Friday, February 28, 2014

Bess's Pan Handy Cake

I love this recipe.  I loved it before I even baked it!  Let me tell you why....

My husband and I have our favorite Chinese food place that we eat lunch at almost every single Monday.  We have for a few years.  At some point, we noticed that there was a lady there, who sat right across from us and she was there the same day as we were.  We later found out, she eats there every single day!  After quite some time, we struck up a conversation, introduced ourselves and we became fast friends.  Bess has been through a lot in her 80 years.  We have to constantly remind her she has grandchildren who can and will mow her yard, or shovel the snow, trim trees, or heaven's knows what else, but she is a determined woman who would rather do everything herself!  She shares her family news and life experiences with us and we are richer because of it.  We just think the world of her and are sure we were supposed to go to that place, to meet her!  She is an inspiration, and her strength is incredible!

The other day we were discussing what I would be cooking or baking.  She was telling me of a cake, called "Pan-Handy Cake" that she used to make as a little girl in girl scouts.  She said sometimes when they made it, they would cover it in Hershey's Chocolate Bars right out of the oven, wait for them to melt and then swirl them around!  She said it was an eggless recipe and used vinegar and that it was in that girl scout recipe book at home and was bringing me the recipe!  I LOVE when there is a story behind how you come upon a recipe.  The only thing Bess and I disagree on is the HUSKERS.  I can't sway her, I have tried! HA!

Thank you Bess for this recipe, I even did the Hershey's bars!  Thank you for your friendship, your kindness and for loving Chinese food as much as we do, so we could meet!

This cake is called a "pan-handy" cake because it can all be mixed right in the pan you bake it in!  I am a sucker for the non messy way of life so I mixed it in a bowl and then poured into my baking dish!

Let's get to it!

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
2 lg, or 4 regular size Hershey bars.  (just chocolate)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  You can mix this all right in the pan (8x8) or mix in a bowl first.  Combine all dry ingredients, flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Mix until combined.  Add in vinegar, oil and water and mix to completely combine.  Put into 8x8 pan or smooth to even out batter if already mixing in the pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean of wet batter.  When it is done, take it out and IMMEDIATELY lay Hershey bars over the top and leave them for 2-3 minutes. 

They will melt but keep their shape, so take a knife and swirly, twirly that chocolate around to cover every bit of the top!  Make sure to leave enough on the knife to lick it off when you are done!  Let sit or refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Panzarotti Sticks

Hey friends!  Glad to have you stop by for a visit!  This recipe must have tickled your curiosity, eh??  I am glad it did, it is AMAZING and another recipe of my husbands!  I don't know that it is really a recipe per say, more of an idea, turned reality, turned awesomeness!

We have always been fond of the panzarotti.  We always fry them.  I say "always" like we eat them all the time.  Let me rephrase, "The 3 times in 10 years we have made them, we fry them".  If you are wondering if these can be baked, the answer is, I believe they can.  We intended on baking some, seriously and we got so ridiculously excited that NO cheese leaked out, we forgot and fried them all. Mwawaaahahahha!  True story by the way.

You can make a few or a lot of these.  Not really much more work.  I will give you the ingredients for one batch.

This is the perfect recipe to use my Homemade Pizza Seasoning in!  You could use pizza dough, but this is intended to be a convenient recipe, that is quick and easy to make!

1 roll of refrigerated crescent rolls
Pizza seasoning
8 string cheese sticks
beaten egg or water for sealing
oil for frying

Unwrap all of your cheese sticks.  Separate your crescent rolls and roll them out to maneuver getting your string cheese to fit.  You can roll these however you need to so don't worry so much about the form or looks.  Place your cheese inside, sprinkle on some pizza seasoning, and brush water or egg wash all around the edges.  Roll that baby up however you must to get the cheese all enclosed.  I brushed over all seams again with egg wash.  You can roll it on a smooth surface to smooth it out and make it look nicer.  Then brush over the seems again.  You just don't want cheese leaking out!

