Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cinnamon Carmels

Cinnamon Carmels

YIELD: MAKES 3 OR SO DOZEN CARAMELS, DEPENDING ON THE SIZE YOU CUT THEm
If you want to avoid using red food coloring, you can leave it out - the food coloring doesn't make it taste any more or less cinnamony. I use the Wilton no-taste red food coloring gel. About the cinnamon flavor, I used this extract that I bought (has great reviews) on Amazon since I couldn't find it at my small local grocery store. Using the amount in the recipe, the caramels are pleasantly cinnamony without being spicy or hot. Add more cinnamon extract if you want to amp up the cinnamon flavor. Also, if you are using cinnamon oil instead of cinnamon extract, add with care - it's much, much more potent than cinnamon extract.
FYI: My preferred brand of chocolate is Ghirardelli.
INGREDIENTS
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided (meaning, you'll add half at the beginning and half later)
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon extract 
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring gel (see note above)
DIRECTIONS
1.                             Butter an 8X8-inch pan and set aside.
2.                             In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, salt, corn syrup, sugar and 1 cup of the cream. Over low heat, warm the ingredients until the butter is melted. Gently stirring during this part is ok to help combine the ingredients - just take care not to stir too vigorously and splash the liquid high up on the sides of the pan; also, take care to use low heat for this step. Too high of heat can cause the ingredients to melt unevenly and cause the butter to separate.
3.                             Once the ingredients are warmed and melted, increase the heat to medium-low (I keep my stovetop dial between a 3 and 4 the entire time; each stove is different so just keep an eye on the heat). Because these are no-stir caramels, too high of heat will burn the ingredients on the bottom. Moderate the heat of your stove so that the mixture maintains a simmer without burning. If you turn down the heat and the caramel stops simmering, simply increase the heat little by little until a good simmer is reached and then leave it there. You'll be good to go.
4.                             Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 236 degrees F. Pour in the remaining 1 cup cream. Gently swirl the caramel once or twice with a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate.
5.                             Again, bring the mixture to a simmer (don't adjust the heat to sharply - I keep mine set the same as before) and cook until the thermometer registers 245 degrees F.
6.                             Off the heat, carefully stir in the cinnamon and red food coloring.
7.                             Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared pan - don't scrape the sides, just tip the pan until no more drizzles out. Let the pan of caramels cool completely at room temperature before cutting into pieces.
8.                             To dip into chocolate, melt milk, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate in the microwave on 50% power for 1-minute increments or in a double boiler on the stove. Simply drop a caramel into the chocolate, lift out once full covered with a fork, tap on the side of the bowl to let the excess chocolate drip off and then carefully slide onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once the chocolate has set, you can drizzle additional chocolate over the top for a nice pattern.

Recipe Source: adapted from my favorite foolproof, no-stir caramel recipe after my friend Lisa C. gave me the fabulous idea

Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hearty Penne Beef Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in the tomato puree, broth, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add spinach; cook for 1-2 minutes or until wilted.
  3. Drain pasta; stir into beef mixture. Sprinkle with cheese; cover and cook for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted. 
    Freeze option: Freeze cooled pasta mixture in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little broth or water if necessary.
     Yield: 5-6 servings.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hawaiian Chicken Bake

INGREDIENTS
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6-12 Tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 1 can pineapple slices, drained
  • 6 -8 slices provolone cheese

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Lay the chicken breast flat in a baking dish.
  2. Spread 1-2 Tbsp of BBQ sauce on each chicken breast.
  3. Place 2 pineapple rings on each chicken breast.
  4. Layer 2 slices of cheese on top of the pineapple on each chicken breast.
  5. Place in an oven preheated to 375˚F for 20 minutes, lightly covered with foil. Then remove the foil and continue to bake for 15-25 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.
  6. Serve with rice, greens, or potatoes and ENJOY!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 to 18 large marshmallows
  • ICING:
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pecan halves

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg, milk and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; beat into creamed mixture.
  2. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, cut marshmallows in half. Press a marshmallow half, cut side down, onto each cookie. Return to the oven for 2 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. For icing, in a small saucepan, combine butter, cocoa and milk. Bring to a boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Cool slightly; transfer to a small bowl. Beat in confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over the cooled cookies. Top each with a pecan half. Yield: about 3 dozen.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Momofuku Corn Cookies - Do yourself a favor and make these!


Ingredients:

Makes 13-15 large cookies

2 cubes butter at room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup corn flour
2/3 cup freeze-dried corn powder ( I just bought freeze dried corn and put it in a food processor)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

(1) Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
(2) Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, corn flour, corn powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
(3) Using a 2 ¾-ounce ice cream scoop (or a ⅓-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly.
(4) Heat the oven to 350° F.
(5) Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 [12-13 for me] minutes, they should be faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center; give them an extra minute if not.
(6) Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or to an airtight container for storage. At room temp, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Chicken Broccoli Shells

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Alfredo sauce
  • 2 cups blanced chopped broccoli
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 21 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the Alfredo sauce, broccoli, chicken and cheeses. Spoon into pasta shells. Place in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.
  2. Cover and bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.
    Freeze option: Cover and freeze unbaked casserole. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake casserole as directed, increasing time as necessary to heat through and for a thermometer inserted in center to read 165°.
     Yield: 7 servings.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lemon Cream Pie

Ingredients
1 1//4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 T cornstarch
1/ 1/2 cups boiling water
3 eggs, slightly beaten
6 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp grated lemon rind
2 T butter
1 cup heavy cram, whipped and sweetened
Baked 9 inch pie shell

Directions
Combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a 2 or 3 quart saucepan.  Blend well.  Place over medium heat and add boiling water, stirring rapidly until smooth and thick.  Bring to a full boil to thoroughly cook the cornstarch.  Remove from heat.  Add a little of the hot pudding to the eggs while stirring rapidly.  Return egg mixture to hot pudding and reheat, stirring constantly, just until smooth.

Remove from heat and add lemon juice and rind and butter.  Pour filling into baked pie shell.  Chill.  Serve topped with whipped cream.