies out of there.

 As soon as asparagus is done put it into a water bath. It slows the cooking down and keeps them firm.
Since the oven was still occupied by my potato rolls I decided to pan fry the 1/4 inch thick sirloin steak. Add a little olive oil to the bottom of the pan and turn to medium high heat. Season with whatever you have on hand. I used Adam's Reserve Sear N Crust. Cook 7 minutes on one side, flip, season 7 minutes on the next side. Grilling is really the way to go for steak but if you are pan frying keep checking it. If you push on the top and it feels like the fleshy part of your hand below your thumb it is medium rare - which I think is perfect.
Make sure to get those rolls out of the oven!
 At the last minute I fried a few leftover sausages we had. I have to admit to eating a few bites off my plate before remembering to take a pic. There was more green on that plate I promise! The girls loved the rolls and I forgot how much they fill you up! Daddy was surprised and everything was perfect. I do admit that we just couldn't finish the mousse after a meal like this. Everyone ate about half a cup and we put them back in the fridge to be finished tomorrow.

Fancy Dinner Part 1 - Chocolate Mousse

Alright, I am officially hogging the blog but remember yesterday when I bought all those scrumdidilyumptious ingredients? I also have a few leftovers I need to use. Today I started to put them into action. Since I don't want to kill ya all at once I thought I'd post tonight's dinner and then go over the Christmas plates tomorrow (unless someone else wants to post - I really don't want to be an all out blog hog!)
Part 1 - Make Dessert First (Dinner Coming Tonight with Part 2)
Every night we read to my kids. Right now Dad is reading the latest Percy Jackson but last night he had a meeting so I picked up my daughter's Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede. If you haven't read any of her four Dragons books I highly recommend them (just don't read her 5th short stories - it's a little more adult). In the book we got to the part where the princess Cimorene must make dessert for dragons and doesn't have the time to make her signature Cherries Jubliee (going to have to try that someday). She decides to make mousse instead. As I was reading this out loud, talking about the folded cream and chocolate it was told to me that all this time my kids thought she was making chocolate mice. Today, since I had chocolate and cream on hand, we decided to show them what chocolate mousse really is. We decided to go with Bobby Flay's version

Ingredients -
(to make 7 crystal goblets)
10 1/2 oz of bittersweet chocolate (we used Nestle semi choco chips) (1 cup is 8 oz)
28 oz cold heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 oz sugar ( 2 Tbsp is 1 oz)
Note ~ I have found that recipes often use measurements I don't have. To know what is what I found a conversion chart I liked and printed it off. It is now taped to the inside of my kitchen cabinet. I also have a small, inexpensive food scale. I love it.

 Melt your chocolate in a double broiler over simmering water. If you don't have a double broiler simply put an oversized metal bowl over a pan of simmering water. Older kids can help stir the melted chocolate. Once melted remove and let stand.
 Beat cream into a frenzy! Okay, it's actually soft peaks. Pick up the whisk and if the peak top falls over it is soft. I like using a kitchen aid for this. It is a lot faster. The recipe calls for the bowl being over ice. I just put my kitchen aid bowl in the freezer this morning and then once done transferred the whipped cream to another bowl.
 Separate your egg whites from your yolks. I like to pretend I am Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina when I do this. Crack, new egg! If you have never done this before there are awesome directions here:
Save the yolks for the hollandaise sauce we will make this evening!
Beat those eggs whites into another frenzy - once again so much easier with a kitchen aid but patience and a hand blender works. When the soft peaks form add the 2 Tbs or 1 oz of sugar. Keep whipping till you get hard peaks. My kids got a lesson on what peaks are.
 Pour your beautiful chocolate into a bowl (lovin' my spatula right about now) and add all your whipped cream at once. Fold (don't stir!). When just combined (you still see streaks) add your whipped egg whites. Fold a little more vigourously. Let the kids help and pass the spoon around to lick. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Your end result should not look like this. What can I say, it happens to the best of us. Actually, the mousse tastes fantastic - like chocolatey air. Our mousse however separated and didn't combine quite as much as I would have liked. I looked it up and we didn't let our chocolate cool competely. We figured we would just add a small slab of white chocolate and let everyone think it is suppose to be lighter in color!
Now, remember that I like working with leftovers? I have all those insides of my potato skins sitting in my fridge with 6 egg yolks. Tonight for dinner we will be having easy sirloin strips, potato rolls, and asparagus with easy blender hollandaise sauce. Stay tuned!! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Texas Football

This morning I went to the store and bought a whole lotta butter, chocolate, sugar, cream, and various ingredients for yummy recipes to eventually take to the neighbors for Christmas. (Those delicious delicacies coming soon!) In Texas however, even while the lights are twinkling and the temperatures are dropping, we cannot ignore our football.

In our house we are usually college level fans but since this was rumored to be a heck of a game, and my hubby needs something to talk about the next day at the watercooler we decided to tune in.
Oh sad, sad day.....yes, the score was not nice but at least we were able to enjoy some football food while we wept.....

