Caramel Apple Fondue

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Caramel Apple Fondue

  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 can (14 0z.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a heavy 3 quart saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, milk, corn syrup and water; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Be careful to scrap any bits of undissolved brown sugar off the bottom and sides of the pan.  I like to use a large rubber spatula for mixing.  Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 220 degrees F.  (before thread stage), about 8 minutes.  Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla extract.  Transfer to a small fondue pot or 1.5 qt. slow cooker; keep warm.  Serve with apple slices

*Sprinkling apple slices with lemon juice before setting them on the buffet table will keep the fruit from turning brown.

*As with any candy making it is important to calibrate the thermometer before trying a new recipe.  To calibrate your thermometer bring a small pot of water to a boil; after a few minutes the thermometer should read 212 degrees Fahrenheit.  Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.

*I am cooking at high altitude in Salt Lake City, UT and I have found that I need to reduce the cooking temperature of caramel by 10 degrees.  For this recipe I only cooked the caramel until 210 degrees Fahrenheit and it was perfect for dipping.

How to Make a Zebra Cake

zebra cake 3

Here is the adorable zebra cake I made with Alexandra for her 11th birthday.  I love how girly it is!  Alexandra loves watching Cake Boss and was able to help with the construction of this zebra cake.  We looked through so many cake photos and finally decided to do something like this.  She didn’t want something princessy, but at the same time she didn’t want her birthday cake to be too girly.  We didn’t even do a party for her this year, we just decided to have cake and ice ream with some neighborhood friends.  This is perfect cake for a pre-teen girl.  We looked at so many photos and decided to try this.  This zebra cake is very simple.  You just have to start early so the bow has time to dry before serving the cake.  Keep reading to see more of this fun zebra cake for a birthday! Keep reading for details on how to make this zebra cake. (more…)

Chana Masala Soup

chana masala soup

I am posting this because everyone in the family loved this soup… except for me.  They are asking for seconds right now.  I think it can still be improved.  I started off by working on a chana masala recipe from smittenkitchen.com – the only big change was less pepper and a few more veggies.  As the dish simmered during completion I realized the kids would not go for it – it just looked gross.  So I added chicken broth and purreed the whole thing to make soup.  I added heavy cream to give it the rich flavor I was looking for. Keep reading for the recipe… (more…)

How to Make Tortillas in a Food Processor

how to make tortillas 1

Okay Becca, this is for you!  Finally my favorite scrap of paper recipe is now available online!  I have been working on a tortilla recipe for a long time.  There are so many variations that work just fine.  I have used lard, shortening, butter, margarine, vegetable oil just to name a few.  The lard and shortening give the tortillas a nice flaky, rich texture.  Really unhealthy hydrogenated high lift shortening works especially well.  But, let’s face it.  This is a food we eat at least 2-3 times a week.  I do not want lard stinking up my fridge and I should at least try to make this food heart healthy.  So all you tortilla experts out there – I get it!  Lard or other solid fats make tortillas taste great and I will use those fats from time to time.  For now, this is my everyday favorite!  These are very similar to the tortillas sold in bulk at Sam’s Club or Costco. (But they taste better fresh!)  They store well uncooked in a ziplock bag.  I usually double the recipe to get 3-4 dozen tortillas for the week.  These also can be kneaded in a heavy duty mixer or of course by hand.  When I want to avoid an expensive trip to the grocery store, I remember I can always make homemade tortillas and refried beans using ingredients that I always have on had.

Homemade Tortillas

  • 750 grams all purpose unbleached flour* (about 5.5 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups plus 2-3 Tablespoons warm water
  • 3/4 cup canola oil

Place flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in the bowl of a large capacity food processor.  You will need at least a 14 cup capacity to make this much dough.  If you have a smaller food processor reduce all quantities by 50%.  Pulse the ingredients to combine.  With the machine running add the 3/4 cup canola oil.  Next add the 1.5 cups warm water.  As needed add water one Tablespoon at a time until a nice soft, stretchy dough is formed.  If the dough feels or appears dry add a bit more water.  Knead by running the food processor for an additional 45 seconds.  Of course you can knead the dough by hand or in a heavy duty mixer in which case you knead for at least 5-8 minutes to get a nice smooth dough.

Take the dough out of the machine and place on a clean counter and divide into palm sized dough balls.  If you want the tortillas to be even, weigh each piece of dough.  70 gram portions of dough will give you 18 large 10 inch tortillas.  55 gram portions of dough will give you 24 smaller 8 inch tortillas.  Allow the balls of dough to rest on the counter, covered for at least 20 minutes.  This allows the gluten to relax and will give you a softer, thinner tortilla.