Preheat your vegetable or peanut (or any frying oil you choose) to 340 degrees F.  Put 2 in at a time, if your oil is to hot, they will get VERY dark on the outside very quickly and yucko!  So make sure to adjust your oil temp according to how they are frying up for you.  As long as they are sizzling a bit, they are fine.  To cold of oil will make them soak up all that nasty stuff and be horrid!
If you want to bake these, I would simply place in the oven on the temp the crescent rolls call for and bake  until done.  They won't take as long because the dough is rolled thinner. 
Serve with your best pizza sauce!
Thanks to my darling  hubby for this tasty treat of a recipe!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Magic Cake

I saw this cake on YouTube.  I searched around for different recipes and the fact is, they are almost all identical.  I hear this is an old recipe from back when, but never have seen it or had it before.

I made this cake twice.  The first time I refrigerated it as instructed upon it cooling to room temperature.  The second one, I just cooled to room temperature.  Everyone loved the one I put in the fridge more.  It fell a little more than I thought it should have.  They loved the second one, but the first one was their fav.  Here is why I did it twice.  I couldn't very easily see the layers in my first cake, as every photo shows.  You could easily taste the textures of the different layers but just not see them.  Then I decided they were probably photo shopped, and just made the second, with all I had and decided it would be one I would photograph and use.   I am still not sure you can SEE all the layers but I assure you, they ARE there!

This 1 batter, 3 layer cake, has a dense layer on the bottom almost in a crust sort of fashion, then a vanilla custard layer and then the top is a light, sponge cake like cake layer. 

So long story short, this was a huge hit!  I hope it is for your family and friends as well!

You will need:
4 eggs, at room temperature and separated. (you will both the yolks and the whites)
1 tbsp. water
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk, warmed slightly
3 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  In a clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.  Set aside. In another bowl combine egg yolks, water, and sugar.  When well combined, add in vanilla, melted butter and all purpose flour. Keep beating until well combined.  Add in milk and again beat until all ingredients are mixed.  They will be a VERY liquid batter.  Now carefully fold in your egg whites.  It is OK if there are a few lumps left, just do the best you can.  Pour into a 9 inch round cake pan, (greased ) and bake for about 1 hour.  The cake should still be SLIGHTLY jiggly in the center when it is done. 

Let cool until room temperature and my suggestion is to refrigerate for a couple of hours at least, then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar!  Enjoy this magical 1 batter cake that gives you 3 layers of sweet goodness!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Refrigerator Rolls

Oh you guys.....   I have been asked for a basic roll so many times.  I have never made one I loved.  I was crackin' through an old 1930's cookbook from my mom recently and found one I thought I would try.  It is labeled just plain "Refrigerator Rolls".  In the recipe it says you can (after mixing) put the dough in the refrigerator, covered until ready to use.  I gather that is where the "refrigerator" part comes from.  Genius, eh?  I did refrigerate mine for about an hour while I finished up some other things and was ready to prepare them.

Now I have to tell you, these are not my favorite.  NOT because they taste bad, they are delish actually, and I love their shape.  I am not a biscuit fan.  And this roll is the perfect marriage of a roll and a biscuit.   Now for some this is a dream, for me, eh, it was OK, and butter and honey made it even better!  The flavor is great, the dough is gorgeous and they are as easy as can be.  Who doesn't love that old fashioned, homemade shape as well?

I have a bad habit of being honest.  Who posts a recipe that isn't their favorite?  ME!   This is a very quick and easy recipe!  Make sure to use plenty of butter where it says to and serve warm! 

Hold on, heeeeeerreeee we go!

