A’Tempting’ Tuesday: Ooey, Gooey and Good!

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This recipe ranks at the top of my list of yummy desserts.  The ingredients just go together.  Remember the old peanut butter cup commercials? (Here’s ONE for a refresher)   … You know “you got peanut butter in my chocolate.  You got chocolate in my peanut butter!”  What results is a perfect match.  This pie is kind of like that.

First  you have pecan pie  — amazing on its own.  The, you add chocolate.  You can’t get any better than that.  In my opinion you can cover most anything with chocolate and it tastes great.  Pair it with something that  is already good and you can’t go wrong.

I’ve had several different types of chocolate pecan pie, the main two being a pecan pie with a layer of chocolate on top, or a pie with the chocolate mixed in.  I prefer the latter.  It’s just ooey, gooey and good!

This recipe is a pecan pie recipe I’ve used for years. I don’t even remember where I got it.  It is  most likely off the back of a bag or box of something.  I just adjusted it to include the chocolate.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup corn syrup

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 375.

2.  In large bowl, beat eggs.  Add sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt and mix well.  Gently stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

3.  Poor mixture into a pastry-lined deep dish pie plate.

4.  Cover edge of pie crust with a strip of foil to prevent excess browning;  remove foil during last 10-15 minutes of baking.

5.  Bake pie until set, about 40-50 minutes.  Allow to cool before serving.

That’s it.   The hardest part is waiting on it to bake.  It is really good served with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Cook’s Talk

  • I could also provide you with a recipe for the crust.  Occasionally — and I do emphasize the “occasionally” — I do make the pie crust from scratch.  However, I’m not going to lie.  I’m busy.  More times than not, I use a prepared crust.  I do recommend using the type you roll out and put in your own pie plate.  (At least I generally use a pretty pie plate.)  I prefer Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust.  I can make a pie crust .  But why do it when you can buy one already prepared that is good too?  I will say for the pie plate I used for the pie pictured, a larger crust would have been better.  I didn’t get the edge I would have liked.
  • I like to brush the edges of the crust with melted butter before baking.  It’s not necessary, but gives the crust a much better color.
  • Light or dark corn syrup either one is fine.  If you look at any the “old school” recipes, many call for dark.  I’ve always been told mainly for the color.  With the chocolate added to the pie, you don’t have to worry about that.  I generally just use which ever is in my pantry.
  • You can use margarine if you’d like, but butter is better.  Come on.  It’s pie.  If you are going to eat a piece of pie any way, might as well go all the way.

Until next time…

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A’Tempting’ Tuesday: Crock Pot Candy (my secret revealed)

DSC_4740As usual, I am in a mad dash to get in all the cooking, crafting and gifting I want to do for the holidays finished.  So at roughly a week before Christmas day, I’m always doing something easy.  Crock Pot Candy is definitely a go-to for easy hostess gifts or little extra gifts just to have in case you need it.  I plan to take this to all the men in my office (which is everyone, as I’m the only female).

I got this recipe from a friend several years ago. I have since used it several times and have seen several different versions.  It is easy, makes a lot and compared to the amount of candy it yields, is relatively inexpensive.

This candy is a perfect to make this time of the year.  It makes me think of some kitchen-gadget infomercial that used to come on.  I don’t remember exactly what gadget it was, but the guru who was peddling it would always say “just set it and forget it.”  You can do that with this recipe.  I start it and can usually complete another dish or project before I have to begin spooning out the candy.

So here goes.  You’ll thank me for this:

Crock Pot Candy

DSC_4726Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) jar dry roasted salted peanuts
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar dry roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 32 ounces almond bark
  • 1 (4-ounce) German chocolate bar (found in baking section)

Directions:DSC_4737

  1. Put peanuts in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Add all other ingredients on top of the peanuts.  (I don’t even chop the almond bark or the German chocolate.)
  2. Cook on low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. When all chocolate is melted and incorporated with the peanuts, drop by rounded spoonfuls (mine wind up being about 1/2- to 3/4 -tablespoon) onto wax paper and allow to cool completely.  The candy will harden as it cools.

Cook’s talk: 

  • Like I said, I’ve seen several versions of this recipe, many of which use white almond bark.  I prefer the dark.
  • As the chocolates start to melt, begin keeping an eye on the mixture and stir occasionally to mix the peanuts into the chocolate.  If they remain on the bottom too long, they can scorch.  I’ve seen some recipes that say to cook the mixture for 4 or more hours.  I think that is way too much.  I’ve never gone more than 2.
  • You can be creative and add other nuts or ingredients as well.  I have used lightly crushed pretzels, adding them in just before spooning onto wax paper.   Be creative.  Just be careful of when you add your ingredients.  For example, when I use pretzels, I add the at the end so they retain their crunch.  Harder ingredients such as nuts can withstand long periods in the slow cooker as opposed to softer ingredients you don’t want to become soggy, or other candies (such as peppermint) that you wouldn’t want to melt completely
  • I always put the wax paper directly onto my counter when spooning the candy.  Once, I used sheet pans so that I could easily move the candy around.  The metal retained the heat a little longer and it took much longer for my candy to harden.

