Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wonderful Caramels

These have been a tradition in the Kreider fam since I was little. Mom would make a batch, turn on Christmas music, and we'd all sit around the table wrapping caramels, and eating more than a few! Here's our recipe, with an addition from yours truly to make them Gingerbread caramels. Translation: they taste like Christmas. I know a lot of you have expressed fear about making candy. It  isn't that bad. Trust me. This is coming from the girl who can't bake a cake from scratch to save my life. You just have to babysit the caramels while cooking or else disaster will strike. Experience reminds me that it's best if there are no little kids running around your feet. It's molten hot boiling sugar, and really you shouldn't leave it alone. Please read all the way through before you start! This makes a gigantic batch of 12 dozen  or more depending on how small you cut them, but believe me, you'll be glad you made so many.

Large stock pot
Candy Thermometer (costs like 3 bucks at Walmart! Just get one already...) and no you can't use another kind of thermometer, it doesn't work right, I've already tried that, and it got over cooked.
Cookie sheet

2 Sticks Salt Free butter
1 1/2 Cups Dark Karo Syrup
4 Cups Heavy Cream
4 Cups Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla

**it's very helpful to get them measured out and in a small bowl before you start.
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Get out your big stock pot. Mix Sugar and butter with HALF of the cream. Bring to a boil.
Add the rest of the cream, and the Karo syrup. Bring to a boil again.
Put your Candy thermometer on the side of your pot, and get ready to babysit.
Cook to the Firmball stage which is 248 degrees. ** Stir often. This takes about an hour-ish?
Take off the heat, and stir in the vanilla and spices.
Pour into a greased cookie sheet, and let it set until it cools.
Cut, wrap, share and eat!!! We cut wax paper squares and roll the caramels in the center , then twist the ends. It also works well to use plastic wrap.

**I usually hover between medium and high for the first while, but stay right by the stove cause once it really gets  going it can boil over easily in the beginning. I mean it. Like, it will quadruple in size and go everywhere! If it looks like it's going to blow...take it off the heat for a min, an stir it. Then when you get it to a good steady boil, stick around between med and low, adjusting as needed to keep it going. I feel like the last 25 degrees takes forever, so I stay close and crank up the heat as needed, then let it boil at 248 for 3 min or so.
If you like your caramels on the firmer chewier side, let it cook a few min longer.

So I know it sounds a little complicated, but seriously, how long does it take to make dozens of cookies etc and arrange them in precious little Christmas boxes? Good things come in small packages. Just give out a dozen or so caramels, they are worth their weight in gold.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese (and SQUASH!!)

Is it wrong to get such a thrill out of sneaking my kids veggies? This is my fav sneaky lunch for the kids.

1 box Macaroni and Cheese (I like the Annies brand, cause it has no chemicals etc which would probably defeat the purpose of adding veggies...)
1 T. butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4-1/2 cup pureed butternut squash***

Make the mac like it says on the box...while the noodles are draining, melt the butter in the pot, add the milk and cheese and squash, salt to taste, extra cheese if you want till every thing is smooth, and dump in the noodles. TA DA! It's still orange, extra creamy, and slightly sweeter than regular Mac but that's usually ok with kids. Mwa ha ha ha.

***Note on the puree thingy...After reading and trying a few recipes from "Deceptively Delicious" and realizing that the concept was great, but the recipes needed a LOT of tweaking...I've gotten in the habit of buying squash, sweet potatos and other veggies once a month or so and baking them on one day, then pureeing and freezing in 1/2 cup segments. It sounds like a lot of work but really it's not, and a couple hours yeilds a month's of "supplements" for food. By a couple hours, I mean a few min of work cause all you do is put stuff in the oven and ignore it, then when it cools you puree it and freeze it.

Apple Pie

This is our fav Apple Pie recipe. I've posted about it before...but it's becoming a tradition for Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy (but Soapy) Breakfast

Kinda funny...We made this Happy Breakfast of Maple Toast Cups and Bacon, and all was well, till this weird soapy aftertaste kicked in. Turns out my little silicone ramekins retained a delightful residue of dishwasher soap.

Edible flower Salad

Oh isn't this pretty? I grew Nasturtium in my garden this year, and it has proven to be an easy to grow plant, beautiful and tasty! You can eat the entire plant, leaves and flowers. Here are some tips on growing Nasturtiums.

Monday, September 27, 2010

15 years later...