1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp. shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg yeast
1 egg, well beaten
3 1/2 cups four (may need a bit more or a bit less)
1/2 cup melted butter (plus 2 tbsp. for brushing the tops before baking)

Combine hot tap water, salt, shortening and sugar in your stand mixer bowl or regular mixing bowl.  Add in yeast, egg and flour.  (if your bowl is cold it will cool the water enough to not kill the yeast, if you are freaking out, just take the temp, you want it at about 115F).  Mix until all ingredients are combined.  Now, either put into a greased bowl and cover to refrigerate until ready to use, OR, get rolling!  The recipe says it makes 18 rolls.  I got 16.  This means, you need to roll 48 little balls.  When you are done, dip each ball in butter and place  3 into each muffin tin section.  Cover with a lint free towel, put in a warm place and let rise until they double in size.

Brush the tops with remaining melted butter.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Serve these warm with butter, honey, jam, jelly, oh my!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hot Fudge Cake fudge cake!  This is an age old recipe for sure.  Or is it?  I remember it from my childhood, but perhaps some of you have never had the distinct pleasure of noshing on this yet?!

There isn't much to say other than I can't believe I haven't shared this with you before.  My husband said he was hungry for it and then said, "You haven't ever put that up on your website, have you"?  He knew if he said that it was a definite go.  It just baffles me sometimes when I realize I haven't shared one of our regular recipes we have enjoyed for years. I guess sometimes the most obvious is what gets missed sometimes. 

This will burn the crap outta your mouth if you try to eat it right after you remove it from the oven.  Hot lava mean anything to you?  Your mouth will never be the same.  Make sure to let it sit, smack some vanilla ice cream and little whipped cream on top and BAM.  Awesomeness. 

HINT for serving and eating:  Take the last piece.  Everyone else will have wanted to have good manners and not take all the hot fudge from the bottom.  So, if you wait, you get to scrape it all out and it is yours.  See that photo, all of that bottom half is hot fudge.  Any questions?  The end. 

I typed this recipe a little wonky but you won't have any problems following along.  I am positive!  The ingredients are all in red!

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F!

1 cup flour
3/4 sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix together until all combined!

1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix again!

Place batter in an 8x8 (ish) casserole dish.  Ungreased.  Spread it evenly. 

In a small bowl combine...

1 cup brown sugar (packed well)
1/4 cup cocoa

Sprinkle entire mixture over the top of the cake batter. Next...

1 3/4 cups boiling water

Pour gently over the top of the cake batter.  This will turn out to be the "hot fudge" YUM!

Bake for 45 minutes.  Let cool about 15 minutes before serving!  Unless of course you want to be a burn victim.  This retains it's heat for a long time!

Enjoy this one!  We sure do!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mini Ravioli Minestrone

Soup!  You know my joy IS soup, right?  I don't know how many soup recipes I have for sure but I know it is several, and there are several more I need to add.  I can't live without it and I could live ON it. 

I have always loved minestrone, AFTER I pick out the beans, and add some grated Parmesan on top.  OK, I pick out zucchini too.  The point is, I just wanted to make minestrone soup MY way.  So I put the cheese in the pasta, took out the veggies I didn't like, added what I did and waaa-laaaa, even my veggie hating husband ate two bowls.  "This is amazing Christine!  This has to be my favorite soup you have EVER made.  It has SO MUCH flavor and it smells unreal!"  Yes, those were his own words.  I was floored.  I had no idea he would enjoy it but my heart swells when he tells me things like this!  If you are unable to find mini ravioli you can certainly use cheese tortellini.  The pasta I used is dried. 

I had this in the fridge for 2 days, and it was better after 2 days than it was the first day.  I KNOW.  But as with a lot of things, the longer it sits and has, you know, "relations" with the other ingredients, beautiful things happen!

