Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pecan Turtles

 So, so yummy! So, so easy! So, so many compliments!  THIS turtle wins the race hands down!!
Make these pecan turtles for your Valentine and you'll win their heart for sure.

In a large heavy stock pot, melt 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes.   Add 1 cup light corn syrup , 2+1/4 cups dark brown sugar and  1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until the sugar is melted.

When the sugar is completely disolved, gradually add 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk and cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil.

Continue boiling the sugar/milk mixture all the while, stirring frequently.  Be patient, you'll be boiling and stirring for quite awhile.  In the meantime, spread out 1-1/2 pounds of pecan halves on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes.

Mmmmmmm, toasted pecans! But... I digress.


Returning our attention to the sugar/milk mixture that has been boiling away ~ When a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees (firm-ball stage), about 16 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat and gently stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and the toasted pecans.

Drop candy by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate until firm.
In a microwave-safe bowl, and on half power, melt 1 package of milk chocolate chips with
2 tablespoons shortening; stirring until smooth.  Drizzle over turtles and refrigerate again until chocolate is fully set.  Here is the finished product.  This recipe makes approximately 24 rich, buttery candy confections.

I just know you're going to LOVE these.  I hope you'll make these for your
Valentine sweetheart!  Sending you sweet hugs and kisses.  Happy Valentine's Day! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TWD - Cocoa Nana Bread

I have a passion for cooking and baking. What I love the most about cooking and baking is that they allow me to be creative and show my own personality in the food I prepare for family and friends.  If I choose to, I can  follow a recipe to the letter, or I can blaze my own trails and add or subtract ingredients on a whim.  And to think, it all depends on how I'm feeling that particular day.  This day I decided to add toasted walnut pieces and toffee bits into the mix.  It was a very good call if I do say so myself :)

This recipe by Dorie Greenspan is a total winner!  The bake time is long for this particular bread but that only prolongs the enjoyment of the scent wafting through the house.  It has a brownie like taste with an extremely moist consistency. The mild hint of banana doesn't scream breakfast bread at all, it just screams "Eat Me" anytime of the day or night (but don't forget your big tall glass of cold milk)! Dorie's recipe for her "Cocoa Nana Bread" can be found on page 46 of her "Baking From My Home To Yours" cookbook.

My review for this recipe is:  5 Stars

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sweet and Smoky Curried Lentil Soup

This soup is like a big hug from the inside.  I've never been a big curry fan but after the addition of a few special and unique ingredients I'm now hooked on this wonderful Winter soup and consider it "blog worthy".  Like most dinners, I start with a basic plan and then add additional ingredients depending on how creative I'm feeling that particular evening.  *I will denote in the recipe where I decided to get creative with the ingredients and make it my own*.  My family gave it 5 stars and I think you will too.  Oh, by the way, this recipe was made in a slow cooker so there really was no hassle involved during the dinner time rush.  Priceless.

6 cups chicken broth
3 whole bay leaves (I used dry)
1 T. olive oil
*1 pound smoked turkey sausage, cut into bite size chunks*
*1 medium sweet onion, cut into bite size chunks*
2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
*2 parsnips, peeled and cut into bite size chunks*
2 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
3 ribs celery, cut into bite sized chunks
1 large can (28 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 c. lentils, rinsed
3 T. curry powder
1 T. garlic powder
1 t. black pepper
salt to taste
1 t. ground corriander
1 t. ground cumin
*1 1/2 t. smoked paprika*
*2 T. brown sugar*

Assemble all ingredients.  In a skillet over medium high heat, brown turkey sausage lighly in oil.  Add the onions and cook an additional few minutes just to sweat the onions.  In a large slow cooker, add the carrots, parsnips, celery, potatoes and sausage/onion mixture.  Mix well and then add the additional ingredients and continue to mix until thouroughly combined.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours or until the lentils are tender and the soup has thickned nicely.  (Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving.)

This soup has a depth of flavor I wasn't prepared for and I believe the addition of the brown sugar is what makes this soup such a winner.  Balance is the key, and this soup is a very well balanced, healthy, easy and delicious meal.  It's a big hearty hug from my insides to yours :)  Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

TWD Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars

If you have a sweet tooth (or a whole mouth full) this is the desert for you!  The recipe was easy to follow, but I felt it called for too many ingredients.  That's why, right before I was ready to stick these little devils in the oven to bake, I added mini marshmallows on top!  What's that you say?  Yes, I did.  I just felt it needed something to make it a bit more visually appealing, AND I had a half opened bag in the pantry that I needed to use up :)

I thought these were going to taste more like a "Chunky" bar with the raisins and nuts, but to me they tasted more like a blondie than anything else. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't taste the raisins even though I'm not a huge fan of the little wrinkled fruit.  If I ever make this cookie/almost candy bar again, I have noted that the raisins are not needed, plus I think I'd cut the use of the sweetened condensed milk in half.  Way to sweet for my tastes.  Oh, and I think I'll use white chocolate instead of the semisweet but then if I do that, I may add the raisins back in!  Who knows.

If you're interested, this recipe as written by Dorie Greenspan can be found on pages 114-115 of her book, "Baking From My Home To Yours"

Friday, January 8, 2010

Greek Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

And to think, I used to be afraid of risotto. Not anymore! This recipe is not my own concoction but one that is tasty, easy to prepare and quick to the dinner table.  The ingredients are so flavorful and bright that you might not be able to stop eating it (or maybe that's just me). I can't wait for you to try this recipe, but don't say I didn't warn you, when you're standing over the half empty pot with your spoon in hand, hoping you'll still have leftovers for another day by the time you're finished with it.

4 1/2 c. chicken stock  *1/2 c. increments
2 t. olive oil
2 T. unsalted butter
1 meduim red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
2 lbs. asparagus, cut into 1"-2" pieces
1 1/2  lb. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
1 t. dried dill weed
2 T. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

In a meduim sauce pan, bring stock to a simmer and keep warm over a low heat.

Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in rice and garlic; saute an additional minute to coat all the rice with the butter/oil.  Add the warm stock to the onion and rice mixture, *1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of the liquid is absorbed, and before adding the next addition of stock to the rice.  Continue adding stock and stirring until all the liquid has been used and is absorbed by the rice (about 30 minutes).

Stir in the asparagus and shrimp and cook until shrimp are opaque in color and cooked through, continuing to stir frequently.  When shrimp and asparagus are fully cooked, remove from heat and add in the dill weed, feta cheese and lemon juice. Stir to combine and your ready to serve.  That's it.  Easy peasy!  Now hurry and go get your big spoon!
I'd love to hear your comments, so don't be shy about leaving them.
Until next time: Live, Love, Cook!