Monday, June 15, 2009

Caramel Chocolate Bars

These looked so yummy, we just had to try them. They're definitely delicious, but more candy than cookie, so we'll probably not be making them very often!

Caramel Chocolate Bars

from Cook with Sara

6 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 T. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp. salt
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half

Line a 8 or 9" pan with foil, long enough to create handles on the ends. Grease the foil.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar and salt on medium speed until well blended. Beat in flour. Drop dough by spoonfuls over foil and press out with your fingers to create a smooth, even layer. Prick the dough with a fork.

Bake at 350 until just starting to color lightly, 18 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for caramel layer, place butter and brown sugar in a saucepan set over medium low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk until sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Add milk and salt, and whisking constantly, bring mixture to a simmer. Do not allow mixture to boil. Cook and whisk until mixture thickens and becomes a light caramel color, about 10 minutes.

Pour caramel over crust, smoothing into an even layer with a metal spatula or dinner knife. Return pan to oven and bake 10 minutes. Transfer pan to rack and cool to room temperature. (At this point, you can refrigerate the bars overnight if you wish.)

For chocolate layer, place chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk constantly until mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then pour over caramel layer and spread out evenly.

Refrigerate until chocolate is set, 30 minutes or longer. Lift bars out of pan using foil handles. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 16 or 20 bars. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 16-20 servings.

Go here for beautiful tutorial pictures.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Steven's Favorite Ice Cream Cake?

Several years ago I made some sort of ice cream cake that Steven loved. Unfortunately he didn't let me know right away, and so we have to keep experimenting to see if we can re-create it. Today I'm trying a variation of the "Peanut Buster Bar Dessert" that I have. It calls for a layer of peanuts - which I know wouldn't have been in the dessert Steven liked so we're omitting them. Steven also said my creation included a chocolate cake layer in addition to an Oreo cookie crumb layer. It's almost done, so we'll see if it comes close to his memory.
Start by baking a chocolate cake. I like my variation of a recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

Feathery Fudge Cake
1 cup butter or margarine
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups cold water
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Combine dry ingredients and mix in with water. Pour into two greased and floured 9" cake pans. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pans.

I placed one of the cake layers in a springform pan and topped it with a thin layer of softened vanilla ice cream. Next came a layer of Oreo cookie crumbs and then another thin layer of ice cream. (Try freezing it in between layers for a bit.) After spreading it smooth, freeze while you're making the chocolate topping.

Combine 1/4 cup butter, 3/4 cup evaporated milk, 1/3 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup powdered sugar in a sauce pan. Stir until smooth and bring to a boil. Simmer for about ten minutes, and then cool thoroughly before pouring on top of the frozen ice cream cake. (If you try to rush this step, the ice cream melts on contact. Guess how I know?)
Sprinkle with a few more Oreo crumbs and return the cake to the freezer.
After several hours remove, slice, and serve. This picture was taken after 6-8 hours in the freezer and the chocolate topping was still fairly liquid, which isn't how I remember it being last time I made it. So, I guess this is a recipe that must be made the day before.
It was still delicious!

And while it may not be the exact ice cream cake Steven remembers (he seemed to think the cake layer was thinner and the ice cream layer thicker!), he says I can stop looking for it. This will suffice :)

Delicious Cinnamon Rolls

For his birthday breakfast, Steven wanted cinnamon rolls. There wasn't room in the fridge to make our favorite recipe, so I went with another recipe that can be made in a couple of hours. It's pretty yummy as well, and satisfied Steven's request.

Delicious Cinnamon Rolls

3 cups warm tap water
2 pkgs yeast
½ cup sugar
2 tsp salt
½ cup potato flakes
8 cups flour
½ cup oil
2 eggs
filling: softened butter, brown sugar, cinnamon to taste
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
5 cups powdered sugar

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, salt, potato flakes and 3 cups flour. Add eggs and oil and beat 2-4 minutes with mixer. Knead in remaining flour. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Roll out and spread with butter. Top with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up and slice. Yields 18 large or 30 small rolls. Let raise 20-30 minutes. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Mix remaining ingredients until creamy. Spread on rolls. (from cousin Aislynn’s preschool cookbook, tried 4/01 – dough pretty good, frosting delicious)

And in case you're interested, today I took pictures trying to show how much butter, cinnamon and sugar I use. I don't measure - just spread or shake until it looks good.

Waltz Bean Chili

Wayne cooked supper for us again. This time it was Waltz Bean Chili. Follow the recipe for "Bob's Special Waltz Beans," adding a large can of tomato juice (the 46 ounce size) and 1 tablespoon of chili powder. When it's done, garnish it with some cheese and/or sour cream. This was another delicious dinner.

Celebration Dinner

In honor of Steven's birthday and Jeff leaving on his mission, it was time to have our traditional "celebration" dinner. We had it a few days before these two events, to take advantage of our usual Sunday "eat on china at the dining room table" atmosphere. Start by serving everyone a standard lettuce-and-tomato salad, although this time we added artichoke hearts because Jeff loves them. Before calling everyone to the table, send Dad out to grill the steaks. (And then eat the salads while they finish cooking.) Choosing the right steak is serious business. Everyone but Mom enjoys A-1 Sauce on theirs; she prefers the unadulterated taste of plain salt and pepper. It's not a proper celebration without dinner rolls and potato casserole. And a luscious dessert.