Mini Ravioli Minestrone
1 lb bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small/med onion, diced
2 med carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
6 cups beef broth
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
16 ozs. mini cheese ravioli (or tortellini)
salt if needed (depending on what you use for stock)

In a large pot, brown your sausage.  Mine rendered hardly any fat, if your renders a lot, drain some, if not, leave it as you will need some fat for cooking the veggies.  Add in, red pepper, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic.  Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn.  Add in tomatoes WITH juice, beef stock, and seasonings.  Put the lid on your pot and let simmer 5 minutes.  Add in ravioli and let boil with the lid partially cracked for the amount of time the pasta package suggests.  Mine recommended 15 minutes.  When the 15 was up, I closed the lid and turned it off. 
Best.  Soup.  Ever.

The ONLY thing you need with this soup is a crusty piece of buttered bread.  O. M. G.  I am so glad there is some left for lunch today.  All mine kids, ALL MINE!

Your "ssssssoup lovin'" Chefwannabe

Friday, February 14, 2014

Rustic Baguettes

First of all I failed.  I NEVER thought of the method that this recipe is baked with.  I have looked, and worked, and tried, and never could get it just right.  Let me explain..........

I wanted to make my own baguettes.  I wanted the crusty hard crust, the airy and perfect center, I wanted it all.  I tried a few methods, some worked "ok" but took so long.  I mean who has overnight or 18 hours to raise  bread?  No, no, no, not working for me.  I found someone who DID figure out.  Laura Vitale of Laura In The Kitchen.  This recipe is adapted from hers.  She really hit it out of the park on this recipe.  You get it all, and with a method so simple, but yet, never occurred to me.  I was sure it had to be harder than this.  I guess it doesn't matter.  SOMEONE got it, and now I can share it with you.  French baguettes were baked in steam ovens.  I wanted that crust, but couldn't quite get it right for a long time.  Now, I GOT IT!

I have a few tips and changes I think will make this better.  First of all, forget 3 baquettes, do 2.  I mean unless you WANT to, but I am going with 2 from now on. Wait, unless I am making tiny crostini and need skinny small loaves.  Anyway, I also changed the amount of flour and I think it works better. 

This is a VERY sticky dough.  DO NOT, be tempted to add more flour to make it less sticky.  This is how it should be.  These French baguettes were originally baked in steam ovens.  The water and cast iron skillet part of this recipe is not optional if you want a crusty crust, hehe, I said crusty crust.   So in case you are tempted to ask, the answer is already no!  Spoken like a true mom!

You will need
3- 3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups warm water (115 degreesISH)
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

Combine warm water, sugar add yeast together and let sit for 3-5 minutes until it gets foamy on top.  In the meantime, in your stand mixer bowl, combine flour, and salt.  When the yeast is ready, add to the flour and with your dough hook attachment mix for 5-6 minutes.  It should be sticky!!!  While that is doing it's thing, oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray, a large bowl.  When the dough is done, scrape it out of the bowl and cover with a towel or saran wrap and put into a draft free warm place.  Let rise, for 1-2 hours, until it doubles in size.  THEN...........

Turn out on to a floured surface, give it a few kneads, like maybe 2 or 3 and then divide into 2 pieces.  (or 3)  Roll into about a 12 inch rope.  Tuck in to itself to even it up however you want.  The more ragged this looks the more rustic it looks!  We aren't looking for perfection here, we want nooks AND cranny's!!  You can dust your parchment with a little flour as well as the top of the bread like I did, or not.  Place on to a parchment lined baking sheet.  All the loaves will fit fine.  Cover with a lint free towel and let double in size again.  While that is happening preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.  Put the top rack as high as it will go and the bottom as low as it will go.  Put a cast iron skillet on the bottom shelf.  Let it get screamin' hot as it heats up with the oven.  When the baquettes have doubled in size (or close), put on the top shelf of the oven and take 1 cup of cold water and quickly dump it into the bottom skillet and quickly shut the oven door.  DO NOT OPEN.  Bake for approx. 25-30 minutes. 

This will come out perfect.  Trust me!

