Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Busy weeks!! But, still cooking!

Last fall, our youngest son played football.  It wasn't his thing so he didn't sign up for this year's season.  I thought that would mean that this fall would be less busy!  How wrong was I?  At least so far.  Between church events, school happenings, cake orders, life in general, our schedule is full.

How is your fall season starting out?

Here are a few recipes I've tried in the last week or so.  None of them take much time, or at least not much brain power.  I've either been short on time or short on energy and they all turned out wonderfully.

Chocolate Mousse:
I love, love, love to watch Master Chef.  (My husband can tell you I have celebrity chef-crushes on two of the hosts.)  On a recent episode the contestants were challenged to make 3 chocolate desserts.  Mousse was one of them.  I had the ingredients on hand, and was inspired to try.  Disclaimer: the recipe I used from the cookbook "How to Cook Everything" contains raw eggs.  The recipe was easy to do and turned out well.  But, you might want to find a different version if raw eggs are not something you can or want to eat.



The stages of the recipe involve melting chocolate and butter, whipping egg whites, whipping heavy cream, delicately hand mixing the whipped ingredients with chilled chocolate.  And, the final product just has to sit in the fridge and set.  Yum.

Smitten Kitchen's Flat Roasted Chicken with Tiny Potatoes:
So good with only a handful of ingredients.  You'll be amazed at how much flavor you can get from simple chicken, potatoes, salt, pepper and olive oil.  My only difficulty was peeling the tiny potatoes.  They were flying out of my hands left and right.  It was worth the effort.  I did not have quite enough tiny potatoes so I peeled and chopped up a couple of regular ones.  There is a difference.  My 7 year old pushed the 'regular' potatoes around on his plate and refused to eat them.  Once the peeling is done, its in the oven and just let the magic happen.
Even after snapping the last picture, I put the dish back in the oven for a few minutes.  The chicken was perfect and even more delightfully roasted, but by then we were ravenous and I didn't stop to snap another pic.  

Did I spell that correctly?
My husband wanted to try this dish.  He saw it in the freezer section at the grocery store.  I said, "wait!  I've been wanting to try working with phyllo dough...let me try making it first."  He agreed and I did.  It wasn't hard, but has a few do-ahead steps.  Both the spinach and the dough have to thaw -- I used frozen chopped spinach and phyllo dough.  The process of rolling up the triangles takes a bit of time but wasn't hard.  If you've ever folded paper footballs, you have the skills needed to make this dish.  
Melted butter, spinach mixed with 3 cheeses, phyllo dough...yep, its scrumptious!  Husband approved.

I used a recipe from allrecipes.com.  It made quite a lot.  I could have easily halved this recipe.  Now, my freezer is storing some extras for quite snack.  Its football season so easy finger foods are always good to have on hand.  

Go Vols!!  
Oops - a bit side tracked, there.  I'm a die-hard fan of my beloved Vols.  We're having some rough years, but I feel certain we'll bounce back.  


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Magazines and Recipes and Homemade Cracker Jacks

I have several magazine subscriptions.  I am also a lover of books.  I'm never without a novel close by.    My magazine pile had gotten big so I decided not to start a new book until I had read the stack of magazines.  This was a serious decision.  Me without a book is like a teenager without a phone.  I like magazines because you can rip out pages with interesting crafty ideas (I don't keep many, I'm not a big craft do-er) and recipes.  Never would I dream of defacing a book this way.  Novels usually don't have interesting recipes or crafty ideas anyway.  I put my recipes in a simple binder with sheep protectors -- the ones I jot down, print from the internet and cut out of magazines.  That way they are all in one convenient place.  Here's my handy notebook:

Can you see I'm a little behind on sorting and organizing this notebook?  Its already overflowing.  After reading at least 6 magazines over the weekend, this isn't even all the recipes I have ripped out.  There's another stack hiding somewhere.  Organizing this mess is on my winter project to-do list.  I know you're thinking, "but isn't that what Pinterest is for?"  Read my previous blog post regarding my experience with using an electronic device to cook.  I like the sheet protectors, they make excellent splash guards!
Best recipe find of the weekend: Homemade Cracker Jacks.  
Easy, perfect.  Irresistible.  
You probably have the ingredients in your pantry waiting to be turned into this tasty snack.

First, pop about 8 cups of popcorn.
I used my Nordic Ware microwave air popper and about 1/3 cup of unpopped corn is the right amount.

Then, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup butter and 3 tablespoons light corn syrup in a saucepan.  Heat until it reaches 255 degrees.  (A candy thermometer works for this step.)
Pour this delicious caramel over the popcorn and toss gently to coat.  Spread the coated popcorn on a greased cookie sheet and put in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Stir the popcorn and bake another 5 minutes.
Spread popcorn on another cookie sheet, lined with foil.  Sprinkle with about 1 cup of peanuts.
You won't want to, but let it cool before you dive in.
Just because I love these collage pictures, here they are all together:
This recipe is a keeper and definitely worth flipping through those magazines this weekend.  I am hooked.  The whole process took roughly 30 minutes.  It turned out so well, I made another batch to share!  

This recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens July 2013 issue.  If you've got that one laying around, collecting dust and waiting to be read, go find it!