Friday, December 25, 2009

Easy Homemade Marshmallows - yum!


Homemade Marshmallows

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007

Prep Time:
35 min
Inactive Prep Time:
4 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
10 min
Level:
Intermediate
Serves:
approximately 9 dozen marshmallows or 1 1/2 pounds miniature

Ingredients

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray

Directions

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

For regular marshmallows:

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

For miniature marshmallows:

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners' sugar mixture.
Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight.
Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chicken Florentine is my new love

{Recipe for my basic breadcrumbs can be found here.}




This is based off one of my favorite Contessa freezer meals. I wanted to be able to make this at home, using my own ingredients. :)


Ingredients:


3 packages {12 ounces each} fresh spinach {stems removed}
1/4 cup butter
3 - 5 tablespoons of minced garlic {this is a lot of garlic, but we're garlic-lovers}
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup half-and-half or whipping cream
5 cups cooked chicken, cubed
3/4 cup half-and-half or whipping cream
3/4 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1 {12-ounce} bag of pasta, cooked {I use Penne or Bow Tie pasta, but whatever kind you have on hand will work.}




Preparation:


Cook spinach until done, drain well. In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter; add sliced garlic. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon flour and blend well. Add 1/3 cup half-and-half and the spinach; simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Put spinach into the bottom of a lightly buttered 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Cover with cooked chicken. Over medium low heat, melt remaining butter and blend in remaining flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually stir in 3/4 cup half-and-half and 3/4 cup chicken broth; continue cooking and stirring until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add Parmesan cheese to sauce and pour over chicken. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and bubbling. Serve over pasta.


*Alternate way to make: make as instructed, except, stir everything together, including pasta (al dente) and top with my basic bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes until browned.
Serves 6.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Basic Bread Crumbs

While this is something that I make for a lot of my meals (macaroni and cheese, chicken and broccoli casserole, chicken florentine, breaded cauliflower) I never thought to blog it. Duh! My mom has been making bread crumbs for as long as I can remember, and while it's such a simple thing, they taste so much better than store-bought! When I make homemade stuffing, this is what I use, is an enormous batch of breadcrumbs, with the rest of the stuff stirred into it.

You'll need:

6 - 8 slices of bread (French can be used too!)
1/8 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
little less than 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
smidge of onion powder
pinch of paprika

Break the bread up into manageable chunks, put into food processor with salt, pepper and other spices. Pulse until broken down, but not powder, you still want a little texture in them. After they've been processed, in a large, deep frying pan, melt the butter on medium-low heat. Once melted, dump breadcrumbs into frying pan, and, stirring often, cook until browned and crisp. If needed, it's alright to add a tablespoon or so of butter, if you need it, if they're looking a bit dry. Once they get most of the way cooked/heated, they brown REALLY fast, and can burn, so make sure you're constantly moving your pan and spatula so they don't burn! 
(I use a large, flat, silicone spatula when I make breadcrumbs.) 

Pour onto the dish you've got ready to go into the oven, bake as normal.

***Side note, you can make large amounts at once and pour into freezer bags and use later, they're great for breading chicken too, just season like you would plain breadcrumbs and enjoy! Also, if you've made an extra casserole, and you're freezing it, don't put the breadcrumbs on until it's thawed and ready to go into the oven. Bag them separately from your casserole dish, then just wrap the bag in an extra layer of saran wrap so when you go to get the meal out of your freezer, the breadcrumbs are right there with it, less likely to be forgotten or never-found.***

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge


I just got this recipe in my email from Taste of Home magazine. It is perfect for this time of  year!


Ingredients


  • 1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup butter, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
  • 1 cup Jif® Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions


  • Line a 9-in. square pan with foil and grease the foil with 1 teaspoon butter; set aside.
  • Cube remaining butter and place in a large heavy saucepan. Add the sugar, milk and salt; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a rapid boil; boil for 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 230°, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from the heat; stir in chips until melted. Stir in the marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla until blended. Pour into prepared pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  • Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Gently peel off foil; cut fudge into 1-in. squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

  • Yield: 81 pieces.