Martha Mondays: Caramel Corn

June 21, 2010

Today’s project, Caramel Corn from July Living was chosen by Teresa at A Homemade Iowa Life. I’ve never made caramel corn and the kids love it, so this was a great project to try.

It was easier than I expected. You pop 12 cups of popped corn and mix 1 1/2 cups of beer nuts (or salted peanuts which is what I used). Melt 1 stick plus 2 tbsp butter and add 1 3/4 cups brown sugar, 1/3 cup light corn syrup, 1/2 tsp salt and cook to 248 degrees. Add 1/4 tsp baking soda and toss with the popcorn. Then bake at 250 for 40 minutes, stirring a few times. Not a lot of work and it turned out nicely. It tastes great. The only caveat I would offer is to make sure you separate out all of the unpopped corn. I make mine in the microwave and always have some that doesn’t pop. It gets mixed into the caramel and is not nice to chew if you don’t get it all out before adding the caramel. Thumbs up on this one!

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Puffed Rice Bars with PB and Chocolate

June 18, 2010

Dear Martha – you really confused me with this recipe from July Everyday Food. This recipe calls for “puffed rice cereal.” I am pretty sure you mean crispy rice cereal, not puffed rice cereal. I don’t even know if they actually sell puffed rice anymore, although I do remember having it as a kid. Puffed rice is not really crunchy. So I just assumed you really meant Rice Krispie cereal and went with that.

This is a Rice Krispie treat recipe, kicked up with peanut butter, chocolate and peanuts. You melt 3 tbsp butter, 4 cups mini marshmallows and 1/3 cup peanut butter then stir in 6 cups of the cereal. Put half in a square baking pan and cover with half of your melted chocolate (12 oz choc chips melted). Cover with the rest of the rice mix then pour on the rest of the chocolate and sprinkle with 1/4 cup roasted peanuts.

My kids are fiends for Rice Krispie treats. I made a batch of plain ones when I made this and they disappeared in less than 12 hours. They aren’t excited about Martha’s recipe though. I thought it was pretty darn good, but I guess they’re purists! This is an easy way to make a dessert that takes little effort but looks like some time went into it. I will eat anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter, and this was really good in my opinion!

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Martha on Demand: Veggie Burgers

June 17, 2010

As part of my new Martha on Demand initiative, I recently asked readers of this blog to tell me what Martha recipes they would like me to test out for them. There was an overwhelming number of people who asked for veggie burgers. Stephanie in particular requested the veggie burgers in the July issue of Everyday Food and others chimed in saying any veggie burger recipe would be great.  Thanks to all of you who requested it, I gave this recipe a try.

Things did not start off well in the grocery store! I could not find bulgur. I ended up buying a tabbouleh mix, which has bulgur and then spices in an envelope inside. You start by soaking 1/2 cup bulgur in 1 cup boiling water for 30 min. Then you drain it. Coarsely chop 1 can of drained and rinsed pinto beans and add to the bulgur. Shred 2 carrots and add that and an egg. Also add 1 thinly sliced scallion and salt and pepper and 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese.

The recipe says to measure 1/2 cup of the mix as one burger and smush it with a spatula to the right thickness. It was supposed to make 4 burgers, but I ended up with 5. You cook them in a pan with a little olive oil. My mix was really kind of mushy and didn’t hold together too well. The recipe says to cook 3 min per side. Mine took about 20 min before they were cooked through, but I had them all in one large pan so the heat was not very direct. I did successfully transfer most of it to buns. The recipe says to put avocado and bean sprouts on the bun. I used Miracle Whip and avocado.

They looked pretty decent – nicely browned. They tasted really bland though. There’s nothing in them to give them any flavor. It just tasted like plain beans. At the very least this needed onion or garlic and some other seasonings – herbs of some kind. I don’t think I would make this again. It was a lot of work with not much taste, unfortunately! A big disappointment. My kids hated it, but they aren’t veggie burger fans in general. I love Gardenburgers, but this didn’t measure up at all.

