Saltine Toffee

For awhile, I’ve heard my mom rave about this recipe, but I’ve been skeptical. We’ve been visiting my family for the past week, and she made a batch for us to sample.  I can’t be sure, but it’s entirely possible that I consumed at least half. Addicting stuff!!! And super easy to make. Would make an easy and delish treat for the holidays and for gift giving.

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Saltine Toffee

1 sleeve Saltine crackers
1 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c white chocolate chips
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350. Line a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and spray foil heavily with nonstick cooking spray.

Place saltines, side-by-side, in a single layer on foil.

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Pour over crackers.

Bake for 5 minutes or until crackers float and sugar mixture bubbles. Remove from oven, and turn off oven.

Sprinkle white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips on top & spread as it melts (Return to warm oven to complete melting, if needed).

Allow chocolate to harden. (Place cookie sheet in fridge or freezer to speed the hardening process, if desired). Break apart and serve.

Pumpkin Dessert

Time for some LONG overdue posts.

This is a recipe my Grandma H used to make. I remember the first time I tried it. It made quite the impression.

I haven’t made it in years, but recently prepared it for my husband’s family while visiting them. They loved it, too, and it was quick–very quick–to vanish.

Fall 173ed

Pumpkin Dessert

Crust:
1 yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup for topping)
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg

Set aside 1 cup of cake mix and reserve for topping. Mix remaining cake mix, butter, & egg. Spread into greased  9 x 13 pan.

Filling:
1 quart pumpkin (I use the big 29 oz can)
6 egg yolks or 3 whole eggs
1/2 c brown sugar
3/4 c sugar
1 c cream or evaporated milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla

Beat pumpkin in separate bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Pour over cake mixture.

Topping:
1 c yellow cake mix (reserved from above)
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T butter, melted

Cool Whip or Whipped Cream

Mix cake mix, brown sugar & butter well. Sprinkle over filling.

Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes until toothpick inserted into pumpkin layer comes out clean. Top individual servings while still warm with whipped cream or Cool Whip.

Creamy Lemon Bars

This is a REALLY yummy treat I served at our 4th of July barbeque. I had lots and lots of requests for the recipe & really wish I had doubled the recipe. By the end of the party, there was one, lone lemon bar left on the plate. Fortunately, three friends came up with a non-violent way to share it amongst themselves.

Mom, I think you should definitely try these. They aren’t as “egg-y” as other lemon bars, so I think you’ll like them.

Creamy Lemon Bars

Creamy Lemon Bars
from Our Best Bites

20 Nilla Wafers, finely crushed
1/2 cup All-Purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold real butter
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese (you can use 1/3-less fat cream cheese)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. flour
3 Tbsp. grated lemon peel, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (don’t even think about opening a bottle!)
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Spray lightly with non-stick spray and set aside. (The foil isn’t too pretty, but it makes clean-up and cutting the bars a cinch!)

In a bowl, combine Nilla Wafer crumbs, 1/2 cup flour and the brown sugar. Chop butter into small pieces and then cut into crumb mixture with a pastry blender. If you don’t have a pastry blender, just use 2 knives, or even your fingers to break up the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min.

While crust is cooking, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 2 Tbsp. flour, and baking powder; mix well. Blend in 1 Tbsp. lemon zest, and lemon juice and then pour mixture over crust.

Bake 25 to 30 min. or until center is set. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. These bars improve with time. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and remaining 2 Tbsp. grated lemon peel just before cutting into squares to serve. Store leftover squares in refrigerator. (As if you’ll have leftovers!)

Butterscotch Blondies

I served these at our 4th of July barbeque and at a subsequent pool party. They were such a hit, and several people requested the recipe.  I figured it was worth a quick blog post to share with everyone.

Butterscotch Blondies

Butterscotch Blondies
from yourhomebasedmom.com

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cups butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 13 x 9 pan.  Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large bowl until creamy.  Add eggs; beat well.  Stir together flour, baking soda and salt;  gradually add to butter mixture, blending well.  Stir in butterscotch chips and nuts, if desired.  Spread into prepared pan.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown and center is set.  Do not overbake.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into bars.

Sugar Cookies with Almond Icing

When it comes to sugar cookies, I’m very particular. I like thick, soft, dense, moist cookies with lots of icing.  Crunchy cookies have their place, but I don’t believe that frosted sugar cookies fall into that category.

My dear friend, Alicia, shared this cookie recipe with me several years ago, and I’ve never looked back. I love it! The icing recipe comes from the kitchen of my cousin, Jan. The almond extract in both the cookie and the icing is the secret weapon!

Alicia tells me that she’s substituted strawberry flavoring for the almond extract, and that was yummy, too. If you decide to substitute the almond extract for another flavor, I would suggest substituting the same flavor for the almond extract in the icing.

I included these on my Valentine goody plates, and I’ve some requests for the recipe, so here it is Ladies!

