White Trash

>> Thursday, November 29, 2012

A wonderfully easy holiday snack, this is a favorite in our house. You can change up the recipe to fit your tastes ... add M&Ms, Reese's Pieces, different pretzels, etc... Whatever makes your munchers happy!

Toss in a large bowl:
2 cups Crispix
2 cups peanuts (I use dry roasted)
2 cups Cheerios
2 cups small pretzels
1/2 - 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Melt 2 cups of white chocolate wafers in a microwave-safe bowl. Pour over dry mix and toss to coat. Spread out on wax paper to dry ... then break apart. Store in an air-tight container (if there's any left over!).

A side note ... making this recipe is similar to making Rice Krispy bars. However, melting wafers set up a little slower than melted marshmallows, so you have a bit more time to get your cereal mix coated. Check out the Wilton web site for tips on melting chocolate wafers.


Freezing Sweet Corn

>> Saturday, August 11, 2012

I know it's truly summer when sweet corn comes into the local farmer's market. Today I put up 21 quarts of some gorgeous butter & sugar corn to enjoy this winter. The ears are HUGE this year, yielding some of the sweetest, juiciest kernels I've tasted in a long time. Here's what my morning looked like . . .

The corn came into the market this morning shortly after 7:30 am. Thirty minutes later I was there to pick up the two bushel I had reserved. The faster it goes from stalk to freezer, the sweeter and juicier it will be when we enjoy it later. By 9 am my guys were busy husking out by the front sidewalk, and I was setting up what I needed to process the corn once it came inside.

I use a couple of good-sized stock pots to blanch the corn, so I got them half-full of water and on the burner before I started anything else. It takes a bit of time to get that much water to a full boil. The rest of my "tools" are pretty simple ... a large, sharp knife; 2 cake pans; large spoon; tongs; measuring cup; plastic pitcher and quart-size freezer bags.

Once the corn started coming in from outside, my pots were at a full boil. So I dropped 4-6 ears of corn into each pot (depends on the size of the pot) and blanched them for 4 minutes. I start the timer as soon as the corn is in the water ... no waiting for it to come back to a full boil. If it is boiling good to begin with, it will return to a boil within a minute or so. I leave the same two pots of water boiling the entire time I'm processing corn. After every three or four loads of corn, I add fresh water to re-fill the pots.

As soon as the timer goes off, the ears come out of the water into another cake pan, and head into a sink full of icy, cold water. Some folks recommend actually putting ice in the water. I've never felt the need as we draw our water from a well, and the cold water is numbingly cold!  A good 5-6 minutes in the water stops the cooking process and seals in that juicy goodness. From the cold water bath, the ears move to the dish drainer to drain. I find I need to replace the cold water every 2-3 batches in order to keep it icy.

Next comes the messiest step ... taking the kernels off the cob (de-cobbing!). Standing each ear on end in a cake pan, I use a sharp knife to slice down the sides of the cob to remove the kernels. Careful not to cut into the cob itself. The kernels come off in rows which will fall apart when you defrost and cook the corn. I always make sure I have a large, flat surface to work on. There's quite a bit of corn "spray" that happens each time you slice, so cleaning and mopping is a must once you're finished.

Once my cake pan is full of de-cobbed corn, I open a quart freezer bag and set it inside a plastic measuring pitcher for stability. Measuring out one cup at a time, I fill my quart freezer bags with four cups of kernels each. Next I carefully close each one, pressing out as much air as possible. I try to keep my eyes open during this step for any stray pieces of silk or corn husk that might have crept into the mix. After filling 5-6 bags, I take them to the freezer and lay them in a single layer, flat on a freezer shelf. This gives them a good start on getting frozen more quickly, and allows them to stack easier once you're finished.

Just under four hours later I put the last bags into the freezer .. happy to think of eating the delicious corn this winter when it's snowing and blowing outside. I ended my morning's work by enjoying a dish of freshly cooked sweet corn and a slice of homemade zucchini bread. Yummy stuff!

YIELD: Two bushel of corn (10 dozen ears) = 21 quarts


Tried & True: Ginger Snaps

>> Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So my husband gave me the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook last year for Mother's Day. I'm not terribly fond of changing things that work, so I haven't used many recipes from it to this point. However, last week I decided to shake things up a bit and see if I liked any of the recipes in this cookbook better than some of my "tried and true" recipes.

The first on my list is a family favorite ... Ginger Snaps. A delicious molasses, spicy, chewy cookie that we have enjoyed for years. The America's Test Kitchen recipe is titled "Molasses Spice Cookies". The recipes are close, but there are slight differences. You can be the judge!!

Now that I've tried them, I think I will create a combination recipe of our favorite aspects of each recipe. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Molasses Spice Cookies
Oven: 375 degrees

1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup light or dark molasses

Put 1/2 cup of the sugar in a shallow dish for coating.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and spices in a large bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar together in a large bowl using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Beat in the molasses until incorporated.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined. Give the dough a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is combined.

Using wet hands, roll 2 Tablespoons of dough at a time into balls, then roll in the sugar to coat. (Cool tip: wetting your hands in water when rolling the dough into balls will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.)

Bake the cookies until edges are set and the tops are cracked but the centers are still soft and slightly underdone ... 10-12 minutes. (I found 12 minutes was too long ... 11 minutes was just right).

Let the cookies cook on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

YIELD: 2-3 dozen


Chocolate Chip Cookies

>> Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sometimes the simple, tried and true recipes are the best. Such is the case this Valentine's Day. I asked the love of my life what he would like me to create for him today ... as my gift on this day of roses and chocolate ... and he wasted no time telling me that he had a craving for chocolate chip cookies. How could I refuse!

This is my "go to" recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I've tried different variations, always looking for the "perfect" cookie ... and I always end up back here. Wonderful flavor and delicious chewiness make them a favorite in our home.

OVEN: 375 degrees

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips (I usually use about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)

In a mixer bowl beat butter and shortening on a medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla ... beat well. Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture, beating until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop from a teaspoon 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Baking for 8-10 minutes or until just browning around the edges. Remove and cool on a rack.

YIELD: Approx 3 dozen



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