Caramel Pretzel Bark

The same day I found the Earthquake Cake, I found this little beauty.  You know how I like anything resembling bark.  How can you go wrong with only 4 ingredients?  As usual, I did not have the original cast of characters.  I still don’t know what caramel bits are, but we did find Brach’s caramels.  As usual, it took longer to unwrap the candies than anything else I did.

We put a piece of parchment paper down on a 10 x 15 inch rimmed cookie sheet.  Next I measured out 8 ounces of the pretzel twists and layered them out evenly.  I melted the chocolate chips and poured it over the pretzels.  As you can probably tell, I had no instructions, only the ingredients.  I simply saw a picture of the bark and thought how tough can that be.  My famous last words.

Next I put the caramels in the microwave with a tablespoon or so of cream to facilitate melting.  I had a major time getting them smooth.  They never did pour evenly.  I would change my method next time.  After I finally got it spread, I sprinkled my salt.  It needed a half an hour or so in the refrigerator.

  • 1 11 ounce bag Kraft caramel bits
  • 1 teaspoon Sea salt
  • 1 12 ounce package Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 8 oz Pretzel, mini twists

* From the Recipe Box:

Next time, I would try melting the chips and spreading them over the parchment paper.  While the chocolate was still warm, I would press the pretzels into the chocolate.  This would give me a nice sturdy base for my caramels.  I would melt the caramels in the microwave again, but think of how much easier it would be to spread if the pretzels didn’t move.
These were good, but not great.  I don’t like fussy recipes that I have to putz around with.  I’ll keep you posted if I try it again.
and remember:    Go easy on yourself.  You’re doing great.  This is just really hard.  Big kiss, Lynn

Earthquake Cake

I was exploring the Internet the other day looking for inspiration when I realized I have an issue.  To explain, I have the worst problem with people’s voices.  Go ahead and say it…..voices???  There are several people I used to love when I read their blogs, but once I heard them live on their blogs, OY!  I’m not going to mention any names, because that would be wrong.  Just because I’m weird doesn’t mean everyone should be.   I can’t explain it, this is just my issue.

So to follow up, I was watching this gal and I was just getting ready to move on when she started on her list of ingredients.  I’m not going to say her name because I don’t think I can look and listen ever again, but the cake sounded very interesting and maybe you’ll follow up with her.  See, I’m only hurting myself.  What a maroon I can be.

1 1/2 CUP FLAKED COCONUT

1 TO 1 1/2 CUPS CHOPPED PECANS

1 GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE MIX (PREPARE BATTER AS PER BOX DIRECTIONS)

1 8 OZ. CREAM CHEESE (ROOM TEMPERATURE)

1 STICK BUTTER

2 CUPS POWDERED SUGAR

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare your cake mix and set the batter aside.  Combine the butter, cream cheese and sugar and blend well and set aside.  Spray a 13 x 9 x 2” cake pan well with baking spray (or grease and flour) then sprinkle coconut evenly across the bottom of pan. Now sprinkle the pecans evenly over the coconut. Next pour the prepared cake batter over the coconut and pecans. Then dollop cream cheese mixture over the top of batter using a tablespoon as you would for a marble cake.  Take your spatula and carefully run it through the top of the cake to marble the cream cheese in a little.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50  minutes to an 1 hour!  Take out and enjoy hot or cool.

* From the Recipe Box:

The cake was incredibly moist and flavorful.  G was like “SHUT UP!”  This is the best.

There are nooks and crannies that form like a fault line after an earthquake.  Clever.

and remember:   When disaster strikes the time to prepare has passed.  Big kiss, Lynn

Apple, Pecan Cake

I was watching Ina’s Liquor Store Shortcuts and thought this apple cake looked so nummy.  I love a heavy dense cake, so anything with fruit and nuts is going to be a winner in my book.  It kind of breaks my rule about too many ingredients, but it’s hard to limit when you’re baking.

OK, let’s talk about my “too many ingredients rule”.  By the time I chopped and roasted pecans, cubed 3 pounds of apples (and no, I did not peel them, you know how I feel about that), soaked my raisins in rum, I was pooped.  My sous chef was at the dentist and I had to do it all by myself.  Le sigh.  I’m waiting for the cake to get out of the oven as I write this and all I can say is this had better be an incredible cake.

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup dark rum

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed

3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I didn’t use vanilla.  I used the remaining rum.  Hello!)

2 teaspoons grated orange zest (2 oranges)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and 1/4-inch-diced (3 to 4 apples)

Vanilla ice cream

Caramel sauce, heated

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan.
  2. Place the pecans on a sheet pan and toast them for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Set aside. Combine the rum and raisins in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 60 seconds. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, and orange zest on medium speed for 3 minutes. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, just until combined. Drain the raisins, discarding the liquid. With a rubber spatula, fold the raisins, pecans, and apples into the batter. Spread into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool, cut into squares, and serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm caramel sauce.  I added 15 minutes to the bake time.  It’s dense.

* From the Recipe Box:

This is the perfect time of year for an apple cake.  It was a good, but not excellent cake, however it is improving with age.

and remember what Henry Ford said:  Thinking is the hardest work there is; that’s probably why so few people engage in it.   Big kiss, Lynn

Caramel Corn

I was just at the coast.  It’s the first time I’ve been with a large family group in quite awhile.  The last time I was there was with my bro and s-i-l pre-pandemic and some how or other the place caught on fire.  We didn’t do it, I swear.  We used to go every summer with the whole family:  mom, dad, bro, s-i-l, all the kids, spouses, and their kids.  We always had a super great time.  Covid-19 makes everything a little more interesting and challenging.  I have to be honest, I was afraid if I got down there, would I be able to get back home.  I can be such a wuss when I’m not in total control.

Sorry, I’ve gone off on another tangent.  This is about caramel corn.  My mom always made it to bring to the coast.  It was a total tradition.  This is like the original caramel corn from days gone by.  It’s super easy to make, but the hot caramel makes it a little scary to make with little helpers.  I thought the caramel got a little too dark this time before I poured it over the popped corn, but everyone seemed to like it just fine.  Keep an eye on it though.

6 quarts popped corn

1 cup peanuts

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup butter

½ cup light Karo syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Put popped corn and nuts in a large greased baking pan.  Combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in soda.  Gradually, but quickly, pour over popcorn and nuts, tossing to coat.  Bake in a 200 degree oven, stirring every 15 minutes for an hour.  Cool in pan stirring occasionally.

This is truly a bomb-diggity treat and you will love it.  Maybe it will become your tradition.

* From the Recipe Box:

About 1 ¼ cups raw popping corn in an air popper equals 6 quarts

This is the definitive Ocean Shores treat.  Mom always brought this.  I could eat the whole batch, unless Chris got to it first.

and remember what Abraham Lincoln said:  Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.   Big kiss, Lynn

Mini Monkey Bread Muffins

We love having Butterscotch Rolls for Christmas and the 4th of July, but occasionally I’ve been known to forget to start the rise the night before.  My bad.  So, I was ever so glad to see these mini muffins.  My excellent sous chef has been staying here for a few days, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to experiment.

These individual monkey bread servings are perfect hot out of the oven, or 24 hours later. Caramelized bite size pieces of breakfast heaven. Enjoy!  We’re heading to the coast for a few days, Covid virus permitting, and I think this would be a fun treat to take along.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 8 count cans of buttermilk biscuits
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 box butterscotch pudding, not instant

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. pre-heat your oven to 350 F
  2. cut each biscuit into six pieces
  3. Put 2 Cups sugar and 2 Tablespoons cinnamon in a bag and mix, add the biscuit quarters and shake them until all the quarters are fully coated
  4. Place 6 or so biscuit pieces in each muffin cup
  5. Sprinkle with some butterscotch pudding
  6. Melt 2 sticks butter,  and 1/2 Cup brown sugar over low-medium heat, until fully melted and the sugar has dissolved resulting in a gorgeous golden brown, dark caramel color (stir frequently)
  7. Pour the butter mixture over the muffin cups until each is about 3/4 filled
  8. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 25 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven and immediately turn over onto a platter so that all the ooey gooey caramelized butter sugary goodness tips out and covers the monkey bread bites in their caramelized goodness.
  10. If you have some cute little ramekins or serving dishes, place a monkey bread cup into each one and use a spoon to drizzle more caramelized sauce over each cup.
  11. I found several recipes like this on line so I’m not really able to give credit to anyone in particular.