We have many recipes for game day but since this was a last minute decision and the game came on about the time the kids were getting ready for bed I stuck with an old favorite.
We call them Potato Skins
Yes, they are basic and most of you probably already know how to make them but honestly, when is the last time you actually did?
5 pd bag potatoes - I had large reds in my pantry but russet is a popular choice or baby reds
~1 pd cheddar cheese (varies) - my favorite is sharp cheddar
3 oz bag bacon bits (I like the real ones)
butter or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
garlice powder
sour cream
salt and pepper
baby red tomatoes
Scrub your potatoes, stick them with a knife or fork about 4 times and pop them in the microwave. My microwave has a potato sensor button but you can start with 10 minutes, test them out (knife should slide through like butter) and keep adding minutes from there.
Hold potatoes with a paper towel because those babies are hot! Slice lengthwise and scoop out leaving about 1/4 inch all around. Combine oil, salt, and pepper and brush inside and out. If you prefer buttery goodness skip the oil  brush with melted butter and garlic powder. Place on highest rack and bake 10 minutes.
Carefully remove from oven and fill the insides with shredded cheese and bacon bits. Sneak a few of the bacon bits. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Check and see if cheese is melted to your satisfaction.
Can you smell them??? Ohhhh, they smell delicious. Now is the fun part. Once the cheesy goodness is out of the oven you get to eat as is or experiment. We have made varying plates in the past that added guacamole, shredded rotisserie chicken, pulled pork, BBQ sauce, sour cream, salsa, tomatoes, avacado....the ideas are endless. My favorite is to add a chunk of avacado, a dab of sour cream, and a slice of a baby red tomato. I think those particular toppings add a freshness to the dish. (pic at top)

My hubby likes them just like this. Loaded down and ready for the game!
~Just an note! For gameday we like to lightly salt our avacados and tomatoes. I know, I know, not healthy at all but that's not the point. Just eat all salads the next day to balance. Also, did you really think I ate all 5 pds of those potatoes!! As I mentioned in my previous post, I love things that freeze well and these surprisingly do! I am trying out freezing them with the cheese this time (I'll let you know) but usually I freeze them before adding the topping. Then all I have to do is reheat for about 10 minutes in the oven the next time with the toppings added and they taste great!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation

Hello All!
My name is Tonia and the above quote by Oscar Wilde pretty much sums up my opinion on anything food related. I grew up in a home that centered all holidays, birthdays, and Sundays around food and I can still smell mom's bread baking, taste grandma's Christmas fudge, and tear up over the bags of onions grandpa chopped for Thanksgiving stuffing! Growing up I had a desire for culinary school. The dream is still in the future but I still love to learn all about cooking anyway I can. From the lovely lady next door who makes the perfect divinity to our Dutch friends, I badger everyone to show me their secrets! I tend to lean toward comfort food but with a recent diagnosis of reactice hypoglycemia I am learning all about sugar free, unprocessed, and high fiber. That means I now spend my days with the new, fun, fattening, and sigh....healthy meals my family loves. Armed with a spatula and the help of at least one of my five daughters I can't wait to hear your reviews, recipes, and opinions of the foods I love!
As the weather here in West Texas gets a little cooler I start craving Lupe's Restaurant. Growing up in California we ate at this little tucked away place at least once a month. My mother grew up with the owner's granddaughter and my grandparents had been frequenting Lupes since they opened. I remember being in elementary school and walking in to the waitress asking us if we wanted our 'usual'. We always started with Albondigas Soup and then went on to the Chile Verde. The owners never did give us the recipe but over the years my mom and I have found our own versions that are just as good! With the cooler weather, albondigas soup is yummy and freezable!
Albondigas Soup -
(I apologize for the camera shots. I am hoping I have been good enough this year that Santa might bring me a new camera for Christmas!)
 Ingredients -
Meatballs -                              
2 pds ground beef                     
1/2 cup uncooked rice              
2 tsp minced garlic              
2 Tbs flour                               
salt and pepper   
        Mix all meatball ingredients together and form 1 inch meatballs                
Ingredients -
2 quarts water
3 Tbs Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base (or equivalent chicken broth or cubes to equal 8 cups)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 16 oz cans crushed tomatos
1 large onion - chopped fine
4 lengths celery - chopped fine
4 carrots - chopped fine (I shred my carrots and celery in my cuisinart)
2 potatoes washed and cut in small pieces
1 tsp minced garlic

Bring soup to boil. Drop in meatballs. Reduce to simmer (point where the bubbles have all but ceased, looks like it's just about to boil). Keep at a simmer for 35-45 minutes. I know, it takes awhile but it's so delicious and this amount feeds my family for 2 dinners. I freeze my extra in sealable tupperware.

 Now some people get a little nervous about the uncooked rice. The rice in the meatballs will not taste exactly like 1 minute rice. It is suppose to be a little al dente (that does not mean uncooked). If in doubt, try it - I think it's lovely!  If you don't like it that way you can use leftover or precooked rice and add that to the meatballs. Just make sure to adjust simmer time to 10 minutes instead of 30-45!

The final dish. We like ours with warmed corn tortillas or crusty french bread.
~Just a sidenote. I love Better than Bouillon. It is a base instead of a bouillon cube and the richness of the flavor is hard to match unless you are making your own broth. It costs more, and I am all about cheap, but if you can find a base in your store it is totally worth it! The bases are usually in a glass jar next to the soups. I have always found them on the top shelf.