Archive for ‘dishes’

February 21, 2014

Lessons from Mamaw Maggie: How to properly season and care for your cast iron pan

by Crystal Cook

Pan and Crisco

My Mamaw Maggie passed when I was only six months old. I didn’t get to create my own memories with her, but I felt as though I knew her as everyone I met had a fond memory of her and a story to share. One of the very few items I have of my Mamaw Maggie’s is her cast iron skillet. When I was younger I only really used it when I was feeling nostalgic, and would bake up some cornbread. When I was little my Mom always said cornbread, soup beans and buttermilk was her favorite meal. But as I got older, I began to discover the pan’s varied uses.

If you are not familiar with cast iron pans, they can seem intimidating. All that talk of properly seasoning it, how to wash it (or not wash) it, seems like too much work. But trust me, the benefits of the cast iron pan far out way any care concerns. When seasoned correctly, a cast iron skillet will work better than any non-stick pan in your cupboard. They heat evenly and beautifully, and when properly cared for, they will last a lifetime. In fact, Mamaw Maggie’s pan has lasted several lifetimes!

For Christmas, I received another vintage cast iron skillet from my boyfriend’s family. Since I need to season it, I thought that I would just share with you all the secrets I learned from my Mom – who just happened to learn from her mom- Mamaw Maggie!

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • If you have purchased a brand new pan, chances are it will contain a coating of wax. To remove the wax, you will want to thoroughly wash the inside of your skillet with warm soapy water to remove the coating, and rinse it extremely well. Please note that this will be the ONE and ONLY time that you will ever use soap on your pan. After you season it, you will only want to wash with hot water. Since my pan is vintage, and does not have a wax coating, I am just going to wash the pan under hot water for several minutes. It is imperative that you understand that a cast-iron skillet is not dishwasher safe, nor is it made for soaking. For best results, always rinse the pan with hot water immediately after cooking. If you have some stuck on food, try scrubbing with coarse salt or a nonmetal brush.

wash

  • Be sure to dry your skillet thoroughly with paper towels, or if you want to dedicate a kitchen towel to your pan, you can. The main thing is to get it completely dry immediately. Never let it air dry or it will rust.

dry pan

  • Dampen a paper towel with a vegetable oil such as canola oil, lard, or a shortening such as Crisco, and wipe your skillet thoroughly. I always use Crisco, because that is what my Mamaw always did, and I rub the entire thing down with a nice even layer. Note: You don’t want the grease to pool up, but you will want to create a nice sheen or glisten to the pan.

grease

all sides

  • Place the pan upside down on the top rack of a preheated 350° oven. Set a baking sheet, or spread a piece of heavy aluminum foil on the lower rack to catch any grease drippings.

best stove

  • Let the pan bake for 1 hour.
  • Cast iron skillets get very hot so use caution and oven mitts when removing and place on a safe surface for cooling. (In fact, another awesome present they got me was my Lodge Handle Mitt.  I love it!)  Cool for 30 minutes or more until the pan is cool to the touch.

cool with handle

cool for sotring

  • You will reinforce the nonstick coating every time you heat the Crisco in the skillet, so I like to repeat this process two or three times.
  • Rinse and dry skillet thoroughly like mentioned above (no soap).
  • Before putting your pan away, be sure to give it another light coating of oil or shortening to protect it from rust and corrosion. I also like to cover it with a paper towel to protect it from dust.

store with papertowel

Some other important things to note:

  • After you have seasoned your pan, you should avoid cooking anything acidic the first couple of times. In fact, you should try cooking up some bacon, or some other high-fat food, to help build up the surfaces high gloss.
  • Once you have achieved that ultimate gloss, you can cook up just about anything. The only thing you should never try is to boil water. That will cause your pan to rust.
  • Don’t let the cast iron sit too long without using it, if you do it may become a bit rancid. If this happens, clean and re-season the pan (no soap).
  • Always remember to give the pan a light coat of grease after cleaning the pan and storing.
December 13, 2013

A few of our favorite things: The Queen’s online gift guide for the foodie in your life!

by Crystal Cook

Gift Collage

(Gift descriptions, clockwise)

1. Pineapple Beverage Dispenser $68.00: If you grew up in the south like I did, then you know that pineapples are THE symbol of southern hospitality. In fact, my mom had more pineapple decor than any one woman should ever have. This pineapple beverage dispenser from Anthropologie, reminds me of my childhood and is perfect for some sweet tea or lemonade!

