Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why all the hype?

I have seen on TV, in magazine and on other blogs homemade marshmallows. Everyone raves about them about how delicious they are and how they would never buy another marshmallow again. So I figured it was time I saw for myself what all the hype was about.

The ingredients were fairly basic, had all on hand at home. Equipment needed required a new purchase, a candy thermometer, which I guess is a good item to have. Once in a blue moon when I am going to deep fry something I guess that the oil is the right temperature, now I can actually tell.

I followed the directions to a "T", candy making seems somewhat scientific. The hard part was spreading it into a pan, I could not get it smoothed out at all. The oiled spatula was a sticky mess to say the least and I couldn't even get allot of the marshmallow out of the mixing bowl. I allowed them to sit for about 6 hours then I cut them up using the pizza wheel, that went smoothly. A little sticky getting all the sides of the marshmallows coated in the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture.

The kids were pretty curious about my "concoction", when I told them they were marshmallows they both sampled. Dan gave a thumbs up, while Francis just kept coming back asking for more, I guess that kind of said it all. My take on them was they were good, but not something I would need to whip up on a regular basis. I am going to try them in hot chocolate and toasted over a fire, maybe done that way will sway me to be a homemade marshmallow lover, but for now I can live with store bought.

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

For regular marshmallows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Make & Takes

One of the things I love about going to crops are the Make & Takes, little projects that help showcase some of the products one of the vendors at the event might be selling. The most recent crop I went to had a few make and takes, a scrapbook layout, a Christmas card, a Halloween treat box and a glittery diecut pinecone.

This card is a stamped image that I colored in with watercolor pencils and markers. In order to smooth out the pencil/marker lines we used a blender pen that gets filled with water and makes the colors look like it has been painted with water colors.

The treat box was real cute. The box itself was cut out of a piece of cardstock using a Sizzix. The hardest part of the box was the creases and getting it folded. I couldn't really get it folded perfectly but neither could anyone else, so I decided to use the ribbon to pull the rest of the sides closed. The image was stamped and cut out with a circle punch then backed with a scallop punch. Cute right!

The pinecone was a die cut from the Cricut that was already cut out for us to use. This was a real easy project with real pretty results, you could probably even do this with kids. We used a pen adhesive and just "colored" in the whole pinecone with the glue and sprinkled on the glitter. Simple!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Guinness Stew

Believe it or not this recipe came from a Disney Food Blog, you can actually find this stew in Epcot at the Rose & Crown Pub. With the weather getting cooler stew is a good stick to the bones dinner, and easy to make too. I had most of the ingredients on hand all I needed was a bottle of Guinness, which I was able to pick up the one bottle I needed at the local beer distributor. I didn't feel like spending $10 on a six pack in case I didn't really like it and I wasn't sure if anyone would drink what I had left over.I made this stew on the stove but I am sure would do just as well in the crockpot.

I followed the original posted recipe but then had to make some small variations. The original recipe calls for no flour, so I did wonder how this stew was going to thicken up. So at the end I added some Wondra as a thickener. I also doubled the amount of Guinness, I wasn't just going to pour it down the drain or drink it at home by myself.

2 pounds sirloin cubes
1 ounce olive oil
1 dry bay leaf
8 ounces diced onions
4 ounces diced carrots
½ ounce chopped garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
8 ounces Guinness stout
1 quart beef broth

You start by cubing the meat in equally sized cubes. Brown the meat in olive oil in a large pot. Once meat is browned on all sides add bay leaf, onion and carrots. Cook until onions are translucent.

Add garlic, thyme, rosemary, chili flakes and Guinness. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour, or until meat and carrots are tender.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grandma's Rice Pudding

Fall to me really is time to cook, time to get out your comfort food recipes that you didn't want to heat the house up for in August. Not only is this rice pudding recipe delicious it is also real easy. If you can turn the oven on and dump things into a casserole dish that you can make this rice pudding.

Rice Pudding
Combine all of the below ingredients in a low and wide casserole dish, it will work better than tall and deep.

1/2 Cup of Uncooked Rice

3/4 Cup of Sugar (I had some extra cinnamon sugar I used)

1 Cup of Heavy Cream

4 Cups 2% Milk

Place in a 325 Degree oven for 2 hours without stirring. It will be golden. Serve warm or cold.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Turkey Pot Pie with Savory Crumb Topping

With all the rainy days we have been having and the weather turning cooler I feel the need to start cooking some comfort food. What is cozier than pot pie? This isn't just any pot pie, but a crumb topped pot pie. I had never had nor made one before, but it sounded delicious. Once again another recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

The recipe looks more complicated than it actually is. I served it with farmer's market green beans and actually was too busy digging in that I forgot to take a picture of it plated. It truly was a savory delicious dish.


1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey breasts and/or thighs
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 medium carrots , peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1 cup)
2 small celery ribs , chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce (see note)
1 teaspoon tomato paste (see note)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
3/4 cup frozen baby peas

Crumble Topping
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1 ounce Parmesan cheese , finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream


1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Bring chicken and broth to simmer in covered Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until turkey is just done, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer cooked turkey to large bowl. Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer into liquid measuring cup and reserve. Do not wash Dutch oven. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

2. FOR THE TOPPING: Combine flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in large bowl. Sprinkle butter pieces over top of flour. Using fingers, rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in Parmesan. Add cream and stir until just combined. Crumble mixture into irregularly shaped pieces ranging from 1/2 to ¾ inch each onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and starting to brown, 10 to 13 minutes. Set aside.

3. FOR THE FILLING: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrots, celery, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. While vegetables are cooking, shred chicken into small bite-size pieces. Transfer cooked vegetables to bowl with turkey; set aside.

4. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Remove cover and stir in soy sauce and tomato paste. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, and dark fond begins to form on surface of pan, about 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl with chicken and vegetables. Set aside.

5. Heat butter in empty Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in reserved chicken broth and milk. Bring to simmer, scraping pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, then continue to simmer until sauce fully thickens, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and 2 tablespoons parsley.

6. Stir turkey-vegetable mixture and peas into sauce. Pour mixture into 13 by 9-inch baking dish or casserole dish of similar size. Scatter crumble topping evenly over filling. Bake on rimmed baking sheet until filling is bubbling and topping is well browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon parsley and serve.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

National Card Making Day

Yes there actually is such a thing. I saw something on Facebook from Archivers about it, so of course I googled it, and sure enough there is such a thing. So as things winded down around the house I busted out some stamps, ink and paper and got to work. I didn't go to crazy as I tend to make a mess once I get going and I didn't wan to spend allot of time cleaning up. Just two cards to say I participated in this national day, I find it a far stretch to call it a holiday.

These cards were not my favorite, I felt like the were missing something, so I may still add some ribbon and brads. I did use some ruby red stickles on the cherries and dish for some bling. I was trying to make a "fun" card, but don't feel like it was a success.