Friday, November 30, 2012

Foodie Penpals #2

Yes, it is the last day of the month and once again time for Foodie Penpals.
This is a fun exchange that anyone can join - no need to have your own blog!
Visit here - The Lean Green Bean - to find out how you can get in on the fun.
This month I got a really fun package from Lynn over at Jump Into My Kitchen.
It arrived wrapped up very pretty - I was very excited to see what I got this month.
It was full of maple flavored caramel, an apple pecan cheese compliment, cranberry almond brie topper, maple sugar sprinkles, and a lovely handwritten note.
She was even nice enough to make sure I shared with Sue.
I don't know if you can see it but it says - make sure Sue gets a little taste.
This may or may not come to pass. I did let her have a teeny tiny taste of the maple flavored caramel.  I think I might count this as her gettting a share.'s delicious and awesome stuff sooooooo......she probably won't get anymore.
Sorry Lynn...I did my best.
Pop over to Lynn's blog at Jump Into My Kitchen and check it out.
If you want more info on how to participate in the Foodie Penpals click here - The Lean Green Bean.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Super Easy Fudge

I cannot believe it's almost the end of November. Time to start thinking about what to make for Christmas baking.
Sue here, I thought I would take over from Jo to share at least one of my Christmas recipes.
This fudge is so easy you won't even believe it.
I've made a million different versions and they all taste rich and creamy - just like fudge that you have to boil and stir and blah-blah-blah to make. I didn't invent this recipe but I have been using it for so many years that I have no idea where I originally got it from.
It only requires 2 ingredients plus add ins.
Be prepared to have your mind blown.

Super Easy Fudge

1 (450gr) can of prepared frosting
1 (300 gr) bag of chocolate chips
about 2 cups of add ins

Line an 8 X 8 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. (I usually spray the foil and then lightly pat it off with a paper towel so the fudge isn't greasy)
Stir together frosting and chips in a saucepan over medium-low heat until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in your add ins.
Spread evenly in prepared pan and chill until set.
Remove the fudge from the pan using the tinfoil and cut into 1 inch cubes.

The photos above are of my Pistachio, Cranberry, White Chocolate Fudge. I used 1 can of white frosting, 1 bag of white chocolate chips, approx 1 cup of dried cranberries (chopped), approx 1 cup of pistachios (chopped).
The next photos below are of my Snickers Milk Chocolate Fudge.

I use 1 can of chocolate frosting, 1 bag of milk chocolate chips, and 4 Snickers bars (cut up small).
I stir 3 chopped Snickers into the fudge and then sprinkle the remaining chopped Snickers on top of the fudge and lightly press it down.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless.
There are a million different flavors of chips to use: butterscotch, cinnamon, peanut butter, dark chocolate, mint chocolate, etc...
There are also a few frostings to choose from: chocolate, vanilla, cream cheese, dark chocolate, and - apparently although they are not available in Lillooet - cherry, lemon, coconut pecan, rainbow chip, etc...
As for add ins...well...don't even get me started: coconut, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter cups, any chopped chocolate bar, Oreos, marshmallows, caramels, etc...
Aaaaaah! Endless possibilities for deliciousness!
This is very rich and a small piece goes a long way. You will never be able to convince me that this isn't just as good as hard-to make fudge. 
Yes, boiled fudge it is hard to make!
Everyone keeps telling me how "easy" it is...but, you know what? If it involves using a candy thermometer...then it's hard. Candy thermometers hate me.
They do.
I'm not even lying.
Anyway....this is an excellent Christmas baking recipe to add to your list! The Pistachio, Cranberry, White Chocolate Fudge is especially festive.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Easy Layer Bars

This is one of those recipes that everyone has a version of. Look it up on Google....there is a million, maybe even a billion, different versions.
I know what you are thinking when you see think it looks burnt.
It's not.
I swear.
It's Oreo baking crumbs. You could make this with graham cracker crumbs and it wouldn't look burnt...well....unless you actually burnt it...but it wouldn't have the chocolately goodness of the Oreo crumbs.
This is my version of the easy layer bar. Believe's super easy.
Easy Layer Bar
2 cups Oreo baking crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup Skor toffee bits
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 X 13 pan with parchment paper, set aside.
Mix together Oreo crumbs and melted butter until well combined. Press firmly into prepared pan.
Sprinkle the layer ingredients over the crust, except for the condensed milk.
Then pour the sweetened condensed milk over the bar as evenly as possible.
Bake at 350 for approx 20 - 25 minutes, until bars are set.
Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. When cool, use parchment paper to remove bar from pan and cut into squares.
These are so easy. As you can see from the recipe you can mix it up however you like.
Don't like Oreo crumbs? Use vanilla wafer crumbs or graham crumbs.
You could sub out chocolate chips with white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, dark chocolate, cinnamon chips, etc...
Go crazy!
It is a little thin...I'm pretty sure I usually make this in a 9 X 9 pan as I remember it being a little thicker the last time I made it.  It's been a while...
Hmmm...anyway, 9 X 9 or 9 X 13....either will work, just watch your cooking time with different sized pans.
Be sure to stop by The Rustic Pig for some great links!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Asian Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup

Once again the cold and flu season has settled in at our house. Mom and dad are both coughing and sneezing and just plain don't feel well.
Mom wanted chicken soup but I just didn't feel like the "usual" chicken soup. I thought I would get all fancy schmancy and make a chicken soup inspired by some asian veggies and flavors.
This turned out really tasty if not exactly attractive.
The color is a little off-putting but don't let it disuade you from trying this recipe. The flavor is really deep and the textures are very satisfying.
What did the sickies think?
They both gave it 2 thumbs up.
Asian Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil
10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 small purple cabbage, shredded
2 portobello mushrooms, diced
2 baby bok choy, diced
2 cups broccoli slaw
2 Tbsp soy sauce
 1 Tbsp hoi sin Sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup cooking sherry
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 - 2 cups Chinese style Farkay noodles, broken in half
In a very large saucepan, heat oils over high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook until only a little pink remains. Add in onion, garlic and sweet chili sauce and cook until chicken is completely cooked and onions are soft. Remove chicken to a large bowl and set aside.
Turn heat to medium-high, in saucepan cook cabbage until reduced by half and cabbage is soft. You may need to add a little water to prevent it from burning in the pan.
The cabbage takes about 10 minutes to cook down.
When cabbage is cooked, scoop it into the bowl with the chicken.
In the saucepan, place portobellos, baby bok choy, and broccoli slaw. Add in a little water to prevent this from burning.
Add in soy sauce, hoi sin sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sherry. Cook and stir until vegetables are cooked, about 7-8 minutes.
Scrape chicken and cabbage back into large saucepan. Add water and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add in the Chinese style Farkay noodles, broken in half, and let simmer until cooked.
The Chinese Style Farkay Noodles are similar to spaghetti noodles. They only take about 5 - 8 minutes of simmering to cook.
I ended up having to grab a bigger pot than in the photos above. This makes a fair amount of soup. I'm guessing it will serve about 15, depending on serving size, maybe a bit more.
FYI - The leftovers will soak up any extra liquid so when you reheat this you may find you have to add some more water.
Sue and Kenzie were afraid to try this as it does look a little sketchy. Once they had a bite though, they were hooked.
It is soooooo tasty!
Another FYI - you will not need to add any salt. The sauces you use in the soup have enough salt that additional is not needed.
Give this one a try when you want something a little bit different than the usual chicken noodle soup.
Be sure to visit Ms. enPlace for some great links! 

Crunchy Lemon Bars

A while back I made some Lemony Lemon Brownies which got me to thinking about my usual lemon bars.
These bars are quite the contrary to the lemon brownies. These are crunchy yet soft with a buttery crust. The brownies are dense and decidely brownie-like in texture.
I don't know know which one I would call a favorite... they are really very different and it would depend on what you are looking for.
They are both light and lemony.
You'll have to be the judge.
Crunchy Lemon Bars
2 sleeves soda crackers (saltines), about 70 - 80 crackers
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups butter, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tsp baking powder
Lemon Layer
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
juice of 2 large lemons (about 1/2 cup)
zest of 2 large lemons
Line a 9 X 13 pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350.
Crust - In food processor (or put the crackers in a Ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin), process crackers until fairly fine with only the odd bigger bit.
In a large bowl, mix together cracker crumbs, flour, butter, sugar, coconut, and baking powder until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Reserve 2 1/2 cups of the crumbs in a bowl, Press remaining crumbs firmly into the prepared pan.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Lemon layer - Whisk eggs in a medium saucepan. Whisk in sugar, butter, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Place over medium heat. Continue to stir over medium heat until misture is thickened. This takes between 5 - 10 minutes, maybe more depending on your heat.
When thickened, pour evenly over bottom layer.
Sprinkle with the remaining reserved crumbs and press down lightly.
Bake at 350 for about 20 - 25 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove from oven, let cool completely on wire rack before removing using parchment paper handles. You may need to run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it from the sides.
Cut into squares and serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
The soda crackers add a bit of a different flavor than the usual graham cracker crust. They have a bit of saltiness that goes well with the lemon custard. Definitely a totally different experience than the Lemony Lemon Brownies.
If you make either one, please let us know which gets your vote.
Be sure to visit Memories By The Mile for some great links!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Easy Chicken and Waffle Sandwich

I have been seeing tons of recipes and images for chicken and waffle sandwiches. A million different versions with a million different additions.
I decided to finally try one for myself.
Turns out my life could have been completely different had I been introduced to these bad boys years ago. I'm pretty sure I would be living on a tropical island sipping some kind of lovely blue drink with a little umbrella in it if only I had known about these sooner.
Yes, they are that life changing.
I was too. I understand your concerns. But, let me just say this... make this now, using my recipe, or your own favorite toppings, and you will experience a chicken and waffle epiphany.
The sky will seem bluer, the air crisper, music will sound that much sweeter, life will be that much better.
Or not.
But you will get to eat a tasty sandwich and that's pretty good too.