About 15 minutes into the resting phase preheat the Villawear tortilla press.  After the dough has rested coat the tortilla press with the smallest amount of oil.  Add between tortillas as needed.  Form the tortillas using the tortilla press.  Flatten one time, flip the tortilla and flatten again.  Cool the tortilla on a rack and then place in a ziplock bag if you would like to use the tortillas later.  Cook either in the tortilla press or on a skillet when ready to eat the tortillas.  Makes 18-24 flour tortillas.  Continue reading for photos and more details on how to make tortillas in a food processor. (more…)

How to Make Escabeche

escabeche 1

Oh delicious escabeche!  My kids are all addicted to you!  I didn’t even know what this was called until a few years ago.  Back 14 years ago we lived in Houston I was working long hours in a Molecular Genetics lab and there was no time to eat dinner.  At least once a week we ate fajitas at Ninfas.  Before bringing out the food, they served  chips hot out of the fryer with fresh salsa, like my avocado tomatillo and quick pico de gallo.   Alongside the chips they brought out zanahorias en escabeche.  I can honestly say we filled up on chips, salsa and spicy carrots before eating the fajitas with homemade tortillas. Little Juju started eating these spicy carrots and jalapenos before she even had teeth.  It’s no wonder she is able to drink the juices now.  Finally I took a few photos during the process so I can refer friends and family to this post when they want to make it at home.  We can easily go through 3-4 pints of this a week.  I love it with Mexican food (of course) but also on turkey sandwiches or lettuce wraps if I am in diet mode.

The recipe is not exact, just a general guideline.  At the end of the post I have scanned a cherished hand written recipe from a wonderful Abuela we knew in Mexico City.  She used to sell this in an open market and was kind enough to give me her recipe and show me how she made it.  Juju, Zandy, Tilly, Timmy, & Lizzie, someday you will crave this – so here it is.  Most of the chopping is done quickly in the food processor.  When Scott makes this he cuts the vegetables ever so carefully, as did the Abuela.  I just don’t have the time and the kids eat way too much of this for me to worry about perfection.  This recipe is how I now make it for my family with ingredients readily available in the US.  Change to your liking.  Reduce the jalapeno (increase carrots and cauliflower), or remove the veins and seeds if it is too spicy for you.

Escabeche

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 pounds small bulb onions (you can use white onion instead with excellent results)
  • 2 pounds carrots, sliced (about 8 extra large)
  • 1 pound cauliflower in small pieces (about half a head)
  • 1.5 pounds jalapeno, sliced and rinsed several times to remove seeds (about 15 large)
  • 4 heads of garlic, peeled (this will yield about 30-40 cloves)
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 8 bay leaves

Start by chopping the vegetables.  Cut large onions into one inch pieces.  Small bulb onions should be cut with an “X” shape so the vinegar can penetrate the onion.  Do not worry about peeling the carrots before slicing.  They will be just fine simply rinsed and scrubbed clean.  Cut cauliflower into small pieces.  Rinse jalapenos, remove stems and slice jalapenos into rounds for spicy escabeche.  For mild escabeche cut into quarters and remove all veins and seeds.  Heat a heavy stock pot.  Coat pan with olive oil.  On medium heat fry bulb onions for about 5 minutes.  Next add the sliced carrots and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until they are tender crisp.  Next add the jalapenos and garlic.  Stir gently.

Add the 4 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 cups water, sea salt and sugar to the vegetables and stir gently.  Allow to cook on low for about 10 minutes until the jalapenos are soft, but not over-cooked and mushy.  Last add the Italian seasoning and bay leaves.  Place in glass jars and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Make 8 pints, plus a bit extra.

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Keep reading for photo tutorial (more…)

Chinese Sugar Cookies

Chinese Sugar Cookies 1This month I am really focusing on ideas for Missionary farewells and homecomings.  My nephew Paul is headed to the Taipei, Taiwan LDS Mission for two years.  I wanted to make some Chinese themed sugar cookies for the event.  I found some ideas online, but they all seemed for appropriate for a little kids birthday party — actually to be honest I wanted a Chinese themed sugar cookie without having to mix tons of colors and spend hours making cookies.  I contacted my brother John, and he sent me this Chinese character that means “good fortune” or good luck.  This seemed like an appropriate design for someone headed to abroad for two years.  Keep reading to see how I made these Chinese themed sugar cookies. (more…)

Missionary Cookies

missionary cookies

I made these missionary cookies last year for a Valentines Day party.  My nephew Douglas was receiving his mission call on Valentine’s Day and was planning on opening his mission call with all his close friends and family present.  My sister in law ordered these cookies and requested a butter-based icing.  It is possible to decorate with buttercream icing but the cookies will not have the crisp edges of Royal icing.  As you can see above some of the icing did not stay on the cookies and the letters are less than perfect.  Overall, these missionary cookies were a perfect combination of delicious flavor and decorated sugar cookies.  I decided to make missionary conversation hearts to combine the two themes.  My favorite cookie of the set ins the heart shaped CTR cookie.

Keep reading for more details on how I made these cookies – along with a link to the original buttercream icing recipe. (more…)