LONG AGO in the days of my teenage hood in Vermont, my mom started this quilt, which I loved. It was originally for her bed, but it never got finished because like someone who took after her, she never finished anything for herself! Well, 15 years later I inherited the unfinished blocks, and one day whipped up this little lap quilt. Yay! It feels so good to give it life after years and years in a box:) Also it's comfy! I took a risk and used polar fleece on the back. Call me lazy or cheap, but it's nice and warm, and didn't need batting.
Why is this on my cooking blog you say? Cause I'm slowly taking over with quilts. Just watch.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

You wish you had these SPRING ROLLS and STIR FRY

Yes that says "squid brand" on the fish sauce bottle. But don't worry, it's not really squid. It's anchovy water. These are way too complicated and you won't want to make them (or I'm too lazy to type the recipe), I just had to brag on Josh. If you come visit ask for these. Worth the HUGE MESS it makes. Seriously.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Night of the Living Tomato Plants

Holy Tomato Plants!!!! I didn't expect this, and am already chastising myself for not caging these beasts early in spring. Those huge bushy things in the front are Basil. Things in the pots are various herbs.
Here are a few flowers that a friend gave me. Wasn't sure if they would live cause they were close to dead when I transplanted. But...ta da! Rebechia, Echinacia, and Nasturtium. Pardon the weeds...Tomato Recipes to follow. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Garlic Basil Toast with Robots

It's not that we never's just that I let my friends do the hard work of discovering new recipes, and then make what they made;) But, a week or so ago, we made this:
Slice French or Italian bread, arrange on a cookie sheet. 
In a small bowl, mix:
1 stick of butter softened
a bunch of garlic to taste (2-4 cloves?)
Parmesan cheese (a handful?)
salt and pepper
a large handful of chopped herbs from your garden (probably like...3 Tablespoons when chopped)
this time I used: Thyme, Basil, Oregano and Rosemary. Less of the others, more of Basil. 

Spread a ridiculous amount of the butter mixture on each piece of toast, then bake at 350 center rack for 10 min. Since we're not doing rocket science or experiments for the government, you can just put in a pinch of this, a handful of that, I love this kind of thing. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Garden

It hasn't died yet! Cross your fingers!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

If I can't BE Rainbow Brite...

At least we can make her cupcakes....
These were kind of a pain initially, but they are so darn cute, and what a surprise when you bite into them!!!
I think next time I might do a whole cake, so that it won't take as long. But really, they are so cute it's work a little effort. At least the batter is super easy. From my friend Toni's blog, who got it from this blog...
Rainbow Cupcakes
I think they need to be called "Rainbow Sprinkle-Sparkle Treats" or something like that.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Shell Casserole from Aunt Mable

From "Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery" book, here's one of our new family Sunday dinners.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups hot water
2 tsp beef bullion granules
2 Tablespoons red wine
6 oz large shell shaped pasta
1 two ounce can sliced mushrooms (i always leave out)
1 cup sour cream

In a skillet, cook ground beef and onion until red color dissapears. Drain beef; place in slow cooker. Stir in sald, garlic powder, worchestershire sauce and flour. Add water, bullion and wine, mix well. Cover and cook on LOW 2-3 hours. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Add cooked pasta , mushrooms and sour cream to slow cooker, stir to mix ingredients. Turn to HIGH for 10-15 min. EAT!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Easy Healthy Breakfeast

Ok, it' won't be "healthy" once I'm done with it, but it could be a lot worse remember...this started as a low cal full flavor breakfast recipe from a magazine. Then we came along...

Lightly toast English muffins
Spread on leftover refrigerated hollandaise sauce ( it's like spreadable butter the next day!) OR a little mayo or mayo/grey poupon mix
Place Canadian bacon on top
then cheese, whatever you like, but the good SHARP Cabot from VT is my fav for this application
then sliced tomato, fresh herb of your choice, salt pepper (The kids don't like this, and it's actually quite good anyway)

Broil for 5 min.

Sometimes we put a poached egg, or change up the cheese.
Like my herb pot? I'm very excited about it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lemony Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day
Lemon Posset

Another one that is ridiculously simple, but a knock out. From 150 Best. A cross between pudding and mousse. Heavy cream is quickly becoming my favorite ingredient. 

2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of two lemons
Raspberries and confectioners sugar for garnish. 

Bring the cream and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly. 

Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir vigorously 2-3 min more until thickened. Off the heat, whisk in the lemon juice. Pour into small cups or glasses, let cool slightly, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for 4 hours. DON'T stir it. It will sort of goop back together, but just let it set in the fridge. 
Here it is all finished next to the beautiful flower box that G and Daddy built at Lowes for Mothers Day:)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cream Scones

I love Scones. SO MUCH. After looking at lots of recipes, I always come back to this one, because it's ridiculously simple. No fussing with eggs, cutting in butter, and it's a one bowl deal. Can be thrown together in 10-15 min and they take less time to cook. From the JOY OF COOKING. My friend from England who was incredibly homesick gobbled these up.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, preheat to 425. Have ready a large ungreased baking sheet (a pizza stone works really well).

Whisk together in a large bowl:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

At this phase add in any of the following you like, although they are great plain too.
1/2 cup dried fruit, chocolate chips, cinnamon, nutmeg, citrus zest...

Pour over dry ingredients, and stir until just barely moistened:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream.

Gather the dough into a ball, and gently knead it against the bowl a few times till it sticks together in a rough ball. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and pat into an 8 in disc about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 8 or 12 wedges, place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with  cream or milk. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake 12-15 min, till golden brown. Let cool or serve warm.