Now you know my secret!  This candy is so yummy, I almost hated to share the recipe.  Until now, everyone I have given it to thought I had worked really hard.  It’s the thought that counts, not the amount of time you spend in the kitchen, right?

I hope you enjoy.  Next week:  Chocolate Pecan Pie

Until next time…..

A’Tempting’ Tuesday: Cornbread Dressing and Memories

Cornbread Dressing

I started my love of cooking at a very young age. I remember making my mom lunch during the summers when she came home from work, probably at about the age of 11.  Back then, I’m told it was a lot of gravy and garlic.  Fortunately, things have improved.

Many of my recipes and favorite dishes were handed down from my Mother and grandmothers, many I’ve made up.  Quite honestly, most are prepared from memory.  This can be good and bad.  It’s quite convenient because I don’t have to keep up with a recipe for a lot of the things I cook often.   However, when someone asks how I’ve prepared something,

“a little of this, and a dash of that until it looks goods” is not a very good answer.

This happened to me recently when my aunt called and wanted a recipe for my mom’s Cornbread Dressing.  I make it like my mom did.  She made it like her mom did.  Basically, we take the ingredients, stir them together and taste until it’s right.  We bake until it looks good.  Really, that’s it.

While the ingredients remain the same every time, I have no recipe or measurements for said ingredients, only the memories of learning to prepare it with my mother and grandmother.  Even today, when reliving those days of my childhood when we lived next door to my grandmother, I can almost smell that dressing baking in the oven and begging to be covered in gravy made from the turkey drippings.  My grandparents, my mom, my sister and I, as well as my aunt and uncle spent many a Thanksgiving in that tiny house on Hickory Street in Marshall, Texas.  It’s funny how my aunt asking me for a recipe can bring back so many memories.

In the absence now of my mom and grandmother, I guess I am now the holder of the recipe.  I don’ t know whether to feel flattered or just old!  When my aunt wanted my mom’s recipe  I panicked a little.  I really couldn’t tell her to make some cornbread and throw a handful of a bunch of “stuff” in it and bake at 350 for a “little while.”

So, I put on my queen of everything hat and this is the recipe I came up with.

Keep in mind,  this is one of those “to taste” kind of recipes.  Many of the measurements are approximate and up to the taste of the cook.

Gram Gram’s and Mom’s Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing

  • Cornbread (I sometimes make it from scratch, other times I use whatever mix is on sale. A sweeter cornbread is really nice in this recipe.  Either way, I make two batches.)
  • 2-4 cups chicken or turkey broth (I make fresh broth by boiling a chicken, adding salt and pepper, chopped celery and onion — 3/4-1 cup each.  I debone the chicken and use that at another time). 
  • 4 tablespoons rubbed sage (or to taste.  I tend to go a little heavier on the sage)
  • 3 to 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 or 3 pieces of dry toast made from your favorite bread, crumbled (I dry on low heat in the oven and prefer plain old white bread)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I really like to use celery salt for added flavor instead of regular salt)
  •  2 Green onions, chopped (optional)

Prepare the broth.  I boil the chicken, adding chopped onion and celery as it cooks.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Better seasoned your broth, means less work on the finished product.  I often make the broth a night or two ahead of time, putting away the deboned chicken for another use.  If you are from the south and prefer giblet gravy with your dressing, the giblets can be boiled and chopped at this time.

Bake the cornbread, whether it be from a mix or from scratch.  I generally prepare two batches of cornbread using a large cast iron skillet.  I do this a day or two ahead if I can too.  When ready to prepare the dressing, finely crumble the cornbread into a large baking pan or 13X9 casserole dish. There is no need to butter or spray the pan.

Dry the toast  right on the rack in the oven.  Crumble and add to the crumbled cornbread.

Pour about 2 cups broth into the cornbread/toast mixture and stir.  Add more as needed.  You don’t want it watery, but you don’t want it dry either.  In the end, you want a firm, wet mixture.  You shouldn’t be able to pour off any liquid.  Add the rubbed sage, pepper and salt or celery salt to taste at this point.   Like I said, I stir and taste until I think it tastes good.  Any leftover broth can be put aside to use when making your gravy.

Stir in the chopped boiled eggs and green onions, if you want them.  Some people add the egg raw (especially those who make a more traditional stuffing), but I really like them boiled.  The green onion is not necessary, but I think it adds a little more freshness and color to the dish.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until it starts to dry and brown on top.  It should be a little moist, but not wet.  I start checking it at about 45 minutes, but it almost always winds up cooking for about 1.25 to 1.5 hours.  You can serve straight from the baking pan, with your choice of gravy available for topping.  (Gravy is a must!)

