Homemade Peppermint Patties

I’ve made these once before and they are actually better than the store bought kind.  No lie!  AND they’re super easy with simple ingredients (except maybe the peppermint extract but that’s easy enough to get!).

I use a couple of recipes combined because they all seem to be missing something.  This link is the basic recipe.  However, I find that I use closer to 6 cups of confectioner’s sugar (maybe even a little more because the dough needs to be pretty stiff). 

After mixing the dough, split the dough in half and roll each half into a log.  It should be about 1 1/4″ wide… It doesn’t matter how long it is.  You’re gonna cut slices out of the log about every 1/4″.  After you cut them, they’ll still be soft so form them back into circles and place them on wax paper or parchment paper.  After you have them all cut (I get about 50 of them) let them sit out for an hour (just out on the counter is fine).  Then flip them all over and let them sit for another hour.  I think letting them sit and dry out is how they get the same type of consistency you get with the store bought kind.

After they’ve sat for the two hours, go ahead and melt your chocolate with shortening and dip them all.  They are a lot easier to dip if they’re not much bigger than the fork you use to dip them & shake them off. 

I decorated a few of mine with marzipan decorations I made for Thanksgiving (and a couple of roses for my Mom!)
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World’s Worst Pie Crust!

Even calling it pie crust is a huge stretch.  I don’t like calling out recipes that don’t turn out right for me but I checked and double checked myself on this one and I followed the recipe exactly.
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My usual pie crust is made with butter.  I love it, it’s perfect and I have no desire to ever use another.

That being said, I didn’t set out to make a pie crust with this recipe… The actual recipe is for ‘meat hand pies‘ so in order to achieve the best results, I was following the recipe to a “T”.  The only thing I can think that went wrong is that I didn’t chill the shortening first.  I know to do this with my butter crust recipe but since this recipe is different because it’s hand held pies, I thought maybe the flakiness factor would be different (and maybe I’m wrong but I thought the chilled butter made the crust flaky).  The recipe didn’t specify chilled shortening but maybe you’re just supposed to know that?

This crust worked perfectly in the food processor.  I drizzled the ice cold water in just like you’re supposed to and it clumped into a ball just like it’s supposed to.  I took it out, wrapped it in plastic wrap and chilled it.

When I took it out is when things got ugly.  I tried rolling it out but it wouldn’t roll.  It just tore.  I tried several times with no luck so I gave up on the idea of hand held meat pies.  I mashed it into a pie plate.  Literally.  Because that’s the only way I could do anything with it.  I took clumps and pieced it all together until the pie plate was covered.  I put the filling in and then, because there was no way I could cover it, I made it into strips and draped it on top. 

I was pretty proud of myself because even though it was ridiculous dough, I made it work.  The lattice on top wasn’t correct because I didn’t weave it but trust me, that stuff wasn’t going to let me do that!   I went ahead and baked it like normal, thinking regardless of how hard it was to work with, it would still taste decent.

Omg how wrong I was!!!  When I touched the baked dough, it pulverized!  It turned into sawdust all over the place.  It tasted nasty!  I had to pry the top off and then scoop out the meat filling so my family could eat.  (I cooked up some rice to toss the meat mixture on.) (I couldn’t just give them meat filling!)

That was one meal with a lot of transformations… Meat hand pies to pot pie to meat filling with rice!

Does anyone know if this is typical when working with shortening in a pie crust?  Or is that what happens when the shortening isn’t chilled?  Btw, the shortening I used was Crisco Baking Sticks (butter flavor).  I did check the package too and it’s fresh… Good until July 2015! 

I made vegetable stock!!

Making stock seemed intimidating to me but I watched Chef Anne Burrell make a chicken stock & she made it look so easy… So I figured I’d try vegetable stock because it’s most of the same ingredients minus the chicken (I would’ve tried chicken stock but I didn’t have any chicken bones).

I used this Martha Stewart Vegetable Stock recipe (I chose this one because she has you sweat the veggies first and Chef Anne Burrell says that sweating boosts the flavor!).  Don’t do exactly what Martha says though… I did and wound up with browned onions at first because of the heat being too high.  You shouldn’t have browned veggies when you sweat them.  Lower the heat!

I didn’t add parsnips or swiss chard like Martha says to add… Mostly because I didn’t have any (I don’t think I’ve ever even had a parsnip!).  I’m sure they add great flavor but this stock came out really nice without them.  I used dried herbs too.  I’m sure fresh would be a lot better but I’m just getting my fresh herb collection started and right now I only have sweet basil and garlic chives.
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Honestly the hardest part about making stock is straining it.  And that’s not that hard, it just uses a few extra things you have to wash.  After I strained it first with my large colander, I strained it with my small-meshed strainer.  Then, because I didn’t have cheese cloth, I did my last strain using coffee filters.  I thought it was a little bit overkill at first but there actually were herbs & vegetable puree that I filtered out!
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The smell of this stock was so good, I was absolutely shocked how easy it was and that it was something I made, from scratch!
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Part of the stock after three strains, ready to freeze!

I made vegetable soup for dinner with some of the stock.  It was DELISH!

