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Breads and Desserts, Candy, Cuppylicious!

Fudge I

Soft Fudge

Soft Fudge

Total time:  4 hours.

2 cups white sugar
2 cups miniature marshmallows
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces evaporated milk
4 T butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, toss together chocolate chips and marshmallows. Set aside. Lightly butter or spray the bottom of an 8 x 8 pan. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, salt, milk and butter. Bring to a boil. The contents will DOUBLE IN SIZE when it’s at a “boil”, so be prepared that your pan is large enough to handle it. Start your timer from there.

Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and mix well.

Pour boiled mixture on top of chocolate and marshmallows. Mix really well for 3-5 minutes or however long it takes for the “glossy” look to fade from the chocolate. (It’ll look shiny at first, but the more you stir [or mix on low to medium speed], the more it’ll take on a faded look.)

Scoop contents into 8×8 dish. Spread evenly across the pan and pat down to make it as even as possible. Chill for 3-4 hours before cutting.

I’ve been trying to avoid corn syrup anything the last 10 years of my life. It’s been that long or more since I last made fudge.

This is my first attempt at fudge without marshmallow creme. Unfortunately, I thought it would make enough to put at least an inch on the bottom of my 9 x 13 lasagna dish – not so much; it maybe sticks up half an inch off the bottom of my glass pan.

This is definitely the sort of soft fudge you’d want in the middle layer of a decadent cake or inside truffles – but not chop up and hand out at Christmas. It is, also, perfect for making chocolate fondue. (Set your pot on low and add milk until you reach the desired consistency.)

Looking for peanut butter fudge? Click here.

Crock-pot Cookin', Cuppylicious!, Meat, Sauces and Dips

Barbecue Sauce IV

Barbecue Sauce on Pulled Pork

Barbecue Sauce on Pulled Pork

Total time:  8 minutes.

1/2 onion, quartered
1 tomato, quartered
2 serrano peppers
1 clove garlic
1/3 c molasses
1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c red wine vinegar
2 T horseradish mustard
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T ground chipotle pepper
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Blend the first four ingredients into a fine puree or until smooth. Stir in the other ingredients and mix well. Ready for dipping or cooking.

Shown here after sitting in the crockpot all day for pulled pork sandwiches.

The sweetness and flavor was exactly what I was looking for, but it needed a little more heat. I originally did this with one serrano. If I could “do-over”, I’d add a second one, so I’ve updated the recipe to match my taste.

Breakfast, Cuppylicious!, Meat, Pork, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Crusty Breakfast

Breakfast Pastry

Large and in charge breakfast pastry!

The December 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croûte (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croûte) from Good Food Online. The key to the challenge was to cook with a pastry, and I opted for a thriftier alternative, breakfast en croûte.

Total time:  2 hours, plus 1-24 hour chill time

1/2 pound regular pork sausage
3 large eggs
1-2 large potatoes, quartered (enough to yield 2 cups)
1 Tbsp milk
16 oz pastry dough, cool or chilled, divided

Boil potato pieces for 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Separate sausage into 2 uniform rectangular patties. Cook on medium heat until completely browned on all sides (about 10 minutes). Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat eggs with milk. Lightly grease or butter a large (>= 12 inches) frying pan and heat on medium-low. Spread half the egg mixture in the pan (you may need to tilt the pan to cover the entire area). Cook on medium-low for 2-3 minutes. Cover and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Gently remove from the pan and onto a plate. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining egg mix. These are your egg wraps.

Grate, shred, slice or mash potatoes.

Breakfast Pastry

Breakfast en croûte!

On a large, clean surface, lay out a sheet of saran wrap or wax paper. Place one cooked egg wrap in the center of the sheet. Spread half of the shredded potatoes evenly across the egg wrap. Press lightly into place.

Place one of your cooked sausage patties on top of the potatoes, as close to the center as possible. Wrap the eggs and potatoes around the sausage patty. Use the saran wrap to press and hold it firmly in place. Chill for one hour (or overnight!).

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Divide pastry dough. Roll the pastry out so you can wrap an egg-wrap in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet (it may hang over the edges). Put an egg-wrap in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the join will be at the top, so trim the edge neatly), making sure you don’t have any thick lumps of pastry as these won’t cook through properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts to disguise the join if you like. Repeat for the second egg-wrap.

Bake for 30-60 minutes or until the crust turns brown.

The more pastries you put on the cookie sheet, the longer it takes.

Whatever you do, don’t skip the chill phase; it’s really important to chill your filling completely before wrapping it in pastry.

To make a more glamorous pastry, you could brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg before baking.

I originally doubled this recipe and made 3 of these bad boys, but they were huge, and it took forever to bake. The second time I made 4 using a doubled recipe, and it was still a lot of food (and they were still quite large). I think I’ll use this halved recipe next time and only make two for the three of us.

I also did a silly little enchilada en croûte with chicken, black beans, and spicy red sauce.

Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Indian, Meat, Poultry

Chicken Saag

Chicken Saag with rice and naan

Chicken Saag with rice and naan

Total time:  Approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Adapted from 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra.

2-4 chicken breasts, quartered
2 small bunches fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 quarter-sized peeled fresh ginger root + one 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, julienned
3 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled + 1 clove minced
1/4 c water
1/4 c plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp melted ghee (or butter)
2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 large cinnamon stick (about 3 inches)
5 green cardamom pods, crushed lightly to break the skin
1-4 whole dried red chile peppers, such as chile de arbol (optional)
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

On medium heat, cook chicken pieces until they turn white on all sides (or lightly browned) and the juices run clear (about 5 minutes, depending on how big your chicken chunks are). Set aside.

In a large pan, bring spinach, onion, ginger slices, whole garlic and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the spinach is wilted (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool 5-10 minutes. Pulse lightly in a food processor until just minced (don’t make a puree!!). Return the spinach mix to the pan.

In a small pan, heat the oil and ghee on medium-high. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, and julienned ginger, stirring until the ginger sticks turn golden brown (about 3 minutes). Add the minced ginger, coriander, garam masala, fenugreek, and salt and quickly stir. Slowly add the yogurt (one dollop at a time), stirring constantly to blend it in with the spices.

Immediately after adding all the yogurt, add the entire yogurt spice mix to the spinach mix. Add chicken pieces to spinach mix, cover and simmer on medium-low for 25-30 minutes.

In a small pan, heat the remaining butter and cook the dried chiles for about a minute. Remove from heat, stir in the paprika, then lightly swirl into the spinach mix just before serving. (If you’re doing without chiles, just sprinkle the top of the dish with some paprika before serving.)

Shown here with homemade naan and plain white rice.

You might want to pick out the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods before you serve this dish so someone doesn’t try to eat them; that’d be rather unpleasant.

I crushed my red peppers before putting them in the frying pan.

This recipe dirties up a lot of dishes. You could cut back on them by reusing your chicken frying pan to fry your spices, and you could probably skip the butter-frying of your peppers at the end, too. Just omit the butter entirely and add the peppers and paprika straight to the dish.