Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips



I was introduced to this recipe many years ago at a Pampered Chef Party--I think it was the reason I purchased my Food Chopper. I usually dice using my favorite chef's knife but sometimes The Chopper is the best tool for the job.
I made this Fruit Salsa for book club--it was a hit! I forgot how much I like it. It is fresh and delicious, I think your family will love it.

Fruit Salsa
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1 pint strawberries, chopped
2 kiwi, peel and dice
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons jam or jelly
Mix fruit in a bowl. Combine zest, juice, sugar and jam. Gently combine mixtures. I used my Food Chopper for the apples and strawberries. I think I got carried away while chopping the berries, next time I will hold back a bit. I'm sure this recipe would work with different fruits. The apples give great texture. Whole raspberries or blueberries would be a great addition.

Cinnamon Chips
Flour tortillas (I like thin tortillas)
cinnamon sugar
Cut tortillas into strips or wedges, place on baking stone. Spray lightly with Pam or water and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes until crisp and lightly brown. Cool. A drizzle of chocolate is always a good thing.
Printable Recipe




Sunday, May 15, 2016

Roast Beef Dinner--by Greg


When our kids come to visit they always request a roast beef dinner cooked by their dad. Greg has this meal perfected. He makes the meat, gravy and mashed potatoes. I take care of the sides and the dessert. It is a perfect team effort.
When my health declined and Greg was released from his 5 year calling as a bishop of our LDS ward he suddenly had time on Sunday. He wanted to help with Sunday Dinner. He wanted to find a foolproof Roast Beef recipe, one that made delicious gravy.
My past attempts at this meal were sometime good, sometimes not so. I did what my Mom did--put a roast in a pan, cooked it for hours and hoped for the best. Sunday dinner was always yummy at Mom's.
Long story, we'll shorten it. So Greg wanted a recipe were he could have controlled results. Cook's Illustrated to the rescue. I had their cookbook The Best American Classics on my shelf. It had a simple pot roast recipe. From this recipe came The Perfect Roast Beef Dinner.
This recipe is not difficult but does require cooking time.

Perfect Roast Beef
1 boneless beef roast, about 3.5 pounds. We use rump roast but I'm sure you would have success with a pot roast or chuck eye roast
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 small rib celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup beef broth
1 cup chicken broth
1-1 3/4 cups water
Pat the roast dry with paper towel, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed dutch oven, I use a le Cruset pan. When the oil is shimmering add roast and brown on all sides. This will take about 8 minutes. Transfer the roast to a large plate. Reduce heat to medium; add onion, carrot and celery to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until browning begins. Add garlic and sugar, cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and beef broths, scrapping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen brown bits. Return the roast and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the roast. Place a large piece of aluminum foil over the pot and cover tightly with a lid. Bring the liquid to a simmer then transfer the pot to the oven--heated to 300 degrees. Cook turning the roast every 30 minutes until tender. This will take about 31/2 to 4 hours.
Transfer the roast to a carving board, tent with foil to keep warm. Strain drippings. Allow fat to come to the top (we use a fat separator). Use drippings to make gravy. 
Gravy is simple--for every cup of drippings you need at least a tablespoon of fat (there is usually plenty of fat in the drippings). Mix 2 tablespoons flour in some water, whisk well, you don't want any lumps! Add flour/water mixture to 1 cup warm drippings. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Let boil gently for 2 minutes. Adjust seasonings. We come from a long line of gravy loving ancestors. 1 cup of gravy would never do. Just increase amounts--keeping proportions the same. Today Greg made about 4 cups of gravy. He used 3 1/4 cup drippings, mixed 8 tablespoons flour with 3/4 cup water.



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Prairie Flower Quilt for Mom




My mom loves flowers her yard is a blast of color each summer. I saw a pattern for a Prairie Flower Quilt, it had Mom's name on it! I had to run with it. The pattern comes from Missouri Star Quilt Co. MSQC has lots of fun video segments that demo different quilts. I watched this demo several times until I felt confident enough to start cutting and sewing. It was a fun quilt to make, the blocks were big--over 13 inches. I used Miss Kate, a fabric line by Bonnie Camille for Moda. This is a fun fabric line with lots of color--just like Mom's flower garden.



