Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baked Apples

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of those holidays that is awesome for kiddos.  They get to dress up, eat way too much sugar, and wear makeup.  Even though the makeup is inexplicably itchy and you'll wind up a witch with only green streaks left on your face at the end of the night, wearing makeup was still a major perk of the holiday.
So after coming home with claw marks down my face, my sisters and I would to separate our candy all over the living room floor.  All the Reese's go in one pile.  All the Tootsie Rolls in another.  Then the bartering began.  Our mom made us throw away the Dubble Bubble right away (can't have that sugar gum - it's ok to eat actual sugar, just not sugar in gum form, I guess?).
The candy we got was always pretty standard.  Chocolate bars, suckers, and one random popcorn ball thrown in for good measure.  But I remember going to my grandma's house right before Halloween every year and helping her make the caramel apples she was going to give to the few trick-or-treaters that she had every year.  I guess all the neighbors must have trusted her, because I don't think you could find a parent in America that would let their kid take an unwrapped apple that's been dipped in homemade caramel to save your life!
Because no one is going to take your caramel apples anyway, you might as well make this other apple-based recipe from my grandma.  Baked apples are: first of all, easier to make than caramel apples; second of all. easier to eat than caramel apples; and third of all, tastier than caramel apples.  Give them a try, just don't try to hand them out when you get a ring at the doorbell tonight.

BAKED APPLES
Recipe from Grandma Flinn
1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. water
5-6 apples
butter
cinnamon & sugar
10-12 marshmallows

1.  In the bottom of a baking dish mix together sugar and flour.  Add water to form syrup.

2.  Cut apples in half and core.  Place on top of syrup.  Add a dot of butter to each apple half.  Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top.

3.  Bake at 350˚ for 35-40 minutes.  Remove from oven, top each apple half with a marshmallow and return to oven.  Bake until marshmallows are golden brown.

*We always had these right alongside dinner, but they are definitely sweet enough to be a dessert, just depends on how "healthy" you want to be ;)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gnocchi 'n Cheese

There are some things in life that just don't need any messing around with.  They require no improvement.  Like apple pie.  Perfect just the way it is.
And then there are other things that you think couldn't get any better (like s'mores) but then you do something crazy (like make it with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup instead of Hershey's milk chocolate) and it blows your mind.
So when I first saw a recipe for Gnocchi 'n Cheese, I was skeptical.  I mean, macaroni and cheese is kind of the picture of perfection.  Then I tried it for myself.  Not that I won't still make the traditional comfort food, but this recipe is worth stepping out of the box for.

GNOCCHI 'N CHEESE
1 package gnocchi (~1 lb.)
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 1/2 c. milk
2 Tbsp. butter
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
bread crumbs

1.  Rinse gnocchi, set aside.

2.  In a medium saucepan, combine corn starch, salt and pepper.  Stir in milk.

3.  Add butter, stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

4.  Stir in 1 3/4 c. cheese until melted.  Add gnocchi.

5.  Pour into greased 2 quart casserole dish.  Sprinkle with reserved cheese and bread crumbs.  Bake at 375˚ for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spinach Salad w/Creamy Lemon Dressing

Sometimes I think I'm wired all wrong.  I go from making hot chocolate and brownies that are stuffed with chocolate and marshmallows and butter to eating a salad.

In the middle of summer, I'll get insatiable cravings for chili and pecan pie, but now that it's snowing, I want a big green salad with a light, refreshing, citrusy dressing.  It doesn't make sense, but I guess eating salads year-round can't be a bad thing right?
As long as eating salads all the time isn't bad, let's just go ahead and say that eating heavy carbs and sweets throughout the year also isn't bad.  Let's make that a new thing.  Everyone accepts it and then it's true right?  Like Wikipedia.
This dressing is tangy and light and creamy.  I know it seems impossible but it's because the creaminess comes from greek yogurt (or sour cream) instead of mayonnaise.