2. 10-Piece Glass Bowl Set $39.95: Contain yourself if you can! This 10-piece glass set from Williams Sonoma is my favorite! Simple, beautiful and functional, they’re very useful for preparing your mise en place and for storing in small kitchens.

3. Charles Viancin Silicone Food Storage Lid Covers $7.95–$12.95: Plastic wrap be gone! I am in love with this silicone creation that provides an airtight seal, and works with any smooth-rimmed bowl or pot. Oh and did I mention it is dishwasher, microwave AND oven safe?!

4. Personalized Casserole Dish $54.00: The beauty of the casserole dish is its variety. Not just the ingredients you fill it with, but the shape, size, color or pattern of the dish. Go on, girl, get crazy—express yourself! With so many fun hues, sizes and shapes, even on the busiest of occasions or the dooziest of days, placing your meal in a sunny container can change your entire mood.

5. Dotty Match Potholders $12.00: They’re cute! They’re colorful! They’re comfy! And let’s face it… a girl can never have too many pot holders.

6. Jalapeño Corer $10.95: How many times have you removed the seeds from a jalapeño and then neglected to wash your hands before rubbing your eyes? It burns! Oh, how it burns! Never make that mistake again with this gadget gem!

7. Casserole Carriers $38.00: Made from amazing chevron-printed fabrics, these totes make for easy transport and real down-home appeal. They’re chic and sassy! Want to make one of your own? Check out our latest cookbook or this YouTube video and learn how to craft your own!

8. Scalloped Celebration Cake Stand $24.00–$38.00: You worked hard on that sweet treat, so show it off! From a cake to cupcakes, even a big pile of cookies, every day is a special occasion with these adorable stands.

9. The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook: Mix and Match 100 Casseroles, Salads, Sides, and Desserts & The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put Some Lovin’ in Your Oven with 100 Easy One-Dish Recipes Come on, you knew these would make our list!

10. Custom Heirloom Silverware Jewelry, starting as low as $30.00: Order custom-made, or ready-to-wear one-of-a-kind pieces, from Elizabeth Lyons Designs this holiday season. These unique silverware-to-jewelry pieces make for a very special holiday gift and are so very culinary chic! (Hence the name!)

Happy shopping!

September 30, 2013

Merry Mushroom Bread Pudding

by Crystal Cook

My dish addiction is no secret. We have discussed it here on the blog many times before. So it should come as no surprise that I have an impressive selection of vintage casserole dishes—from Pyrex to Fire King, and a whole lot of everything in between. One of my favorites happens to be a Corning Ware dish with the “Merry Mushroom” pattern on it. The orange, yellow, and brown color palette screams 70’s, and I love it! The dish keeps me inspired and I am constantly creating new mushroom recipes to proudly serve up in this dish. Trust me, nothing perks up a buffet table like a “Merry Mushroom” painted casserole pan!

Since I just learned that September was National Mushroom Month, I jumped at the chance to make something in this dish! Unfortunately I didn’t find out about this until the next to the last day of the month, so I had to act fast! I picked up my trusty Make-A -Meal cookbook from The Cassserole Queens (maybe you have heard of it?) and immediately turned to the Merry Mushroom bread pudding—one of the finest mushroom masterpieces around! The combination of portobello and button mushrooms makes it especially earthy and super comforting.

Shall we?

casserole_cvr_resize

Ingredient list

Yummy ingredients: Milk, rustic bread, portobello mushrooms, vegetable oil,  button mushrooms, garlic,  fresh parsley,  fresh rosemary, salt, freshly ground black pepper, eggs, and Gruyère cheese.