Today I added nutmeg, orange zest, apricots and chocolate chips.
Here's the baby squealing as the oven timer went off.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Baked Eggs in Maple Toast Cups

Yet another from the "150 Best American Recipes" that has made it to my frequently cooked category. As in, I make it a couple times a month. So easy, and it looks really fancy, but I don't even need the recipe anymore. So instead of typing it word for word...

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter melted
1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff please!!!)
6 slices of bread with crusts cut off (regular store bread works great)
3 slices bacon cooked till crisp and crumbled
6 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400, butter 6 muffin cups, or 6 ramekins, or use silicone cupcake cups

Combine maple syrup and melted butter

cut off crusts from the bread slices, and flatten with a rolling pin. brush both sides with the butter/maple mixture, and stuff down inside the muffin cup.

sprinkle some bacon on top of the toast (i never seem to have the bacon on hand, and it's just wonderful even without it) then crack an egg into each cup.

Bake until eggs are set, start checking after about 5 min, but if using individual ramekins it's more like 15 min.

Serve in the ramekins, or tip them out and they hold their shape. So fun! We love them!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chocolate Ice Cream Taste Test

Two expert Ice cream eaters were put to the test. Which chocolate ice cream is indeed the best? Haagen Dazs, Ben and Jerry's, or Breyers? The subjects were blindfolded, provided with pallet cleansing water in between brands, and the result? Haagen Dazs was the favorite, mostly for the texture, with Breyers as a close second for flavor.
Now you know. Thanks Josh and Joel.

Monday, April 12, 2010

If Cake and Fudge Had a Baby...

it would look like (and taste like) this. "Isn't that just a brownie?" you might ask. No, in fact, it is not a brownie, but a strange yet delicious cake-flavored-fudge-textured hybrid. Another winner from the "150 Best American Recipes" book my friends and I are cooking through. The best part: FOOL PROOF, cause when it comes to cake, I'm definitely a fool. So easy. Read and find out. I love that the recipe suggests you cut the leftovers into cubes, and freeze to be used with ice cream at a later date. I think it might look prettier baked in a round form, but it would lend itself well to all sorts of shapes I imagine. Also, it looks small, but trust me, all you need is a tiny piece, so don't fret about making enough for a large group of company.

Grandmother's Creamy Chocolate Cake
from "The 150 Best American Recipes" cookbook

16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter cut into pieces
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature (oops, didn't do that, but it still turned out)
1/4 cup flour
Whipped cream, creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and set a rack in the middle level. butter an 8 inch square baking pan and line it with foil.

Melt the butter, chocolate, and sugar in a medium heavy saucepan over medium low heat, stirring almost constantly until well blended. Remove the pan from heat and let stand 3 min.

One by one, whisk in the eggs. Sift the flour over the mixture and stir in. Rap the sauce pan on the counter to deflate any air bubbles and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Put the baking pan inside a larger pan and fill the larger pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan.

Bake for 35-40 min (was more like 50-60!) or until the cake tester is set on top and a knife inserted int eh center comes out streaky but not wet. Lift the pan out of the water bath and place on a cooling rack. Let come to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least one hour before un molding.

When the cake is cold, gently turn it over onto a serving platter. lift off the pan and carefully remove the foil. Serve cold or at room temperature with whipped cream, cream fraiche, or ice cream.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Santa Rosa Plum Galette

Again from the 150 was not very difficult to make, the pastry was easy and very very good, and I will most definitely make that again. Some notes: LINE THE OVEN WITH FOIL. So glad I did. Juice leaks out. It was VERY tart, maybe it was just my plums, but the full dose of sugar was not enough. Overall it was a success, however I would not make it with plums again, but will try maybe fresh peaches, or pears.
Another note: when all said and done, it looks like a small animal was slaughtered on my counter, at least that's what it looked like out of the corner of my eye...eww.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tortilla Soup with Chicken and Avocado

This was "life changing" soup, and will always remain in my most favorite of favorites. A lot of people underestimate chicken thighs, but they have so much flavor, and they really add a lot to this recipe. For me just the right amount of spice. It burns without being painful, but you can adjust the chili powder to your liking. Josh loved this, even with the avocado, which he normally doesn't like. Better the second day. Seemed complicated the first time, but the second time we made this, I could almost do it without looking at the book.
NOTES: I found that adding the corn and beans and tomatoes to the bowls first made the soup cold too fast. I put it in the pot so they could be hot as well. Keep cilantro and lime and avocado out as a garnish as the recipe suggests.

Bayless's Black Pepper French Toast

After we realized so many of our all time favorite recipes were all from the same book (via TONI sharing!) my friends and I decided to cook our way through our favorite cookbook "The 150 Best American Recipes" By Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens. Lets just get started! We're only posting reviews of recipes so that it's not a problem with copyright (right girls? or not? let me know, maybe it doesn't matter...) Maybe we will convince you to buy it too. Last night Josh made Bayless's Black Pepper French Toast, which is actually from the editors forward! So technically it's not from the 150. D'oh. Anyway, it was really yummy. He used Challah bread, which was perfect for it. If your worrying about the pepper making it spicy, don't. It was a slight after taste, and not spicy. A nice compliment to the honey. Big thick slices, just the right amount of crusty and soft.