CREAMY LEMON DRESSING
Recipe from Allrecipes.com
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
lemon zest from 2 lemons
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. greek yogurt

1.  Whisk together lemon juice, zest, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper.  Stir in olive oil until well-combined then add sour cream.  Transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stovetop Hot Cocoa

Yesterday, while pushing a cart through the aisles of my favorite store (the grocery store), I stumbled upon egg nog!  I know there are a lot of you out there, that are disgusted by the fact that it is October and the grocery stores are already carrying Christmas themed foods.

Last Thursday, I was watching TV and a Target commercial popped on the screen threatening that "Christmas is Coming."  Some of you are cringing.

After Halloween, all the stores will jump on board and subliminally tell you to spend more.  So yes, the commercialism of the holiday season may be a bit much, but not the food.  Not the time spent at home with family.  Not the music and the movies.
I was/am the kid that starts listening to Christmas music way too early (according to my family).  But I can't help it.  As soon as it gets colder all I want to do is curl up with a cup of cocoa, pile on the blankets and watch Miracle on 34th Street.  Here in Colorado, the ski resorts are already open, the daily highs are dipping into the thirties, and we're supposed to get more snow this weekend.  So I'm going to crank up the Bing Crosby and make myself a cup of cocoa!

STOVETOP HOT CHOCOLATE (makes 2 servings)
1 oz. milk chocolate
1.5 oz. white chocolate
1/2 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. milk

1.  Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  

2.  Over medium-low heat, melt chocolate, stirring continuously.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Butternut Squash Risotto

A few years ago, I saw my first dik-dik.  I had just moved to Germany to do a study abroad and before any classes, before finding my apartment, I went to the zoo.  

I had thought that by the time I was the wise, all-knowing age of 20, I had already seen all the animals.  So it was very disconcerting to have to read the little placards to find out what I was looking at.    
Well, the other day at the grocery store I had a similar experience.  I thought that I knew all the vegetables.  While technically I have eaten butternut squash, I have never cooked it myself, so I didn't have any idea what it looked like in its full form.  I had to peruse every single shelf in the produce aisle, carefully reading the little tags to find out which one was acorn squash and which one was spaghetti squash, until finally I spotted it.
Once I did find it, I got it home and had to tackle the next obstacle and figure out how to cook it.  Turns out it's very easy, but it's still weird to cut into something and not know what it's going to look like in there.  

Luckily, looking like an idiot in front of the produce dude was worth it.  I love all risotto, but I especially love this risotto.  You will too, and now that I've shown you what butternut squash looks like, you don't have to suffer the embarrassing (and time-consuming) experience of wandering around the pumpkins for an afternoon. 




BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO
Recipe slightly adapted from Rachael Ray
1 qt. chicken stock
1 c. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. arborio rice
1 c. vermouth
1 butternut squash
dash nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter
1 c. parmesan cheese, grated

1.  Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp.  Remove the rind, using either a knife or vegetable peeler.  Cut into cubes and spread out on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400˚ for about 30 minutes (check doneness with a fork).

2.  In a small saucepan, heat water and chicken stock.  Simmer over low heat while cooking the rice.

3.  In a large skillet, add olive oil, garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes until onions become translucent.  Add rice and cook another 2 minutes to toast slightly.

4.  To the rice, add vermouth and cook out the alcohol.

5.  Over medium to medium-high heat, add ladles of the chicken stock mixture to the rice.  Repeat this process for 18 minutes, allowing the stock to evaporate each time.  

6.  In the last 3 minutes of cooking time, add the squash and nutmeg to the rice.  In the last minute of cooking, add the butter, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blogiversary + Overnight Smoothies

Today is Call Me Fudge's birthday!

For one year, I have been posting recipes, pictures, and pointless stories.  And for one year, you have been coming to see what I'm up to.

