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The Key to World Peace

1 Jun

I have found the key to world peace. Are you ready for this? It’s brown sugar bacon. If we dropped that on countries instead of bombs, the world would be a happier place. Well, the part of the world that eats pork products, at least. Now don’t go thinking this is the stuff they sell in grocery stores labeled “brown sugar bacon” because that is just a sad imitation of what I made tonight. I don’t have pictures though, because let’s be honest, just how pretty is bacon really? Not pretty. Until you eat it and taste fireworks and rainbows and hear the hallelujah chorus. THEN it’s pretty.

Anyway, my brown sugar bacon is really more like candied bacon. And it’ll cure what ails ya! Trust me. So here’s what you do:

Ingredients:

Bacon
Brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the slices of bacon on a broiler pan (this is the one I’ve got). I usually cut the strips in half, but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. And make sure it’s on that broiler pan! It allows the fat to drip down and makes the bacon crisper, which tastes much better. Then sprinkle a little brown sugar over each slice and pat it down. It takes maybe 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per piece, smoothed down over the piece of bacon. Bake for 20 minutes. Then eat. Watch as your life gets a little bit brighter. Share with others and make friends for life.

This bacon is delicious!! I know this might gross out some people, but please, suspend judgment until you try it. And please, TRY IT! You’ll thank me!

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Marshmallows, smarshmallows

11 Apr

Marshmallows! Delicious, pillowy, fluffy… things. Seriously. What the heck is a marshmallow and where did they come from? I made them a couple of weeks ago, and they are super easy – they contain only four necessary ingredients: gelatin, corn syrup, sugar, and water. The rest is flavorings and colorings. But who decided to mix those four and whip the living daylights out of them? Same people who decided letting milk curdle and sit unrefrigerated for several months was a good idea, I guess. I mean, I completely agree with them, both the marshmallow and the cheese inventors. But still.

On nom nom

Right, so the point of all this rambling is that I made marshmallows, and they were good. So now I’m going to share the recipe, and send you all to go forth and whip some gelatin and corn syrup until they beg for mercy.

Courtesy of Alton Brown, my favorite Food Network chef. But with some tips from Nancy Baggett. Though her honey marshmallows were not my favorite, she had some good tips on making the process easier.

Ingredients

  • 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

You will also need about 1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar, about 1 1/2 cups toasted coconut or 1 cup colored sugar to coat the outsides.

Also: marshmallows are like a blank slate. Feel free to add food coloring and/or different extracts for a fun new marshmallow!

Directions:

Line a 9-by-13 inch baking dish with wax paper (or parchment paper), allowing the paper to overhand the ends by about 1 inch. Evenly coat the paper with nonstick spray. Like this:

Tear off another sheet of wax or parchment paper. Lightly grease this piece, or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside. This will be used to cover the marshmallow mixture.

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

Gelatin? Not attractive.

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, turn up the heat and bring to a full boil, stirring. Boil for 30 seconds. Remove from 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.

Whip it! Whip it good.

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. Also add the food coloring if you are using.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Cover the marshmallows with the piece of prepared wax or parchment paper. Press down and use the paper to push the marshmallow around evenly. Allow the marshmallows to sit for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

See the marshmallow mixture sandwiched between the paper?

Turn the marshmallow out onto a cutting board and peel away the wax paper. Cut the marshmallow slab into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the powdered sugar or lightly greased kitchen shears. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the powdered sugar, or roll in the toasted coconut or colored sugar. Expect to make a mess.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

You know what’s really good? Homemade hot chocolate (none of the Swiss Miss stuff!) topped with homemade marshmallows and sprinkled with cinnamon.

Snow and Brownies

17 Feb

Hello faithful readers!
I got my laptop back, rescued from the grave. It had some kind of monster virus, but the computer people were able to wipe it clean and then reload all my pictures and documents back on. I don’t know how they did it, but I’m glad they knew what they were doing!

While my laptop was at the computer hospital for the week, it snowed and I made brownies. The snow arrived on Friday. I went with my three little brothers to watch The Lightning Thief and when we got out snow was falling. So we headed home and hunkered down for the weekend.

