Showing posts with label Betty Crocker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Betty Crocker. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sunflower Seed Brittle #recipe from Stirring the Plot by @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl aka Avery:

Hooray. Great news. Thanks to all of my fans, Stirring the Plot is a national bestseller! While it did not hit the NYTimes list (not sure quite how to pull that off!), it hit the Barnes and Noble mass market mystery at #6 and Bookscan at #14. Wahoo! So thanks, to one and all!

In Stirring the Plot, I've included a number of Halloween-ish recipes. What could be better during the month of October, right? The story centers around the Halloween season. I had so much fun researching recipes. I tested dozens of candies and orange-y recipes. I read lots of cookbooks with Halloween treats. The Betty Crocker Halloween cookbook was particularly fun to peruse. Great for kids!

However, right now, I'm going to let Jenna, the protagonist in the series, tell you more about this deletable and EASY recipe. {She and her pals often leave comments with the recipes included in the books.}

From Jenna:

I found a brittle recipe in a cookbook with the incredibly long title: Ghoulish Goodies: Creature Feature Cupcakes, Monster Eyeballs, Bat Wings,Funny Bones, Witches’ Knuckles, and Much More!, but I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I experimented and came up with this recipe. The author of the recipe mentioned that tons of recipes for candy brittle include a big baking soda addition, which can make the hot sugar puff up too much and get sort of cloudy looking. The puffiness looks cool, but the candy doesn’t have the crispness that brittle-lovers crave. So, note that this recipe doesn’t have a ton of baking soda. Also note, you need a candy thermometer. Luckily, I had one because my aunt was wise enough to furnish my little kitchen with one. She knew I had a sweet tooth. The recipe is easy. The candy flavor is divine.

Sunflower Seed Brittle

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sunflower seeds (shell-less)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with butter. Put on oven mitts.

In a large saucepan (heavy, if you have it), combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly while the sugar dissolves. Cook until the mixture comes to a full boil. This will take about 3-5 minutes.

Slip the candy thermometer along the side of the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue to boil without stirring until the temperature reaches 260 degrees on the candy thermometer. This will take about 10-12 minutes. [Note: the temp gets to 200 fast…but then be patient.]
Sorry this is blurry. Hard to photograph while stirring!

Remove the pan from heat to stir in the butter and sunflower seeds with a wooden or heatproof spoon.  [Don’t use a plastic spoon; it could melt.] Return the pan to the heat and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 295 degrees on the candy thermometer. This takes about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and quickly stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Be careful; the vanilla will spatter. Yipes!

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it as thinly as possible, using the back of the wooden spoon or spatula, and let the brittle stand until completely cool. 

Break the candy into serving pieces [I gently whack with a mallet…] and store the candy in a plastic zip-style bag. Remember to squeeze out the air before sealing. The candy holds for up to 2 weeks, if you can keep from eating it that long.


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STIRRING THE PLOT is available for order: order here.

Next up:
6th Cheese Shop mystery, February 2015

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

What with the holidays and all, I've been feeling pretty nostalgic lately, craving the foods I ate as a child.  (Look for my recipe for vegetarian jambalaya--based on my days in Louisiana--coming soon.)

This particular recipe wasn't a favorite in our house.  In fact, I think I only had it once.  But it holds a special place in my heart.  This, my friends, is the very first thing I baked in my whole life.  Okay, my grandmother was there to jump in if something caught on fire, but otherwise, this cake was mine from start to finish.

Here's the scene:  It was June of 1979, and we lived in Toledo, Ohio.  My mother had just finished her second year in law school and was massively pregnant.  My Gram had driven north to hang out while we waited for the baby to arrive.  Really, all the focus was on baby, baby, baby.

As excited as I was to be a big sister, I didn't think it was fair that we weren't doing anything for my mother's birthday.  (Her due date and her birthday were practically on top of each other.)  So my Gram plowed through the Betty Crocker cookbook to find a cake recipe that even a 9-year-old could handle.  Her choice:  the hot fudge sundae cake.

Not only did I avoid setting the kitchen on fire, but the cake was actually delicious.  It is a bit like a molten lava cake in that part of it doesn't set up and, instead, forms a wonderful warm sauce that you can spoon over the ice cream.  Oh, and as an added bonus, it's a type of crazy cake, so you mix everything directly in the pan ... no bowls to clean!