I’ll be making some of the other Martha on Demand requests made on the other thread in my continuing Martha on Demand series, but if you have any requests, go ahead and post them here. I’m always open to suggestions and it’s great when people post specific Martha recipes they want me to try.

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Strawberry Shortcake Secret

June 16, 2010

It’s strawberry season – so short and so sweet! I bought two quarts of local strawberries over the weekend and *had* to make strawberry shortcake. I make my mom’s wonderful recipe which is very unique. Most people make strawberry shortcake like a biscuit or cake. Not my mom! Her main complaint with those types is that the cake or biscuit gets wet and soggy. So she devised a shortbread-like shortcake that is out of this world. It’s also amazingly simple to make. The strawberries sit on top and the “cake” stays crunchy, while absorbing much of the juice. The whipped cream is completely optional – this is so good you don’t need it, but I know the dessert isn’t complete for some people without it!

Mom’s Strawberry Shortcake

1 1/2 quarts strawberries

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar plus extra

1 tsp salt

12 tbsp butter, room temp

4 tsp grated lemon zest

2 eggs, separated

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp cold water

Preheat the oven to 400.  Combine butter, sugar and lemon zest (you can use a food processor or do it by hand). Add the 2 egg yolks, vanilla and water, then add dry ingredients. Press dough out onto a baking sheet covered in parchment until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Brush the top with egg white and sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake for 12 minutes until lightly brown.

Hull and slice the strawberries and mix with 4 tbsp sugar. If you want whipped cream, I always whip my cream then add in some vanilla and a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar to sweeten it.

Break the shortcake into pieces and serve with strawberries and whipped cream on top.

As another variation, sometimes if I am making this in the food processor, I add some chocolate chips, which get chopped up into tiny pieces and are a nice addition.

This recipe feed 4 strawberry shortcake pigs in my house, so it can definitely be used to feed at least 6 normal people in your house!

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MSC Cupcake Club: Strawberry Cupcakes

June 15, 2010

Strawberry cupcakes! What a thought. This is a perfect pick for June. I’ve made strawberry muffins before, but not strawberry cupcakes. This recipe is from Martha Stewart’s cupcake book and is the June selection for the MSC Cupcake Club.

The cupcake batter was lovely and wonderful tasting – I could have eaten a bowl just of that. Sigh. They baked up nicely. I was hesitant about the frosting – strawberry buttercream. I tend not to do well with Martha’s frostings, but I went for it. It’s a basic buttercream with pureed strawberries added at the end. I took my time and it turned out well I thought. I didn’t get out the cake decorating tips – ugh. Instead I just sort of free-form glopped frosting on top of these. They looked cute I thought. They tasted pretty good too. They got a thumbs up from everyone, except Teen Martha, who wouldn’t even try one because “I don’t like fruit in my cupcakes.” My only complaint was that they weren’t chocolate! They were moist and did taste like strawberry. Now I have a refrigerator full of cupcakes which I am quickly going to give away so they don’t end up on my hips!

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Martha Mondays: 6/21

June 14, 2010

The Martha Mondays pick for 6/21 is caramel corn on page 151 of July Living. If you need the recipe, let me know. This was chosen by Teresa at Homemade Iowa Life.

Martha Mondays: Turkey Burgers

June 14, 2010

Thanks to Pru at Perfecting Pru for this week’s pick. I like turkey burgers, but find that they can be dry unless you really doctor them up by putting stuff in them. I was intrigued by this recipe – sour cream and mango chutney seemed like interesting additions!

I had a hard time finding mango chutney. In England it’s pretty popular, but not here! I finally stumbled upon a lone bottle in the European foods section. The only kind my store had was “hot”.

This was easy to mix up. It also includes some ripped up bread which was sort of an interesting addition as well. I froze the burgers and then cooked them in the oven as directed. I served them on whole wheat rolls with some mayo and lettuce.

These were good and the family liked them. I wasn’t too wild about the chutney. I used only half of the amount directed because I was afraid of it being too spicy. This tasted a lot like a coronation chicken sandwich I had at a rest stop on the highway in England and I wasn’t too wild about that sandwich either! The mango chutney is a flavor that is unfamiliar to me.