I wanted to do a scrappy back, I got carried away and it turned out very scrappy. It is fun. It was quilted at The Quiltmakers on a long-arm quilting machine. She did the quilt freehand--it is beautiful with many fun details.
Happy Mothers Day to the best Mom ever!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Double Chocolate Bread


Sometimes you just need a slice of Chocolate Bread! It is a bread so I'm sure it must be a breakfast food. Think of a Costco Chocolate Muffin only on steroids (and in a loaf form). This bread was moist and delicious. I like to make it in my stoneware mini loaf pans. It is easy to share that way. I spread some Costco Cherry, Rhubarb Jam on a slice--now I could call  it a dessert!

Double Chocolate Bread
1 1/2 cups flour (7.5 ounces)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (1.25 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (5 ounces)
1/3 cup oil, vegetable, avocado, melted coconut, etc.
1 cup light brown sugar (7.5 ounces)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (5.25 ounces)
1 cup chocolate chips
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
In a large bowl whisk together the applesauce, oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and sour cream.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the chocolate chips (I used a chopped chocolate bar). Mix gently just until combined. Do not over mix.
Spread the batter evenly in a 9x5 loaf pan that has been sprayed with Pam. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes--until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs but not wet batter.
Let the bread cool completely--it really is better the second day (if you can make it last that long).
I cooked this bread in my Pampered Chef Mini Loaf Pan. It made 3 small loaves. Check it after about 25 minutes. I'm not sure why I spread some Cherry Raspberry jam on my slice of chocolate bread. But it was wonderful!
Printable Recipe
Recipe came from Mel's Kitchen Cafe--my favorite blog!



Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ham and Vegetable Chowder



There is nothing like a warm cup of soup on a cold Spring day. It is March, it is Spring Break, it is Easter Weekend--it is cold! The grandkids don't seem to mind the cold but they were happy to eat a warm cup of soup at the end of the day! This delicious soup was a hit. Everyone loved it from the 2 year old to grandpa.

Ham and Vegetable Chowder
1 1/2 cups diced ham--leftover Easter Ham works great
6 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced (1 1/2 cups)
2 diced peeled carrots (3/4 cup)
2 stalks diced celery (3/4 cup)
2 cans chicken broth
5 Yukon Gold potatoes (1 3/4 lb.), peeled and diced
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (or frozen)
3/8 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk (heat in microwave till hot)
1/2 cup cream
1/8-1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar/jack cheese
green onion, crumbled bacon, shredded cheese for garnish
In a large pot melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add carrot, onion and celery. Saute till tender, about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, potatoes, oregano, bay leaf. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pan and simmer gently until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Reduce heat to warm, add ham and corn.
In a medium saucepan melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook mixture for 2 minutes--stir constantly. Stirring constantly add hot milk, stir until mixture is thick.
Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste. Add cream, grated cheese and Cayenne Pepper.
Pour milk mixture into soup. Stir gently. Correct seasonings if necessary.
Garnish with bacon, green onions and cheese.
This yummy recipe feeds a crowd. Recipe inspired by Cooking Classy.
Printable Recipe



Monday, March 14, 2016

Lemon Angle Pie for Pi Day






I don't make many pies--you have to have guests over to make a pie and we did, so I did! It was in celebration of Pi Day, I was going with a theme.
Angel Lemon Pie is heavenly--if we eat food in heaven it will be this light delicious desert. It has a meringue crust, which is the easiest crust ever made! The filling is a lemon curd made completely in the microwave. When cool it is lightened with whipped cream.
That's it. The only tricky part is it must be made the day before which is a great thing when entertaining. You must also let the crust and lemon curd cool before filling the crust. Just read the recipe through, a good thing to always do, before making a recipe.
Lemon Angel Pie
Ingredients
4 eggs at room temperature, separated
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice, (I used Meyer Lemons but any lemon would work)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups whipping cream

Meringue Crust
In a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip beat the egg whites until foamy. While mixer is runing gradually add 1 cup sugar and the cream of tarter. Beat until stiff but not dry. This happen in about 3 minutes. I think a high altitude with no humidity helps (this is one of the few desserts that works best high and dry!) If you cannot get your egg whites to go stiff enough no fear they will work. Butter a deep dish glass pie plate. Put meringue in pie plate, mine looked like a beautiful cloud!
Bake at 300 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Cool completely.

This is the meringue going into the oven. It is light and beautiful!


When the meringue came out of the oven it puffed over the pie shell--it was gorgeous! As it cooled it slowly sank down to create a perfect pie shell.

Filling
Put the 4 eggs in a microwave safe bowl, I used a quart Pyrex measuring cup. Beat slightly. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice, lemon rind and salt. Cook about 3 minutes stirring with a whisk every 30 seconds. Mixture will be very thick, lemony and sweet. That is just how it should be! Cool completely. I cooled this in the fridge.
In a clean mixer bowl fitted with a wire whisk pour the 2 cups whipping cream. Beat until stiff--don't over beat or you really will get butter. How do I know?? I make many mistakes--I share them with you so you don't need to make them. Do not add any sugar to this whipped cream. Put half of the whipped cream in the cooled lemon curd mixture. Stir gently. You want to combine the ingredients but not deflate the cream. When mixed pour into the meringue shell. Using a short off set spatula spread the lemon cream on the crust. Top with the rest of the whipped cream. I also used an offset spatula to spread the cream. Put the pie in the fridge. It needs to cool up to 18-24 hours.
Serve the chilled pie and enjoy rave reviews (I did)! Serves 8 adults.


I googled this recipe and found several that were similar. It is a very basic recipe and has been around for years. I liked the photos in Homebased Mom.  My Mother-In-Law was so excited to eat this--it was similar to a recipe her sister made many years ago. Aunt Melba has been gone for many years. She was a great cook, I know eating this dessert brought back many memories for my Mother-In-Law. Food will do that to you! It was a great dessert, I will make it again soon.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Broccoli Cheese Soup


After 40 years of cooking I finally found a recipe for Broccoli Cheese Soup that I like. I found it on one of my favorite blogs, Mel's Kitchen Cafe. It had a couple of hundred positive reviews so I thought I would take a chance. I made a few changes, it was excellent. I took it to a Relief Society Service Luncheon--there was nothing left, it got rave reviews. What made it wonderful? I think the combination of cheeses gave it great flavor and the fact that the broccoli was crisp tender gave it a great texture. I do know that I need to write the recipe down so I can make it again soon.


Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 can chicken broth
1 small onion diced
1/3 cup flour
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
2 cups milk--heat in microwave for 3 minutes
6 ounces shredded cheese--part extra sharp cheddar, part Mexican blend
4 cups lightly steamed broccoli
1 cup lightly steamed cauliflower
Simmer diced onion in chicken broth in a covered saucepan for 15-20 minutes.
In a stock pot melt butter, add flour and seasonings. Cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
Add warmed milk and whisk till soup thickens.
Add warm broth with onion, stir.
Add cheese, stir till melted.
Add steamed veggies.
Season if needed.
I just cooked my broccoli and cauliflower in the microwave for about 4 minutes. The recipe called for all broccoli, I didn't have enough so I added cauliflower. I think lightly steamed carrots would also be an excellent addition. Steamed diced Yukon Gold potatoes would be delicious or asparagus. Use a variety of cheese, sharp has great flavor and Jack or Mexican blend cheese melts wonderfully. I think this is a great basic recipe that could have many variations.
Printable Recipe

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Double Chocolate Mint Cookie



In December I searched for Andes Red Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips. By the time I found them I had lost interest in using them. Things like that happen. So it is February and I have a couple of bags of Andes Red Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips that are aging. Red is the color for Valentines Day and mint works for any holiday.
I tried a recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe--I am happy to say the cookies were delicious. They totally would have worked for Christmas treats. I passed them out tonight to our dinner group, they were a perfect Valentine treat. If the red chips are not available the green chips would work great too. I think it is safe to say this cookie works year round!
This cookie is soft and chocolaty with a bit of peppermint crunch. The crunch is not hard like a candy cane--it is perfectly minty and melts in your mouth. The recipe called for semi-sweet chocolate chips. I like to rough chop a bar of Ghirardelli Bittersweet 60% Cocoa Baking Bar. This is my go to semi-sweet chocolate. You can get this in chocolate chips--they are excellent, but I like the variation of a chopped bar. Either way this is the only semi-sweet chocolate I use. Sounds kind of snobby I know, I take my chocolate seriously!
Choose a holiday and make this cookies--they will be a hit. I promise.



Double Chocolate Mint Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar (5.5 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3.75 ounces)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour (10 ounces)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 (4 ounce bar) Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Baking Bar, rough chopped
1/2 cup Andes Red Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips
additional 1 cup Andes Red Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips for dipping
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine butter and sugars (yes, I really do weigh ingredients, it is quick and so much more accurate), beat 2 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs, beat well. In another bowl combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix gently till flour just disappears. Add chocolate chips/chunks and 1/2 cup Peppermint Chips. Do not over mix.
Use a medium cookie scoop to form a ball. Dip the cookie top in Peppermint Chips. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes, cool on a cooling rack. Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies. Share quickly, they are too tempting!
Printable recipe



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

First Crush Quilt


This Stacked Coin quilt was created after I looked at several dozen similar quilts on Pinterest. I am not at all opposed to purchasing quilt patterns--I have dozens! Sometimes you just can't find the perfect pattern so you create one. That is the hard way for me because I am not a math whiz. You use plenty of math to figure out a quilt pattern. Luckily I have a sweet hubby that draws bridges for a living and does math all day. He is quite helpful in the pattern drafting department. I am happy with the finished quilt.



I would have loved a better photo and I will get one. I really just didn't want to go outside in a blizzard for the perfect photo op. This quilt is made with First Crush by Moda. The back is way scrappy. It is a great feeling to use up bits and pieces of fabric--I love how it turned out.
This quilt will live in my front room, it is all about hearts and love, I'm good with that!



Sunday, January 31, 2016

Harrisons's Quilt


Harrison came to visit this summer. We went on a little field trip to the fabric store. Harrison chose
the fabric and pattern, he has excellent taste. Making this bold chevron pattern was just fun. It has a soft minky back and a fun striped binding. It was made with a lot of love.



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Martha's Quilt


Martha Ann patiently waited for this bright quilt. The colors were fun and happy. It is a happy quilt for a fun, happy gal. We love Martha Ann.



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies




I forgot how good these cookies were. They are included in Dorie Greenspan's Cookbook,  'Baking From My Home to Yours'. This is one of my favorite cookbooks, it would rank in my top five.
Dorrie calls these World Peace Cookies. A daily dose of this decadent cookie could possibly lead to world peace. Hey, it is worth a try.
I first made this recipe years ago, I was a member of the Tuesdays With Dorrie baking group. We baked our way through this amazing cookbook. I revisited this recipe again--it is still amazing. It deserves to be shared often.
This is a butter-rich, sandy-textured slice and bake cookie. It is simple to make and delicious. These are great warm from the oven or room temperature. I have tried them both ways and I approve. They are also good for breakfast. Serve with a tall glass of cold milk.


Chocolate, Chocolate Cookies (World Peace Cookies)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Penzy's)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11 tablespoons butter at room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips (I like Ghirardelli 60% Baking Bar)

Stir together the flour, cocoa and soda.
In a stand mixer beat the butter on medium speed till light and creamy. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla. Beat for two more minutes
Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour. Do not skip this step or you will have a mess, trust me I know. Pulse the mixer on low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. If most of the flour is incorporated it is safe to remove the towel. Continue to mix on low for about 30 seconds. Just mix until the flour disappears, do not over mix. For the best cookie work the dough as little as possible. Toss in the chocolate bits, gently mix, dough may appear crumbly.
Turn the dough onto a work surface, divide dough in half. Shape into to logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 2 months. No need to thaw frozen dough, just slice the cookie and bake and extra minute.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a sharp thin knife slice the logs into rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Don't worry if the cookie cracks as you are cutting them, just squeeze the bits back into the cookie. Place on sheet.
Bake for 13 minutes. The cookie will not look done nor will they be firm. You will have to trust me on this. Place on a cooling rack until room temperature. Enjoy 30 delicious cookies.
I shared this cookie with several friends--100% positive reviews. I think it would be a great idea to keep a roll of this cookie dough in the freezer--always, for World Peace.
Printable Recipe

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Spaghetti Pie





Spaghetti Pie exceeded all my expectations. It is the best parts of lasagna and spaghetti. We loved it, the family I shared it with loved it and so did my mom. That is a lot of love. It does have a few steps but came together quickly. Next time I make it I will make the meat sauce in the morning. Then cook the noodles and assemble the 'pie' in the evening. Doing a bit of dinner prep in the morning is so helpful.

Spaghetti Pie
12 ounces thin spaghetti or vermicelli
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
16 ounce tomato sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese

1. Lightly coat a deep 9 or 10 inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cook the noodles until al dente according to package.  While the noodles boil brown ground beef. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is cooked through.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil and oregano.  Simmer the sauce over medium-low head for 10 minutes.
3. When the noodles are done, drain and return to the pot.  Immediately stir in the softened cream cheese and toss the noodles by lightly lifting them up and over with tongs until the cream cheese is mostly incorporated. Stir in the cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, and the mozzarella cheese.  Toss until the noodles are evenly coated.  Stir in 3 cups of the red sauce.  Keep the remainder of the sauce warm on the stove.
4. Scrape the noodles into the prepared pie plate and using a flat spatula press the noodles evenly into the dish so they are tightly pressed together and evenly flat across the top. Sprinkle an additional 1/4 cup of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top.
5. Bake the spaghetti pie for 20-22 minutes, until it is hot and bubbly and the cheese is golden on top.  Let the dish rest for 10 minutes.  Cut into slices and serve with remaining red sauce.
--This makes 6-8 generous servings. Which is way to much for 2! It does reheat well so leftovers are great. I made 2 smaller pies and have one in the freezer for another day.
--The meat sauce was excellent on its own. It is easy to make and would be yummy on spaghetti.
Printable Recipe
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe





Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Almond Chocolate Cherry Cookies



I am well aware that I have 80 cookie recipes on my blog--all excellent. But I think I have a New Favorite Cookie! I saw a recipe for an almond chocolate cookie in the new Taste of Home Fall Baking magazine. I was sure it would be yummy as it had so many fun flavors. I had just purchased some Almond Flavoring from Penzeys. I have been ordering spices from Penzeys for several years, they are fresh and delicious. When a Penzey's store opened just 10 miles from home I was thrilled. Girls weekend included a field trip to Penzeys. I entered the store and felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Heaven will smell like a Penzeys store I am sure.
Anyway--back to these amazing cookies. Chocolate, white chocolate, chopped almonds, almond flavoring--these had to be excellent. I'm sure the recipe in the magazine is good, but I made it better. What goes perfect with almonds and chocolate? Dried cherries do. They added the perfect contrast of sweet/sour. Please add this to your holiday cookie platter.

Almond Chocolate Cherry Cookies (aka favorite cookie)
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (150 grams--I always weigh brown sugar)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract--use Penzeys
2 cups flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
3/4 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
Cream butter and sugars together till light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extract. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture, don't over mix. Stir in chocolate, nuts and cherries.
Using a medium size scoop drop dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 11-13 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
Printable Recipe
Recipe adapted from a recipe in Taste of Home Fall Baking--this is a great magazine.  My magazine is full of sticky notes!



Monday, November 2, 2015

Caramel Apples







I'm going to let Jill talk about Caramel Apples--she is the authority! I've made a few with success but Jill has made hundreds. She often makes them for craft fairs in her area. They are a coveted item, ladies wait in line for them, yes they are that good. So here is what Jill has to say:

****

Well hello! My mom is right, I have made a several {hundred!} caramel apples in my day.  I began making 4-5  for our craft shows, but those few quickly turned into 10, which turned into 25, and sometimes up to 40 per show! I've retired from the craft show scene, and run Jill's Sweet Shoppe on Facebook. Caramel apples are a lot of fun to make and can be a great gift for teachers, neighbors, or yourself!