Pour milk

First take your bread and cube it into 2-inch pieces. Any rustic bread will do, but I used Ciabatta and I liked it a lotta! 🙂 Pour 2 cups of milk over the bread and refrigerate for 30 minutes – stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, using a spoon, remove the brown gills from the undersides of the portobellos and remove the stems; discard the gills and stems, slice mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the portobello and button mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes, until the mushrooms start to release their juices.

mushrooms saute

Stir in the garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute.

add garlic rosemary and parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk, the eggs, and the egg white.

whisk eggs

Spoon 2 cups of the bread mixture from the fridge into the prepared casserole dish.

layer

Top with the mushroom mixture.

layer mushroom

Sprinkle with ⅓ cup of the cheese.

cheese layer

Top with the remaining bread mixture and the remaining ⅔ cup cheese. Pour the egg mixture over top.

last layer

bread pour

Bake for 45 minutes, or until set. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

in the oven

final mushroom dish

final from above

Gorgeous and delicious! Happy National Mushroom Month (or in this case – day!) Better late than never, right?

Merry Mushroom Bread Pudding.

Serves 6

Cooking spray

3 cups whole milk

8 cups rustic bread, cut into 2-inch cubes (I used Ciabatta)

2 (4-ounce) portobello mushrooms

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

6 cups quartered button mushrooms (about 12 ounces)

2 garlic clove, minced

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 large eggs

1 large egg white

1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (4 ounces)

1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9 × 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of the milk and the bread. Cover and chill for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.  Meanwhile, using a spoon, remove the brown gills from the undersides of the portobellos and remove the stems; discard the gills and stems, slice mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the portobello and button mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes, until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Stir in the garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute.

4.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk, the eggs, and the egg white. Spoon 2 cups of the bread mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Top with the mushroom mixture and sprinkle with ⅓ cup of the cheese. Top with the remaining bread mixture and the remaining ⅔ cup cheese. Pour the egg mixture over top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until set. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

March 28, 2013

The Deviled Egg Tray and Easter – It’s a Southern Thing

by Crystal Cook

In the deep South, some things are just a given.  For instance, every type of soda is always (and I mean ALWAYS) a Coke®, all tea is sweet tea, and you always will find a deviled egg tray in the cupboard. Over the years, my deviled egg tray has brought me much joy.  At times when I could not get home to Georgia for the holidays, breaking out my tray and making a batch of eggs was a simple way to bring the spirit of home to me.

Below is my favorite twist on the southern deviled egg recipe. I highly suggest that you make them a part of your appetizer spread this Easter.

Enjoy, and now go call your momma!

Southern (as in the South of France)  Deviled Eggs

  • 12 hard-cooked large eggs, shelled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Additional chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Ok, so the hardest part about this recipe is boiling and peeling the darn eggs. Seriously, it has taken me years to master this task! If you have already earned your hard-boiled egg scouts’ badge, feel free to skip over the following “how-to section.”

To achieve perfect eggs, rule number 1 is NOT to use super fresh eggs. If you bought the eggs that day – you are in serious trouble. That fresh egg is guaranteed to have more craters than if it were hit by an asteroid! I recommend using eggs that are about a week old, or, if in a bind, go purchase your eggs from the local convenient store down the street. I find they do not stock, as umm, frequently as the grocery store.

Place eggs in a large enough saucepan so that they have plenty of room in between them, then cover with enough cold water by at least an inch. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a medium boil and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and place eggs in a bowl of iced water. (Think blanching!)  The ice is an important step, as it helps not only with the peeling, but it cools the eggs down fast enough to keep the yolk yellow – no green eggs here!  Chill for a few minutes until the egg is completely cooled.

