Friday, March 8, 2013

Perfect Popcorn

I know it has been forever since I last made an entry but life has been packed and unpacked in my world.  I have to say though that my new environment is very cooking friendly.  I can sit at the dining room table and write as I tend to my creations.  So here is the latest and as all good recipes begin my mother sent it to me.  I made some on a cool night when I needed a little remembrance hug, so to speak.  My mother sent me an Oven Caramel Corn wonder.  This recipe is so simple, a little more time than usual, but tremendous results.  So without further build up lets get to the goods.

Oven Caramel Corn

2- 2.9 oz bags of Microwave popcorn, popped no kernels
1 Cup Brown sugar, packed
½ Cup Butter or Oleo
¼ Cup Corn Syrup
½ Tsp Salt
½ Tsp Baking Soda

Heat oven to 200 Degrees
Place one bag of popcorn on a cookie sheet (not greased). Combine sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt in 2 qt sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Make sure to boil the whole 5 minutes no cheating.  Take off heat and add Baking Soda and stir quickly, be careful this will foam up quiet a bit. Work rather quickly and pour over popcorn, stir to coat.  Bake in oven for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.  I rotated pans top to bottom after 30 minutes.  The goal is to coat all the popcorn with the caramel.  After 1 hour pull from oven stir one more time.  Allow to cool, break apart and eat.  IF there is any left store in an air tight container.

I hope this brings back wonderful memories for you as well thoughts of county fairs, Christmas time, Halloween (for those old enough to get caramel popcorn balls homemade on Trick or Treat adventures), and anything in between.  I have to go now I still have some more caramel corn to eat….I mean test.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Harvest Goodness

A few years ago I had a friend request a Spiced Apple Cake for his birthday little did I know that it would result in one of my best cakes.  Since that year I have at least three friends who without fail when asked what kind of cake they want for their birthdays they say Spiced Apple.  This cake has taken a few changes since that first cake.  The recipe as it was written stated to toss the apples with sugar and spices and then layer with the cake batter you created.  My problem is that the batter is so stiff that it was extremely difficult to make the layers.  Then the second year into making this cake I decided that this was stupid and I just folded the apples into the batter and bake it all together.  The results....brilliant and easy.

Now there has been some debate as to the way to eat this cake.  I have two friends that say the gooey underdone center of the cake is the best part and I have two others who prefer for it to be cooked a little longer.  Personally I am have tempted to make "muffin tops" out of it because I like that crunchy crumb kind of experience.  Make it for yourself and you decide.  So here it is my Spiced Apple Cake

Spiced Apple Cake

Apple mix:
5 Gala or Macintosh Apples peeled small diced
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg (fresh ground better)

Cake mix:
3 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
2 sticks Butter, melted
4 Eggs
2 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 cup Orange Juice

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg

Mix together the apple  mix and let stand 20 minutes.  For cake mix combine all dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls.  Combine together and fold in apple mix.  Pour into greased cake pan and smooth out.  Combine the crumb topping and sprinkle over the top of cake.  Bake 350 degrees 35-40 mins. If you like gooey pull out after 35 mins if you like it completely done bake til toothpick comes out dry.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Today's Experiment: Sticky Buns

So I had an idea last night as I was craving something sweet.  Why not use canned biscuits to make sticky buns.  So today I decided to make this happen and try it out.  It met with mixed success.  I went to the trust Betty Crocker cookbook that my mother used forever and gave to me when I moved into my first home.  I used the basic "sticky" part of the recipe and adjusted the rest.  I did fine til I baked them.  The butter in the bottom of the muffin tins bubbled up around the dough and ran all over the bottom of the oven and pretty much smoked me out of my house.  So here I sit with all the windows open the coldest day of the year.  Oh well.  BUT here is the good part they came out fairly well.  They look nice and taste pretty good.  The revision I will make is to melt the butter and brown sugar together THEN put in the bottom of the pan.  I think also were I went wrong was I used extra buttery biscuits with the little chunks of butter in them and that may also have helped the butter dripping catastrophe.  Here is the recipe as I have tried it along with pics.  Let me know if you come up with other hints for me to perfect this.

