Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Capers!

I love Christmas! I can't help it, once thanksgiving is done with I'm pretty sure I turn into a five year old! I love Christmas music, lights, decorations, tv specials, of course all the parties and gatherings with family and friends, AND Christmas food. Really what other time of the year produces such delightful scents from the kitchen? I decided this year for all our friends in the area I would make some little goodie boxes full of Christmas cheer (a.k.a candy!). Steve and I then went on a Christmas Caper across town delivering our boxes :), so I hope everyone enjoyed their treats.

I had four candies I included in the boxes:

Unfortunately I'm only going to be able to share the peanut butter cups and toffee. My phone broke, which had my pictures for the other two candies on it :(. If i somehow ever manage to retrieve these pictures I'll let you know. However, I've linked the candies to the blogs I got the recipes from so check them out!

Chocolate Covered Coffee Toffee


  • 2 sticks butter (a very heart healthy recipe)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 3tsp instant coffee
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1lb chocolate of your choice ( I used half bittersweet and half semisweet, and I used chips as opposed to blocks of chocolate)

This stuff is actually really easy to make. Before you start it's best to prep your baking sheet with some wax or parchment paper.

In a large pot with your candy thermometer attached, add all the ingredients except the chocolate and bring to a boil over medium low heat. Stir fairly regularly until it reaches a temperature of 275. At this point you need to stir constantly until the temp reaches 315 degrees.

When it hits 315, remove the pan from the heat and stir a couple times so it's nice and smooth. Now you have to work quickly. Pour the toffee onto your baking sheet and spread out with a spatula to an even thickness.

While it's still warm you also want to score it so it will break off into nice pieces for you. I used a knife, the original recipe said a pizza cutter would work well too. Let your toffee sit until completely cooled at room temperature.

Once your toffee is cooled break it into pieces.

In a double boiler (or your little 2 pot contraption such as the one I use) melt your chocolate.

Once your chocolate is melted remove from heat and dip your toffee in to coat completely.

If your chocolate starts to harden just reheat it for a minute or two. ( You may have to because it takes quite a while to dip a billion little pieces of toffee). Once they are coated stick them in the fridge to harden. Once hardened you can either go ahead and eat them, or you can drizzle some pretty designs on top.


Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


  • 12oz bittersweet chocolate (again I used chips)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

There's actually not a lot to these guys. On top of the ingredients you're also going to need those little paper candy cups that are meant for truffles and such.

On a tray distribute your paper candy cups. It helps to have a couple together to make them thicker and stronger.

In a bowl mix your sugar, peanut butter, and graham crackers. I wish I had put the graham crackers through the food processor to get a nicer, more fine grind. Instead I just crushed them up with a pastry cutter, which actually proved to be a very effective way to mix these three ingredients together. Set this bowl aside, we'll need it in a few minutes.

In your makeshift double boiler, melt your chocolate (I spent a lot of my holiday baking time, melting chocolate).

With a pastry brush, your just going to paint the insides of those cups with chocolate. You want a pretty thick coat in there because this creates your outer shell.

Once they're all painted, smoosh about a teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture into each cup.

Pour chocolate over top to cover it up. After every couple cups you top off, tap your baking sheet a few times on the counter to get a nice level top instead of a bumpy little mess.

I put these in the freezer to harden/store, but I would definitely recommend taking them out and letting them come to room temperature before eating. They taste much better that way!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!!!!


Empanaditas and Spanish Rice

Many moons ago, Steve won a Chili cook off and as a reward he got a new Mexican cookbook, Chef LaLa Presents Best Loved Mexican Cooking by Laura Diaz-Brown.

Mexican is something that we almost never eat, whether it be going out or making it ourselves. Not because we don't enjoy it, just for some reason it never comes up. Well, we decided to change our dinners up a bit and try something different. We choose to make Empanaditas and Spanish Rice. I have to admit, I was a little wary of following a recipe from someone named Chef LaLa, but I was actually very impressed with the recipe and thought it came out great overall. The only thing I would do different next time is just make regular sized Empanadas instead of mini Empanaditas.
Empanaditas Ingredients for Dough:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup masa harinia (we found something in the Mexican section at Wegmans that seemed to be this, but Steve thinks maybe it wasn't exactly the right thing. Who knows.)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 3tbsp butter
  • Wax or Parchment paper cut into 4x4 squares (12 squares)
  • Flour for dusting
In your food processor, combine flour, masa harinia, and salt. While pulsing add the water. Cut your butter into little pieces and then add to the mixture. Continue to pulse til a dough is formed.

Remove dough from processor and knead once or twice. Then on a floured surface, seperate the dough into 12 equal sections and roll out into a 3 inch circle. Place a piece of waxed paper between each one to prevent sticking. Place them in the fridge for an hour and start preparing your filling.