I am so grateful for all the times you have clicked on my site, pinned my recipes, liked my page, and generally shared your awesomeness with me!
Seeing as it's a big milestone for a food blog, you'd think I would have some super decadent dessert with cookie dough and chocolate and whipped cream, topped off with some candles.  But I don't.  Instead I have a somewhat unattractive smoothie.
Sure rich desserts are my favorite too, but this smoothie is pretty special.  It's special because you don't have to wake up everyone in your house early in the morning to make them, and they're also special because you can make them up to 3 days ahead of time (or more, if you freeze them).

Oh yeah, and they have chocolate!

OVERNIGHT SMOOTHIE (makes 1)
Recipe adapted from The Yummy Life
1/4 c. Uncooked Oats
1 1/2 tsp. Chia Seeds
1 c. milk
1 lg. banana (or 1 1/2 small)
2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp. Cocoa
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1.  Blend oats and chia seeds until it forms a powder. *

2.  Add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

3.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

*You can also make a large batch of the oatmeal/chia mix by blending 2 1/4 c. oats and 1/4 c. + 1/2 Tbsp. chia seeds.  Add 1/4 c. of this mixture to each smoothie.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Roasted Rosemary French Fries

French fries are really only good when they're crunchy and usually the only way to make them crunchy involves frying them (twice actually).  
Problem is, I am slightly afraid of heating up oil on the stove and I don't have a deep fryer.  In the past when I've put a big pot of oil on the stove, I haven't gotten to it early enough and before I know it, the house is full of smoke, alarms are going off, and I can't breathe. 
I know I could put a thermometer in the pot avoid this whole situation, but instead I opted for roasting my french fries and luckily, they ended up even crunchier than the fried version!

ROASTED ROSEMARY FRENCH FRIES
Recipe slightly adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow
4-5 potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
coarse sea salt
dried rosemary

1.  Slice potatoes and soak in cold water for 5-10 minutes.

2.  Toss potatoes with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and rosemary.

3.  Roast for 30-40 minutes at 450˚, flipping every ten minutes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Brownies Deluxe

The way that I see it, there are three types of people in this world, and they can be categorized by how they like their brownies:
  1. Fudgey and gooey on the inside.
  2. Cakey and thick - cooked all the way through.
  3. Blondies
I will never understand the people that fall into categories 2 and 3.  I know it's like a thing to not like chocolate, but I don't get it and I don't want to get it.  And if you like your brownies like cake, why not just have cake? 
So obviously I fall into category 1.  I think you should too and if any brownie is going to convince you to switch camps, these are the ones to do it.  

These brownies are beyond deluxe.  They have everything delicious smashed into each bite!  There's the gooey brownie base and then that's topped with marshmallow and chocolate frosting.  Yes, they're sweet - but trust me, you will keep coming back and slicing off another sliver at a time, until before you know it, half the pan's gone.  I've seen it happen.
BROWNIES DELUXE
Recipe from Aunt Linda
Brownies:
2 sticks margarine
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
4 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. (heaping) baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. pecans, chopped
Topping and Icing:
1 stick margarine
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 - 5 oz. can evaporated milk (2/3 c.)
1 c. sugar
1 large bag mini marshmallows
1 lb. powdered sugar (about 3 1/2 c.)
1 Tbsp. vanilla

1.  Melt margarine and chocolate (for the brownies) in a double boiler over simmering water.  

2.  In separate bowl, beat eggs.  Gradually add sugar.  Sift flour and baking powder together and add to egg mixture.  Add melted chocolate and mix well.  Add vanilla and nuts.  Pour into a greased 15x10x1" jelly roll pan.

3.  Bake at 300˚ for 30 minutes.

4.  While brownies are baking, add chocolate and margarine for the icing to the double boiler (do not wash bowl after making brownies).  Add milk and sugar after chocolate is melted.  Cook slowly.