One of these loaves will make awesome crostini rubbed with a raw piece of garlic for our lasagna tonight!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Outrageous Oreo Cupcakes

I am so excited about these.  I was SO hungry for Oreos the other day, and I normally am not a HUGE Oreo cookie fan.  Well, I was thinking if I bought a package, I would need to justify it with a recipe for you all.  I was awake until 3am the other night/morning.  While I laid there counting sheep, the truth is I had visions of fluffy icing, and Oreos in my head.  After some deep thought I came up with this idea, because after all, everything is better with cream cheese, and chocolate cupcakes.  I didn't make the rules, that is just a fact of life kids. 

That being said, you can frost these how you want.  I have shared Swiss Meringue Butter cream with you by this by far is my favorite.  Maybe because I am Italian?  Maybe because I just like it better.  If you don't care for it, you can choose any other frosting you want, I have several here if you just search them using the search bar!

You will need 24 cupcakes.  Get them however you want.  Just get them.  Make sure they are COMPLETELY cooled before you proceed with any of this.  If they aren't cool, you are going to have a mess of melting goodness.  What a shame that would be.  I won't tell if you use a box mix, because I did, and I won't tell if you walk up to the bakery at your local food store and buy 24, just get some.  Period.  The end. 

Lettttttttttttt'sssssssssssssssssssss rrroolllllll..............

24 chocolate cupcakes- (from scratch, from a box, from the store, just GET them!)

2 8oz bricks of softened cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
20 Oreo cookies, crushed into small chunks

Mix all ingredients except the cookies.  When all ingredients are completely combined, fold in cookies.  Set aside, or refrigerate if preparing ahead of time.

Italian Meringue Butter cream
5 eggs whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup butter, softened

In a stand mixer bowl, add in egg whites.  Whisk until it becomes frothy.  Turn up the speed and add in 1/4 cup sugar gradually, and continue to whisk JUST UNTIL SOFT PEAKS.  Then STOP!  Let sit while you prepare your sugar syrup.

In a small pot add in 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water.  Using a candy thermometer or whatever kind you choose, heat it to 245 degrees F.  Stir occasionally and do not walk away from it!!  When it reaches 245 degrees, take it over to your stand mixer and eggs whites.  Turn on the whisk to medium, and immediately start drizzling in the sugar syrup to the center of your bowl or as close as possible.  You don't want the syrup to cool to quickly or you will get grains of sugar crystals in your icing.  Add in vanilla when done drizzling in the syrup.  Continue to whisk until the bowl of your mixer which is now very hot, is room temperature.  IF you think it is almost done and the bowl is still hot, turn down the speed.  When it is room temp, add in butter in slices.  Continue to whisk until all combined.

Now to prepare the cupcakes........

Using a small knife, cut a round circle into the center of the cupcake and lift it out.  It should be a cone shape piece of cupcake.  Pointed at the top and flat on the bottom (once you flip it over!).  Use a small scoop and add in a heaping scoop of the Oreo cream cheese filling.  See photo. 

Replace the piece you cup out, flat side down, pointed (inside part) up!  This will make your icing look nice and tall without using a TON of icing!  Repeat with all  of your cupcakes!

These are AMAZING that is about all I have left to say.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chocolate Covered Twizzlers

This is hardly a recipe.  This is the second one in like a month BUT, this one is so worth it!

For Christmas last year I got my daughter in law dark chocolate covered licorice.  She loved it and begged me to find more, which I was never able to do.  At the time I thought to myself, "Self, MAKE SOME"!  I never did.  Do you see a pattern here?  Yea, me too. 

Anyway, in my quest to make something new and exciting, I decided to try these.  EVERYONE needs one of those treats that is easy and quick and mindless.  This is one of those and it happens to be delicious!  The chocolate is what you taste first and then when you get ready for the next bite and that licorice flavor lingers.  OH, I just love them!  I thought daughter in law was nuts when she loved it so much, but that girl knows what is good!

Here we go, simple and easy does it!

