Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Creme Brulee

Without hesitation I can declare that Creme Brulee is my absolute favorite dessert. If ever it's on the menu, I order it; every single time. If I could eat only one dessert for the rest of my life, it would be Creme Brulee. Are you picking up what I'm laying down here? I love Creme Brulee. I said, "I LOVE CREME BRULEE." I  L-O-V-E it. I know there are a million calories in it but I just don't care. Every fat laden caloric spoonful is so very worth it! Ahmen.

As much as I love creme brulee, I've rarely made it myself. Odd, because it is super simple. Easy peasy ingredients, only four of 'em, and pretty low on the difficulty scale. BUT. . . it does require a kitchen torch. I've made it before using the oven broiler but that's dicey. So, I've had the whole "chicken and egg" scenario with creme brulee. I don't make it often because I don't have a kitchen torch and I haven't bought a kitchen torch because I don't make creme brulee often. See what I mean. A culinary paradox; a conundrum if you will. So, for years, I was stuck scouring dessert menus for my beloved dessert. And then last Christmas, my wonderful husband, got me a kitchen torch. Hallelujah!

Now to find the perfect recipe. If you start looking into it there are a bazillion different recipes for Creme Brulee. Kind of odd since it only has four ingredients. It's basically a vanilla infused custard with a hard caramel shell on top. Every recipe has it's own subtile differences in proportion and preparation and I think it just comes down to preference. The recipe I'm showing you here is basic, simple and easy. And delicious! Give it a try. . .

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

I think I like, no, I think I love, loaded baked potatoes. I must as I just noticed last week that I've pinned 3 different recipes for Loaded Baked Potato Soup on Pinterest. (Please follow me if you are a fellow pinner. Yikes, does that sound right? I went to high school in the 80's and "pinner" had a much different meaning. Hmmmm? What do you call one who pins stuff on Pinterest?) Anywho, back to baked potatoes. The last soup recipe I pinned come from the Tasty Kitchen Blog. Boy it looks yummy, I am totes going to make this soon. As I was poking around on the Tasty Kitchen Blog, I came across this recipe for Potatoes Romanoff. Looked delish, but I still had fully loaded baked potatoes on my mind: visions of sour cream, cheese, onions, cream cheese and of course, bacon dancing in my head. Then it hit me, Baked Potato Casserole. Just a few tweaks* of the Potatoes Romanoff recipe and "Loaded Baked Potato Casserole" became a reality. It's the perfect marriage of Baked and Mashed Potatoes. I hope you agree. . .

*One of the major tweaks I made was to reduce the amount of shallots by quite a bit. This is mostly due to my husbands grand aversion to onion. As written the recipe has a mild onion presence. If you like onion you could certainly up the shallots to 3 or 4 for a bolder onion flavor. You could also sprinkle the top with sliced green onion after it's baked. Please do and know that I'll be envious of you for it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Pretzels

I love sweet things. . .
I love salty things. . .
I love chocolate things. . .
I love caramel things. . .
I love salty, sweet, chocolaty, caramely things that are super easy to make and festive.
I love this recipe/project.

These Chocolate Caramel Pretzels fall into the same category as the Oreo Cookie Pops. Super duper easy to make but impressive. I call it a project as much as a recipe because you're really just putting stuff together. There are a lot of chocolate dipped _________ (fill in the blank) projects out there on the web but I like to take these pretzels a step further and add caramel. Sure I like chocolate, who doesn't? And a Chocolate Dipped Pretzel is the perfect marriage of chocolate, salty and bread. But . . . add caramel and they are out of this world. As far as I'm concerned, you could put caramel on just about anything and I'd eat it. It amazing how you just apply heat to regular old sugar and it becomes caramel. A true miracle. Well actually it's science, but I prefer "miracle". 

You can customize these with any combination of chocolate (or colored Wilton Candy Melts) and sprinkles for any occasion. Since it's October, I went with Halloween. Change it up and make it your own.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Caramel Coconut Bars*

My all time favorite Girl Scout Cookie has to be the Samoa/Caramel deLites. I could eat a whole box. In fact I may have. I can neither confirm nor deny without incriminating myself. They are so, so good. Coconutty, caramely, chocolaty, short bready. All the best cookie adjectives all in one cookie. What's not to love? So, when Girl Scout Cookie Season is upon us I can't resist those cute faces and delicious treats and I buy, buy, buy. And, because the money goes to a good cause I don't feel guilty one little bit. Calories are allowed in the name of charity. Right? Right!

But, here's the delimma: What do you do when you're craving one of these scrumptious treats and it's not Cookie Season? Scream? Cry? Pound your fists in protest? Naw, you just search the web, find a recipe, and make it. STAT! So, I did. Check it out. . .

*Out of respect for the Girl Scouts, I changed the name of this recipe to "Caramel Coconut Bars".

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chili Cheeseburger Macaroni

So a couple of weeks ago I went fishing around on the web for some easy dinner recipes. Between school, homework, baseball practices and games, homecoming float building nights, my husband's grad school studies and my job search, dinner seems to have become an after thought most nights. NOT OK in my book. I love dinner and us all sitting down together each night. It soothes my soul. BUT, our family is maturing and everyone has their own "thang goin' on". Half of us are zigging when the other half are zagging. Some nights we just can't all sit down. So I went looking for some easy homemade dinners that I could make in the afternoon and we can just heat and eat as we come and go. At the very least, everyone gets a home cooked meal. No frozen dinners, no re-heated take out.

Amongst all the offerings on the ole internet, I found this recipe for Cheeseburger Macaroni. All the ingredients are pantry staples. Nothing obscure, odd or needing a special trip to the store. All things that are easy to keep on hand. Plus, it only uses two pans, easy peasy clean up! That alone will send it to the top of the list. But the very best part of this recipe is that all four of us loved it. The best I ever hope for in a new recipe is a couple of "it's good"s and an "it's ok". I almost never get a unanimous vote. This recipe delivered. I've also shared this recipe with two friends who have confirmed that it was a hit with their families as well. So thumbs up all around. Other than adding a step to blend the Rotel, I only made one other change from the original recipe: I renamed it "Chili Cheeseburger Macaroni".

You can make it with either beef or turkey (I'm showing turkey) and you could swap out the cheddar for some pepper jack to spice it up, or plain old jack to keep it mild. I've made a couple of variations on it but our preference, hands down, is beef and cheddar. See what you think.