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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Microwave popcorn in a brown paper bag

Does anyone remember making popcorn on the stove as a kid? I would always burn it, and ruin my mom’s pots. Then came along the hot air popper, which was much better. Then came microwave popcorn that I thought was the best…I ate it all of the time until I discovered¬†that the ingredients in the flavoring were not too good for me. So, after years without popcorn, I am happy to report that you can pop your own in the microwave!

This might not be news to you, but it was to me when I saw my co-worker pull a small brown paper bag out of the microwave, and pour out perfectly popped popcorn.
This is much better for you and a heck of a lot cheaper than the microwave packs. Please note: some microwave manufacturers say that brown paper bags are a fire hazard, so use your judgement, and don’t leave the microwave unattended.

Here’s all you need:
Brown paper lunch sack
Popcorn
Butter
Salt

Pour about half an inch of popcorn into the bag. Fold the top over 2 or 3 times. Place in the microwave and cook on the popcorn setting. Listen for when the pops become less frequent and avoid burning. It took my bag about 25 seconds less than the popcorn setting.
Open the bag to release the steam. (Open the bag away from your face.)
Pour into a bowl and top with melted butter, and sprinkle with a salt of your choosing. Or you can just eat it plain from the bag.

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It’s National Margarita Day!

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 2.02.57 PMIt’s always 5:00 somewhere, so treat yourself to a drink today. This is my favorite recipe courtesy of Martie Knows Parties blog.

Coffee Toffee Talk

coffee toffee

There is something so satisfying about making a fast batch of candy from stuff you have in the cupboard. I love coffee and I really love toffee, so this looks as if it was made just for me!

This recipe comes to us from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. This is my latest cookbook obsession, and every recipe is inspired and written with easy to follow instructions, plus great photos. I reccomend it to give as a gift to yourself.

Back to the Coffe Toffee…I checked all of the ingredients and came up short on semi sweet chocolate chips due to my kids eating them like candy, so I used some left over Hershey Kisses from Valentines Day. They worked perfectly. I thought I’d try toasted coconut on half of the toffee since I really don’t love nuts, and the coconut worked, too! The coffee flavor is subtle, and gives a nice variation to sweet toffee.

Here’s what I learned: The candy mixture cooks quickly, so don’t leave it unattended. Start stirring it constantly the minute it reaches 250 degrees, it will zoom to 300 degrees in a matter of minutes.

When pouring the cooked mix into the pan, take care not to pour any scorched sugar from the side of the sauce pan into toffee.

Have the chocolate chips ready to go onto the hot candy as soon as it is poured into the pan. If you use Hershey Kisses, it takes about 2 dozen, and have them unwrapped before you start the recipe.

Cool the pan in the refrigerator for about an hour. Store candy covered in the refrigerator to keep chcolate from getting soft.

The recipe makes about 3/4 of a 9″x13″ pan. Try not to eat it all in one day…

Next day update…even better flavor after sitting overnight in the fridge!

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Just a few ingredients, and away we go

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Hershey Kisses melting on top of molten toffee mix

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Half coconut and half slivered, chopped almonds. Note how the toffee didn’t fill the whole pan, which made for easier clean-up.

I want (to read about) candy!

Hey WordPress Reader, yeah I’m talking to you. When I click on the category of “candy” I want to see posts about sugary, sweet candy. The kind you buy at the store and eat in the car, the kind you keep in your desk at work, the kind you swear you’ll never eat again, but you can’t stop. That kind of candy. NOT ¬†“eye candy” or jewelry called “wrist candy”, or some girl named Candy, not even John Candy!

that is all…

My attempts at homemade cocoa and marshmallows

It may look like Spring where you are, but up here in the north, it’s winter. So, warm drinks, and treats are still on the menu.

I had seen these two recipes on Pinterest and wanted to try them out.

First the cocoa recipe is from Cook’s Country. I followed it, but I didn’t have enough Dutch Cocoa, so I used Hershey’s instead, and I think it turned out well. It’s probably not as rich as with the Dutch, but it’s a keeper. It mixes well and if I add a little coffee it makes a good mocha.

Next, the marshmallows. I have seen Alton Brown’s recipe and it’s pretty easy to follow, so I gave it a try. I followed the recipe exactly as written, and wasn’t pleased with my results. So, I made it again, and tweaked it so it came out better. Here are some notes I have:

1. If you are using a Kitchen Aid mixer, you don’t need to beat the mixture for any longer than 9 minutes. I mixed the first batch for about 13.5 minutes, and it made it stiff like nougat, and too hard to spread in the pan..

2. I added more vanilla the second time. I’ve looked at other recipes and Ina Garten’s uses 1 Tablespoon of vanilla, which I used, and it was much better. I’ll try peppermint and a dash of red food color to make pink marshmallows next time. Any flavor would work, coffee, coconut, almond, etc.

3. Line your pan with parchment, spray with non-stick (unflavored) cooking spray, or butter the pan. Shake the powdered sugar mix around in the pan after you have covered it with platic wrap. Trust me, this will keep you from being covered in sugar dust.

4. When the marshmallow slab has cooled in the pan for at least 4 hours, place another piece of parchment on top, and flip the pan over. You can cut the slab on that parchment.

5. Cut the slab into strips with a pizza cutter dipped in the powdered sugar/corn starch mix. Then use kitchen shears, dipped in the same sugar mix, to cut the marshmallows into cubes.

6. After cutting, toss the marshmallows with the powdered sugar/corn starch mix in the same pan where they cooled. This saves your clean up, and then everything cleans up with hot, soapy water.

Verdict: This is a good recipe and uses basic ingredients. The marshmallows taste great toasted and I imagine they would make superior S’mores.

I want to try the marshmallows from Smitten Kitchen, they incorporate beaten egg whites, and they look fluffier than Alton’s. Let me know if you have a favorite recipe for these, or if there’s a flavor that you like.

Winter will be joining us for about 2 more months, so I have lots of time to experiment.

Have a sweet day!

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Cook the sugar, corn syrup mixture until it reaches 240 F.

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Whip the cooked sugar mix for 9 minutes, or until it looks like fluffy marshmallow creme. Use a timer to keep track of how long it has been mixing. Don’t overmix.

(It’s ok to lick the beater, and the bowl)

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I could have smoothed out the top a bit more…

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That is one big marshmallow.

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Cut them into cubes, and toss with the powdered sugar and cornstarch mix.

Starburst Flavor Morphs…what’s up?

Hmmm…I honestly don’t know who came up with these. I mean, I can only imagine the corporate focus group that came up with this oddity. These are candies that are supposed to start as orange and cherry then magically add strawberry and lime flavor…really, did anyone ever say “these orange chewy candies are missing strawberry?” No, they did not…ever.
First, the candies are hard. They should start off chewy, but they are stiff. The orange flavor is decent, but I can barely perceive the magic strawberry. The cherry tastes like cough medicine, and the lime doesn’t make it better.
Now normally, I like Starburst, especially the tropical ones, but these are an insult to the brand. So steer clear.

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Don’t be afraid of the Dark Reeses

Oh so good…the dark chocolate is less sweet than the milk chocolate version, and it compliments the salty peanut butter perfectly. I wonder how these would taste in S’mores?

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