10 oz bag of Twizzler Bites (you could get regular twizzlers and cut them into small pieces as well)
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used milk)
1-2 tsp vegetable oil

In an appropriate sized bowl, add in chocolate chips and oil.  Microwave for 30 seconds at a time until all melted and smooth.  Add a handful of twizzlers at a time, and using a fork pull them out, tap off the excess chocolate and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Continue until all of the twizzlers are dipped and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Longer is even better. 

See!?  SO easy, I almost feel bad dedicating an entire post to it!

Hope you love them!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chicken Spaghetti

This recipe has a bit of a story behind it, one that I must share, because it is such a good memory for me!

I was teaching pre-k, in Millville, NJ, about 11-12 years ago.  After Christmas break, I am told I have a new student coming.  Her mom and her dad bring her to visit.  The first word out of her mouth, I can never remember because this little, black haired, picture perfect, little girl, spews out the THICKEST southern drawl I have ever heard out of a little body.  I was instantly in love!   She came to school the next day, and everything out her mouth was "yes ma'am, no ma'am" etc.  My other students thought it was awesome so they quickly became the most manner group of children around!  She also came bearing a note from her mom asking if we could not let her nap because she wasn't sleeping at night.  So we did just that and I responded to her note.  The next day, I asked if she gave her mom the note and she said yes.  I said, "Hayle what did your mom say?".  She said, "She said y'all are sweet and you and her should have lunch sometime". HAHA!  I wrote her another note, (sounds like jr high, right?) and we exchanged numbers and less than a week later we were inseparable friends.  The beginning of my dear friendship with Lauren.  I always called her the "Texas cheerleader mom".  Her kids became my nieces and her son is my godson.  And she will always be "Aunt Lauren" to my son!

How does this relate to chicken spaghetti?  This is her signature, famous, everyone asks for her to make it all the time, dish.   Lauren got the recipe from her mom (Mama Darla, RIP) who also reluctantly admitted Lauren could cook it far better!  Once I had it, I was HOOKED.  Once I made for my son, HE was hooked.  My husband never fully rode the chicken spaghetti train, but that is OK, just left more for us.  Sadly, Mama Darla has passed away, I live 1500 miles from Lauren, Hayle, Jade, and Ty, but they are  never far from my mind, and always in my heart.  I love you all and thank you for sharing your family favorite so it could also become a family favorite of the Simmermans!

12 ounces spaghetti (don't attempt just through a whole 16 ounce box in, 12 oz only!)
2-3 lg chicken breasts, cooked and diced or shredded
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 cup (chicken boiling water or spaghetti water)
1 can ro-tel (diced tomatoes with green chili's)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

NOTE: You can choose to roast or boil your chicken.  Make sure to salt, and pepper well either way.  If you boil it, please keep aside 1 cup of the liquid you boiled them in.  Otherwise just keep 1 cup of cooking water from your pasta.

Boil your pasta, and cook it for the lowest amount of suggested time.  When you are done, make sure to keep a cup of starchy liquid out if you need to, and drain pasta.  Leave the pasta to drain and in the same pot, place on medium heat, add in butter, both soups, garlic, ro-tel, and 1 cup of water.  Whisk until combined and then add in chicken.  Cook for 2 minutes and add in cooked spaghetti.  Toss to combine.  Place into a 9x13 pan, sprayed with non stick spray, and spread out evenly.  Top with cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

This has a cult following in my family.  I called my son last night when I made it, I told him I wasn't trying to be rude, but I had just had a plate of chicken spaghetti.  His response, "I don't care, I will make my OWN".  He tried to be strong but I sensed his impending tears and changed the subject fast.  OK so he wasn't going to cry but, in my head, he misses my cooking so much he almost did. 

PS.  Do NOT forget a big fat piece of TEXAS TOAST to eat with this in honor of one of my besties, her mom and children!