Easy Chicken and Waffle Sandwich

2 waffles (I used Eggos)
1 slice of cheese
1 slice of onion
2 slices of bacon, cooked, cut into 1 inch bits
2 breaded chicken strips, cooked
1 - 2 Tbsp honey mustard mayo (recipe below)

Honey Mustard Mayo
2 Tbsp mayo
2 Tbsp prepared mustard
1 Tbsp honey
salt & pepper

To prepare honey mustard mayo - whisk together mayo, mustard, honey, and salt & pepper in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare waffles as per package directions. Layer cheese on bottom waffle and place under broiler until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. (You can also microwave for a few seconds but this will make the waffle lose its crispiness.)

Top with bacon and onions.

Then top with hot chicken strips. (I used one as it was big enough to fill the waffle - use 2 if they are smaller.)

Top with 1 - 2 Tbsp of the honey mustard mayo as per your preference. (FYI - I think a little chicken gravy would be fantastic for this step too. That's what I'm trying next!)

Top with remaining waffle. Before eating, flip sandwich over so the excess sauce fills the holes in the waffle. The cheesey bacon half is now on top.

I'm pretty sure my tombstone is going to read "Killed by Chicken and Waffle Sandwiches". I'm actually okay with that.
The little bit of sweetness from the waffle is amazing with the saltiness of the bacon and the chicken. Not to mention all that cheese and sauce...
I just drooled a little...
I think this recipe is a great way to introduce yourself to the whole chicken and waffle experience. Using store bought waffles and chicken strips saves you time and still gives you a good idea of how great these are.
Now that I know I am in love with the whole concept I can spend a little more time with homemade waffles and hand breaded and seasoned chicken.
Or not.
This was amazing...and I am pretty lazy...

Be sure to check out Carole's Chatter for some great links.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mini Cookie Houses

These are the most adorable things you will see this Christmas.
I don't know how you could get much cuter than this.
Teeny tiny little houses with teeny tiny little decorations that you can eat.
It's win - win.
These are, relatively speaking, quite easy to make. Definitely easier than their larger cousins.
That being DO NOT want to volunteer to make these for your kids classroom.
I cut out, baked, and assembled 14 houses and then Sue helped me to decorate them.
It took about 3 or 4 hours.
Not even kidding.
After 4 hours of using tweezers to apply sprinkles to will be ready to consider going all cookie-monster on them.
I decided to make these for our mother to take to her church tea. You see, these cute little cookies sit neatly on the side of a coffee or tea cup.
Adorable, right?
Anyway, all you will need for this is a batch of sugar cookie dough - you can use store bought if you like - and some royal icing. I bought some icing in a tube so I didn't have to make the royal icing with eggs. I was too nervous about using uncooked eggs.
Thank you Cake Mate. It comes in all kinds of colors. I went with white so the houses looked like traditional "gingerbread" houses.
Then you can visit here - LULUTO - to print out a simple template. I shrunk her template by 50% to get the size I wanted. (Not Martha also has template ideas.)
Simply make your cookie dough, chill it for at least a couple of hours, and then roll it out thinner than you normally would. You want the cookies to be crisp so they will stand on their own. Cut out your template pieces and bake for 8 to 10 minutes on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Let them cool completely before assembling.
Use the icing as the glue to hold your pieces together. Here is a hint to help you out - build the foundation of the house and let it set for about 15 minutes before trying to place the roof. If your house is still wet while you try to put the roof on you will end up squishing it and getting very frustrated.
Trust me when I say, patience is a virtue when it comes to making these cookies.
I had a little leftover dough so I made some rounds to use as the base for 3 of the houses. I just wanted to see how it would turn out.
I liked how it looked - you could decorate a little yard if you wanted to.
After you get the roof on, let it set for at least another 15 - 20 minutes to completely dry.
Then you can decorate however you like.
Sue and I found that heating a little corn syrup in the microwave for about 7 seconds and then brushing it on the roof was a great alternative to using more royal icing.
With the corn syurp coating the roof you just dip it into whichever sprinkles or balls you prefer. This only works on really small decorations however. The bigger ones will still require icing to cement it on.
Feel free to go crazy! This is the fun part.
Our little cookie village looked pretty cute.
We have come to the conclusion that we need to invest in some Christmas sprinkles for these. Mini candy cane and gingerbread men and such.
I can't wait to make these for Halloween. I'm thinking they might even work for Easter with some mini eggs and bunnies. The possibilities are endless.
I definitely enjoyed making these much more than the larger houses.
Here are the tips that will save you a lot of frustration and tears if you decide to make these:
1. Set aside a whole day to make these.
2. Do not make plans to do anything else for the day.
3. Take your time and do not try to rush.
4. Have a helper. You don't need a helper but it will make the time go by faster.
Adorned From Above and Blissful and Domestic and Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons and Or So She Says have some great links! Be sure to check them out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bacon Brittle