5.  Remove brownies from oven.  Cover with marshmallows. 

6.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla to icing.  Beat until smooth.  Pour over marshmallows while hot.  Bake 3-4 minutes more.

7.  Remove from oven and swirl with fork.  Let stand overnight.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Green Tomato Quick Bread

One of my favorite things to bake is bread.  I like the yeasty smell that fills up the house and I love the that it does take time.  That way when you're done, you feel like you're really invested in the outcome.
That being said, I also love quick breads.  There's not really a downside to mixing together a few ingredients, filling up your house with amazing scents, and an hour later slicing into warm, flavorful bread.
Of course I've made and eaten my fair share of banana bread, zucchini bread and pumpkin bread.  I mistakenly thought that those were the only options though, so I was pretty intrigued when I found this recipe for green tomato quick bread.
This bread is sweet, and moist (sorry -- I hate that word), and nutty at the same time.  If you didn't know there were tomatoes in it, I don't think you could pick out that flavor, so it's kind of like magic.  You just have to try it for yourself, I guess.

GREEN TOMATO QUICK BREAD
Recipe from Allrecipes.com
1 c. green tomatoes, finely diced
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. canola oil
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. soda
1/8 tsp. powder
1 c. pecans, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350˚.  Grease and flour loaf pan.

2.  Whisk together green tomatoes, sugar, oil, egg and vanilla.  Set aside.

3.  Sift together dry ingredients, add to tomato mixture.  Stir in pecans. 

4.  Pour batter into prepared pan and cook for 1 hour (toothpick test).  Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire rack.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Heirloom BLT

This weekend, we did something really fun and just a little bit redneck.  Austin's brother was in town, so we took him into Rocky Mountain National Park, after visiting the Bass Pro Shop and buying an elk bugle.
We drove through the park looking for elk and when we got to a clearing, we pulled over and bugled out to them.  I'm sure it didn't look the least bit suspicious!  And then the craziest thing happened!  They bugled back to us!
We had a full-on conversation with wild animals.  Only problem was, I didn't know what we were saying, not to mention what they were saying.  I'm guessing they were annoyed and saying something like, "why do those humans make fun of the way we talk - that doesn't sound anything like us."

The rest of the weekend, we went out to eat and walked around the shops downtown and I didn't do much cooking at all.  While eating out is always fun and nice because, you know, you don't have to do dishes afterwards.  Eating out also tends to mean heavier foods, so for lunch today I was craving something a little lighter and a little fresher.  Giant heirloom tomatoes that still smell like dirt are the perfect fresh vegetable, and when you make a sandwich with them, you only need one slice per sandwich!
HEIRLOOM BLT
Bread
Mayonnaise
Bacon
Lettuce
Heirloom Tomato
Salt & Pepper

1.  Cook up the bacon, toast your bread (which I didn't, because apparently I am weird and don't like toasted sandwiches) and put it all together!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Filled German Chocolate Cupcakes

My birthday is in January and I am very used to snow on my birthday.  It means a lot of things.  It means you get to go sledding.  It means there could be a snow day!  And it also means ice cream on your cake might not sound like the best idea.
Austin's birthday was last Saturday, and he is (slightly) less accustomed to snow on his birthday.  (Only slightly since we grew up in Utah.)  This year we went to the desert and dealt with 85˚ and and a strong, scorching sun.
(This is how we celebrated his birthday!)
Because we were traveling, I needed to make his cake portable.  So cupcakes it was.  Austin really likes german chocolate cake, but because he has a nut allergy, he usually can't eat it.  So for the past few years I have been making it without the nuts (even though it kills me to leave them out) just for him.
I guess it is his birthday and it should be all about him.

