Saturday, November 2, 2013

Party Fun - Caramel Apples

We recently had 12, 7 year old girls over for a birthday/Halloween party. When planning the party I was stumped with what to do for party favors.  I didn't want to do bags of plastic junk.  I know the kids love the little toys, but my house is overwhelmed with little pieces of plastic and I didn't want to overwhelm anyone else's house, plus I knew a portion of what ever I got would be staying at my house.  After giving it some thought I decided to have the girls make their own party favors and what could be better than some candy covered caramel apples.


With all the other party preparations that needed to be done I didn't want to have to worry about making caramel.  So, I used Werther's new baking caramels.  These caramels are a delicious addition to Werther's line of candies and were perfect the perfect coating for the apples.  The caramel melted evenly, was wonderfully smooth and easy to use.  Their ease and taste could easily convince me to never make caramel from scratch again.
 Werthers caramel

While I loved the idea of having the girls make the caramel apples I was a little worried about the process.  I didn't want any of the girls to get burned on the caramel, but I still wanted them to experience the joy of watching a giant apple get submerged in a pot of golden caramel - it really is a beautiful thing.  By keeping the caramel off to the side and having all the toppings in buckets that could easily be passed around, the girls were able to gather around and decorate - and munch - to their hearts content.  Making it enjoyable for all.
We put out a lot of toppings for the girls to choose from - pecans, coconut, candy corn, marshmallows, candy eyes, sprinkles, m&m, chocolate chips, peanut putter chips and crushed pretzels.  The coconut was a flop, I kind of thought it would be especially once I heard one of the girls ask why they would want Parmesan cheese on their apples.  The rest of the toppings were big hits, a few of the girls even add a couple of extra scoops to the containers as we were packaging the apples, not to mention the handfuls that were eaten while they were making the apples.


While my plan was for the girls to take home beautifully decorated apples to share with their families, most of the apples didn't make it that far. And, many of the girls brought home apples that were half eaten, and by half eaten I mean all the toppings were eaten off.

I highly recommend throwing your own apple decorating party, it is great fun for all ages!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Werther's Popcorn

We had a Halloween party for my daughter's 7th birthday.  We went all out and had tons of fun and tasty treats for the girls, but the most popular snack was the Werther's Caramel Popcorn.  I had not tried their popcorn, or even new Werther's made anything except for hard candies, but thanks to MommyParties and their wonderful Munch 'n Movie party pack we had the opportunity to give this wonderful treat a try.  Now that I've tried it I am hooked.  

On it's own this caramel popcorn is delicious. In fact it is so good there may be a bag hidden in my pantry that may or may not be shared with the rest of the family.  While the caramel popcorn is great on its own add a few m&m's, some nuts and a little dried fruit and you have a snack mix that will disappear in the blink of an eye.

Werther's new line of  Caramel Popcorn is crunchy caramel sweetness that is hard to resist.  It is the perfect treat at a party or when snuggled up watching a movie.  You can add your favorite mix-ins for a quick and tasty treat or check out Werther's Caramel Shoppe for more snack ideas.



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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pumpkin Cookies

It is that time of year where almost everything I bake contains either apple or pumpkin, or sometimes both.  So, as soon as I saw the Vanderbilt Wife had a recipe for pumpkin cookies, I knew immediately what I would be making for this month's Secret Recipe Club reveal.

This is a wonderful recipe and makes a super soft and moist cookie.  I changed the recipe up slightly, by using a half cup of brown sugar and a half cup of regular sugar instead of  using just regular sugar.  I didn't make any other changes to the recipe, but the addition of some cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg would be great.
The cookies were great on their own, but the icing on top is, well, icing on the cake cookie.

These cookies just scream fall and hopefully the weather around here will turn back to fall soon so I can make another batch to enjoy with a cup of tea.  They will make a great breakfast, lunch or snack.  The perfect anytime cookie.

Please be sure to go check out all the wonderful recipes at the Vanderbilt Wife, she has something for everyone!


