Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mini Caramel Apples Drove Me Insane!

I saw this on Pinterest and it looked so easy and cute. This is one of those projects that drove me insane! It would seem simple enough to poke Popsicle sticks through some melon balled apples. More often than not the sticks broke the apples. I had made about 60 balls and only came out with about 50 good ones.

Make this in small batches! It is helpful to have someone helping you. The caramel sets up really fast. I used 5 caramels at a time in a coffee mug. I microwaved it for 30 seconds at a time. It took about one minute and some mixing to make it smooth. The caramel WON'T stick if the apples are wet. You have to dry them about 3-5 times. I had them soaking in lemon juice but they will turn brown. Immediately after dipping they need to go in the freezer for the caramel to set. I recommend using two cookie sheets if making different flavors. Mine got stuck together on the try. Hence separating the flavors.

1 bag apples like Fuji or Granny Smith
2 pkgs Kraft Caramels unwrapped
A melon baller
1 coffee cup
a spoon 
popsicle sticks
2 boxes theater candy or cookies crushed
lots of patience!

Use a melon baller to remove the melon shape from the apple. Soak in lemon juice and water. Poke the sticks through at least 5 apple pieces at a time. Dry them with a paper towel about three times. Melt the caramels in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and place in for another 30 seconds. Stir until melted.  Tip the coffee cup sideways and dip the apple in caramel. Quickly move it to the topping and then into the freezer on a cookie sheet. Repeat this process a bunch more
times! If the topping doesn't stick, dry with a paper towel,  or use a spoon to pour over the apples. If the caramel isn't soft enough put back in the microwave for 10 seconds. Stir and try again. I went through the whole two bags of caramels.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Baba Ganoush or Eggplant Dip

If you love hummus, you will love this Baba Ganoush. No special tools needed here but a food
processor is helpful! I used only one large eggplant for this recipe. You can easily double it and make it for a party. It is low in calories and great with homemade pita chips. This is one snack you don't have to feel guilty about. A touch of plain yogurt adds a extra zip. The garlic can be roasted or added fresh. I have a garlic mincer which comes in handy. If roasting the garlic add double. I didn't have a paper bag handy and used a covered Tupperware bowl to get the skin to easily peel off.

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)

1 lg. eggplant
2 cloves garlic
1-2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP Tahini
2 TBSP plain yogurt
1/2 to 1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 TBSP olive oil

Pierce the eggplant all over with a fork. Use your stove top burners to char the eggplant. It may crackle or catch fire at times. This is part of the process. This takes some time. Use tongs if it becomes too hot to handle.  Pre heat your broiler and put eggplant on a cookie sheet. Broil for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a paper bag or a covered Tupperware bowl. Peel
off the eggplant skin. A paper towel can be used to get the remaining char off. Cut off the bottom of the eggplant. Then cut it in half. You will see the seeds in channels on the bottom of the eggplant. Cut slits upwards and use the knife to get the seeds out. The seeds won't kill you, but they may be bitter. Roughly chop the eggplant and place in a food processor. Add the Tahini, yogurt, salt and olive oil.  You may add more olive oil if you think it's too thick. Pulse until smooth. Add more salt to taste and the lemon. Pulse a few more times until smooth. Place in the fridge to completely cool. Top with cilantro and enjoy with pita chips.

Pita Chips

1 bag Kangaroo brand pita pockets
PAM or olive oil
a cookie sheet

Turn the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pitas into 4-6 pieces each pita half. Spray with Pam or toss in some olive oil to coat. Top with Kosher salt. Bake for 5-7 minutes per side. Remove and let cool.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Crock Pot Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches

If you've ever been to Chicago's A-1 roast beef, you'll love this easy crock pot version of Italian Beef Sandwiches! The only thing I had to do stove top was reduce the wine to cook the alcohol out. I also opted for a lean chuck roast. (only $6.00) Not only was it more economical than a blade roast, the small amount of fat added flavor. Serve on bollilo or hoagie rolls. The house will smell amazing all day. It basically turned into a delicious pot roast sandwich.

Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches

1 green pepper cut into 1/4" pieces (red pepper diced optional)
1 medium onion cut into large pieces
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef stock
2 cloves garlic minced 
1 cup red wine reduced for 5 minutes
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 lean 3 lb beef chuck roast or blade roast

Season the beef on both sides with the salt and pepper. Reduce the wine on stove top until alcohol is cooked out (5 minutes or so) Add the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, pepper flakes, onions, and green pepper into the crock pot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8. Use an electric knife to cut the beef into thin slices. Season the broth with more salt if necessary.  Return the meat to the crock pot. Serve on the rolls with a bowl of the Au Jus.

Note: to defat the broth you can either cool it down by sticking it in the fridge when you are cutting the beef and then skim the fat off or use a fat separating measuring cup. I also used the old spoon method by skimming the broth with a big spoon and discarding the fat.