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Monday
Jan242011

Homemade marshmallows

In one of Ebby's recent posts, she talked about cute food being so much fun. I wholeheartedly agree! When I finished making this treat, I said, "Aawwww, how CUTE!" Then I may or may not have hugged the squishy ziploc bag filled with teeny, pink marshmallows. In addition to being cute, they were also deliciously tasty. I loved them as a snack, but I LOVED them in hot chocolate. YUM YUM YUM.

They don't take a ton of effort (at least not as much as I anticipated), but they do require some significant sitting time. It's worth it, trust me.

I had to force myself to stop taking pictures! Cute cute cute!

In a small saucepan, soften 4 tablespoons of unflavored gelatin in 3/4 cup of water. If you run out of unflavored gelatin like I did, substitute 1 tablespoon with flavored gelatin. In my case, strawberry. This ended up being a happy accident because it provided a hint of added flavor and color that I loved in the end.

Heat the gelatin slowly so it fully dissolves in the water. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and set aside.

Can you see an upside-down Pip taking a picture?

And now (below), can you see a four-eyed smiley face?

Sorry, I need sleep.

In a medium saucepan, combine:

2 cups white sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

3/4 cup water

Set the saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Set a candy thermometer in the pan and, without stirring (I was so happy about this non-stirring part), allow the mixture to boil until it reaches 250-260 degrees F. This went a lot more quickly than I anticipated. I was a bit overwhelmed at this point because I was trying to do seventeen things at once, but it took somewhere around 15 minutes to reach the desired temperature.

While the sugar mixture is boiling, beat 2 egg whites in a large mixing bowl on high speed with an electric hand mixer until medium-stiff peaks form.

When the sugar syrup reaches 250-260 degrees, slowly add it to the whisked egg whites and beat with mixer until combined. Immediately add the dissolved gelatin to the mixing bowl and beat on high speed. It will turn to a liquid at first, but will eventually thicken. Continue beating until the marshmallow mixture thickens enough to hold its shape, about 5-8 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together:

1/2 cup corn starch

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Lightly grease two 8x8 inch baking dishes and dust them with part of the cornstarch-confectioners' mixture. Divide the marshmallow mixture between the two pans and smooth as flat as possible with a rubber spatula (do this quickly!). Allow the pans to sit uncovered until springy and firm, 4-6 hours. I let mine sit for a full 6 hours.

Using a sharp knife, loosen the marshmallows from the sides of the pans. Dust a long sheet of waxed paper with more of the cornstarch-confectioners' mixture and flip the marshmallows onto the paper. Dust all visible surfaces of the marshmallows with more of the cornstarch-confectioners' mixture. Allow them to sit for another 2 hours.

With a sharp knife, cut the marshmallows into even strips 1-1 1/2 inches wide.

Dip your knife into cold water after each cut to clean the blade and to make cutting a whole lot easier.

Cut the marshmallows into squares and coat all sides with confectioners' sugar. These cute little treats are worth the wait!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Saturday
Jan222011

Crack brownies

Have you ever tried crack? Yeah, me either. After eating these brownies, though, I feel like I would probably be less addicted to crack. I mean, how can that not be the case with brownies, peanuts, marshmallows, Reese's peanut butter cups, chocolate, peanut butter and Rice Krispies all present in a single bite?! This recipe comes from my very good Heather, and I am very grateful that she shared it!

Prepare 1 package of brownie mix according to the package directions. Coat a 9x13 baking dish and bake in the oven, also according to package directions (20-25 minutes).

While the brownies are baking, chop enough Reese's peanut butter cups (I used minis) to make 1 cup. Feed extras to hungry children running by, or pop them into your own mouth.

Add on top of the baked brownies:

1/2 cup salted peanuts

1 cup Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped

2 cups miniature marshmallows

Return to the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for an additional 5 minutes, or until the marshmallows begin to puff and brown and the chocolate begins to melt.

In a medium bowl, combine:

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir until melted and creamy. 

Add 2 cups of Rice Krispies cereal and stir until completely coated with the chocolate-peanut butter mixture.

Pour mixture evenly over the brownies.

Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before serving. 

Cut into squares, and prepare to feel like you might need addiction counseling.

You think I'm kidding!