Pumpkin Cookies

2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar 
1 c. pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Frosting
3 T butter
1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla 

Directions:
Cookies:
Preheat oven to 350.
Sift the first five ingredients together (flour through salt). In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and shortening. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Beat well.  Add dry ingredients all at once and stir gently to form a smooth batter.
Drop by teaspoonful on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes 

Frosting:
In a small saucepan combine butter, milk and brown sugar.  Over medium heat bring mixture to a boil and let boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.  Once mixture is cool stir in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Frost cookies, allow icing to set before stacking cookies.

Monday, September 9, 2013

SRC - 3, 4 or more Ingredient Cookies

Where did August go? Where did the summer go?  I can't believe it is already time for the September Secret Recipe Club reveal.  I didn't participate in the August reveal, but I am certain just yesterday was the July reveal.

Secret Recipe Club

Between end of summer craziness and beginning of the school year craziness I don't think I have been to the grocery store more than a handful of times. As a result my pantry shelves are a little bare.  So, when I came across a recipe for 3 Ingredient Cookies on Three Cookies blog I knew I had found my recipe for this months reveal.

This cookie was developed as a result of a craving and a limited amount of ingredients in the pantry and it just called my name.  In the spirit of the recipe I did change it up a bit based on what was available in the pantry and what I was craving.  I added some peanut butter, so I guess my recipe is technically a 4 ingredient cookie, and I wanted to add some chocolate chips, but as I said my pantry was bare and I was out of chips.

There certainly isn't anything fancy about these cookies, but they are the perfect cookie when a cookie craving hits.  They make a great midnight snack and are perfect after school.  What is even better is that those little people who are looking for the after-school treat can make these little cookies with little to no assistance. These are very forgivable cookies so measuring mistakes won't ruin them.  The ingredients are familiar and there is flexibility in the ingredients being used to accommodate those with varying taste buds.

3 (or 4) Ingredient Cookie

1 egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup old fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350.  In mixing bowl combine all ingredients.  Stir until combined.  Drop heaping teaspoon on to parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just firm.


As always please be sure to go visit Three Cookies blog and all the other wonderful Group A bloggers of the Secret Recipe Club!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sprinkle Ice Cream Bars - Blue Bunny Ice Cream

Thanks to MommyParties and Cadbury Ice Cream the girls and I had the opportunity to host a wonderful ice cream tea party.  The timing couldn't have been better.  We are half way through summer vacation and while we have been keeping busy and having fun the kids are definitely starting to miss their friends.

We received a wonderful package of goodies - 4 flavors of snack sized ice cream bars, a tea set and some fabulous hats and fascinators.



Maggie decided it wouldn't be a proper tea party without fancy shoes, so we decided to decorate flip flops with the girls.


We dug through our craft supplies and pulled together an assortment of pom poms, feathers, googly eyes, paint, tape, flowers and ribbon and let the girls get to work creating.


The girls had a great time decorating the shoes, some went for a simple look while other went all out and covered every surface of the shoe.



After decorating the girls enjoyed some snacks and played games.  The ice cream came out when the moms came to pick the girls up, so moms, girls and siblings got to enjoy this delicious treat.  While I usually don't believe in messing with perfection, and Cadbury Ice Cream bars are pretty perfect just the way they are, I did jazz up some of the bars.  A brushing of strawberry syrup, recipe below, and then a quick dunk in a bowl of sprinkles made these already wonderful treats even more festive.


It was a great way to spend a summer afternoon and a wonderful opportunity to catch up with good friends.


Sprinkle Bars

  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 8 bars Blue Bunny Cadbury Royal Dark ice cream bars, unwrapped
  • 1 cup sprinkles (or your favorite topping - chopped nuts, flaked coconut, chocolate candies, etc.)
Instructions:
  • Line a small baking sheet with wax paper, set aside.  Pour sprinkles into a flat dish, set aside
  • In a blender or food processor combine strawberries, sugar and cornstarch, blend until smooth.  
  • Brush strawberry puree over all sides of ice cream bars.  Gently press bars into bowl of sprinkles, coating completely.  Place on baking sheet.  Chill bars for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Turkey Potato Galette

I have been participating in Secret Recipe Club since June 2011.  Between the blogs I have been assigned and those I visit on reveal day I have checked out a lot of blogs, yet there are always new ones to discover.  And that was the case with this month's assignment.  I am not sure how I haven't come across Camilla's blog before, but I will definitely be going back there on a regular basis.