Caramelized Onion and Bacon ‘Tart’

Well… not EXACTLY a tart because I don’t have a tart pan… But I tried to make it look like a tart…
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(That’s my attempt at making a pie look like a tart)

This was a great recipe and although it was easy, it took me a while.  I don’t know why either… My pie (tart) crust took no time at all because my husband got me a food processor for my birthday and it takes about a minute to make pie crust with it!!  Best invention ever, even if you only use it for pie crust!  (Oh sorry, I mean tart crust.)

Anyway, the link to the recipe is here.  Basically you cut bacon into 1/2″ pieces and fry them. 
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You take the bacon out of the pan and almost all of the bacon grease but leave a tablespoon because you’ll be frying 4 small onions in that grease.
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You fry them over medium high heat for about 8 minutes & then add some thyme (tablespoon) & salt (pinch).  Then you reduce the heat to medium low and cook them until they’re really brown and soft (the recipe says 20 minutes but I took them off the heat before that because I was getting scared they would burn) (and actually before that I added two tablespoons of butter for the same reason!).

While that’s going on, take a cup of whole milk ricotta & an egg yolk, a little thyme, a pinch of salt & 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and mix them all together.  Spread that mixture evenly across the tart shell.
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Sprinkle the onions over the cheese mixture.
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Sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese over the onions.  Then top with the crispy crumbled bacon.
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Then you bake it at 350° for 30-40 minutes (until the edge of the mixture starts to brown).

You might have to double check the recipe for the baking part because I haven’t put it in the oven yet so I might not have memorized that exactly… But I can’t wait!  I love bacon & onion together… And ricotta too?  Oh man, this is gonna be good!!!!

I was too excited to share this so that’s why I’m posting even before I’ve tried it.  How could it be bad?!?

Ok so I had to edit so I could tell you how unbelievably good this was!!!! It’s absolutely delicious… Heavenly actually!!! And to post pics after baking…
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Working with Marzipan

I’ve been wanting to try working with Marzipan for a while now but I couldn’t find it.  The other night we went to the grocery store and there it was!  Apparently it’s something they only carry for the holidays. 

I thought it would be fun to make cute little animals with it but felt I should start with something easier since I’ve never been good at sculpting cute little animals :/

I watched two videos on YouTube about making a Marzipan rose and guess what?  It’s super easy!  Even I can do it!  I think it came out pretty good and it took me less than 5 minutes (not including coloring the dough).  Marzipan is so much easier to work with than fondant… I might actually try making cute little animals!!!

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Chicken, Broccoli & Cauliflower Casserole

I love casseroles!  Sometimes there’s a lot of prep and washing dishes but I can get it done ahead of time and not spend all night cleaning.  Also, they’re versatile – there are endless combinations of things you can put together.  And, above all they’re comfort food and who doesn’t love a little comfort food?

I have a recipe for a broccoli/cauliflower side dish that I love.  I don’t know where I got it but I suspect my dad gave it to me (where he got it, who knows!).  A while ago I decided I wanted to make it as a main dish.  I had leftover rice in the refrigerator so I threw that in and I added some chicken.  I knew it would be good because the original recipe was good – but it was better than good.  My family (even the youngest who hates broccoli) loved it and devoured it. 

I made it again last night and thought I’d share it.  I can’t take credit for this recipe and I’m sorry I can’t give credit to the original creator!

Here it is, ready to go in the oven:

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Chicken, Broccoli & Cauliflower Casserole

4 cooked chicken breast halves, cut up
2-3 cups cooked rice
1 large onion, chopped
3 eggs
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 box of chicken stuffing (I used Stove Top)
Butter or margarine (whatever the stuffing mix requires)
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 head of broccoli (pre-cooked & chopped)
1 head of cauliflower (pre-cooked & chopped)

Note:  if you have pre-cooked chicken and rice and frozen broccoli & cauliflower, this recipe is a breeze!  (I didn’t so I had to do all the prep work.) (It’s so worth it though!)

Put the onion, mayonnaise, eggs & soups into a blender or food processor and puree.

Mix the broccoli, cauliflower & chicken pieces together.  Layer half on the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.  Spread half the rice on top of the veggies & chicken.  Next goes half the cheese.  Then half the soup mixture.  Repeat all the layers.  Now make the stuffing and sprinkle it across the top.

Bake at 350° for an hour (I had mine in the refrigerator all day so it will undoubtedly take less time if you put it directly in the oven).  It’s done when it’s all hot and bubbly around the edges.

This fed my family of 4 and we had leftovers so you could probably feed 6 with it. 

Close up pics of the deliciousness:

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Yum.  I want more.  Good thing we had leftovers!!

Rainy Saturday & Corn Dog Muffins

As I sit here this Saturday watching Brunch at Bobby’s on the Cooking channel, I realize I didn’t post anything about the birthday dinner I made for my stepson. 

I didn’t do anything crazy for dinner – just fun kid food (it was his 11th birthday). 

I made corn dog muffins and homemade macaroni & cheese.  I’ve made the macaroni & cheese before (I posted it a while back) but the corn dog muffins were new to me.  I didn’t use a recipe – I had just seen them on Pinterest and thought it was a cute idea… And easy because I used Jiffy corn muffin mix.

I can’t remember how they put the hotdogs in the muffins on Pinterest but I suspect they did it differently than how I did it… I didn’t notice how ‘odd’ they looked until I saw the pics.  Lol. See if you agree…

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