I ate the leftover burger the next day and put some sliced avocado on the roll and melted some Swiss cheese on it and it was much better. Somehow I didn’t taste the chutney as much and I liked it a lot more.

I don’t think I would use mango chutney again, but the sour cream and bread were interesting additions which I will use again, so this was a good recipe since it taught me those two tricks!

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Martha On Demand

June 10, 2010

I’ve decided to shake things up a bit. I’m officially calling on you (yes, you, anyone who reads this blog!) to tell me what Martha recipes you want me to make. I’d love to get reader suggestions and then I’ll do one a week or so. I’m thinking I’ll occasionally post a call for suggestions to keep the well filled. I’ll try to do one recipe every week and will post my results here for all to see. So if there’s a Martha recipe you’ve been wanting to try and wondered if it was any good, leave me a comment and I’ll test drive it for you. Simple or complicated, it doesn’t matter.

I would especially love it if you would spread the word. Here’s a tweet that could be posted:

@MarthaAndMeBlog is doing #Martha on Demand – tell her what you want her to make!

Or feel free to Facebook it. The more input the better.

When life gives you limes…

June 9, 2010

Teen Martha has recently discovered lime. She had some lime ice (like lemon ice) one night and then had a lime cooler somewhere else, so I jumped on the recipe in June Living for limeade. I like the flavor of lime in food, so I thought this would be a fun new drink.

I squeezed two pounds of limes. They seem to make more juice than lemons.  I mixed it up in the proportions in the recipe (2 1/2 cups juice – I actually had less than this since it was all my limes made, 4 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar). Holy cow it was sour! So I added more water and sugar, over and over. Eventually I had a gallon of the stuff with probably 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar and I just gave up.  No one liked it. It was just too sour no matter what I did to it. Maybe the problem is that this recipe is on a page of cocktails that are based on the limeade and perhaps Martha does not intend for one to drink the limeade plain? I don’t know, but it was disappointing.

Martha and Me and Ina

June 8, 2010

I’m in a quick-cooking mode as life continues to be completely crazy with games, concerts, award ceremonies, and doctor and dentist appointments – not to mention a completely packed work schedule. I’m throwing together dinners left and right here. My latest entry into the “throw together dinner” category is a salad I whipped up. Once in a while I like to make a big salad for dinner, but it has to include protein. I remembered I had a bag of shrimp, so I got it out and defrosted it (dump the frozen shrimp in a colander and put it in a sink of warm water and it will defrost in minutes). I remembered a trick I saw Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, do on her show. She was talking about how she likes to serve shrimp cocktail, but finds that if you boil shrimp it is watery and flavorless. So she roasts her shrimp with olive oil and garlic. I gave it a try – putting the peeled shrimp on a baking tray with 2 chopped cloves of garlic, sprinkling with olive oil and salt and pepper. I roasted it at 400 for about 4 minutes and the shrimp was done and lovely looking.

For the salads, I started with a bed of Boston lettuce. Then I just dug in the fridge and found a red pepper, some baby carrots, snap peas, smoked Havarti cheese, and cucumber. I added the shrimp on top. Then I took Martha’s recipe for Green Goddess dip in June Living and modified it into a dressing. I used half an avocado and 1/2 cup of buttermilk. I whizzed that up and then dumped in 1 tsp of Green Goddess seasoning I have from Penzey’s Spice House. I added 1 tsp lemon juice and 1/4 tsp sugar and some salt and pepper. I poured it on top and that was dinner. I served the Herbed Flatbread from yesterday’s post with it. I thought the dinner was fantastic. The shrimp had a wonderful flavor, so I will definitely be using this method again. I loved the Green Goddess dressing – no surprise since I love avocados. Mr. MarthaAndMe was not as much of a fan. It’s hard to get him to eat a salad in general (unless it’s loaded with Caesar dressing). He thought the lettuce was bitter. It was local lettuce, which I find tends to be a bit bitter in early summer. So he didn’t appreciate my lovely salad. Teen Martha wasn’t home and Dude Martha picked at some but didn’t really eat it. Oh well. I guess I’ll stick to making salads for lunch.

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