Dinner was a success, and the "guests of honor" were satisfied. And Steven at least is even more excited to have a repeat in the near future for Father's Day.

Chef Jef's Final Creation

or "What's in the Fridge?" This time is was red onions and garlic, spaghetti and meatballs, brocolli and fresh tomatoes, all sautéed in pepper-flavored olive oil and topped with a touch of Parmesan cheese and ranch dressing.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Holly's Dinner Rolls

Holly’s Rolls
from Julie
2 Tbls yeast
1 cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
6-9 cups flour
melted butter

Combine yeast and water in a small bowl. Let stand to soften. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, eggs, salt and canned milk. Stir in yeast mixture. Add flour a cup at a time until dough looks right. Let rise until doubled – about 1 ½ hours. Divide dough into fourths and roll out into a circle. Spread melted butter on top. Cut each circle into 12 wedges using a pizza cutter. Roll up and place almost touching on cookie sheet. Let rise for another 30-60 minutes. Back at 400° for 8-10 minutes. Makes 4 dozen.
(David’s - and Jeff's too -“last dinner” recipe)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Ribbon Dessert

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Ribbon Dessert
(from the Kraft Magazine)
made by Michelle for Jeff's "last Sunday Dinner"
12 "nutter butter" cookies, divided
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 ounces whipped topping, divided
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Crush 8 of the cookies and mix with the butter. Press into the bottom of a foil-lined 9x5" loaf pan. Combine cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla and mix well. Fold in 3 cups of the whipped topping (about 8 ounces). Take out about 1/2 cup of this mixture and mix with the melted chocolate. Spread half of the plain mixture on top of the crust. Spread the chocolate mixture on top of that. (This is easier if you freeze the pan for 15-20 minutes first.) Spread the remaining plain mixture on top of that. Freeze overnight. Invert and remove foil. Place right-side-up on a serving platter. Top with remaining whipped topping and cookies (coarsely broken).

Spanish Omelet #3

Wayne cooked breakfast for us again this morning. As usual, it was really good! We had to improvise with the ramekins, because the recipe didn't designate a particular size. We used 4 7-oz. ramekins with a single egg in each, and then put the rest of the mixture and eggs in a small casserole.
Huevos Malagueña

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt to taste
1 chorizo, sliced
1/4 pound smoked ham, diced
1/4 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked
8 eggs
1/3 cup cooked green peas
4 asparagus tips

Sauté garlic, onion, and green pepper in oil in skillet until limp. Stir in tomatoes, paprika and salt. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Cook chorizo in another skillet; add ham and shrimp. Pour tomato mixture in equal parts into 4 individual ramekins, reserving a small amount for later. Break two eggs in each dish. Divide the meat mixture into the 4 dishes and top with reserved tomato mixture. Bake at 400° for about 8 minutes, until the eggs are set. Garnish with peas and asparagus tips. Serves 4.

Fried Egg Sandwiches

One of the kids favorite breakfasts is Fried Egg Sandwiches. We got out the camera the last time we made them. Break an egg into a heated, greased frying pan, and poke the yolk. Make toast while it's cooking. Top with some bacon bits (or wait until later and use a slice of ham). Flip the egg and sprinkle some grated cheese on top. Butter the toast and slip the egg between the two slices. You're done!
Turning it into a bagel sandwich was a favorite for the wrestlers in the family. After making the sandwich we'd wrap it in waxed paper, then a paper towel, then some aluminum foil. It would stay warm from home to the meet until after weigh-in a couple of hours later. We had requests from their teammates to make enough to sell to them, but that would have been too much work! (This bagel was pretty fat and got stuck in the toaster, so it doesn't look pretty, but it tasted good.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chef Jef Continued

More Creating:
Jeff's keeping busy in the kitchen at lunch time. Here are some of his creations from this week. Some of the dishes may not look as pretty as others, but they all tasted good. The point is that you can open the refrigerator and pantry and pull together something delicious and nutritious without a lot of effort. Just start tossing things in the pan and use up those leftovers!Shrimp, tomatoes, garlic, onions, lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan and spaghetti:
Chicken, green beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, ranch dressing and ramen noodles:
Canned turkey chunks, green beans, mushrooms, various spices and ramen noodles:
Turkey, cranberry sauce, green beans, onions and rice:

"Down in the Dumps" Pudding

Brownie Pudding
aka "Down in the Dumps" Pudding
(If you eat this when you're feeling down, you immediately feel happier!)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
3/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Stir the first five ingredients together. Add the next four and pour into an 8" square pan. (It doesn't need to be greased. We also always double the recipe and use a 9x13" pan.)
Combine the last three ingredients and carefully pour over the batter in the pan. Don't mix it together.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350°. (You'll notice that the "cake" part magically floats to the top!)
Serve warm or chilled. Add a scoop of ice cream and it tastes like a hot fudge brownie sundae!

P.S. If you are ever in a funk and need some chocolate to lift your spirits, head on over to Stop and Smell the Chocolates. I'm sure you'll find something that will work!