Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Hottest Hot Fudge

It's been the hottest Summer...ick
I have the hottest Fiance...yep
I've never been into the hottest trends...
possibly because skinny jeans don't nearly fit after eating the HOTTEST Hot Fudge, by the spoonful and I'm ok with that.  They don't look fun anyways....sweat pants are clearly a better option for some of us!

Honestly, let's talk about hot fudge for a second: there is nothing like it.  It's smooth, decadent, creamy, chocolaty, but like a different kind of chocolaty, a better kind of chocolaty, the hottest kind of chocolaty. 
It's my favorite food, I think!  Mmmm...... 

Alright...let's get to it: I purchased this AMAZING book at a thrift store called Hidden Treasures (how appropriate) for $3.99, so approximately the amount one would spend on a jar of smuckers or hershey's hot fudge.  Let's just say, I got my pennies worth!  I've also made fabulous cakes from this book......it was published in 1980...isn't it gorgeous....you know Maida isn't thinking about skinny jeans....just sayin'

In my opinion, Heavy cream is by far one of the greatest things.....EVER.  Honestly, I used it for a few years before looking at the nutritional facts....so if you haven't looked...guard your heart, I don't recommend it.
(insert soap box: the fat in there is better for you than the fat that comes from fake food, it's for real) 
Anywho, so when Cream is on sale, I buy it....just in case I need it at some point ;)  
Then comes a day I think, I need to use that creamy goodness....oh the possibilities.  I make meals first: Chicken Tikka (blog post needs to happen, best thing ever), Alfredo sauce...mmmmm, then of course you can actually whip the cream and use it on anything or in coffee.....ok, ok.....OR you can make hot fudge.  

Enough already....I'm full of words....because I just consumed some of this hot fudge straight from the pan onto my ice cream....but, if you didn't get anything else from this post, know this: YOU should make this fudge NOW. 

Hottest Hot Fudge
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons sweet butter 
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar packed*
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (it says dutch process, but I didn't have any)

Place the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until butter is melted and cream comes to a low boil.  Add both sugars and stir for a few minutes until they are dissolved.  (the surest test is to taste; cook and taste until you do not feel any sugar granules in your mouth) 
Reduce the heat.  Add the salt and cocoa and stir briskly with a small wire whisk until smooth.  Remove from heat.  

*I used a really dark brown sugar with high molasses content...because that is yummy. 

This can be refrigerated and stored for 1-2 weeks (if it lasts that long) 


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Challenge: Cowboy Kickin' Soup

I like cowboys.  I like their work ethic.  I like their look.  I like their appetite. 
I also like love my boyfriend, who could pass for Daryl Singletary if he had a sweet hat:

(photo from google images- Daryl Singletary)

Alright...so...what do cowboys have to do with my cookbook challenge?   Well, the cookbook I used tonight is full of recipes that are "cowboy approved".  How do I know?  It is Texas Cowboy Cooking by Tom Perini.  The man is not only the owner of Perini Steak House, and a steak genius, and the author of the cookbook, but he is a cowboy.  So, who would know better what cowboys like to eat than an actual COWBOY.  


Now, when I think of cowboys and what they might like to eat, soup is NOT the first thing that comes to my mind.  However, I like soup.  And I had previously frozen some butternut squash.....that worked perfectly for this dish!  Plus, with the little kick in the pants that this leaves in your mouth, it is indeed: Cowboy approved!

Winter Squash Soup
By: Tom Perini
3 pounds of winter squash (butternut, delicata, Hubbard, or even pumpkin)  
1 Large unpeeled onion, halved
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/4 cup water
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (the cowboy kicker)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
(I also added a shake or two of sage)

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Oil the cut surfaces of squash and onion and place them in a large baking dish cut side down.  Bake at 350 until tender and soft, about 1 hour (note: I had already cooked my squash and froze it, so I did not do this part.  Because of that, I simply sauteed my onion in olive oil.)  Remove from the oven and allow to cool until vegetables can be handled.  Scoop out the squash pulp (<3 that word) and place in food processor.  Remove the papery outer skin of the onion and add cooked onion to the squash.  Puree vegetables until smooth.  Add a little broth to make a smooth mixture.  Place the pureed squash in a saucepan, add the remaining broth, milk, and seasonings.  Simmer for a few minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Serve with a spoonful of cream, sour cream, or Cre`me fraiche.  (that is my favorite ending to any recipe....serve with some sort of cream....please!!!)

