Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Mardi Gras!

I hope everyone's Tuesday was nice and fat today.  I spent mine at home, sick as a dog.  It's ok though, because I got to watch Anastasia and sleep.  Two of my favorite things! Forget about the hour I spent in the bathroom doing one of my least favorite things, and this makes for a great day!

This last weekend was fantastic and chalk-full of food!  On Saturday, we made home-made Girl Scout cookies with some friends.  Our knock-off Samoas took a lot of effort, and they may not be the prettiest cookies in the entire world.

But they sure were tasty!  Verdict: Definitely making them again, and again, and again.  Although I still won't say no to some real Samoas.  Or Thin Mints.  Or Tagalongs.  Or Do-si-do's.  ...I think you get the picture.

Homemade Samoas

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar (or granulated)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
Dipping Caramel (recipe follows)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (available at health food stores)
12 ounces of chocolate chips

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add in egg and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the bowl, if necessary. Add in vanilla. Beat until smooth. With mixer on low, add in salt and flour. Mix until completely incorporated and dough is uniform. Pull dough together and shape into a cylinder with a diameter of about 2 1/2 inches. Wrap in parchment paper and freeze for at least 25 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice dough into 1/8 inch disks and place on baking sheets, about an inch apart. Once you have made 30 cookies, wrap up the cookie dough, freeze, and save for another time. Use a tiny circle shaped cookie cutter or a large round cake decorating tip to cut a hole in the center of each disk. Refrigerate for an additional 10 minutes. Bake for 8 minutes, or until crisp. Let cool completely.
3. Add coconut into the caramel. Warm the caramel in the microwave for about 10 seconds if necessary. Take cooled cookies and gently dip them completely in the caramel. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Freeze until set, about 5 minutes.
4. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring well after each interval, until fully melted. Place the caramel coated cookies in the chocolate. Use a fork to pull them out of the chocolate and place them on a parchment line cookie sheet. Use the chocolate still on the fork to drizzle stripes over the top of the cookies. Refrigerate until set.
Dipping Caramel
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar)
4 tablespoons corn syrup
6 tablespoons water
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons cream (DO NOT use plain whipping cream)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan with high sides, combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Whisk until combined, and set over medium-low heat. Swirl the pan every now and then to help distribute the heat. Use can use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush the sugar crystals down the sides of the saucepan. When the sugar dissolves completely, raise the heat to medium. When it comes to a boil, watch very carefully for the bubbles to become more viscous (this means that the water has evaporated and that it is ready to go through the candy stages). As it is bubbling away, you want it to turn a deep amber color. When it does, remove the heat and, working quickly, use the spoon to scoop up a small amount of the candy and drop it into the small glass of water. If the blob turns hard like lollipop, then it is ready. If the blob is still soft, put the pan back on the heat. Keep testing until the candy is hard. Remove from heat.
2. Whisk in butter, 6 tablespoons of cream, and vanilla (Careful here, as the mixture should bubble violently for about 10 seconds). If the caramel isn’t smooth right away, return the pan to low heat and whisk until smooth.

We also watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade while munching on these bad boys.  Turns out, my husband has never seen a single Indiana movie all the way through.  Um, what?  Don't worry, he loved Last Crusade.  How can you not love Harrison Ford and Sean Connery?

Sunday morning, I woke up early with some BIG plans to surprise my husband with breakfast.  I made this muffin recipe I found online for oatmeal muffins with walnuts and cardamom.  I didn't really know what cardamom is, but turns out it's a yummy smelling spice/herb!  I finished making them and came in to tell Dan...and then he reminded me it was fast Sunday.  I feel like every time I'm excited about breakfast, it's fast Sunday.  Does this happen to anyone else?  Is this just me?

We held off until after church to chow down on these guys--and they made me wish we'd fasted a little longer.  Definitely not a new favorite.  Let me just tell you one thing; I love muffins.  LOVE THEM.  But these were no bueno.  I'll sum them up with Dan's reaction: "These taste like health-muffins."  And that they did.  I did think it was a little weird that there was only a 1/4 cup of sugar in the recipe (compared to the one cup of flour and another one whole cup of oatmeal), but being me/early morning, I didn't really think about it.  I think if I make these again, I need to edit the recipe somehow.  At least they looked delicious.  If anyone wants some, let me know.  I don't think they'll be eaten by either of us.

Fortunately, Sunday dinner was one of those rare moments when I go above and beyond my duties as diligent housewife.  Delicious-new-fancy-recipe? Check.  Tried-and-true fall back?  Check.  The fine china and a nice tablecloth? Check.  I give you Curried Apple Pork Chops! (Plus broccoli and Aunt Renae's rolls!)

This doesn't look as appetizing as it did in real life.  Probably because you can't smell it.
This may be the best these have ever turned out!

Curried Apple Porkchops
4 boneless pork loin chops, cut 3/4 inch thick (about 1-1/2 lb.)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1-1/4 lb.)
1 21-ounce can apple or peach pie filling
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 8-ounce package frozen sugar snap peas

Season pork with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch skillet brown pork, on both sides, in hot oil. Add sweet potatoes. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine pie filling and curry powder; spoon over sweet potatoes. Cover and cook 15 minutes more or until potatoes are nearly tender. Add sugar snap peas; cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes more or until peas are crisp-tender. Makes 4 servings.

And a new Sunday favorite has been created.  Best of all, it doesn't require the use of my crock-pot.  (Which recently kicked the bucket.)

One of my New Years Resolutions was to try more recipes, so you can expect a few more of these.

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