Quick Sticky Buns:

16 tsp butter
16 tsp brown sugar
1 8 count can of biscuits.
8 tsp of cinnamon sugar mix

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place 2 tsp each of butter and brown sugar in the bottom of 8 muffin cups. Place pans in the oven to melt butter and sugar together.  Roll out each biscuit a little and sprinkle with 1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon sugar mix.  Roll up like a burrito cut each log in thirds.  When butter and sugar is melted remove pans from oven.  Sprinkle in as many pecans as you like.  Top with three pieces of roll biscuit.  Press down lightly.  Bake 15-17 mins until golden brown.  Let set one to two mins then turn out onto cookie sheet or platter.  Enjoy



Monday, January 21, 2013

Replicating Perfection

Have you ever had a plate of goodness that you simple cannot replicate no matter what.  Even if you have the exact recipe, the same ingredients, and even the same cooking pan and STILL you can't make it come out the same.  I have had this experience with several of my grandmother's recipes, which I am certain many have.  This weeks test of recipe that I can not replicate no matter how hard I try is my friend Nickole's Roasted Chicken Wings.  I went got a package of extra large chicken wings and drumettes prepared to try this mixture again.  They are just never as good as hers. I don't know if there is an ingredient that she is not telling me about or if I am missing a step but they just are not hers.  But here it is and see if you have better luck than I.

Nickole's Roasted Chicken Wings.

Extra large chicken wings
melted butter to coat
granulated garlic
onion powder
season salt

Coat wings in a thin drizzle of butter.  Liberally dust the wings in the seasonings. Place in a roasting pan and add a little chicken stock to cover the bottom of the pan.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for 1hr 30 mins.  uncovered. And enjoy.

Like typically great recipes it is vague in it's measurements and full of potential error and yet contains gold if only you have the right touch. Seems easy enough but Nickole's will make you cry for joy and mine are just so so. Good luck and hopefully were I have failed you will find success.   

Monday, January 14, 2013

Biscuit Memory Lane

Well I was discussing biscuits with friends the other day. I know strange subject but you know how it goes when our world revolves around the next meal and the friends and family that you will break bread with....or should I say biscuit.  I was telling them about my mother's biscuit find (found in the previous post) and I was telling them about not have a pastry cutter.  Which was strange to me because growing up we always had one.  So when I didn't have one it took me a second to recover. Mind you mom showed me what to do if I didn't have one which was good. Basically taking two kitchen knives like a cross pattern.  Think scissors but you can find pastry cutters to make it easier. 

Then we got to discussing biscuit cutters.  So the question is what did your mom or grandmother use to cut biscuits out?  Mine used either a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass.  My friend Jim he said that his used an empty Clabber Girl can. And when in a pinch you can just use a knife and cut squares. No matter what you use homemade biscuits are fairly simple to make, quick to bake, good with almost anything on them and more importantly can't be filled with anything but love.  So enjoy the buttery goodness.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The begining of something new!

Well Hello All
Here is to the start of many many new things in my life.  On advice from my friend Pren I have decided to start a cook's blog, so to speak.  Here I will hope to give cooking tips, recipe successes and failures, along with advice.  So let's begin.

Since my unemployment I have done more cooking in my home ever.  Since I had recently been doing that at work there was no desire to do so at home. So my first endeavors in the culinary sense was a slow cooker brisket braised in grape jelly, ketchup and onion soup mix.  It was very nice I highly recommend especially if you take the braising liquid afterwards and reduce it down to a BBQ sauce consistency. But here is the recipe of the moment.  My mother sent me the recipe for biscuits made by Martha Washington.  Of course back in those times I am certain that this recipe probably used lard in place of the shortening.  Which would give it a wonderful flaky texture but will raise the cholesterol level of the modern man to a death rate if eaten regularly.  So we have substituted Crisco shortening.  Which is shelf stable and a good substitute, but if you want to raise the flavor factor do what I did and use ice cold butter. Yum.  These biscuits at first seem a little bland but once you take a second bite you will see the attributes of this breakfast delight.  So here it is the recipe for Martha Washington's Biscuits.

3 Cups Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
4 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp cream of tarter
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening or butter
1 large egg
1 cup milk.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tarter and salt together.  Cut in butter with two knifes or pastry cuter until mix resembles pea size chunks.  Whip together egg and milk and add to flour/butter mix.  Mix together only until just together.  DO NOT OVERMIX.  If you do you will have tough biscuits.  Roll out on a floured board to 1 inch thick cut into desired shape.  Place on buttered sheet tray.  Bake 450 degrees for 12-15 mins or until light brown.  If you desire darker browning. brush with egg wash (one egg and 1 tbsp water whipped together).

I am going to experiment with getting this to the baking stage and the freeze them for future baking.  I will let you know how that goes.  These unfortunately do not hold for long with no real preservatives but hopefully they won't last through breakfast anyway.