Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicken in a Basket

METHOD: Stove top, oven
TIME: Prep: 40 min. + cooling
8-10 frozen puff pastry shells
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups julienned carrots (buy already cut in a bag)
3 chicken breasts cooked and cut into cubes
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Cut chicken into cubes and saute in a skillet with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Set aside.
Place onion, celery, broth, carrots, salt and pepper in a large deep skillet. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Bake pastry shells according to package directions. These should be relatively dry, I usually cook them a little longer then the package says.
In a separate saucepan melt butter and add flour and stir to make roux (until smooth), immediately add to broth and veggies then stir until mixed well, bring to a gentle boil. Add nutmeg, lemon juice and chicken, gently simmer for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and gradually stir cream into broth mixture and heat through (do not boil).
Cut the tops off the pastry shells and carefully scoop out the center and discard Set the top aside. Place the bottom in a bowl and spoon the Chicken mixture into the pastry shells and fill to the top and spilling over the sides. Set the pastry top on. Serve Immediately

This dish is so creamy and tasty, the chicken is tender and the carrots make it very pretty and delicate. You can use peas and/or broccoli instead of celery if you prefer. You can make it a little spicy with 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper or diced red peppers, or more crunchy with diced water chestnuts.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Caramel Corn

So.....I've been obsessing about this stuff ever since I made it for the first time two days ago. Seriously. I'm trying to watch what I eat....This is a problem for one who loves to cook and for one's hubby whom also is watching his figure. God love him, Kevin is my kindest critic, he's always trying to resist my cooking while it calls his name softly and bats it's eyelashes.... wait, no eyelashes in MY food, thank you.

But darn I can't help myself! with this stuff! Sunday is our "eat whatever the heck strikes your fancy" "free" day.... so I made two batches of this, plus S'mores, for a friend's party. So it was a hit, both batches disappeared. And since then I've been mentally talking myself out of going right upstairs and making myself more.... Someone's gonna have to tie me down soon.
I LOVE chewy-gooey Caramel Corn. My Aunt used to make it, but it was SO complicated that I never bothered. Just wished she'd make more so I could enjoy.

I get intimidated by anything needing a candy thermometer, so I avoid it. Silly because it's never as hard as I think.....But THIS!!
This is a glorious MICROWAVE recipe people!!
I was tempted to keep this baby to myself because lets face it, I'm protective of my most loved treasures, and giving away my best secrets ruins the mystery. If you found out how easy all these recipes are; would you love my cooking as much? Really? You would? How do I know anyone's reading this anyway, no one comments....
(sniff, sniff)

But what fun would keeping this to myself be, I have guilt when I do that. It's a mom thing. Sharing is fun too, so I regretfully (JK) post this scrumptious delight.....

Adapted from Our Best Bites

Easy Caramel Corn
3/4 cup kernels *air popped with extra kernels removed*
Or 2 bags microwave popcorn (if possible, use natural flavor, not buttered)
Pour popcorn in a BIG Bowl

1 C brown sugar
1/4 C white Karo syrup
1/2 t salt (if you are using salted popcorn then omit salt here)
1 cube real butter
1/2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla

Place brown sugar, Karo syrup, salt, and butter in a microwave safe dish. Cut up the butter into chunks so it melts better. No need to stir, just toss everything in there like this....

Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Take it out and stir it together. Microwave for 2 more minutes. Stir really well until well blended. It doesn't look to great yet, but wait!! Add baking soda and vanilla. Stir it really well until it turns a lighter, thicker, beautiful color, then and then quickly pour it over the popcorn. Mix it up well with a big spoon.

DOUBLE BATCH - cook 2:40 then stir then 2:20 then stir
For Chewy Soft Caramel Corn:
You can spread it all out on a piece of foil and let it cool for a minute so it doesn't get stuck in one big clump. But leaving it in the bowl is fine too. The longer it sits out, the firmer it will get, but it won't ever get crunchy-hard unless you bake it. Cover or serve immediately

For Crunchy Caramel Corn:
Spread out on two greased cookie sheets and bake at 200 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Drizzle it with white or dark chocolate when done if desired.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Chocolate Drizzled Coconut Macaroons

10 cups flaked coconut
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups sweetened condensed milk
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, stir together with a wooden spoon the coconut, flour and salt. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until everything is well blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared pan for traditional macaroon's, for chocolate drizzled or dipped flatten them with a fork.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until coconut is sufficiently toasted.

Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Melt chocolate chips at 50% power for 2 minutes in microwave stirring frequently until smooth. Dip cooled cookies halfway into the chocolate and scrape off excess onto the side of the bowl. Place onto waxed paper until set. Or use a knife to drizzle lines of chocolate on the cookies.

Makes 5 dozen

These are great! Easy and fun to make. Add some diced almonds and a can of well drained, crushed pineapple to make them a bit more tropical.