Now, I am no professional food blogger or anything....my pictures are just pictures of what my food looks like right before I consume it.  What you see is what you get kinda deal.  However, I was lucky enough to have my amazing food stylist friend visiting from out of town.  Love her. Love her style.... honored to be her friend and laugh with her....and also....eat with her!!! 

Nicole workin' some sour cream and pepper art :)

She makes things beautiful....she makes life beautiful!!!

This soup was super yummy.  Loved the texture.   Really liked the flavor.  The red pepper gives you a little cowboy kick in the pants.  The sour cream apologizes for the slight kick.  It tastes nice the day after a blizzard!  

Enjoy life.....eat good food!!! 

Challenge: Magical Souffle

Third day of my challenge!  A snow day!  A foot of snow and LOTS of wind makes for a good reason to "work from home".  What a delight!  Today, I made two recipes from two different books!  You'll notice that all the cookbooks I am using this week all have a similar theme....but the sparks are worlds apart.  They are all very "country".  And, if you know me....you know...this fits well.

Tonight's main course was Cabbage Rolls.  I've never made cabbage rolls....but I like cabbage and hamburger...and rice!  So, off I went!  They were harder than I expected.  I think the hardest part was peeling layers of cabbage off without ripping them.  I used the recipe from Home Cooking With Trisha Yearwood.  These were not your grandma's cabbage rolls.  Well, maybe they are your grandma's.....but I don't think they were mine.  They have the most interesting of spices: Cinnamon and cloves.  In cabbage rolls, you ask?  I know...I was asking the same thing.  But, I didn't dare run it past momma before just makin' the recipe....wanted to try it in it's proper form.  Mother spied the cloves right away....and was not impressed.  I LOVED the addition.  Mom said she used to make cabbage rolls and just throw some prego in there.  So, the sauce of simple tomato juice was not thick enough for her.

Also.....just now as I sit and type, I realize that I forgot an entire ingredient which would have certainly maintained the spices better and added more goodness: tomatoes.  REALLY.. well....you must understand; not only was I making cabbage rolls for the first time.....but cheese souffle's.  CHEESE SOUFFLE's.  They WILL change your life, give you goose bumps and make you want to do cartwheels (something I've NEVER accomplished).  So, needless to say, I was distracted.  Alright, enough of my gabbing....on to the recipes.

Cabbage Rolls
By Trisha Yearwood
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup rice, cooked
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 8 oz can stewed tomatoes (the one I forgot)
2 heads green cabbage
9 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice   
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 12oz can tomato juice

Preheat oven to 350

In a large bowl, mix the beef, rice, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and TOMATOES.  Set aside.  

Wash and core the cabbage.  Bring a large stockpot (missed that word too...I used a dutch oven and it wasn't tall enough)  filled with 8 cups of water, the sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, and bay leaves to a boil.  Blanche the cabbage for 5 minutes.  Drain the cabbage, let it cool, then carefully peel 12 leaves from the cabbage.  (much harder than it sounds, in my life)

Place 1/4 cup of the beef and rice mixture onto each leaf.  Fold in the sides of the leaf wrap and roll, enclosing the filling.  Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, closely together in a 9x13 pan.  

In a small bowl, combine the tomato juice with the remaining one cup of water (I probably wouldn't do this next time, because it makes the sauce too watery....but it might also help in the steaming/cooking process) pour the mixture over the cabbage rolls.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Cheese Souffle Supreme
A french classic: By Laura Ingalls Wilder

3 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 Cup flour
1 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
4 eggs, separated

1.  Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour, and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add milk slowly, stirring over low heat until sauce thickens.  Add seasonings and cheese, continue stirring until cheese is melted.  Set aside to cool.  

2. Preheat oven to 325.  Grease 6 cup souffle dish (I made half the recipe, which resulted in two perfect ramekins of personalized souffle's)

3. Beat egg yolks until light in color.  Stir into cheese mixture.  

4.  Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.  Fold into cheese mixture until just mixed.  

5.  Pour into prepared dish(s); set dishes in pan of boiling water and bake 50 minutes.  When done, the souffle will be well puffed with firm outer edges.  The center will wobble slightly when shaken gently.  Serve immediately. 

I've never made a souffle......but I would do it over and over again.....so simple.... the ingredients, the process, and the taste!  Mmmmm.... it so soft and fluffy and cheesy!  I would recommend trying this. 

Oh....Also, there just happened to be some cupcakes in the freezer!!!  So, I whipped up some delicious chocolate whipped cream to put on top....my first thought was a powdered sugar frosting.....which I don't actually enjoy....so I was excited to whip up a tasty creation that wasn't too sugary. 

I used 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1/2 cup Hershey's Dark Chocolate morsels (does anyone else just really enjoy that word?). 
Heat the cream, pour over chips, let set.  Stir.  Pop in the freezer for about 5-10 min.  Whip like nobody's business....for like 3-4 minutes, until it's thick and chocolaty and needs to be eaten ASAP!!! 

With great LOVE and anticipation.....from my kitchen!!!  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Challenge: Meanwhile, back at the Farmhouse

The second night of my challenge was successful! The cookbook I used is very inspiring!  It takes me back...as it might you.  To a more simple time.  Tonight I cooked from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook!  What I love about this cookbook is that it tells stories...and has photos of the old farmhouse that she lived in.  The stories that it tells have actual character and suspense.  It tells stories of a time when they had to live on rations.  It tells stories of God's provision beyond those rations.....and the food tells a story too!! 

The food tells a story of simplicity; something I can't help but think we are missing in our society and our constant need to go and to do....one of the reasons that Laura and her husband Almanzo were able to survive on the rations was because much of their food was grown themselves.  Fruits and vegetables were planted and tended by their hands.  Often times we don't even know that someone is involved in the process of getting that lettuce into a bag for us to conveniently pick up at the store....or that someone picked that orange from a tree.  The amount of appreciation they had for the simplicity of the true taste of their food is something worth seeking out. 

I chose a simple recipe to achieve that: simplicity in my own life!!!  This recipe is word for word from the book, I didn't change a thing, except, I only cooked two pork chops. 

Golden Pork Chops
Cooking Pork chops in milk gives them a rich, buttery texture.  
4 pork chops, 1/2 inch thick
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup cracker crumbs, more or less
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cups milk, more or less

1.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper and dip in egg to moisten all over.  Coat with cracker crumbs.  
2.  Preheat oven to 350
3.  Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet.  Add the pork chops and brown slowly.  
They browned beautifully

When Golden,  Add milk to almost cover meat and place in oven.  

 Crazy things happen in this step.....bubbles, it's gorgeous!

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning meat once or twice until milk is almost cooked away.  

  I don't know if you can see in this pic...but beautiful things happen to this in the oven....the milk engulfs the pork and is so decadent!  It's like a down comforter....soft, warm, buttery.  Sorry, that's all I got at this hour!  

4.  Serve immediately, spooning any remaining juices over meat.  

Ok, so maybe I changed one thing.....with my remaining juices, I made a gravy...why.... because I served this with mashed potatoes....and I like gravy on my mashed potatoes!!!  Mashed potatoes and peas!  I wish I could say that they came from my garden....but let's be honest there is like 10-15 inches of snow predicted for tonight.....and I live in an apartment.  But, someday Laura Ingalls Wilder, I too will grow my food!!!  

I stopped in Peppin WI at the Laura Ingalls Wilder exhibit in 2009 with my parents.  
 Mom and I in front of their tiny cabin

What a joy it was to see the simple means where Laura spent some of her days, this kind of thing inspires me, despite my small affection for some technologies, I feel we miss out on something FAR MORE important in life.  

I leave you with this poem, written by Laura about dinner.  I would suggest to you: take Dinner seriously.  NOT just the food, but the people around your table.  