Just as the name implies, Culinary Adventures with Camilla is filled with great recipes and great adventures.  Food isn't just enjoyed at home, but experienced in many places and ways.  She talks about picking cherries and olallieberries (a fruit I'm not familiar with) with her kids,  food is incorporated into movies and she has a great collection Cooking Around the World recipes.  But what I love most is that she is passing her love of cooking and food on to her kids.  I love her goal to "grow conscientious, creative kids with fearless palates." and would say it seems she is definitely achieving it.

When it came time to actually making something I had trouble narrowing it down, so I combined a couple of different recipes.  My first choice was the Herb Potato Onion Galette.  It had been a long time since I  made a Galette.  It is one of those foods that I forget about and then become obsessed with,  I love dishes that can be either sweet or savory and can easily substitute or swap ingredients, plus I had a lot of potatoes that needed to be used.  I also wanted to try Camilla's Kale Garlic Turkey Meatballs, again I had some kale that needed to be used up. So, instead of deciding between the two I made both, resulting in a delicious Turkey Potato Galette.


When I made this the first time, I cooked everything separately, but found that to time consuming.  I made a second batch this time cooking the potatoes and onions together and cooking the turkey and kale together.  Not only is this faster, but it also helps bring all the flavors together.


Turkey Potato Galette (Printer Ready)

Ingredients:
5-6 yellow potatoes, thinly sliced
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
½ lb. ground Turkey
1 bunch kale, washed and roughly chopped
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon paprika
3-4 cloves roasted garlic
1 disc pate brisse


Directions:
Preheat oven to 375.  Place potatoes and onion in a single layer on large baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender to the touch.  Remove from oven and set aside.


Place saute pan over medium high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil.  Once pan and oil are warm add turkey, cumin and paprika.  Cook until turkey becomes light brown, add kale and continue cooking until kale is wilted.  Remove from heat.


On a piece of parchment paper roll brisse dough into a large circle. Move parchment paper and dough onto a baking sheet, it is ok of the dough hangs over the sides of the baking sheet.  Smash roasted garlic into a paste, rub onto dough.  Place turkey, kale, potatoes and onions in center of the dough, leaving about 2 inches of dough to fold over.  Fold dough over leaving some of the filling exposed.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly golden.


Savory Pate Brisee (Printer Ready)
(modified from a Roland Messier recipe)


Ingredients:
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 egg
3 egg yolks


Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer combine salt and 1 tablespoon of the water, stir to dissolve the salt.  Add the flour, garlic, basil, parsley and butter.  Using the paddle attachment mix on low speed until the mixture feels like sand.  With the mixer still on low add the egg and yolks one at a time.  Add remaining water, mix until the dough just comes together.  

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide into 2 equal size pieces.  Shape each into a ball and then pat into a disc.  Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before using.  Can be kept in refrigerator for up to 3 days or in freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, for up to 2 months.  


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cakey Cobbler

That most wonderful time of year is here - cobbler season!  With so much fresh fruit coming in what can you do, but make cobbler, every night if necessary.  It's fruit so it's healthy and makes nightly dessert perfectly acceptable.  Plus if you have leftovers you are guaranteeing your family a healthy breakfast to wake up to.

I usually make cobbler with either a crumb or biscuit topping, but for one of my first cobblers of the season I decided to try out a new recipe.  This recipe was more cake like, which I wasn't sure about at first.  I was really looking forward to a juicy flaky biscuit and wasn't sure how I felt about this new type of cobbler, but after a few bites I decided it was definitely acceptable and will be working this recipe into my cobbler rotation.



Cakey Peach Cobbler Printer Ready

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cup sliced peaches
  • Juice from ½ of lemon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375

In 13x9 baking pan melt butter.  In small bowl combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and milk.  Pour batter over melted butter, do not stir.  In saucepan bring 1 cup sugar, peaches and lemon juice to a boil.  Evenly pour over batter, again do not stir.  

Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown