Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Friday, October 26, 2012

caramel apples

October is a wonderful month for caramel apples.  actually, i look forward to caramel apple season each year. making caramel apples is a bit tricky, and i have tried several techniques in the past few years.

the best success that i have had is with honey crisp apples which are both sweet and firm, with a long shelf life when stored in the refrigerator.  honey crisp apples have a great taste when eaten raw for a caramel apple.  other types of apples do not have the same type of taste sensation, and may be too tart for eating raw.

to make the caramel apples:  purchase one bag of Kraft caramels and use 50 of the caramels.  unwrap each individually and place in a microwave safe bowl, adding two tablespoons of water.

microwave for one minute and then stir the caramel.  microwave for a second minute and stir until all the caramels are melted and smooth.

place sticks into the top of the honey crisp apples after washing thoroughly.  spoon the caramel from the top of the apples and allow to cover the apples as desired.

place the apples on waxed paper that has been treated with cooking spray.  decorate as desired. for Halloween, i use colored sprinkles, however; chopped peanuts can also be used. store in the refrigerator until serving on a dish that has been coated with cooking spray.  if the apples are not stored in the refrigerator, the caramel will not harden and stay in place on the apples.

game day chili

more than thirty years ago, my college room mate shared her mother's recipe for chili with me.  her recipe is the classic, which probably has been made by many others with variations over the years.  i have used this recipe for my husband's poker parties, as well as many game day meals.

to make the chili:  brown 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of ground beef with one chopped white onion.  add to a crock pot and add one large can of red kidney beans, one large can whole tomatoes, and one large can of tomato sauce.  then add enough water to just cover the mixture in the pot.  season with one teaspoon of chili powder.  simmer for several hours until ready to serve. 

top the chili with sliced green onions, sliced black olives, shredded cheddar cheese, and low fat sour cream before serving.  the four seed dinner rolls are a nice accompaniment to the dish.

four seed pan rolls

here is an all time favorite recipe that is wonderful for any occasion where a soft dinner roll would be needed.  these are made with frozen bread dough rolls and the seeds are added to taste and for flavor.

to make the dinner rolls:  purchase rhodes white dinner rolls in the frozen food aisle of the market.  i have used other store brands and they work equally well.  combine 4 teaspoons of each of these seeds in a small bowl:  fennel, poppy, and sesame.  i also add 2 teaspoons of dill seed.  mix the seeds together well.

next, in another bowl, beat one to two egg beaters/egg whites well.  then dip the dough rolls into the egg mixture, and then roll in the seeds.  place in a lightly greased 8-9 inch round baking dish.

cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  allow the rolls to rise in the pan for at least 3 up to 5 hours.  i usually place the rolls inside of my cold oven with the interior light on, which seems to provide just the exact amount of warmth needed for dough rising.

when the rolls have risen, remove from the oven and take off the plastic cover.  preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake the rolls for 15 minutes until golden brown. serve and enjoy.  the recipe can be adapted to include less variety of seeds and could also be made with refrigerated bread dough, baking according to package directions.

spinach brunch tarts

these brunch tarts are individually sized without a crust for great portion control.  they could be easily used for a breakfast or lunch, accompanied with a side salad, fruit, or even a breakfast meat.  the recipe will make 12 mini tarts.
the tarts are very tasty and will be nicely received by your family.  to make the tarts:  preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  lightly coat a 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with cooking spray. 

in a skillet, heat one tablespoon or less of olive oil and saute 10 ounces or one small package of whole white mushrooms, chopped.  add one small shallot which has also been chopped.  next, add one package of thawed frozen drained spinach and heat together.
cook these ingredients about five minutes.  if using fresh spinach, this step will take longer, about 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted.  when this step is complete, add a pinch of grated nutmeg for a wonderful flavor. 

in a separate bowl, whisk 4 eggs and 4 egg white beaters, with 1/4 cup skim milk, and salt and pepper to taste.  then, stir in 1/3 cup of grated fontina or Swiss cheese.  i used fontina.

ladle the egg mixture into the muffin tins, and then fill them with the spinach and mushroom mixture.  top the muffins with chopped bacon or chopped turkey bacon that has been pre-cooked. 

bake the mini tarts for about 20 to 25 minutes until well risen and browned.  cool in the muffin pan for about 4 minutes and then transfer to serving plates.  serve with greens, fruit, or any other favorite brunch side dish.

scotch rice krispie treats

this recipe for rice krispie treats uses peanut butter for a different flavor variation.  i have had this recipe for years and although there are many online, i find this one to be the old time classic.

at times, i have added a layer of melted chocolate to the top of these bars and also had a great result.

to make the treats:  place 3 cups of rice krispies in a large mixing bowl.  in a double boiler, melt 1/2 cup peanut butter with 6 ounce of butterscotch morsels. pour over the cereal and mix well until all krispies are covered.  press into a 9 by 9 square pan that has been prepared with baking spray and lined with waxed paper for easy removal.  press in firmly   chill for at least one hour prior to cutting into bars.  if desired, just after pressing into bars, melt 6 ounces of chocolate in a double boiler and spread on top of the bars prior to chilling.
great for fall and especially halloween as the children are running door to door gathering candy and treats for the holiday.

college football appetizer dip

tomorrow is another great college football Saturday with all the teams matching up for another win on the path to the holiday bowl game events.

here is a wonderful recipe for a hot dip that can be paired with crackers, tortilla chips or even celery and pita crisps.  this one is easy and well received by sports fans everywhere.  the dip can even be prepared ahead and kept in the refrigerator until game time, when it will take only 25 minutes to bake and be ready for the party.

to make the dip:  soften and spread 8 ounces of low fat cream cheese on the bottom of a ceramic dish or pie plate.  then layer about 6 ounces of salsa, any flavor.  then top with 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar cheese, one small can of sliced olives, and then chop one bunch of green onions to garnish the top of the dish.  bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and enjoy.  i promise this will become one of your favorite hot dips for football game events.