Now let’s get to the moment of truth – peeling!  To peel, crack the egg on all sides and roll it between your hands and a hard surface to loosen the shell. I find that if you start at the larger end, that you will discover a little air pocket and it is easier to get a hold of the membrane. I also tend to shell the eggs under water. Not sure why that helps, but it sure seems to! Ok – that’s all I got.  I hope you all have 12 perfectly gorgeous eggs. Now on to the easy part of the recipe!

Combine boiling water and sun dried tomatoes in a bowl. Cover; let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Cut eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks. Place yolks in a medium bowl.  Add tomatoes, mayonnaise, and next 7 ingredients (through pepper); stir well. Place egg white halves onto your adorable deviled egg tray and spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons egg mixture into each egg white half. (Use a pastry bag to keep things neat!) Sprinkle with additional chopped parsley for a lovely presentation.

Yield: 2 dozen (serving size: 1/2 egg)

March 16, 2013

St. Patrick’s Day Irish Potato and Leek Soup with Chive Oil and Bacon!!

by Sandy Pollock

I really wanted to soup. I live in Washington DC and it is cold here and the only thing that was going to warm my cold bones was soup. I also needed to decide what dish I wanted to prep for a St. Patrick’s Day blog post. I must admit that I was determined that this dish was going to be soup. Thank GOD the Irish love themselves some potato soup! The internet said so! SOUP TIME!!

IMG_6368

IMG_6354

1/2 cup salt

1 medium onion

3 leeks, sliced

3 large baking potatoes

3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon tabasco

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

bacon, cooked and crumbled

Chive Oil (click for recipe)

 

IMG_6355

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and leeks to butter and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

IMG_6357

Stir in potato, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

IMG_6360

Stir in broth, salt, tabasco, pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat, and cool slightly.

IMG_6364

Process soup in batches in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides; return to saucepan, and cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated.

IMG_6366

Garnish with parmesan cheese, bacon bits, and  chive oil.

I’m telling you, the chive oil makes a huge difference. It is a very nice addition to this soup! 

IMG_6369

 

1/2 cup salt

1 medium onion

3 leeks, sliced

3 large baking potatoes

3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon tabasco

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and leks to butter and cook , covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in potato, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in broth, salt, tabasco, pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from het, and cool slightly.

Process soup in batches in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides; return to saucepan, and cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Serve with desired toppings.

January 18, 2013

Saturday night is for the Popper-azzi!

by Crystal Cook

Did you know that Saturday (1/19) is National Popcorn Day? What a great excuse to pick out a good movie and make a big bowl of hot, salty popcorn—the old school way. And really, nothing makes me happier than special holidays like these to fuel my obsession with dishes. (As I have mentioned before, I do have a slight problem with collecting dishes). My boyfriend, Tim, thought I was crazy to purchase this 5-piece popcorn set, but look who’s laughing now? Wait until I make him watch The Notebook.

Empty Popcorn dishes

Anyway, you have to admit the dishes are adorable. And they’re perfect for what I am about to make! I’ve got three, yes, count ‘em, three popcorn recipes to choose from. Enough options to please everyone in the family, so let’s get popping!

1) Rooster Ranch Popcorn. I call it Rooster Ranch, because we are using Sriracha. Not sure what Sriracha is? Well, you’d better make a grocery store run right now and make a purchase! Sriracha, also known as “Rooster Sauce” for the rooster on the bottle’s label, is a Thai chili sauce that’s fantastically sweet and spicy. I am in love. So much, in fact, that I may have to marry it. (Sorry Tim, you snooze, you lose buddy.)

2) Popcorn with Truffle Oil, Parmesan and Cracked Black Pepper. Truffle oil. Wow. Enough said.

3) Caramel, Chocolate and Salty Peanut Popcorn. Salty, sweet goodness.

First, we pop the popcorn. I have to be honest, I typically don’t eat popcorn unless I am out at the movies or a carnival. The latter event being the more likely to happen, as I have always wanted to run away with the circus! So it will come as no surprise that I have never popped popcorn from kernels. Plus, it seems pretty old school right? The closest I have ever  gotten to that process was shaking up some Jiffy Pop. That was fun, but making it from scratch is even better! I don’t have a special formula—I literally just followed the directions on the back of the bag.

