Monday, August 31, 2015

Homemade Caramel Apples

I guess I should have waited for cooler weather to make these treats.  I fought the melting caramel battle and ended up refrigerating them to firm them up. I was cooking for a friend and made these for her kids.
This recipe made 6.  Wash and dry your apples, set aside and push a stick into the core.  I think if you refrigerate these the caramel will adhere better.  I hope I remember that next time.  In a heavy pot, mix 4 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of light corn syrup, 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk and 2 cups of white sugar.  Cook this over ed/high heat until it comes to the soft ball stage, stirring occasionally.  Remove it from the heat and stir in 1 tsp. of vanilla extract.  Let this sit for a few minutes.
Sit them on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

I drizzled some melted chocolate over them. 

My friend's husband loves eggplant parmesan.  I picked up some eggplant at an Amish market over the weekend and made him some.
I don't like eggplant parm when it is soaked in tomato sauce.  I like to keep it crisp and add jut a bit of sauce.  So, I fry the eggplant until it is very crisp and drain it on paper towels.
I usually serve it on top of cacio e pepe with a drizzling of spaghetti sauce on it.  I top each slice with provolone cheese and a slice of fresh mozzarella and add a dollop of pesto.  You can find the step by step here:

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Yesterday we headed out to Amish country with one goal in mind....find the first pumpkins of the year!
All of the garden centers have mums, cornstalks and straw bales.....none had pumpkins.
We passed some interesting characters along the way. Click to enlarge.
We pulled up to an Amish farm market and there they were.
And now they are mine!
Lined up on my table in the rain this morning.  RAIN!  Pumpkins and rain...I am having a wonderful day.

 A friend sent this to me the other day and I just thought it was so perfect!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Summer's End Spaghetti

Here's another very good, easy and quick recipe to use up your tomatoes.    I used angels hair but you can use any pasta you like.                                                                                 
 An hour or so before you are ready to eat, dice up a bunch of tomatoes and throw them in a bowl.  Add a finely diced sweet onion, several minced cloves of garlic, some diced green pepper and salt and pepper.  Cut up a bunch of basil and add it too.  Drizzle this with a good olive oil and mix it all together. 
 Let this sit at room temp for at least an hour and stir it occasionally.

 Boil your pasta  and then stir in the tomato mixture and toss it to coat the pasta.  Serve it sprinkled with parmesan cheese. It's summer in a bowl!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Pumpkin French Toast

Are you ready for pumpkin everything?  I sure am. We've had a teaser of Fall weather the last few days so I made my family pumpkin French toast for breakfast.
 Mix 3/4 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of pumpkin, 4 eggs, 2 T. light brown sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract.

 Add 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.

 Beat until blended and dip slices of slightly stale bread in it.

 Cook them in a nonstick pan coated with butter.

Sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar and top with some good maple syrup.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chex Mix Season

I make so much of this that I have to mix it in a garbage bag.  I dump all of the ingredients in and gently roll it to coat everything completely. I use wheat, corn and rice chex, cashews, potato sticks, fritos, bugels, fried onions, wheat thins, pretzel sticks and mini triscuits.
Spread it out on cookies sheets and bake it at 275 degrees for 1-1/2 to 2 hours turning it over half way through.
Let it cool and pack it in bags and give it to your friends.  They will be happy.  I put 2 large bowls outside for my workers yesterday and it was funny to see them eating it all day long. There weren't even crumbs left!

 Look at the new Fall Twizzlers I found!  Caramel apple.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pork Carnitas

This is such a good recipe and very simple to make.  Buy a 4-5 pound pork shoulder roast and cut it into 2 inch cubes.  Trim off the excess fat, leaving  some on for flavor.  Put the pork in a heavy dutch oven and add, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. cumin,1 onion peeled and cut in half, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 cups of water and the juice of 2 oranges.  Throw the orange rinds in too.  Cover this and place it in a 300 degree oven to cook for 2 hours.
After 2 hours separate the meat from the pot, pick out the solids and discard and pour the juice into a small pot.

Place the cubes of meat on a cookie sheet and break them into 2 or 3 pieces.  Cook the sauce down to about 1 cup.  This will take about 8 minutes.  Pour it over the cubes of meat and place the meat under your broiler and broil until it becomes crisp. Turn the meat over and broil again until the tops ore crisp.

Make a quick slaw by slicing some cabbage and sprinkling it with the juice of a couple limes, 2 tsp. of honey and some salt and pepper.  Add some fresh cilantro too.

Lightly brown some flour tortillas. I do this in a dry cast iron pan.

Place the tortilla on a dish.

Top with some of the meat.

Add some slaw.  You can add any toppings you like. Jalapenos and pico de gallo would be good too.

Roll and eat. Mmmmmm!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Old Fashioned Chili Sauce

What do you put on your hot dogs?  I made these for everyone yesterday on the buns I had just baked and we put this chili sauce on them and it was outstanding.  I got the recipe from my friend Laurie at:

It's been in her family a long time.
Dice 6 onions (I used candy onions), 3 green peppers (I used my poblanos), and 18-20 tomatoes.  I made half this recipe for 4 pints of sauce.  Add 1-1/2 C. of brown sugar, 2-1/2 C. of cider vinegar, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. each of cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and allspice.  And a pinch of cloves. 

Cook it for about 3 hours at a simmer, stirring occasionally. Mine looked a bit watery so I added 1/2 cup of the tomato paste I made the other day.

Towards the end of cooking, I pureed it a bit with the stick blender.  I didn't make it totally smooth, just enough to break up any big chunks.

I continued cooking until it started to thicken and bubble.

I put it in sterilized jars in a water bath for about 8 minutes.

This actually tastes like a very good artisanal ketchup.  Good stuff and a great way to use up your harvest.  Thanks Laurie!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Almond Sugar Cookies and Hot Dog Buns

Today is the first days of school for kids in our area.  I always made cookies for my kids to eat when they came home on the first day and these were always a favorite.

Almond Flavored Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons of almond extract
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 can or roll of almond paste
2 cups of flour.

Combine wet ingredients until creamy then add dry ingredients. I use a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. When it is as hot as it is here, I place them in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes before baking. I like them to stay mounded and not flatten out and chilling them does the trick.

Bake them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. You don't really want them to brown. They should just be set. Allow them to rest on the cookie sheets for about 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

While they are cooling make this simple icing:

4 cups confectioner sugar
1/2 stick of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of milk

I dip the tops in decorating sugar.

I also made some hot dog buns.  My family loves hot dogs.  We don't eat them very often so when we do, I like to have good buns.  This recipe makes the best buns.

2 T. sugar
2 T. rapid rise yeast
2 C. milk
2 T. oil
2 tsp. salt
6 C. flour

Mix everything together and knead until you have a smooth ball of dough.  Cover it and let it rise until doubled.  Dump it on the counter and divide it into three pieces.

Then divide them into three's.

Roll and shape them into hot dog shaped rolls. Cover them and let them rise for about 30 minutes.

I made some for hamburgers too.  Brush with a beaten egg white and sprinkle with whichever topping you like.  I used 'everything' bagel topping.

Bake them at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until they turn golden.  These freeze very well.