food isn't any good unless you have some fun!

come on in and enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Microwave Caramel Popcorn

Hey there-

Today I'm telling you about a recipe that I have loved my whole life. I don't remember having any homemade caramel popcorn not made this way. It's super easy, and all in the microwave, and when you're a kid, the whole bag-shaking part of this recipe is super fun. Well, I can't lie, it's still fun! Let's get to it- I have many pictures but it is very simple in reality.

Your plain popcorn, in a large brown bag.
Your butter, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt in a glass bowl.
The caramel mixture after the initial 3 minutes in the microwave.
Caramel mixture after the additional 1.5 minutes, and just adding the baking soda which leads to...
...this! The baking soda makes the mixture foam up and become lighter in color- stir well and quickly!
Using hot pads (!! very important- have them ready because your glass bowl will be hot!), pour the caramel mixture onto the popcorn, and shake it up.
Microwave the bag once, shake, another microwave, shake again, then pour it out. This picture is also to tell you that it might help to check the size of your microwave before you begin- also take out the turntable in the bottom as it will be useless in turning a bag the size of the microwave!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn
(I keep it pure, but feel free to add nuts, etc to your caramel corn after it is finished in the microwave if you desire)
-popcorn, about 1 1/3 cups unpopped
-1 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup light corn syrup
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Air pop your popcorn, pop it on the stove top, or as a last resort, use unflavored microwave popcorn- 3-4 quarts about, popped. Put your popcorn in a large brown paper bag. [Optional: spray the inside of the bag lightly with oil to try to make it stick less.]
Place the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla in a heat proof glass bowl (like Pyrex).
Microwave the sugar mixture for about 3 minutes, then stir until well blended.
Microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes longer, remove, add the baking soda, and stir very well- the mixture will foam up a bit and become lighter in color.
Immediately pour the caramel you've made in the microwave over the popcorn in the bag.
Roll down the top of the bag once or twice so nothing will come out of the top, and shake the bag vigorously to help spread out the caramel topping.
Put the brown bag in the microwave, and microwave for about 1 minute 10 seconds.
Remove the bag, shake vigorously, and put it back in the microwave with the original top side downwards.
Microwave another 1 minute and 10 seconds. Remove and shake one more time!
Pour the caramel corn out onto waxed paper, spread out, and let cool.
[Optional: pour popcorn out onto parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake for 5 or so minutes at 300 F to crisp the popcorn a little.]
Store in an airtight container.

Here's the popcorn after the initial pouring out- yum!! And you can stop here, or...

...stick it in the oven for a few minutes, but make sure it isn't too close to the top or it may burn. This will crisp it a little bit.

Savor it!
love, rue

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Hey there!

I like angel food cake. It's light, it's spongy, it's delicious. It's a perfect carrier for fruit and whipped cream, or a perfect dipper for chocolate fondue. So what's even better? Well just add chocolate of course!! Here's chocolate angel food cake- by no means a new concept, but one worth sharing. Angel food cakes seem intimidating, but it's really quite easy, and so is making the leap from traditional angel food cake to chocolate!

Very limited arsenal- just 7 ingredients that you probably have in your cupboard right now!
First, mix together your dry ingredients.
After you've whipped up your egg whites (I apologize for the missing pictures, I didn't want to take time to take pictures and possibly overdo the whites!), start to fold in the dry ingredients very gently.
Until you're about to this stage- not entirely uniform, but mostly- and then it's ready for baking!
So spoon that batter over into your ungreased (!) tube pan.
Bake until a tester comes out clean, 40-45 minutes at 375 F.
Take your cake out of the oven, then invert onto a wine bottle- I know, it's scary turning a cake upside down, and I have heard horror stories, but I think those are few and far between- be brave!

Chocolate Angel Food Cake
(I would try to specify beating times, but beaters vary so wildly that you'll just have to go by look/feel)
-scant 2/3 cup all purpose flour
-1/3 cup cocoa
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-12 egg whites
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
-1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
Mix the flour, cocoa, and sugar in a bowl, set aside.
Beat the egg whites until foamy and slightly thickened. Add the vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat again, adding the 3/4 cup remaining sugar gradually. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Fold in the dry ingredients.
Dollop the batter into a 10 inch ungreased tube pan (very important! needs to be ungreased for the cake to rise properly!)
Bake at 375 F for 40-45 minutes.
Cool inverted on a wine bottle. When completely cool, use a knife to cut around the edge of the pan and cut the cake free and then turn it out. delish!