Did you read that title and think, "Whaaaaaaaaaaat?" with one eyebrow raised ever so quizzically?
I know the feeling.
While I was surfing the web one day I came across this intriguing recipe over at Tasty Kitchen's blog.
There was no chance I wasn't going to be making this. Especially when Sue was hinting a lot about wanting to try it. She doesn't ever want to try sweet stuff. She's crazy that way. BUT...she actually wanted to try this.
I think it was the bacon that convinced her.
Sue's motto? "Bacon makes everything better." True story. She has it on a T-shirt.
What can't bacon do?
Bacon Brittle
6 slices bacon, cooked and finely diced
1 cup sugar
1/4 water
1/4 cup butter
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp baking soda
coarse sea salt (for sprinkling)
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray VERY WELL (or you can use butter). Set aside.
In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, water, butter, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture reaches 300 on a candy thermometer (about 10 to 15 minutes).
Remove pan from heat and stir in the baking soda. Then mix in the bacon bits.
Immediately pour onto prepared cookie sheet and quickly spread out into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle with the coarse sea salt.
Ooooooooh so pretty!
Allow to cool completely then break into pieces.
The verdict?
Pure salty, sweet, crunchy, delicious, bacony, caramel goodness.
Sue loved it. Kenzie loved it. Mom and dad loved it. I loved it.
No one else was able to try it as we ate all the samples. Bwah-ha-ha!
I made enough for our mother to sell at her church bazaar this upcoming weekend. I'm hoping I hid the bags will enough that no one finds them and eats them.
They're crafty little devils, my family....especially when delicious treats are involved.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sweet or Savory Spoon Treats

A little while ago Sue and I won a contest that was hosted by Hungry Happenings. It was for the cutter and forms to make these adorable little edible spoons.
Beth, over at Hungry Happenings, used hers to make nougatine spoons with chocolate ganache which looked amazing. Sue and I were rather last minute in our attempts to make something with ours. Our mother needed something to bring to her church potluck so we had about 2 hours to get something made. After a quick trip to the store we decided on some toast spoons with salmon and cream cheese for the savory, and sugar cookie spoons with lemon pie filling and meringue for the sweet.
We don't really have a specific recipe for you today.
We just mixed about 1/2 cup smoked salmon with an 8 oz brick cream cheese and a little chopped green onion and then topped with a sprig of parsley for the savory spoons.
And for the sweet - we used a store bought lemon pie filling, and I had some leftover sugar cookie dough in the fridge that I rolled out.
We did want to share some photos with you though, in case you were looking for some inspiration to make your own spoons.
For the toast spoons all you had to do was roll out a piece of bread so it was thin, cut it with the cutter, and press it into the spoon forms. You then pop them on a cookie sheet and bake at 250 until the toast is a little bit brown.
Pretty much the same for the sugar cookie dough, except you poke a few holes in the dough with a fork so the dough doesn't rise to much. You want to roll it a bit thinner than you normally would for a cookie because you don't want it to be soft and squishy. You want it to be a tiny bit crispy so it will hold up on its own. There is no need to grease the spoon form when you put the dough on it. You just have to carefully loosen the cookie with a butter knife before trying to remove it otherwise the handle might snap off.
Above is the bread and the cookies. You can see the ends of the spoons tend to brown a bit quicker than the rest of the spoon. I think the both took approx 15 minutes to cook.
Just smear a little salmon/cream cheese mixture in the base of the toast spoon and top with a sprig of fresh parsley.
So pretty. And tasty.
We only lost one handle (in the middle of the pic) out of the whole batch.
The lemon looked so pretty. I was hoping mom might come home from her potluck with one for me to sample. No such luck.
I think for Christmas dinner these would make for an impressive platter.
I can't wait to try the nougatine and chocolate recipe from Hungry Happenings.
There is so many possibilities for these!
I'm thinking some kind of fruit salsa on a cinnamon tortilla, or a hot spinach dip-type hors d'oeuvre on toasted rye bread. Yum!
If you are interested in ordering your own edible spoon making kit you can try here: Edible Spoon Company. This is where our kit came from.
It is so much fun!
Be sure to check out The Rustic Pig for some interesting food and crafting links.