Kitchen Confessions at Christmastime

Talk about consonance… thats a lota “k” sounds!

On the eve of Jesus birth, I feel compelled to share a few food related confessions.
Not that it really has much to do with Jesus, but more to do with the fact that I think these things all the time and want to share them but can never think of a good enough excuse.

1. So number 1, I judge people based on what they bring to potluck dinners. Oh dear. I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry! I just do! Its so bad! I want to be able to just say “wow look at all that yummy food” and dive in. But I cant! Instead I am looking and calculating effort, time, serving size etc. Like its my job to ensure everyone is pulling their weight at the potluck.
(Now if your reading this and have recently attended a potluck with me… I have thoroughly enjoyed and approved of everyones level of contribution and item choices lately. You all may attend my next potluck.  🙂 )

2. I really really really really really dislike Real Vanilla flavoring. blahh. I do not like how it turns regular chocolate chip cookies into vanilla scented cookies with chocolate. I like butter and sugar flavors to take over my cookie, not vanilla. I poured my last expensive bottle down the drain not too long ago because it went bad sitting in the cupboard so long. I am sure that I am committing a cardinal sin in many bakers books, but I will take the cheap artificial flavoring every time thankyou very much.

3. Sometimes when a recipe says to use butter, I use margaine because its cheaper. I like to spend money on clothes rather then butter.  I am frugal ok.

4. I love my kitchen floor because it can be sooooo dirty and you cant even tell. (unless you have barefeet….so wear socks if your coming over)

5. Speaking of the kitchen floor…. I have washed it once in 2 years. Gary lived here for two years before we got married. I washed it once in that time because I was a good girlfriend. It is in dire need of washing.

6. My christmas tree is in the kitchen because I wanted to be able to see it all the time

7. There is rat poison in my utensils-that-aren’t-cutlery drawer

8. I have a fish on my kitchen counter. His name is Samualson. I used to keep him by the stove but he kept getting oil slicks on the surface of his water when ever I fried bacon. I was afraid it would kill him like oil kills fish in the ocean. He is still alive and well though. I feed him way to much.

9. My kitchen overflows with baking supplies. I could pretty much make almost anything at this current moment.

10. well I was going to do ten, but inspiration has subsided. So 9 it is! I could put pictures in of all the fascinating confessions, but my card reader is down for the count. 🙂

Merry Christmas!

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Texas Sheet Cake and My Favourite Spatula

Do you have a favorite spatula?
You know, the one that cleans the inside of your mixing bowl like a dream and folds egg whites like no tomorrow and fills a muffin tin without spilling batter all over the place?
Well, I have one. Its perfect. I love it. I don’t know where to find another one…but I need a new one…because mine broke…
right in half.

Shoot.
I still use it though…its almost more maneuverable without the handle. 
Actually I was at my grandmas the other day…and she has the same spatula in her drawer…and hers it taped together with duct tape…haha so obviously this was a bit of a design flaw…
I really like is use “…” as my only form of punctuation. I create my own grammar rules. Don’t tell my momma 
Texas Chocolate Sheet cake is sooooo yummy….

I eat it right out of the pan with a spoon. 
Have you ever had sheet cake? Basically it is a cakey brownieish thing baked in a large, rimmed cookie sheet and then covered with a really really really thick layer of chocolate icing as soon as you take it out of the oven. This results in a layer of gooey sweetness between the actual icing and the cake. Yum yum yum. 
Nuts in the icing are definitely optional, but something I like to leave out. 
Apparently it is soooo good that this is also the only picture I have of it. So here is the recipe. Adapted slightly from Pioneer Woman 🙂 
Cake:
2 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
4 heaping tablespoons Cocoa
1 cup of Butter 
1 cup Boiling Water
1/2 cup Buttermilk
2 beaten Eggs
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Set aside. 
2. Melt butter in a pot on the stove, and add cocoa. Stir.
3. Add boiling water and allow mixture to boil for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and pour over flour mixture. 
4. In a measuring cup, pour buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla and stir well. Add to chocolate mixture. 
5. Pour into sheet cake pan, jelly roll pan, or any medium large cookie sheet with edges. The recipe says not to grease your pan, which does work just fine, but I like to line all my pans with parchment paper. It just makes clean up 100 times easier and then if I need to use that pan before the cake is gone, I can just slip it right out. 
6. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes or until the cake springs back lightly. It does not take too long because the cake is not very think!
7.  While the cake is baking, make the icing
Ingredients:
1/2 cup finely chopped Pecans
3/4 cup Butter
4 heaping tablespoons Cocoa
6 tablespoons Milk 
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 1/2 cups icing sugar ( 1 lb bag, minus 1/2 cup) 
a) Melt butter in a medium pot ( you can totally use the same one as before)
b) Stir in cocoa and turn off heat
c) Add milk, vanilla and icing sugar
d) Add pecans and stir until smooth
e) As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pour the entire pot of icing over the cake and spread with a spatula. 
Eat is hot, eat it cold, eat it with ice cream or whipped cream or out of the pan with a spoon. Yum. 