Cut out your cake with a sharp knife, then turn out onto a plate.

And I went simple- just some lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh cut up strawberries- perfect, just perfect!

Savor it!
love, rue

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chili (homemade, easy, full of flavor!)

OK, confession time again. Remember when I made Red Beans and Rice for the first time not too long ago? I have actually never made legit Chili before either. Yes, I've made it with what ingredients I could cobble together in the co-op and other times, but this is the first time I've made my Chili- a cross between some creative spices and suggestions and my mom's recipe that she's made for us all my life. And I have to say, it's some of the best chili I've ever had. Let's get started, this stuff is fantastic!!

Start by browning up your ground beef and spooning off what you can of the fat.
Saute your chopped onions and celery, add the garlic about 2/3 of the way through.
You're done sauteing when the onions and celery have begun to soften. Then you're ready to add the rest!
Add in the ground beef, then two cans of tomatoes...
And two cans of beans, with the water.
Add all of your spices, molasses, and beer, and here's what you have- more soupy than chili texture, right?
Well, just let that baby simmer! here it is about halfway through the time I let it cook- it is good to eat at this point, but not quite at chili status.
After a few more hours simmering on the stovetop, you've got a thickened, spiced, delicious chili that you can enjoy however you do chili- as you can see below, I favor it in a tortilla with cheese and sour cream!

-approx. 1 lb. ground beef
-a few tablespoons olive oil
-2 onions, chopped
-4 stalks celery, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes and juice
-2 16 oz. cans beans for chili with water
-2 tablespoons chili powder
-1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
-1 teaspoon oregano
-1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
-1 1/2+ teaspoons salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1 tablespoon cocoa
-1 bay leaf (remove just before serving)
-1/4 cup molasses
-1 beer (12 oz.)
Brown the ground beef.
In your big soup pot, add some olive oil and the onions and celery. Saute then add the garlic towards the end.
Pour in your cans of tomatoes and beans, the beer, molasses, and all the spices. Feel free to play with the spices, adding or subtracting as you prefer- but taste as you go along! This is the best way to know what you're making your dish taste like!
Let simmer for several hours until thickened and combined. Try to mash a few of the beans along the way too (next time I might try mashing one of the cans of beans before I add it).
Serve in tortillas with cheese and sour cream.

My Chili- you've gotta try the tortilla, it's perfect- just remember to fold up the bottom and keep a napkin handy!

Savor it!
love, rue

Monday, March 4, 2013

Nutella Oreo Mousse Pie

Hey- this is a quick recipe that has amazingly tasty results. So here's a quick post of a dessert you can whip up fast and ahead of time, and you can make a big pie for everyone, or split this into individual dishes for nicer-looking plating. Garnish with whatever you like- chopped nuts, chocolate- and make it your own. You could also use a different kind of crust, but I like the chocolate crust with the lighter filling. Let's do this. Warning, though: you may end up making this pie today!

Simple ingredients- fast prep!!
Cream together your nutella, cream cheese, vanilla, and pinch of salt.
And you get this fantastic chocolatey ness that you will want to eat with a spoon- try to resist!
Then fold in your cool whip.
Until you have your filling- doesn't look too appetizing in a bowl but it is delicious I promise!

Nutella Oreo Mousse Pie
-oreo crust, store bought or homemade by crushing cookies and mixing with melted butter and pressing in pan
-1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
-2/3 cup nutella
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-8 oz. cool whip, mostly thawed (thaw in refrigerator)
Beat together the cream cheese, nutella, vanilla, and salt. Fold in thawed cool whip.
Pour into oreo crust, and refrigerated for 4-6 hours or overnight. Could also be made into individual servings.

Again, I must admit this is not the most appetizing dessert if you leave off all garnish and just make it to eat it like I did, but it tastes great and has a lot of potential for different versions and applications.

Savor it!
love, rue