Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fleur de Sel Caramels

This was a Barefoot Contessa recipe ... of course. I've had this episode saved on my dvr for several weeks and finally got around to making this this weekend.

This recipe is the perfect example of why I like online recipes so much ... the reviews! I was not really paying attention to measurements when I watched the episode since I would go to the website to get the recipe. When I scanned through the comments/reviews though, I noticed that many people pointed out that the recipe on the website was wrong. I re-watched the episode, and sure enough, the online version of the recipe only had about 1/3 of the sugar called for. Non-sweet caramels ... yuck.

So, here is the link to the online recipe, but the adjustments are: use 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 1 cup of cream.

Mine turned out just a little bit too hard. You cook them to 248 degrees, and once you start getting close, the temperature raises very quickly. I think mine probably got up to about 250 by the time I got it poured into the pan. They still turned out awesome though. Definitely the best caramels I've ever had.

An added bonus of making these was that Joe doesn't like caramels ... so more for me! He tried one of these though, and now he's a convert.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I made Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies for dinner at David's aunt and uncle's tonight. You all know my phobia about boxed brownies and not having a flaky top. Imagine my trepidation on making from scratch brownies!! Well... tada.. they were perfect! And flaky! The almond extract really made them taste so special too. I may add a swig to the next boxed mix I make. Very Sandra Lee-ish.

July 19, 2009 at Carol's

We had an international theme at Carol's house. As always, a beautiful table, place settings and party favors!

The menu:

Appetizer (Angie): Hummus (traditional, spinach with feta and sun dried tomato) with homemade pita chips. We also made a mushroom tart using the extra mushrooms and pastry from the Beef Wellingtons.

Salad (Janet): Israeli salad. So good and fresh! Very good as a left over too.

Main (Caro): Individual Beef Wellingtons decorated by us!

Sides (Tonya): Fennel Puree (SO DELICIOUS!!) and Fasoliyyeh bi z - zaty (huh? really good green beans!). Carol also made pop overs.
Dessert (Teresa): Mexican Chocolate Frozen Bananas (yummy and cold!)

Drinks (Mary): Rioja White Sangria. I could have had 10 glasses of this. But stopped at 2!

Sparkling White Sangria

2 bottle White Rioja
1 cup brandy
½ cup orange liqueur
1 can nectar (pineapple or orange pineapple work best)
7up for *sparkle*
simple syrup (1/2 to 1 cup)
sliced orange (blood orange if you can find it, works great)
sliced lime
sliced lemon

In large pitcher, combine wine, brandy, orange liqueur and nectar. Add simple syrup once cooled. Mix well. Add the sliced fruit and let all sit for few hours before serving. Pour about 2/3 sangria in glass and top with 1/3 7up.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Desserts...healthy and not so much

To use up some strawberries and blueberries, I made ANOTHER fruit cobbler. I also threw in some peaches. I modified the recipe as per reader reviews (3 tablespoons of butter and 3.5 cups of fruit) as well as used whole wheat flour and some oatmeal. I have yet to use whole wheat flour and not be happy with the results.

Because of my modifications I thought this was a great breakfast item and ate it happily, and without guilt.

Yesterday I made cake for a family dinner at my parents. Blond Texas Sheet Cake with caramel pecan frosting was in my "to be made" stack of recipes. I always pull recipes I want to make and now I have folders for all the categories (I know -- just as crazy as labeling your shoe boxes) and when I am ready, I go through the pile and pick what I'm craving.

This was really good and really easy. The icing was so good and next time I might make a yellow, boxed cake and use this frosting. The cake was good, but nothing special. But the icing was so good. It hardens as it cools. Yum...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings

Ever since we made chicken and dumplings at Janet's, I've been meaning to try my grandmother's recipe. I "helped" her many times in the past, but never attempted them on my own. She makes hers with a dough she rolls out very thin and cuts into small pieces. She does hers with a knife, and it's very time-consuming! I'm guessing Memaw doesn't have a pizza cutter.

But first, the recipe. I tried to get a recipe from Memaw many years ago, but it goes something like this: "You fill your bowl about quarter-full with flour, add a little salt and soda, fork in some dollops of shortening, and add enough milk until it looks right."

Yeah, right. This Gourmet Gal needs measurements. I decided on this recipe I found on For my dumpling dough, I used milk instead of water because I'm pretty sure that's what Memaw does. Also, instead of boiling the chicken and then using that broth to cook the dumplings in, I cooked my chicken in the crockpot while I was at work and used some homemade chicken stock that I keep in the freezer.

I must admit I'm very proud of how it turned out. Joe thinks I'm preparing to issue a Chicken and Dumpling throwdown against Memaw, but I wouldn't dare! Now that I have the basics down, I'll offer to help her make dumplings soon and will pay closer attention to how she prepares the dough. I'll be sure to bring my pizza cutter.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Cake

I'm sorry to say I have not been cooking anything photo-worthy lately. I don't think any of you would be interested in my plating style for the Frito Pie I made yesterday.

There is always time for dessert though, judging by the number of recipes we have tagged so far on our blog. This is Ina Garten's Blueberry Crumb Cake. I really do need to work on my Barefoot Contessa addiction, but I've never had one of her recipes flop yet. It's comforting!

This cake turned out very pretty, and the lemon zest/blueberry combo is delicious. My streusel topping was really hard though, not crumbly like I thought it would be. Next time I might hold back some of the topping to add later in baking, or try a streusel recipe from some muffins I've made before.

Hope you gals are having a good holiday weekend!