1 Popcorn Stove Ingredients

All you need is kernels, oil and pot (or popper). I just used my lovely 3-quart dutch oven, and I picked peanut oil because it does well over high heat.

2 Three Kernels

Cover the bottom of the pan with 1/8-inch 0f peanut oil.  Drop 3 kernels of popcorn in and heat with medium heat until they pop!

3 kernnels

Pop, pop, pop!

4 Adding Kernels

Add enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan. It should only be one kernel deep.

5 begining to pop

Begin shaking the pan until the kernels start to pop. My instructions earlier didn’t mention anything about covering the pan, but trust me, a lid is necessary. Otherwise the random popping of the kernels could put an eye out. “You’ll shoot your eye out, you’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” Okay, this is no laughing matter, although you would be set for ‘Talk Like A Pirate Day’, my other favorite (but random) holiday.

6 cover and shake

Cover and continue to shake the pan until popping has completed.

7 Popped Kernesl

Tah dah! How fun was that?

Now onto dressing up your popcorn! I have given you three options to choose from! Do one, or do all three. Just know that the  Rooster Ranch and Parmesan, Truffle Oil and Cracked Black Pepper are best served immediately while still warm!

Here is what you will need for Rooster Ranch:

8 Rooster Ranch Ingredients 2

Popcorn, Sriracha, dry buttermilk , dried parsley, dill weed, onion powder, onion flakes, garlic salt, salt, pepper, and dried basil. (See recipe below) I am making my own dried ranch mix, but you can always use a package of Hidden Valley Ranch if you prefer. I don’t judge.

RR collage 1
Take all dry ingredients and mix together in a bowl. For best results, place in blender or food processor, blend until smooth. Start with a tablespoon of mix and approximately 2 tablespoons of Sriracha, taste and add more to preference.

13 Mixing RR

14 Final RR 2

Mix together and garnish with extra dill and Sriracha! Cock-a-doodle-do!

If spicy is not your thing, then we can head over to savory and indulgent! Popcorn with Truffle Oil, Parmesan and Cracked Black Pepper, anyone?

Parmesan Ingredients

Popcorn, parmesan cheese, black pepper, black truffle oil, and salt!

parm collage 1

Using a microplane, grate parmesan to taste. Add freshly ground pepper and salt.Truffle oil is extremely strong, so start off with just mixing in a teaspoon at a time until desired taste is achieved.

parm collage 2

Mix and garnish with shaved parmesan!

21 final parm

Oooh, la, la. Your popcorn is so fancy!

Caramel, Chocolate and Salty Peanut Popcorn. Since I had some leftover caramel sauce from the Elvis post, I decided that I had to make a salty sweet concoction too!

Salty Sweet Ingredients 2

Caramel sauce, popcorn, salted peanuts, salt, dark chocolate chips!

collage

Heat and drizzle caramel sauce, add peanuts and melted dark chocolate. Top with salt.

collage 2

Pour into large mixing bowl and mix well.

10 Final Salty Sweet 2

Dig In!

Top 3 2. rev

Which popcorn reigns supreme? You decide, or let us know your favorite way to dress up your popcorn! (Although there is nothing wrong with eating it plain!)

Caramel Sauce

Dry Ranch Dressing Mix:

1/2 cup dry buttermilk
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container. To make ranch salad dressing combine  a tablespoon of dry mix with a cup of mayonnaise, or Greek yogurt, and a cup of milk.

October 22, 2011

How to make Coconut Long Boy Candy

by Sandy Pollock

Man o’ man do I love this candy!

Those yellow and red wrappers were on of my irresistable go-to treats on those magical days when my mom or dad would take me to Dominguez grocery in Hargill (my hometown) and say those beautiful words that every kid lives for: Go pick out some candy!

The phrase still fills my heart with joy!