Beef Brisket and Creamy Mashed Potatoes

So a couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me to help her make a nice dinner for her husbands business Christmas party. Since then my mind has been over flowing with ideas! It will be a small crowd of 6-8 people so the options are pretty much endless! 

Today we decided on the basics for the menu! 
Pioneer Woman’s Beef Brisket 
Pioneer Womans yummy yummy mashed potatoes 
There is a insane amount of butter and cream cheese and cream in this recipe but they are oh so delicious! ( AND make-ahead-able 🙂 )
and homemade buns (obviously)
and broccoli salad 
and another hot veggie side…hmm any suggestions? 
and dessert… Trifle? Cake? Cheese Cake? Pie? 
ohhh maybe individual trifles in pretty glasses? or individual pies in mini mason jars? hmmm
Anyways, I will document this event and feature all the recipes I decide to make once this fun event takes place 🙂 
PS. I used the toaster oven this morning and everything went perfectly fine! 
PSS. The Mixer is getting more and more picky…today it wouldn’t even stir 7 cups of flour into my gingerbread recipe without a fight. I think it may be on its last legs…sign Hamilton Beach…keep it together for Christmas please.

The Toaster Oven and Yummy Caramel Popcorn

What on earth does the toaster oven have to do with a post about Caramel Popcorn? You are probably asking yourself that exact question right now. Well Ill tell you…

This is my toaster oven. It looks a bit warn out but relatively harmless.
Only minutes before this picture was taken, this toaster oven was fully of flames.
You see, I wanted to take a picture of all the things needed to make this recipe, but I wanted to hide my toaster oven from view. The answer to this problem was not to take the picture somewhere else, but to cover the toaster oven with a pretty tea towel. I didn’t even get one picture taken to show you.

So what happened was, I put a tea towel over the toaster oven and I was getting together my brown sugar, and butter and peanuts etc. and then I began arranging them in front of the tea towel. Soon I began to notice smoke in the air and I had no idea where it was coming from. Then I saw a slight flicker of something behind my tea towel. “Oh shoot! I thought, something is burning”. Burning was definitely an understatement. The entire inside of the toaster oven was full of flames. For about 10 seconds I stood there wondering what to do. I knew either salt of baking soda would put it out…but which one? I decided I had to try one or the other really quick or my kitchen would be on fire. I already had the baking soda out because you need it for this recipe, and I threw a couple of spoonfuls on and poof, out went the fire! Then I called my husband and left him a happy voicemail telling him that I almost burnt down our house and I went back to making my caramel popcorn.
Lesson learned : do not cover the toaster oven with a tea towel.

The End.

So to actually make the popcorn without burning your house down:

Pop about 3/4 cup popcorn kernels. You need 12-15 heaping cups of popped popcorn.

Put 1/2 cup of butter chopped into pieces (I didn’t chop it because my butter was soft so it melted easy enough), 1 cup packed brown sugar, and 1/4 cup corn syrup in a microwave safe bowl. ( Word from the experienced…a two cup glass measuring cup is not big enough)

Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir to combine and then Microwave for 2 minutes.

Then it should almost look like this. Give it a good stir and microwave for 2 more minutes.

When it comes out of the microwave, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and if you are feeling adventurous 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir it all together and it should get foamy. I forgot to take a picture.

Pour your popcorn into a biigg bowl. You want to have lots of room to stir. I used my 32 cup Tupperware bowl. Also pour in 1cup of peanuts and toss lightly with your popcorn. ( Sometimes I don’t use peanuts)

Pour the caramely mixture over the popcorn and peanuts and stir until well coated.

Spread onto a parchment of greased foil lined baking sheet (with sides) and bake in a 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes or so. You can adjust the baking time according to how you like your caramel corn. If you like it chewy and sticky you do not have to bake it at all. But if you are like me and prefer it to not pull out your teeth, 20 minutes is adequate.

It should look like this, slightly less grey and a little more brown.

Here is the recipe in a normal and more easily readable way:

12-15 heaping cups of popcorn ( about 3/4 cup)
1 cup peanuts (if you like)
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (if you like)

1) Mix popped popcorn and peanuts in a big bowl (its good to do it first even though I didn’t show it that way)
2) Measure corn syrup, butter and brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Stir
3) Microwave again for 2 minutes then stir and repeat once more.
4) Remove from microwave and add, vanilla, baking soda, salt and possibly cinnamon and stir well.
5) Pour over popcorn and stir well to combine ( I recommend a wooden spoon)
6) Dump popcorn out onto a large rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or greased tin foil.
7) Bake at 250 degrees F for about 20 minutes stirring ever 5 minutes or so. Baking time can be adjusted according to your liking. The corn will harden as it cools.