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Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Since I have 5 major projects to complete before Dec. 12 (not including all the holiday stuff I have to do), I will likely not be posting until the 12th.

Then, it's an all-out baking frenzy.

Oh, and now that I have my Blogging By Mail swap partner, I have to get my BBM package ready, too.

I love this time of year. Makes me feel all Martha-Stewarty. :)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Vanilla Caramel Popcorn

Since popcorn is one of my favorite snacks, and I like trying out new recipes, this weekend included a rendezvous with my oven to make this recipe from bakingsheet. Serendipitously, I, too, had a measuring mishap during the process, though mine was due to misreading rather than being startled. I used 2 Tablespoons instead of 2 teaspoons of molasses. (I scooped some out and added a bit of corn syrup back to get the ratio somewhat correct.) I also added some nuts to the mix. We found the extra molasses and nuts to be wonderful. I would have had a picture to share, but unfortunately, the popcorn was devoured too quickly. So, without further adieu, here's my modified version of Vanilla Caramel Popcorn.

8-10 cups popcorn, un- or lightly-salted (I used air popped)
1 cup almonds, chopped (medium pieces, about 1/4 inch)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
4 tsp molasses (original recipe calls for 2 tsp)
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Pop the corn and let cool. Line a 10x15 pan with lightly greased foil or a Silpat. Preheat oven to 250F. Place glass bowl in oven to warm while making the caramel.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, molasses and butter; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 250F and is at hard-ball stage (use a candy thermometer). This will take 2 to 3 minutes.

In the meantime, transfer popcorn and nuts to the now-warm glass bowl.

Remove pan from the heat and immediately stir in salt, baking soda, and vanilla. (Warning, the mixture will foam!) Pour the mixture over the popcorn and nuts, stirring until most of the kernels are coated. Pour mixture onto baking sheet.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring (and if necessary, spreading out) every 15-20 minutes.

Let cool and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Chocolate Buttermilk Scones with Raspberry Filling

This recipe hails from a former public tv personality, Father Dominic, of Breaking Bread. We saw the episode with these scones, and my husband had to try them. In short, he thought they were fabulous. Personally, I'd use seedless preserves, but if you like the seeds, by all means, go ahead and use regular preserves. Or use strawberry preserves. Either way, these will taste wonderful.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup milk chocolate morsels, chopped fine
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl; stir to mix well. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in finely chopped chocolate. Combine buttermilk and egg in a small bowl; whisk until well blended. Pour into flour mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until just moistened. Do not overmix.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface ; knead gently 8 or 10 strokes. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, pat each piece into a flattened 8-inch round. Place one round on a lightly greased baking sheet or jelly-roll pan. Spread preserves on top of the round. Place the second round on top of the preserves. Using a large knife or metal spatula, cut into 8 wedges, wiping the knife after each cut.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until firm on the edges but still slightly soft in the middle. Let cool on a wire rack, then cut wedges apart before serving.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Vermicelli Pudding

I saw this Indian-inspired recipe on The Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring (CBS) quite a while ago. This dessert is not overly sweet, but it does have an interesting texture combination of the pasta and nuts. I preferred it warm, but it can be eaten warm, room temperature, or cold. If you reheat it (if there's any left), just add a little milk or cream.

1 Tbsp. ghee or butter
3 Tbsp. mixed nuts, chopped (I just used cashews)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (5 oz) vermicelli, broken into short lengths
1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup canned evaporated milk
5 Tbsp. white sugar

Heat the ghee or butter in a heavy saucepan and fry 2 tablespoons of the nuts for a few minutes, until golden brown. Add the vermicelli and fry until it begins to turn golden, taking care not to over-brown it. Add both the milks and the sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, scraping down the sides of the pan to return the creamy
residue into the milk. Simmer for 12-15 minutes until the vermicelli is soft. Remove from the heat and pour into individual serving bowls. Sprinkle with the mixed nuts. Allow to cool thoroughly then chill in the refrigerator if serving cold, or you can serve it warm.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Okra Pancakes

This is another Martha recipe. While some might not be a big fan of okra, I (and most of my family) really like it. I would bet that you could use frozen okra for this recipe, but be sure to slice it thinly (no bigger than 1/4 inch thick rounds) and use the non-breaded kind. Also, I didn't have any peanut oil, but olive oil worked well for me. These are an excellent side dish, especially in the summer when they are in season.

1/2 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt, plus more for serving
1 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (~1 small onion)
2 cups thinly sliced okra (~ 1 pound)
Peanut (or olive) oil for frying

In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the baking powder. Whisk to combine. In a second bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. It should resemble the texture of loose mashed potatoes; if not, add a little more water.

In a small bowl, combine the onion and okra. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Toss to combine, and fold into the batter.

In a cast-iron skillet, heat 1/2 to 1 inch of oil to 340F. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, spoon the batter by heaping teaspoons into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to remove from oil. Drain on a wire rack or crumpled paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Blogging By Mail is back!

If you're interested, head on over to Dispensing Happiness and see the details. Then, email Stephanie with your info and have fun! I thoroughly enjoyed the last round of BBM, and I'm greatly looking forward to this one, too! So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sugar Cookies

These simple cookies are great plain, decorated with icing or sugar, or used in the Ravioli Cookies.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will by very stiff; blend last flour in by hand. Do not chill dough. Note: THe dough can be tinted with Icing Color. Add small amounts until desired color is reached. For chocolate cookies: Stir in 3 ounces melted, unsweetened chocolate (if dough becomes too stiff, add water, a teaspoon at a time).

Roll out dough into 1/8 inch thick. (You may need to divide the dough into 2 balls first.) Use desired cookie cutters to cut shapes from rolled dough. Place cookies onto parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 6-7 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve plain or decorated as desired.