I don't remember what we had for dinner that night (likely steak and baked potatoes), but I remember putting the candles in that cake as if it were yesterday.  I was so stinkin' proud that I'd done it by myself.

My gorgeous mom and cute-as-a-button baby sister, about a year post-cake.

And a mere 36 hours after we ate that cake, I got a brand new baby sister.

This cake reminds me of that joyous time in my life when everyone was filled with anticipation, happy and excited, and I felt like a grown-up for the very first time.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
(From my mom's recipe card by way of a Betty Crocker cookbook)

Ingredients, in pan.
1 c. flour
3/4 c. white sugar
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 Tbs. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts (either pecans or walnuts)
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1 3/4 c. hottest tap water

A pint or two of your favorite ice cream . . . anything that would go well with hot fudge!

Preheat oven to 350.

In an ungreased 9x9 pan, stir in all ingredients down to the brown sugar.  Make sure it's mixed well.  Spread batter evenly in pan.

Sprinkle with brown sugar and 1/4 c. cocoa.  Pour on HOT tap water.  Bake 40 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting into squares, serving with ice cream, and spooning the sauce over top.

Completed Cake

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Marvelous Meatloaf

Although my mom was really good in the kitchen, I never much cared for her meatloaf. Hers was tomato sauce-based and I used to cringe when she served it. The only thing I liked about meatloaf night was the mountain of mashed potatoes with a little lake of butter melting in the top.

When I was a newlywed, I looked for food to make for dinner. I had a few basics I knew how to create - I could grill a steak and roast a turkey - but that was about it. My husband is rather inept in the kitchen. He'll be the first to admit it, so I'm not being mean. He can make eggs for breakfast and he makes killer French Toast (I mean "killer" literally. We lost two birds due to his culinary talents), but he doesn't know the difference between all-purpose and cake flour, nor how to decide when steaks are done on the grill. Can you say chewy?

Anyway, when I was newly married, I thought I should find a good meatloaf recipe. And I did. No tomato sauce (hooray!) but just a great combination that made for a delicious, moist meatloaf. I found a great one in the Betty Crocker Cookbook (a newlywed or new-on-your-own's best friend!) but I've modified it over the years. I love what it's become. So does everyone else who's tried it.

I know we've featured meatloaves on this blog before, but here's mine:

Marvelous Meatloaf

1.5 pounds hamburger
1.5 pounds ground pork
2 cups breadcrumbs (I use seasoned)
2 cups milk
4 slices of bread (I use the heels/ends of my wheat bread. Better than throwing them out)
2 eggs
1 medium-large onion chopped (I like onions and add a little extra)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Soak bread in water, squeeze them out so they're wet but not dripping.

Combine meats either by hand or in a large mixer. I used my stand mixer and a dough hook to get things started. Add all ingredients, one at a time in the order listed above. After everything is combined, I mush it all by hand so the meatloaf doesn't get too smooth. I like it a little coarse. Too smooth seems too processed.

HINT: You may already know this, but my mom taught me to always break my eggs into a small bowl before adding it to my mix. Not just for meatloaf, but for everything. She warned that if I added a bad egg (it happens) I would ruin whatever I'd combined so far. So far I've only encountered one bad egg in my life, but it is always worth breaking (and smelling) eggs before adding them.

Once the mixture is combined to your satisfaction, shape it into two loaves and place in pans. No need to do anything to the pans ahead of time. You'll see my loaf pan here, but before I got these, I used to make one giant meatloaf and bake it in a 9 x 13 pan. Works just fine too.

Bake for about an hour and a half (longer if it's one big loaf). You'll know when it's ready because the fat around the sides begins to bubble. You can check for doneness too, by slicing in the middle to check.

This is a great basic. A real go-to recipe for me.

These days my kids suggest I find another name for meatloaf: "How appealing is it to say you're serving a loaf of meat?" They have a point...But - except for my lone vegetarian - they eat it. And love it.

You can cut this in half if you're only making one loaf. I usually make two at at time because this makes for excellent leftovers and sandwiches the next day.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a green veggie and you have one of my favorite home-cooked meals.