Printable recipe: Crack brownies

Friday
Jan212011

Hash brown avocado egg breakfast

I often tell people that I am a breakfast person, yet I'm not much of a breakfast person. Stop confusing us, Pip! Ok, ok, allow me to explain. I love breakfast food. I adore it. Eggs of any kind, bacon, hash browns, toast, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, French toast, muffins, ham, cereal, omelets, waffles, oatmeal. I love it all. In fact, I love it a little too much, so I only allow myself to indulge on weekends. Either I go all out or I eat none of it. I need breakfast therapy.

My husband creates delicious breakfasts on most Saturday and Sunday mornings, and I eat every speck off my plate. Monday through Friday mornings I stay away from breakfast like it's a drug. So, I love breakfast, but I don't consistently eat it. There's no need to remind me why I should eat it every day, "even if it's just a piece of toast or a granola bar." Yes, I get it.

Anyhow, here is a delicious little creation we made a while back. Mmmmm. Is it the weekend yet? Ahhhh, tomorrow is Saturday!

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 12 oz. of frozen hash browns.

Cook for 5 minutes or until hash browns are lightly browned.

Add:

1/2 of an onion, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

While the hash browns are sizzling in the skillet, mash 1 avocado in a small bowl with a fork. Season with salt and pepper and place in the refrigerator.

Cook the hash browns until they are crispy.

Divide them in half and form into two patties.

Cook two eggs, sunny-side up.

Place the hash brown patties onto separate plates. Top each with half of the mashed avocado and one egg.

Thank goodness for weekends.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Wednesday
Jan192011

Smoky tomato soup with maple-candied bacon

This is Week #3 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click on the above graphic to view all P&TC recipes. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010.

This is the first recipe I have created for this challenge that I didn't love. Not at first, anyway. With a few small changes, it went from being just okay to delicious!

I will write the recipe exactly as it is written in the cookbook and I will also tell you my suggestions. If you enjoy soups with a heavy orange flavor, make the recipe as it is! If you do not (I personally do not), then heed my thoughts.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange 8 slices of thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon over the parchment/foil and bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Drain the oil and sprinkle the bacon with 2 tablespoons of maple sugar or light brown sugar.

Bake for 8 more minutes, or until the bacon is glazed. Set aside.

Chop 1 small onion and mince 3 cloves of garlic. My three-year-old stole my beautiful new head of garlic from the fridge and misplaced it (ahhhh, can't wait to find that!), so I used the 2 lone cloves I could find in the drawer and a dash of garlic powder instead.

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat.

Add the chopped onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes.

Stir in:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar (I suggest using 1-2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon grated orange zest (I suggest omitting this entirely)

1/2 teaspoon piment d'Espelette (I was not able to find this ingredient. Heat-wise, it is often compared to paprika, so I added a dash more of that instead.)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Cook for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of dry rosé or white wine and bring to a boil.

Add 2 15-oz. cans chopped tomatoes, with their juices (I recommend using 3 cans).

Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.

Stir in 2 cups of water..

..and 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (I suggest using half of the recommended orange juice and replacing the other half with water).

Add 3 tablespoons of sour cream (I ended up using double this amount. I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil at this point.)

Working in batches, puree the soup until it is smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan and season with desired amount of salt and pepper. Reheat and ladle into bowls. Top with the candied bacon, chopped into bits.

Don't be scared away by my initial thoughts. With the revisions I made, it turned out to be a delicious soup! My three-year-old even ate it, served over saltine crackers.

I should mention that the cookbook lists the "ready in" time as 30 minutes. It took more like 1 hour for me, from start to finish.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Wednesday
Jan192011

Appetizer recipe contest!

Ebby and I have a Bloggy Day coming up, which means we are going to cook massive amounts of food in one day for the purpose of sharing recipes and photos on this blog. We will be hosting a few ladies at my house later that evening to share our newly-created goodies with them.

We thought it would be fun to create one of YOUR favorite appetizer recipes that day to share with our guests. In fact, why don't we make it TWO of you! We will feature both recipes on our blog and give each winner full credit for the recipe. We will also send each winner one of Ebby's favorite kitchen utensils, a microplane grater!

We are looking for delicious appetizers that will please our guests and that will be a good addition to our blog. Perhaps something unlike anything we currently have here on our blog? Or something we already have, but better? Ebby and I will read through all submissions and choose the two we agree on to be the winners.

Either leave a comment on this post with the full recipe or send it to us in an email (subject: appetizer contest) via the Contact Pip & Ebby button on the right side of your screen.

Contest ends February 5th, 2011, at midnight.

Exciting! We can't wait to read through your recipes!