Childhood passes quickly, and it’s the small memories that end up meaning the most. I remember so clearly grabbing a handful of Coconut Long Boys, then placing them on the tall countertop so Mrs. Dominguez could ring them up and put them in a tiny brown paper bag that was just for me (and not my dumb sisters!) It was just about as good as it could get.

Sadly, Dominguez Grocery has long since gone out of business, and we lost Mrs. Dominguez a few years ago, but simple memories like this help keep me from roaming too far from home.

Crystal and I had tossed around the idea of a series of blog post where we recreate things we loved as a child. So, when this candy popped into my head not long ago, I became obsessed with finding a recipe for these sweet treats. And I was totally successful! (Thank you so much Athena Hessong!)

Here is a step-by-step tutorial on making them yourself! Do it! Who knows, maybe you’ll love them too?

Gather these things! (full recipe at the bottom of the post)

    1/2 cup heavy cream

    1/2 cup sugar

    1/4 cup light corn syrup

    1/4 tsp. salt

    1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

    2 tbsp. butter

    2 cup flaked, sweetened coconut

You’ll also need: 10″ square baking pan lined with wax paper, heavy saucepan, wooden spoon, candy thermometer, pastry brush, sharp knife, and additional wax paper or candy wrappers for wrapping, cut into 5-inch squares.

Place the sugar, cream, corn syrup, and salt into the saucepan

Heat the pan over medium heat, stirring to combine and dissolve the sugar. Use a wooden spoon (not metal) to stir so that the heat from the cooking caramel will not travel up the spoon and burn you.

Put 2 tbsp. butter into the mixture and bring the pot up to a boil over medium high heat.

Stop stirring as soon as you see the mixture boiling.


Wait for the caramel to reach 248 degrees or above on the candy thermometer. Getting so close!


Remove the pan from the heat as soon as it reaches 248 degrees. Add the vanilla and flaked coconut and stir thoroughly to combine.

Stir!

Full disclosure moment! The paper did not work. I spent more time trying to peel that paper off the back side of my candy! Next time I will omit the paper and just lightly spray the pan.

I could totally get up in this with a spoon and never regret it.

Spread out the mixture, and let it cool for 30 minutes on the counter, or 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Do not let it cool completely or the caramels will be too hard to roll.

Cut the caramel in the pan into 1-inch-long strips.

Remove a strip from the pan and roll it out into a rope about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Use a knife to cut the rope into 3-inch sections. Repeat making the individual candies with the other caramel strips.

Cut the wax paper into 5-inch squares

Wrap each coconut candy by rolling it up in the center of the paper and twisting the excess paper on either side to close.



Too cute!



Coconut Long Boys! (original recipe courtesy of Athena Hessong)

Instructions

  • 10″ square baking pan lined with wax paper
  • Heavy saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Candy thermometer (includes a clip on the side)
  • Pastry brush
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cup flaked, sweetened coconut (you can also use unsweetened if available)
  • Sharp knife
  • Additional wax paper or candy wrappers for wrapping, cut into 5-inch squares

Place the sugar, cream, corn syrup and salt into the saucepan.

Heat the pan over medium heat, stirring to combine and dissolve the sugar. Use a wooden spoon (not metal) to stir so that the heat from the cooking caramel will not travel up the spoon and burn you.

Put 2 tbsp. butter into the mixture and bring the pot up to a boil over medium high heat.

Stop stirring as soon as you see the mixture boiling. Wait for the caramel to reach 248 degrees or above on the candy thermometer.

Remove the pan from the heat as soon as it reaches 248 degrees. Add the vanilla and flaked coconut and stir thoroughly to combine.

Pour the caramel into the pan, and let it cool for 30 minutes on the counter, or 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Do not let it cool completely or the caramels will be too hard to roll.

Cut the caramel in the pan into 1-inch-long strips.

Remove a strip from the pan and roll it out into a rope about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Use a knife to cut the rope into 3-inch sections. Repeat making the individual candies with the other caramel strips.