Sugar Cookies

Alicia’s Sugar Cookies

1-1/2  c sugar
1 c butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract (or any other flavor)
4-1/2 c AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Cream sugar, butter, and eggs until smooth. Add flavorings. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Once combined, add to wet ingredients until combined.

Chill dough for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

Divide chilled dough in half. Roll out dough into a 1/4-inch thick circle. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Continue to roll out all dough until it has all been used (or eaten). 😉

Bake 6-8 minutes. Let cool on pan for a few minutes to complete the cooking. Transfer to wire rack.

Cool completely before frosting.

Jan’s Almond Icing

1/2 c butter, softened
3 c powdered sugar
1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2  – 1 tsp almond extract (or any other flavoring)

Beat all ingredients and keep firm but spreadable. Add more powdered sugar if needed.

Ginger Chicken and Broccoli

After all the recent sweet and caloric posts, I thought I’d share a savory, light, healthy option. Serve it without the rice, and you’ve got a delicious, low carb entree–perfect for Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet.

This is a copycat recipe for a dish served at P.F. Chang’s that I love.  There are so many items on their menu that I love to indulge in–Mongolian Beef, Crispy Honey Shrimp, Crab Wontons, Asian Lettuce Wraps, the Great Wall of Chocolate…the list goes on and on.

ginger-chicken

Ginger Chicken and Broccoli
by Chef Robert Nance of of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Recipe on mysweetconnection.com

Yield: 3-4 Servings

Marinade for Chicken Slices:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
2 eggs
2 T cornstarch
2 T vegetable oil
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Sauce:
1/2 c soy sauce (Note: I used low sodium soy sauce)
2 T rice vinegar
2 T sugar
(Note: I used Splenda)
1/2 c chicken stock

Vegetables & Aromatics:
2 T minced ginger
2 T minced scallions
1 T minced garlic
1/2 pound broccoli, trimmed to 2″ – 3″ florets

Finishing Touches:
4 T (1/4 c) cornstarch
1/2 c water
1 tsp Pure Sesame Oil

Procedure:
Combine marinade ingredients and let chicken slices marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

In a seasoned wok or skillet place 1 ½ pints of chicken stock or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.

Carefully place marinated chicken slices into the simmering liquid. Carefully separate with a pair of chop sticks to cook evenly about 2/3 of the way (approx. 2-3 minutes).

Remove chicken from liquid and drain.

At this point you can either cook the broccoli until “tender crisp” in the liquid you cooked the chicken in, or steam the broccoli until “tender crisp” in a steamer. (Note: I steamed the broccoli in my fabulous Pampered Chef Microwave Steamer).

Assemble cooked broccoli in a ring pattern onto your serving plate. Keep warm.

Combine sauce ingredients, and set aside.

Drain liquid from wok, clean thoroughly and heat 3 T. of vegetable oil in the bottom.

Stir-fry the ginger scallions and garlic on medium heat until the flavors and aromas are released, about 5 to 8 seconds.

Add sauce to ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Add the cooked chicken back in while stirring and cooking until tender and cooked through about 2-3 minutes. *Always use an internal thermometer to attain a temperature of 165 F° and higher for poultry.

While sauce is simmering, combine cornstarch and water. Add half of the cornstarch mixture to the sauce to thicken. Cook briefly and check consistency. Sauce should coat the back of a spoon. You can add more cornstarch mixture is needed.

Taste sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.

Drizzle with sesame oil and pour chicken with sauce into the center of the broccoli ring.

Serve with steamed white or brown rice or noodles.

Chocolate Cake

It is probably impossible to count the number of these cakes that my grandma has made in her lifetime. It is the one that the family most often requests for birthdays and special occasions. I just celebrated my birthday, and Grandma came through with another scrumptious chocolate cake.

grandmas-chocolate-cake

Cake:
1 Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix
1-1/3 c. coffee
(Grandma likes Folgers Classic Roast – Instant)
½ c. canola oil
3 large eggs
¾ T butter flavoring
1 scant tsp vanilla flavoring

Preheat oven to according to package instructions.  Spray pan(s) with nonstick cooking spray.

Sift cake mix (or at least run beaters thru the mix to break up clumps).  Add all other ingredients.  Mix on low until moistened (about 30 seconds).  Mix on medium for 2 minutes.  (Can be a 2- or 3-layer cake). Bake according to package instructions.  Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
1 – 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
½ c butter or margarine, softened
¼ – ½ tsp salt
5-6 T cocoa
1 T butter flavoring
1 scant tsp vanilla flavoring
5 c powdered sugar
coffee

Mix cream cheese, butter or margarine, salt, and cocoa until smooth.  Add butter and vanilla flavorings.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  If too thick, thin by gradually adding small amounts of coffee.  Grandma says, “A little goes a long way.”  Grandma tip:  Dip knife in coffee when smoothing frosting after applying it to the cake.