Cook’s Notes and Tool Talk:

  • As I said, you can bake the cornbread from scratch or use a mix. It really depends on your preference, your time and what you have on hand. We really prefer a sweeter cornbread for dressing. Jiffy in a box is an excellent choice. However, my hubby is now diabetic so I’ve had to adjust what I use. I just add a couple tablespoons of Splenda to my cornbread batter (scratch or mix). I think baking the cornbread in a cast-iron skillet is a must. The brown, crunchy texture the cast iron gives to the cornbread is perfect in the dressing.  My favorite skillet is one from one of my grandmothers.  I don’t even know how old it is.
  •  I generally keep a can of chicken broth on hand in case I run out of my freshly prepared broth.  Any leftover broth I use to make the gravy.  As we generally fry our turkey, I usually need extra when it comes time for gravy as there is no turkey drippings when frying.  To make the gravy, brown 2 tablespoons of flour in 2 tablespoons butter (not margarine) over medium heat until a light brown. It’s a good idea to stir constantly.  Add broth, about a cup at a time, stirring over medium heat until you reached your desired consistency.  If gravy is too thick, add more liquid.  If it’s too thin, you can thicken with a tiny bit of cornstarch dissolved in cold water and stirred into the gravy. Add salt and pepper if needed.
  • If you roasted your bird, you can thicken your drippings right in the roasting pan using the water/corn flour mixture.  Flour dissolved in cold water will also work.  Just make sure you dissolve the flour in the water before adding it to you hot drippings so you don’t have lumps.

I hope you enjoy.  I know this recipe is still a little vague.  However, short of burning it, you really can’t mess this up.  Writing this recipe down has actually started me on yet another Cooking, Crafting and Chaos journey.  My daughter may some day want some of these recipes.  My niece has asked me for a few.  So, I’m making a conscious effort to record how I prepare many of my older recipes.  Next, I think I need to record Banana Pudding, one of my daughter’s (and best friend’s) favs!  But first ….

NEXT TIME:  Crock Pot Candy

A’Tempting’ Tuesday – Red Velvet Cheesecake Ball

It’s A’Tempting’ Tuesday!

I am always trying out new recipes and searching for something new to make, so each Tuesday I will share a new recipe. I will share the good, the bad and the ugly, being honest about my successes and failures (there are many of those).

I love to make desserts and bake, so it’s fitting I share a dessert today. (I also sometimes need quick and easy and this recipe fits that bill too.) This is the time of the year we are constantly invited to get-togethers, so I use these opportunities to try new recipes and share a few old favorites. It works out well for me. I get to “feed” my joy of making desserts and baking. I don’t do it often unless I have somewhere to take my efforts, as hubby is a diabetic (a diabetic with a sweet tooth so I try not to have too many temptations around the house) and I really don’t need the calories.

Today, I am sharing a recipe that was new to me. I prepared this Red Velvet Cheesecake Ball for a little get-together with several friends I had not seen in a while. It was a hit, so I know I will definitely prepare this one again! In fact, I’ve already promised my daughter one when she is home from school in a couple of weeks.  Red Velvet cupcakes are her fave, so I know she will like this.

I also acquired a new dip recipe that night that I will share with you soon. It was quite yummy. It was a great night of good food, friends and wine.

I found this recipe on a Facebook page – $5-10 Meals – Cheap Eats. This site fills another need – CHEAP – and I have found several good recipes here.  Check it out.

I will tell you, I often “tweak” recipes and am not known for always following a recipe to the tee, so I will make note of any changes I’ve made. Added ingredients will be marked in bold.

Sorry about the quality of this picture.

Sorry about the quality of this picture.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Ball
Makes about 16 servings

Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups red velvet cake mix, dry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla (I used pure vanilla)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I am sure I used more as I didn’t measure these)
Assorted cookies (I used vanilla wafers)

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, vanilla and butter until smooth.
Add in the red velvet cake mix, brown sugar and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and combined.
Turn the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Put the chocolate chips on a plate or in a shallow dish. Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator and unwrap.
Roll in the chocolate chips.
Place on a serving plate and serve with cookies.

Cook’s Notes:

  • I added the vanilla because this recipe made me think of an icebox cheesecake recipe my mom always loved. That recipe used vanilla. I love vanilla paired with cream cheese, so I thought it would be a good addition here. I was right. In turn, I added a couple of extra tablespoons of powdered sugar to make up for the added liquid of the vanilla.
  • To aid in the shaping of the “ball,” I place the wrapped mixture in a small bowl with a very rounded bottom.
  • Here’s where I failed slightly.  It was a busy week and I was running behind as usual.  I didn’t allow enough chilling time for the mixture.  It was a little soft and hard to “roll” in the chocolate chips.  I wound up just patting them onto the surface of the ball.  Despite it’s softness, it still tasted great and everyone loved it.  Next time, I will make sure I allow at least two hours or more for chilling.

All and all, this will definitely be a dish I repeat in the future.  It was super easy, inexpensive and tasty.  As a bonus, I already had all the ingredients in my pantry.

If you try it out, I hope you enjoy.

Until next time ….

NEXT WEEK:  A Pampered Chef favorite.