 * From the Recipe Box:

I didn’t tip these out of the muffin pan immediately; I wanted the caramel sauce to firm up a bit so it would stick to the muffins a little better.

We always vote after eating something new and this was voted a winner.

Is there anything better than a tradition?

and remember:    Do something today that your future self will thank you for.  Big kiss, Lynn

Grahamookies

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The sous chef and I made some really fun little treats and we’re calling them Grahamookies.  I’d ordered chocolate graham crackers for another project and this recipe was on the side of the box.

Lay graham crackers on a piece of parchment on a rimmed half sheet cookie pan.  We were making chocolate so that’s the cracker we used.  Next we melted 2 cups of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of cream in the microwave.  We started out at 30 seconds and then gave it a good stir and did it for an additional 30 seconds, continuing until the ganache was smooth and glossy.

Let the ganache cool a smidgy bit and then spread it on each cracker.  Work in sections so the chocolate doesn’t harden too quickly.  The sous chef took all his aggression out on a cup of pretzels in a zip lock bag to sprinkle on top.  Next we sprinkled on Jimmys, but you can use any kind of sprinkles you like.  Finally we added a few baking sized M&M’s left over from Christmas.

The crackers needed to spend about 30 minutes in the refrigerator to firm up.

The sous chef and I had a good time decorating the grahamookies.  We came up with all sorts of ideas.  On regular graham crackers, you could melt peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips.  The same toppings would be excellent on them.   Or we would probably chop up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on one or Butterfingers.  Anything would work.  Jimmys and sprinkles really have no flavor, so you can have fun without flavor conflict.  Give this a try the next time you have little helpers around.

* From the Recipe Box:

There are so many variations to this recipe.  You can make something with the chocolate graham crackers or with the honey graham crackers.  The kids love to help decorating.

We upped the recipe a bit.  Why wouldn’t we?  The recipe on the box was 8 chocolate grahams, 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and 8 miniature pretzel twists, crushed.  That’s merely a taste.

and remember what Pee Wee Herman said:  I know you are, but what am I?    Big kiss, Lynn

 

Chubby Hubby Clusters

Time for something fun.  These are named after the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor from a few years ago.  I found the recipe on line.  I like having a few things the little ones can help with and potentially make a huge mess.  I love adding sprinkles whenever I can.  The small baking M&M’s are another great addition to anything you want kids to help you with.  They will need to help.  The chips made a fairly stiff dough.

I don’t care about the mess.  In the future, I want the kids to remember the fun times.  There are going to be no statues in my honor.  All I want is someone turning to a cousin or sibling and saying, “remember the time?”  That’s better than any monument.

Wait until you see the other ones we made.  Total cuteness!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup butter (cut into pieces)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup salted peanuts

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butter, and peanut butter. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, stir, and microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth (if it isn’t completely melted, return to the microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring after each time).
  2. Add pretzels and peanuts to the melted chocolate mixture and stir until they are completely coated in chocolate.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. Optional: drizzle with melted peanut butter.
  5. If you don’t eat them all in one sitting, store leftovers in an airtight container.

 * From the Recipe Box:

While these weren’t going to win the cookie of the year, they were great fun to make with kids.  There will be sprinkles everywhere due to the enthusiasm of your helpers.

I didn’t have pretzel sticks, I had knots.  That didn’t stop the sous chef from breaking them up into the right sized pieces.

I also didn’t have peanut butter chips so we used butterscotch chips.  Who knew.

and remember:  Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest, it’s about who walked in to your life, said ‘I’m here for you’ and PROVED it.  Big kiss, Lynn

Panna Cotta

We had quite a treat the other night.  A restaurant we especially love here on the Island has pick up dinners two nights a week.  The Snohomish kids ordered dinner for us and G went and picked it up.  We had wonderful halibut, clams and mussels; an onion tart; and something I had never had before:  panna cotta.  There was no plate licking, but that was only because we showed amazing restrain.

I’m going to attempt Panna Cotta.  How hard can it be?  Wow, I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that in the past.  I’ve been researching recipes and I’m ready to give it a go.  Since I can’t go to the grocery store right now, I had to wait and order gelatin from Amazon.  Thank God for Amazon.  I’ve not really used gelatin before either.