Over the fence to the farmhouse, 
With laughter and repartee gay, 
It's almost time to be eating again
And we're rather too far away.  
There's Chicken and Dumplings for dinner, 
with salads and vegetables fine
And fruits just fresh from the orchard
Oh who wouldn't love to dine!  
Over the fence to the farmhouse, 
We're afraid they will not wait
And with Chicken and Dumplings for dinner
'Twould never do to be late.  
-Laura Ingalls Wilder


Monday, February 27, 2012

The Challenge: MIGAS

The challenge came while I was enjoying the first part of the Pizza Ranch Buffet with my mother.  You simply can't enjoy the second half of your time at a buffet, because all you are doing then is trying to get your money's worth...and sneaking to the bathroom to loosen the belt buckle. 

Anywho, I told momma that I had already per-ordered a cookbook that won't come out until March.  She gasped and said "but, you don't even use your cookbooks."  hmmm....sounds like a challenge to me.  I adore time spent in the kitchen....especially when dinner comes out nicely.  However, when dinner comes out nicely, momma will say "We should have this once a week."  There are about 28 dishes that she would enjoy having once a week.  But, I must satisfy my desire to experience new processes, and my tongue craves a new taste! 

The internet provides a plethora of avenues to find something new to make.....you can make something new everyday if you'd like.  However, I have been blessed with some pretty sweet cookbooks....and feel as though I have slightly abandoned them recently. 

This week I will ONLY cook from my books!!  No pinterest, no blog recipes, just me and the old school!! 

And I will share with you.....so you can taste and see that it is good!!! 

Tonight I made a recipe from the pioneer woman's cookbook.  Love her style, love her food, sometimes covet her life, I mean....have you seen her kitchen(s)..... yeah

 (pay no attention to the internet recipes behind the book)

 (MIGAS for two....and fresh oranges!!!)

I made MIGAS....which is an exciting southwestern scrambled egg dish!!  Of course, I made a few changes to accommodate me and momma!!  This is half the recipe (because there are only two of us)

(inspired from The Pioneer Woman)
1 medium onion (I used 4 green onions)
1 red bell pepper (I didn't have this)
1 green bell pepper 
2 tomatoes (I used a handful of grape tomatoes)
Jalepeno (I didn't have this)
5 large eggs
1/4 cup half n half (I used sour cream...see below)
salt and pepper
2 corn tortillas 
canola oil
olive oil
1 cup cheese (I used cheddar) 
I added half a pound of Pork Sausage!!!

I started by frying my sausage.  The original recipe doesn't call for meat....which makes me think of a scene from my favorite movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding  Where she tells her Greek aunt that her new Fiance is a vegetarian....."What you mean he no eat no meat, that's ok, I make him lamb!"  Yeah...watch it.  So, I had to have me some meat!  

Set that aside and chop your pepper, onions, and tomatoes.  (and jalepeno if you didn't forget to pick one up) After chopping, put your eggs in a bowl and whisk, add salt and pepper  This is where I add sour cream (a dollop, if you will).  This is a Paula Deen Secret.  Yes...Sour cream makes the best scrambled eggs!!  Very light and fluffy!  

Next, in the same meat frying pan, add a little canola oil and fry up these corn tortillas.....what a fun texture and taste they add to the dish!!  Set them on a paper towel to soak up grease.   Chop them length wise and cross wise, into bite sized chunks.  Set aside

In the same pan, cook the onions and peppers in olive oil and butter I also added a touch of garlic and salt here) over medium high heat for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook one minute.  Throw in the tortillas (and meat if you roll like me).  

Reduce the heat to low.  once the skillet cools slightly, add the egg mixture.  With a spatula, you will fold the mixture, so it doesn't get all freaky...don't stir.  Once the eggs are cooked, throw on the cheese and cilantro.  You can top with sour cream, which I forgot....but adding any source of cream to anything is a good habit to be in!  

This was "momma approved"!!!  -- That's a big deal in my house, she is my toughest critique. 
I'm super excited about this challenge!  I'm excited about the other cookbooks that I will be using...they all have such a different flare.... but, hold a special place in my heart...and my kitchen!!!  

Love to you all, mi amigos'.... tune in tomorrow for more yumminess!!!