Cut the wax paper into 5-inch squares and wrap each coconut candy by rolling it up in the center of the paper and twisting the excess paper on either side to close.

Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan so that the tip is inside the mixture at the bottom but not touching the sides or bottom of the saucepan.

Another option

After telling you all of that, I should let you know that Coconut Long Boys are still manufactured today by Atkinson Candy in Lufkin, Texas and can still be purchased HERE!

Probably should have told you that before, but I really want you to make them for yourself! 🙂

Have a great day!

March 25, 2011

Blame it on the Merry Mushroom Pattern.

by Crystal Cook

The other day I opened up my cupboard to find an old friend. Underneath the piles of Pyrex, the gleaming gold and orange of the mushroom detail caught my eye. “No,” I said. “Risotto is just way too time consuming. It’s late in the day and I don’t think I have the energy.”

“But you miss me, don’t you?”

“Yes, my little mushroom dish. Yes, I do. Let me pour a glass of wine  and we will cook.”

Mushroom Risotto with Spinach and Bacon

  • 6 cups of organic chicken broth
  • 8 slices of center-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2  tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 ounces baby portobella mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 5 ounces oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 1.5 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 5 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2-cup grated fresh Asiago cheese
  • 1/2-cup grated fresh Parmaesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. First, do your self a favor and have everything prepped. Risotto does not like it when you step a way from it for any length of time.
  2. Bring organic chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan (do not boil the broth). Keep warm over low heat.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon to pan; cook until crisp. Remove the bacon from pan, leaving the drippings in the pan. Add oil,  shallots, parsley, thyme and garlic to drippings in the pan. Cook 5 minutes or until shallots are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in mushrooms; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rice and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in dry sherry; cook 1 minute or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup of broth; cook 4 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25-30 minutes total). Stir in spinach; cook 1 minute or until all is wilted.  Remove from heat; stir in cheeses, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped bacon.
  4. Dig in, you earned this meal!
March 5, 2011

Tomato Basil Soup

by Sandy Pollock

It’s COLD in DC (where I live) and for a Texas girl, that can get old very quickly. I find that I am on a constant hunt for warm delicious things that will make the bitter cold more bearable.

The other day I got it into my mind that the only thing in the world that could make the snow melt and the sun come out was tomato basil soup. Its seemed the perfect solution for my winter blahs. I came across this recipe from Barefoot Contessa and decided to give it a shot.

Roasting the tomatoes makes such a difference in the flavor. I am a very warm and happy camper. Let me know what you think of this recipe.

Gather the ingredients:

3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 cups chopped yellow onions (approx. 2 onions)

6 garlic cloves, minced

3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

28 oz. canned diced tomatoes with their juices

4 cups of fresh basil leaves, packed

1 tsp thyme leaves

1 quart (4 cups) chicken stock

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt +pepper.

Spread the tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes at 400 degree F.

Rough chop onion and garlic.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot.

Add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes to the oil and saute until they start to brown a bit.

Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme and chicken stock.

Then add the oven roasted-tomatoes and include any of the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and then simmer (uncovered) for 40 minutes.

The soup is very hot and blending can be tricky if you try to overfill the blender.

Blending in small batches is the key. Don’t fill blender much more than halfway up.

Also, the lid of your blender has a plastic removable plug. Removing this will allow steam to escape. Cover this whole up with a sexy dish towel and get to blending.

Pretty.

Serve with bread and watch the snow melt and the sun come out!

February 19, 2011

So Wrong? So Right?

by Crystal Cook

From serving as a trusty side-kick to your toaster, to elegant serve ware for your table, who wouldn’t want this amazing vintage toast rack? Chances are you probably already have one, unknowingly re-purposing it for a way to organize mail or bills. Silly rabbit, toast holders are for toast–not post!

But what do you think? Is this toast holder so wrong or so right?

Oh and PS. Ignore that adorable condiment jar the jelly is in…that, my friends, is an entirely different post!

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