Grace Under Pressure, a Manor House Mystery
Buffalo West Wing (January), fourth in the White House Chef Mystery series.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentine's Day Dessert - Ice Cream Cake

As I prepared to write this blog post, I was faced with a pressing question:

What is the best possible thing to make for Valentine's Day?

The answer is - without a doubt:

Next Sunday is Valentine's Day and my sweetie and I will probably try to squeeze in a quick dinner out somewhere nearby. Next weekend promises to be a busy one, so we'll have to take a pass on long, lingering gazes over candlelight and opt instead for a quick meal at one of our favorite local places. Add a glass of red wine to the mix and I'll be content.

But if we were hosting a party, or if all three of our daughters were home for the big day, I'd be sure to prepare something festive, sweet, and - most likely - pink.

As it happened, all three of our daughters *were* home this past weekend. Although we hadn't expected a full house, we were nonetheless delighted to hang out as a family. Lucky me and lucky them -- I had a dessert to prepare for this blog. And so I adapted one of their all-time favorites for Valentine's Day.

When the girls were little, none of them liked traditional bakery cakes. They still don't. Ice cream cakes from Baskin Robbins, however, were (and are) universally loved around here, but they can be expensive. Back when the kids were little, I decided to make my own ice cream cakes. I experimented with box cakes but found the consistency of the cake part too weak to hold up the ice cream. So I changed to brownies. I prefer Betty Crocker and I always add an extra egg (to make it a bit more fluffy and less gooey).

For the girls' birthdays we always used Chocolate Chip Mint (which they insist is properly termed Mint Chocolate Chip) but for Valentine's Day we needed something pink. None of us cares much for strawberry ice cream, so I searched high and low and finally found raspberry (not sherbet).

Here's my super easy, delicious and fit-for-a-crowd Ice Cream Cake

1 box Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies
1/2 gallon ice cream - your choice of flavor (some now come in 1.75 quarts. That's fine, too)
1 12 oz tub of Cool Whip Frozen Whipped Topping, thawed according to package directions (this takes several hours, so be sure to take this out of the freezer and relocate it to the fridge the day before, if possible)

Remove ice cream from freezer to allow it to soften/melt a bit.
Prepare brownies according to package directions, adding a third egg if desired for a more cake-like consistency. Bake in a 9 x 13 pan, again according to package directions.
Allow brownies to cool for about a half hour, then pour softened/melted ice cream on top of brownies. Spread it out and smooth. Cover with foil and freeze until the ice cream solidifies (several hours).

Remove from freezer and spread the Cool Whip over the top. I don't always use the entire tub, but I use more than half, which is why I buy the 12 oz size.
Return to freezer.

The ice cream cake will be ready to be cut and served in an hour or two. Delicious and pretty, too!

author of Eggsecutive Orders, third in the White House Chef Mystery series

Don't forget Jenn's contest!

cupcakes? Love mysteries? Remember to enter your suggestion for the name of a fictional cupcake and have your name and cupcake written into the mystery novel BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF! (The sequel to SPRINKLE WITH MURDER, which just
received a *Starrred Review* fromPublishers Weekly!). Send proof of your pre-order of SPRINKLE WITH MURDER, along with your name and cupcake name to Jenn at LET’S GET THE PARTY STARTED!
Julie here again...
Speaking of cupcake fun, my daughter and I were goofing around before the season opener of LOST last week. We made silly cupcakes.
We created islands, planes, smoke monsters, numbered cupcakes... you get the picture. Most were pretty amateurish, and not worthy of posting here (especially with a cupcake-master present) but my daughter did make one that I thought was particularly fun. It's the comic book character, Jughead. For those of you LOST fans -- get it?

LASTLY -- We've been awarded another blog award!
This one from Ingrid of The Conscious Cat

The Over the Top Blog Award

The rules state that we must complete the questions with one word answers! This is fun...

Your Hair? – Highlighted
Your Favorite Food? – Chocolate
Your Hobby? – Reading
Your Fear? – Pinecones
Something You Aren’t? – Athletic
Where Did You Grow Up? – Chicago
Your Life? – Wonderful
Your Mood? – Optimistic
Your Favorite Color? – Yellow