Archive for October 26th, 2011

It’s fall festival time and with them come caramel apples.  All year long I look forward to this time of year, the sour tang of the apples mingling with the sweet butter of the caramel…treat of the gods, I swear.

I’ve lost count of how many of these delicious beauties on a stick I’ve made through the years but one thing has always reigned true. I have no luck with pre-wrapped store bought caramels.  Perhaps others do, but for me it always slides down the apple to become a sticky pile at the bottom.  To remedy this I have taken to making my own caramel.

To make your own caramel is amazingly simple, even more so if you have a candy thermometer.

Homemade Caramel Recipe

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 tsp vanilla

In heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and condensed milk; bring to boil over medium-high heat.

Cook and stir until candy thermometer reads 248 degrees, this is what is known as firm ball stage.  If you do not have a thermometer, take a glass of ice cold water and drip hot caramel into water. If it forms a stiff ball as it sinks it is ready.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

I do not suggest doubling this recipe, if you need more, make a second batch.

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I went to pull the melted chocolate out of the microwave to drizzle over some caramel apples when I noticed it wasn’t in the microwave, but rather sitting on the island in the kitchen and looked to be a lot less then I had melted to begin with.  Now..I was sure I hadn’t removed it, and sure I had used a whole package of chips to melt..but perhaps feeling brain dead today I was mistaken? This puzzled me, until the proof walked out of the bathroom she was trying to destroy the evidence in.  Even being caught, she still denied she had sampled any of it.

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There have been fall festivals, craft shows, bake sales, costumes to make and walk-a-thons to participate in.  There is gardens to work, herb seeds to start, fruits to pick and food to preserve.  There are Fall craft projects to finish and Christmas gifts and crafts to begin. To say it’s a busy time of year is an understatement.

With the cooler fall air moving into the crisp chill of winter, casseroles are a large staple food to warm not only the body but the soul as well.  Casseroles are wonderful for not only their simplicity to set a nutritious meal on table in hurry, but also to use up leftovers without waste.  Added to their benefits, they can be made in large amounts and frozen for those times you are time pressed.

This dish is very easy to make for your family, or in larger quantity for social events. Make up several and put some in freezer, then you have a quick meal ready for when unexpected holiday company shows, or that last minute “bring dish to pass” event.

Cheesy-Chicken Casserole

2 cups shredded left over chicken

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 can (or 1 cup) garden peas

1 cups milk

1 cup water

2 cups wide egg noodles

1 tbsp corn starch

1 cup sour cream

1 sm. can mushrooms (or 1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced)

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 cup corn flake style cereal (beaten to crumbs with hammer or rolling pin)

Place chicken in large fry pan on stove place your milk, water and corn starch. Mix well.  Add your egg noodles and cook until beginning to boil. Reduce heat to low and add your chicken, peas, mushrooms, sour cream, and spices.  Cook until noodles are near done.  Add cheese and stir to melt.  Transfer into a casserole dish and sprinkle top with corn flake crumbs.  Put in oven at 350 degrees and cook for 30 minutes.  Serve.

**You can skip the oven step and make it a skillet style meal. I prefer to do the oven step as I like the crispness it gives to the top of the casserole.**

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