But this morning we woke up to snow covering the ground, so now officially we are nearing my "birthday season" and we can ignore all of his weird allergies, and I can make a pecan pie!
FILLED GERMAN CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
1 german chocolate cake mix (because I was lazy)

For the Filling:
1 c. sugar
1 c. evaporated milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 c. butter, cubed
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. pecans, finely chopped
1 1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut

For the Frosting:
1 stick butter, at room temperature
3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
dash salt
1-3 Tbsp. cream

1.  Prepare cupcakes as directed on box.

2.  In a medium saucepan, beat together egg yolks, sugar, and evaporated milk.  Over medium heat, stir in butter, salt, and vanilla until thickened.  Add pecans and coconut.  Remove from heat and let cool.

3.  In a medium mixing bowl beat butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt.  Add cream slowly until frosting reaches desired consistency.  Taste test and check if you need more of any ingredient then adjust - this isn't an exact science :)

4.  Once cupcakes and coconut filling are cooled, use a piping bag (without tip attached) and fill cupcakes by pressing the tip of the bag into the top of the cupcake and squeezing in filling until cupcakes look like they are going to burst apart.
*The coconut and pecans will clog the tip occasionally, so clear it out and start again.

5.  Pipe or spread on chocolate frosting to cover up the hole where the coconut filling was piped in.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Microwave Chex Mix

There are a lot of ways to keep your recipes organized.  There are handwritten cookbooks with your favorite recipes.  You could take a more tech-savvy approach and enter them into a database of sorts.  You could pin them all.  And of course, there's the tried-and-true method of recipe boxes.
My parents have a recipe box with tons of amazing recipes.  Most are pretty easy to find: i.e. Macaroni & Cheese goes under "M," Peanut Butter Cookies goes under "P," etc. etc.  But where do you put things like "Baked Spaghetti?"  Is that a "B" or an "S?"
Well, Chex Mix falls into the latter category as well.  Every normal person would put it behind the "C" tab and call it good.  My family puts it under "M" for Microwave Chex Mix, which means that every time you want to make this, you have to remind yourself of the full name and the fact that the Flinn family is a little crazy.
This Chex Mix may not look like much (actually it just looks like a bowl of cereal).  There are no M&M's, no pretzels, no peanuts.  Just a super tasty, salty snack food.  Try it for yourself, and then let me know where you decide to file away the recipe!

MICROWAVE CHEX MIX
1 stick margarine
1 1/4 tsp. Lowry's seasoned salt
4 1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
8 c. Crispix cereal

1.  In a 9x13" glass pan, melt margarine in microwave.  Add Lowry's and worcestershire sauce.  Mix together.

2.  Add cereal and stir until coated.

3.  Microwave for 7 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.  Pour onto paper towels until cool.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Frosted Pumpkin Bars

On Friday, I got an email from my Honda dealer in Maryland with the subject line: "Happy Anniversary!"  A year ago, Austin and I were having a hard time and everything was going wrong.  Austin's car was on it's last legs, we were living in a city that we didn't like and there was a serious lack of outdoors.
We decided to buy Sheldon, our little, black Honda Fit just in time to take a 10-hour road trip to Kentucky to go climbing and camping.  Exactly one year later, we were doing the same thing.  This time, driving to Moab, Utah for climbing, camping, and this time we added mountain biking to the schedule.
Since we first bought 'Shelly,' we have driven him way too many miles, moved to a much more laid back city, and we have a view of mountains out every window of our apartment.

On top of all that, it's now only a 6 hour drive to get to Moab, our favorite town to visit, so we met up with our friends from back home for Austin's birthday weekend.  Sheldon was pretty weighed down by all of the gear for the weekend, but there is always enough room for car snacks.
FROSTED PUMPKIN BARS
4 eggs
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. flour
1 c. pumpkin puree
3 oz. cream cheese
6 Tbsp. margarine, melted
3 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. milk

1.  Whisk together eggs, oil, sugar, salt, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, flour and pumpkin puree.  Pour into greased jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with raised edges).

2.  Bake at 350˚ for 20-25 minutes.  Test with toothpick in center of cake.

3.  Beat together remaining ingredients for frosting.  Spread on warm cake.

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