Ingredients for Filling:
  • 1/2 cup zucchini (we did not use because it's out of season and we couldn't find)
  • 1 pasilla chili (we used a jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded (I was boring and just boiled it, I probably should have baked it or grilled it to give it a better flavor)
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled ( this is basically just a very soft farm cheese, or you could use a mild feta)
  • 1tbsp green onion (we used regular onion)
  • salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp water

As you can see we changed a lot of the ingredients, you really can stuff these with whatever you want. Basically chop up all your veggies and combine all the ingredients in a bowl. We also used red pepper and celery just because we had some on hand.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While that's heating up, assemble your empanaditas. In the center of each dough circle put about 1 tsp of filling.

Wisk together your egg yolks and water and brush that along the edge. Fold the dough and half and seal by pressing a fork down along the edge. Then brush the top with the egg wash ( I accidentally skipped this step, which is why mine don't look as brown as they should).

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, while you are doing all this, set Steve to the task of making some Mexican Rice.

Mexican Rice Ingredients:
  • 8oz canned tomato sauce (Steve actually made the tomato sauce for this)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2tbsp canola oil
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots (we just used peas cause we happened to already have some)
Steve makes the tomato sauce by squishin up a can of tomatoes and cooking it with some garlic for a while.

In your food processor, combine the tomato sauce, onion, garlic, and 1/4 cup chicken broth and processes til smooth. Don't use your dough blade on accident like I did and then wonder why it's still chunky at the end.

In your skillet heat up your oil over medium heat. Add the rice, then stir occasionally until golden brown. Add the tomato mixture that you blended earlier and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add the peas, then cover, lower the heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until rice is tender.



Nutrition for 1 Serving of Rice (makes 6 servings): Calories: 141 Fat: 4.7g Protein: 1g Carbs: 24g

Nutrition for 1 Empanadita: Calories: 105 Fat: 4.1g Protein: 4.2g Carbs: 13.1g

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Abundance of Apples

A few weeks ago Steve and I made a nice little trip out to Abbott Farm. It was a pretty gloomy day, but I think that worked to our advantage as we had the whole orchard to ourselves. We wandered through the rows of apple trees sampling each kind and ended up walking away with 25lbs of apples! We also had some yummy hot apple cider and apple donuts. Needless to say we were very appled out at the end of our day.

There is no way to eat 25lbs of apples plain so we came up with lots of different things to do with them. This is just a showcase of the few of the things we did.

We haven't done a lot of cooking lately ( and if we have it hasn't been anything very exciting :( ) but we hope to get back into things and hopefully we'll make some yummy stuff this week. I do have a rather exciting menu planned for next weekend if I can convince someone to lend me their camera so stay tuned.

Without further ado......

Apple Pie

Tarte Tatin

Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts
my phone lost some of the pictures of this, and all the pictures of the finished product, but I wanted to post it because it was sooooo goood. The apple breasts were stuffed with apples, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. They were then cooked in apple cider and chicken broth. The liquid was then cooked down into a sauce with some Dijon mustard. Reallllly good.

I made some other stuff too such as a very tasty apple bundt cake but it fell apart as I was trying to unmold it :( so although it tastes delicious I have no pictures of it.

I also attempted to make apple butter, but in the end I think all I did was make applesauce. However, it does taste good and I successfully jarred it, so that was exciting.


Monday, September 21, 2009

A Day of Good Eats Part III - Main Course

We decided that instead of going out to eat we wanted to make a really fancy nice dinner, so we decided as a main course to make Beef Wellington, Baked Chard in a Bechamel sauce, and carrots. It was amazing. I've never had Beef Wellington and it was so delicious I would probably eat it every day if someone let me. Not only that, it was really fun to make all these dishes and really nice to sit down to a meal like this.

Beef Wellington


  • 2 pieces of beef tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 can beef broth
  • Puff Pastry dough
  • Wine
  • 2tbsp butter softened
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp butter softened
  • egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp wine
  • 2 slices of prosciutto

First you put your meat in a oven safe dish and cover with 2tbsp of butter softened. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then set aside and let cool completely.

While that's cooling get your onions and mushrooms all chopped up.

Cook those in some butter until nice and brown then set those aside as well and let cool.

Make sure you took out your puff pastry to thaw. Now roll it out til it's big enough to wrap up your meat in.

Rub 2 tbsp butter on tenderloin and then wrap in a slice of proscuitto

I took pictures of the next steps but they disappeared off my phone :(
Set on pastry dough and top with mushrooms and onions.

Fold up the dough and pinch it nice and tight. Brush with your egg yolk.

Put them back in the oven and cook at 450 for 10 minutes and then at 425 for 10 minutes. While thats cooking you have to make your sauce.

In a sauce pan take your beef broth and wine and reduce and simmer.

We served the sauce on the side so we could dip it.

Baked Chard with Bechamel Sauce


  • 1lbs Chard
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

Put your chard in an oven safe dish.

In a sauce sauce pan melt your butter

Add your flour and salt and mix well

Slowly a little bit at time add your milk.

Whisk constantly while doing this (not able to take pictures of this). Eventually you'll have a thin sauce. Turn up the heat a little and continue to whisk until it thickens up. About 3 minutes. Add in your pepper, chili powder, and nutmeg
Pour over your chard (we added mushrooms we had left over) then top with bread crumbs and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes

This was all so tasty!




Dessert was Rootbeer Floats