So, let's get started! First, let's talk about what you'll need. When making caramel apples, it's important to have all your ingredients ready to go.  Once you begin the process, you won't be able to stop in the middle to chop nuts or crush Oreo's!


You will need:
*Apples - I prefer Granny Smith.  They provide the tart flavor that you need to counteract the sweetness of the caramel and other toppings.

*Caramel - If you are making more than 5-10 apples you will want to get a 5 pound brick of Peter's Caramel...it will cost you around $20, but the quality is great and it will store for several months in your pantry. You can also just buy the individually wrapped caramels and trick your kiddos into a race to unwrap them.


* Chocolate for drizzling - Use good quality dipping chocolate for this. Ghirardelli and Guittard make great apeels that melt beautifully.  You can find them here, or your local Winco will have them in their bulk food section.  DON'T (yes, I just capitalized that) use Wilton melts from the craft store. Their waxy texture and overly sweet taste will most likely ruin your apple and make it not worth eating. Ok I'm teasing, but seriously folks, don't use them if you can avoid it...the taste is nothing like Guittard!

*Toppings - crushed Oreo's, crushed peanuts, mini M&M's, cinnamon sugar, etc

*Popsicle or craft sticks. Sticks with pointed ends (my preference) are typically found in the produce section of the grocery store.


Supplies are gathered - time to dip some apples!

1. First, wash and dry your apples then chill them in the fridge for 15 minutes. Chilling will help the caramel set faster so you don't have a gooey caramel puddle at the bottom of your apple, although I doubt anyone would complain! You'll also want to prep for the apples by laying out parchment paper, or tin foil coated with a light layer of Pam cooking spay.

2. Insert sticks in the top of the apple. You'll want to insert them about halfway down the core, being careful not to force the stick through the other end of your apple.

3. Melt your caramel. The ideal dipping temperature is 160 degrees, and there are several good methods you can use depending on how many apples you're making. The first method (and my preference) is to use a crock pot. Throw a brick of caramel in there on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Be sure to stir the caramel gently, but or  it will produce air bubbles in your finished product. Another way to melt your caramel is to use the microwave to heat and stir in 1 minute increments until you've reached your desired temperature and consistency.

I prefer the crock pot because it continues to keep your caramel warm while dipping...if you use the microwave, you'll have a much smaller dipping window to work with. As a rule of thumb, if I am making more than 5 apples, I'll use the crock pot. If I'm just making a few, I'll use the microwave.

4. Dip the apples! Tilt the apple on its side while holding the stick and dip in the caramel, rolling the apples to coat all the sides. After rolling the apple in the caramel, turn it back upright and let the caramel drip off.  When the it stops dripping, take a spoon and run it along the bottom of the apple to scrape off the excess.

5. Next comes the fun part: "Accessorizing" your apple! you can dip, drizzle, and roll your chosen toppings.  If you are going to roll your apple in nuts, M&M's or crushed Oreos, make sure you do it while the caramel is still warm.

If you are drizzling chocolate, I find the best method is to hold the apple over the sink, and use a spoon (for a thicker drizzle) or fork (for a fine drizzle). This will take a little practice...if it doesn't look that great, you can just say you were going for the "rustic" look. People like rustic, right? I promise, no one will complain.  This is where having good chocolate really pays off.  If you have decided to use the Wilton Melts, your drizzle will not be nearly as fluid and beautiful. trust me.

6. You made it! Now let your apples set then package them up with some cellophane, ribbon, and tags. Remember, presentation is everything. A not-so-perfect apple can easily be revived with pretty ribbon - trust me!










A final note: Apples best eaten within 24 hours, but can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days. Don't allow them to get too cold or the apple will "sweat" and your caramel will sluff off and produce watery mess at the bottom of your packaging.

Thanks for letting me visit, mama! If you fabulous readers have any questions, visit Jill's Sweet Shoppe and send me a message!