Friday night - view from the front of the house

See it coming down? It was really a beautiful sight, especially under the lamp posts when the light illuminated the snow falling all around. On Saturday morning, the backyard was especially pretty.

It was breathtaking. I was up early Saturday, when everything was quiet, and blanketed with snow. It was a really nice moment.

At some point this weekend, in between taking pictures of snow, I made brownies. I’m in the cake-y brownie fan club, not the fudge-y brownie fan club. Having brownie stick to the roof of my mouth and impair my speaking ability doesn’t really do it for me. I’ve got a tried-and-true recipe for exactly the kind of brownie I like, and I got it off the back of those cocoa canisters ages ago. How handy is that? And completely switching topics, you know how people enjoy the edges of the brownies the most? Some websites have started to sell “all-edge” brownies pans, with a wall-like thing zig-zagging through the pan so all the brownies pieces have edges. My solution to the brownie serving and edge problem is to bake them in muffin tins. Then you get the perfect two-bite brownie, with a ring of edge. And of course, it’s cake-y inside. Behold:

No crumbs, no arguing over who has the bigger piece. And delicious, to boot!

I was so pleased with myself when I first thought this up, and now I rarely bake brownies any other way. Muffin tins or bust!

Here’s the recipe I use:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp butter (REAL butter! I’m serious.)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla.
Beat in eggs. Blend in cocoa.
Stir in flour and nuts.
Bake in greased 8×8 pan for 30-35 minutes or in greased muffin tins for 30 minutes. (I wouldn’t recommend using cupcake liners because they get greasy)

It’s a pretty easy and straightforward recipe. And you can switch things up too. One time I used orange extract instead of vanilla, and enjoyed the result. You could try other extracts or nuts to mix things up. Or you can stick with the basics. It’s always a favorite around here.

Ciao!

Food for the dogs.

29 Jan

Today, I made puppy chow. I got the recipe and idea while scoping out foodgawker.com, basically my favorite website ever. The Savory Sweet Life had posted about it and I bookmarked it to make at a later date. That date has arrived! Puppy chow is chex cereal covered in chocolate chips and peanut butter, covered in powdered sugar. It is super quick and easy to make, and contains only six ingredients!

First you take chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter, and you dump them in a bowl together. So far, so good.

Then you melt them.

Mmmm... Doesn't that look good! Or not.

Then you stir everything together and add vanilla. Everything’s better when you add vanilla. Speaking of which, I’ve got a couple of vanilla beans that some of my brothers gave to me for my birthday. I need to make something with them. But I feel so special having them. Like “Haha, I have vanilla beans and you don’t! Don’t you feel inadequate?!” Maybe when I finish admiring how they look in my cabinet, I’ll make something nice. But in the meantime, I’ll open my spice cabinet a couple of times a day and just stare contentedly at the beans. Life is good.

Or it’s super tame. Man, I need to get out more.

Back to business! You combine all that melty goodness with the chex cereal and you get this:

While this ultimately resulted in deliciousness of the highest order, I think next time I make it, I’m going to either increase the amount of chocolate-y coating stuff, or decrease the amount of cereal. I like my puppy chow with a thick coating of heart-attack inducing fun! None of this light, pansy coating. “Go big or go home,” I always say. And since I’m already home, I guess that just leaves “Go big.”

Still, once it’s coated in powdered sugar and its flaws are hidden to the world, this puppy chow looks mighty tasty!

Huh? Huh? What’d I tell you? I wouldn’t turn up my nose at that!

The recipe is from Savory Sweet Life.

Ingredients:
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
9 cups chex cereal (I used corn chex, and next time I will use less than 9 cups. Maybe 7 or 8 cups.)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1-gallon ziplock bags

Dump the first three ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds and then stir until smooth. Add the vanilla. Dump it all over the chex (which should be in a big bowl at this point). Mix. Divide the chocolate-y chex in between the two bags. Add 3/4 cups powdered sugar to each bag and stir to coat.  It’s that easy!