  • 1/4 cup cold water or milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 g/0.25 oz.) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place water or the milk in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the surface in a single layer. Be sure not to pile it as that will prevent the crystals from dissolving properly. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to soften.  Why yes, it does look like a bowl of brains.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat cream, sugar, vanilla pod, and vanilla seeds on medium heat and bring just to a boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and discard vanilla bean. Stir in gelatin and immediately whisk until smooth and dissolved. If the gelatin hasn’t fully dissolved, return the saucepan to the stove and heat gently over low heat. Stir constantly and don’t let the mixture boil.
  3. Pour cream into 4 individual serving dishes. Refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours, or until completely set.

 * From the Recipe Box:

This is very similar to custard, but much silkier.  We loved it.  The top picture looks like brains to me, but it’s the gelatin softening in the milk.

I went with this recipe because I did not have any half and half.  Remember, no extra store trips.  I may try the other one at a future date.

and remember this Chinese Proverb:  If you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t do it.    Big kiss, Lynn

Lemon Tart 2.0

Yes, I know.  You’ve had it up to the gills with lemon tarts.  I don’t care; it was my birthday and that’s what I wanted for my birthday cake.  My able bodied sous chef was here on the Island with me so we decided to get fancy with Grandma O’s meringue recipe.  There was even a bit of a styling competition between my sous chef and the big G.

Normally, the meringue would be much taller, but I wanted to put a thin layer on each.  We made the meringue and scooped it onto each tart.  I think it ended up being about 1/2 inch deep.  Meringue isn’t my drug of choice, so I was quite happy with that amount.

My sous chef made the swirls and twirls.  I like the way the points get extra dark.  G got all fancy and and made the long swirls.  You choose; I think they both look good.  Don’t let anyone tell you meringue is tricky; it couldn’t be easier.  I read now where you have to have special equipment and super greaseless bowls.  Grandma O made hers with a hand beater.  You can do it!

For a 9 inch pie:

3 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

6 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tarter until frothy.  Gradually beat in the sugar a little at a time.  Continue beating until stiff and glossy.  Pile the meringue onto the pie filling, being careful to seal the meringue onto the edge of the crust to prevent shrinking.  If the filling is exposed to the heat, (not entirely covered) it may “weep”.  Swirl or pull up points to decorate the top.  Bake until delicately browned, usually 8 to 10 minutes works.  Cool gradually in a slightly warm place, away from drafts.  A chill may make the meringue fall.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I like a graham cracker crust.  Use any recipe you like best, or refer to the one I included a while back.

and remember what MLK Jr said:  History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the “good” people.  Big kiss, Lynn

Peanut Butter Pie

This entry is brought to you by the dashingly debonair G.  We were watching a cooking show the other night and he saw a peanut butter pie.  Was it this pie?  Hell, no.  G cannot leave well enough alone; he must change it to be his own creation.  There was no recipe provided, but that has never stopped G.

So, the pie we saw was made with a graham cracker crust, crunchy peanut butter and cream cheese.  G wanted his to have a chocolate graham cracker crust  and creamy peanut butter, because that’s what we have.

This is a really good example of trying something new.  G didn’t have the pie baking skills necessary to make a pie, but he did have the desire to have a piece of peanut butter pie.  Sometimes that’s all it takes.  Don’t let fear stop you from trying something new.

Graham cracker crust

1 sleeve graham crackers, regular or chocolate, crushed

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

Combine all, press firmly in pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool before adding filling.

Peanut butter filling

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy (G used creamy peanut butter and added 1/2 cup chopped peanuts)

1 cup cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup whip cream, whipped

1 teaspoon vanilla

Using a hand mixer, whip peanut butter and cream cheese.  Set aside.  Whip cream and slowly incorporate it into peanut butter mixture.  Add vanilla.  Once it’s the desired consistency, pour into your prepared pie shell.

G drizzled chocolate syrup over the slices when serving.  Next time he said he’ll put a plop of whip cream on as well.  He says for the visual appeal, but we all know he’s lying.  He loves whip cream!

*  From the Recipe Box:

Be careful with the chopped peanuts.  G used salted peanuts and he had to scramble a bit to lessen the salt flavor in the pie.

The pie is really rich, but everyone but me loved it.  It was a bit much for me.

and remember:  I’ve decided to be happy because it’s good for my health.  Big kiss, Lynn