Your "chicken spaghetti memories are best" Chefwannabe

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fried Apples in Sugar Cookie Cups

Recently one of my sisters (#5) tells me she is hungry for fried apples.  I have never made fried apples simply because although I actually DO eat apples raw, they are so soggy and mushy cooked.  Bleh!  However, I decided it would be a good idea to give them a try.  Exciting story huh?  I just didn't know how to serve them.  Then, it happened.   I was at the store a couple of days after, picking up apples and I see these double rolls of sugar cookie dough on clearance.  HELLO.  Fried apples in a sugar cookie bowl, instantly came to my mind.  Boo-yaahhh!

The kicker about this recipe is that now, I want to put EVERYTHING in a cookie bowl.  I am admittedly a little out of control.  But hey, I can think of worse things.  The surprise of the cinnamon chips in the bottom, the syrup created when frying the apples drizzle all over the top.  Get outta here........

Oh wait, DISCLAIMER, please don't ask me what apples to use.  I bought the ones that were the color of my favorite shade of lipstick.  That is how a real woman chooses her apples! Isn't it?

This will give you 12 cups!

2 rolls sugar cookie dough (yes I took store help on this one)
1/2-3/4 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to recommended temp.  Slice 12 slices off of the cookie roll, and use each for 1 cup.  Using your fingers, press dough into the bottom and up the sides of your muffin tin.  When you have done them all, sprinkle a few cinnamon chips into the bottom.  It will be a little surprise in the bottom! Bake until they are JUST BEGINNING to get brown around the edges.  They might puff up in the center but they will fall again.  Mine took about 14 minutes.  You want them to be UNDER cooked a minute or 2 so they stay soft!  Let cool for 10 minutes and using a knife carefully pop them out of the pan. 


5-6 medium apples of your choice
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla

Add all ingredients, EXCEPT vanilla into your cold skillet.  Stir to combine.  Turn on heat to medium-high and stir occasionally.  When it begins to bubble turn back to medium and let fry/cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the juices have started to thicken, turn off and add the vanilla.  Let cook for a couple of minutes before filling cups.  Serve immediately!

If you are making these ahead just keep the components separate and fill the cups before serving!


Monday, February 3, 2014

The Best...Chicken Salad

OK, at least in OUR opinion it is!  I wrote a blog on chicken salad almost 3 years ago I think.  It was one of my first.  I gave you my base recipe (which I have changed a bit now) and gave you all kinds of ideas for add in options.  Fast forward to the present.......  This is how I make it almost all the time for my husband.  He considers this "the best", however, let's be honest, I pick out the grapes.  There, I said it.  We have another problem though......with the chicken.

Shredded or Cubed?

Do you prefer it shredded or chunked?  I am very particular about which I do, depending on the dish I am using it in.  So is my husband.  Do you see the photo?  I did half and half.  I like it shredded in chicken salad, he likes chunks.  I did a little of both.  (teehee)  I will show HIM! HA!  Actually I do usually like chicken in chunks.  I don't mind it either way in soup, wait, no that is accurate I don't mind in soup.  Chicken salad, definitely needs shredded.  Big shreds, not like unidentifiable shred. 

Really, what is your stand on this?  We are talking chicken salad here, nothing else.  Chunks or shredded, let me know if you get a chance.

I have been making chicken salad this way for a long time.  Only in recent years has my husband asked for me to add fruit and nuts.  What is next, twigs and berries?!?   I don't mind almonds, I like that.  I like celery as well, but this recipe is the tried and true and standard Simmerman way, so I am here to share it with you.

Serve it along on a lettuce leaf, with some tomatoes, and avocados. (YUM!) Or serve it on a toasts or plain roll, or roll it up, like Geo loves!  No matter how you serve it, it is tasty and really you can add or take out, or change up anything you like.  I think you should try it this way first. 

3 cups shredded or cubed chicken
1/3 to 1/2 Hellman's
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sliced grapes
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  You can add the larger amount of Hellman's if you like it creamier, which we do.  It is best if you can let this chill in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours.  Overnight makes it even better. 

Your "prefers mine on a good amorosa roll" Chefwannabe