Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Bacon & Cheese

Cauliflower gets a bad rap for being the lonely vegetable left over in a vege tray at the party. But in this creamy soup, cauliflower is the star. I love cooking soup on the weekends when I have a little extra time. Soup keeps well in the fridge and gets better over time so I like to make it one to two days before serving. Then on a busy weeknight all I do it heat up the soup, cook up some bacon, and shred some cheese for a quick dinner. Eating better at home does take some planning, but it is so satisfying to have a home made dinner on crazy busy days. Thank you to my friend, and fellow Arizona lover, Judy, for this wonderful recipe!!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Bacon & Cheese

Ingredients:

1 small yellow onion

3 cloves garlic

1 head cauliflower, leaves and core removed, chopped.

1 Qt chicken stock
1/2 C  heavy cream
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1Tbs truffle oil (optional)
1 Tbs honey
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper (or more to taste)
For Serving:
4-5 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Directions: 
Heat olive oil in a heavy pot. Cook onion about five minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Next, add cauliflower and stock and bring to boil, then cover and simmer 18 minutes or till cauliflower is soft.  Purée mixture off heat.  I do this in a Vitamix blender. You could also use a hand mixer. Pour puree back into the pot. Stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. If it is too thick, add in more chicken stock to desired consistency.
A wonderful meal idea! Try garnishing with roasted cherry tomatoes and grilled cheese.
Adapted from Lulu Powers Food to Flowers
Creamy cauliflower soup is an easy soup to make for  your family. Crunchy bacon bits and shredded cheese are  icing on the cake.

Creamy cauliflower soup is an easy soup to make for your family. Crunchy bacon bits and shredded cheese are icing on the cake.

Overnight Raspberry Challah Bread French Toast

Having guests stay? Try this one. It’s beautiful and helps take stress off of baking in the morning. Assemble the night before, pop in the fridge, and in the morning just put it in the oven. Warm maple syrup and some dusted powdered sugar makes this French toast irresistible.

Overnight Raspberry Challah Bread French Toast

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
10 eggs
2 3/4 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 cups (1-inch diced) day-old challah bread
12 ounces fresh raspberries
Powdered sugar for serving
Maple syrup for serving

Directions:

1) Grease a 9×13 inch oval baking dish with the butter and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, half-and-half, 1/3 cup of sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and salt.
2) Spread half of the diced bread in the baking dish. Spread on the raspberries in one layer. Top with the rest of the bread and pour on the egg mixture, pressing lightly to moisten the bread. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. (If you are making this the day before, leave the assembled dish in the fridge overnight, and continue with the remaining steps once you’re ready to bake.
3) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the custard is set and the top is puffed and browned. Check after 45 minutes. If the top is getting too browned, cover lightly with foil. Cool for 10 minutes, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve with maple syrup!
Notes
* If the bread isn’t a day old, slice it 1 inch thick and place on a sheet pan, bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, turn, and bake for 5 more minutes.

From Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead Cookbook (a great cookbook to add to your collection)

 

Breakfast imade elegant and easy with this gorgeous French toast casserole lightly dotted with fresh raspberries. Make it the night before and bake in the morning.

Breakfast imade elegant and easy with this gorgeous French toast casserole lightly dotted with fresh raspberries. Make it the night before and bake in the morning.

Limoncello Tiramisu

Italian lady fingers dunked in limoncello layered to perfection and topped with fresh whipped cream.

Italian lady fingers dunked in limoncello layered to perfection and topped with fresh whipped cream.

On my parent’s trip to Italy they brought home a few bottles of Limoncello which is a lemon liquor made in Southern Italy. Limoncello is sipped in small amounts after dinner, poured over gelato (one of my favorite ways to drink it), or mixed with other ingredients for cocktails. In this dessert, the Limoncello is the star. Ladyfinger cookies are soaked in a limoncello syrup and then layered with a home made zabaglione and topped with home made whipped cream. Traditional tiramisu is made by soaking ladyfingers in espresso, this this is a twist on an Italian classic. Sound good? It is! Transport yourself to Italy with this authentic dessert.

Ingredients:

5 LARGE EGGS
5 OR 6 LEMONS
1 CUP SUGAR
1-½ CUPS LIMONCELLO LIQUEUR
1 CUP WATER
1 POUND (2 CUPS) MASCARPONE, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
40 LADYFINGERS (PREFERABLY IMPORTED ITALIAN SAVOIARDI) OR MORE AS NEEDED *people of Wheaton- I found this brand at Mariano’s

Directions:

Pour just enough water in a double boiler pan so the water level is right below the bottom of the mixing bowl when it is sitting in the pan. Separate the eggs, putting yolks into the large bowl of the double boiler and the whites into another stainless bowl for whipping by hand or with an electric mixer.
Remove the zest of 2 or more of the lemons, using a fine grater, to get 2 tablespoons of zest. Squeeze out and strain the juice of these and other lemons to get ¾ cup of fresh lemon juice.
To make the base for the tiramisù, heat the water in the pan to a steady simmer. Off heat, beat the egg yolks with ¼ cup of the sugar and ½ cup of the limoncello until well blended. Set the bowl over the simmering water and whisk constantly, frequently scraping the whisk around the sides and bottom of the bowl, as the egg mixture expands and heats into a frothy sponge, 5 minutes or longer. When the sponge has thickened enough to form a ribbon when it drops on the surface, take the bowl off the double boiler pan and let it cool.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining cup of limoncello, all of the lemon juice, the 1 cup water and ½ cup of the sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and cook for 5 minutes, evaporating the alcohol. Let the syrup cool completely.
In another large bowl, stir the mascarpone with a wooden spoon to soften it then drop in the grated lemon zest and beat until light and creamy. Whip the egg whites with the remaining ¼ cup sugar, by hand or by machine, until it holds moderately firm peaks.
When the cooked limoncello sponge (or zabaglione) is cooled, scrape about a third of it over the mascarpone and fold it in with a large rubber spatula. Fold in the rest of the zabaglione in 2 or 3 additions. Now fold in the whipped egg whites in several additions, until the limoncello-mascarpone cream is light and evenly blended.
Pour some of the cooled syrup, no deeper than ¼-inch depth, into the pan to moisten the ladyfingers (Savoiardi). One at a time, roll a ladyfinger in the syrup and place it in the dessert pan. Wet each cookie briefly—if it soaks up too much syrup, it will fall apart. Arrange the moistened ladyfingers in neat tight rows, filling the bottom of the pan completely. You should be able to fit in about 20 ladyfingers in a single layer.
Scoop half of the limoncello-mascarpone cream onto the ladyfingers and smooth it to fill the pan and cover them. Dip and arrange a second layer of ladyfingers in the pan and cover it completely with the remainder of the cream.
Smooth the cream with the spatula and seal the tiramisù airtight in plastic wrap. Before serving, refrigerate for 6 hours (up to 2 days) or put it in the freezer for 2 hours.
To serve, cut portions of tiramisù in any size you like and lift each out of the pan onto dessert plates.

To find this recipe and more of Lidia Bastianich’s Italian recipes, visit this link. I love Lidia’s recipes and use her cookbook often.

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I made the tiramisu for a non traditional Italian style Easter feast for my friends.

Roasted Red Potatoes & Peppers

While chicken is on the grill in your back yard, pop this gorgeous side dish in the oven to make a complete meal.  I made this tonight and am using the small amount of leftovers for an egg scramble tomorrow morning. That is if don’t get lazy and press snooze too many times. Here are a few hints when roasting:

  1. Use a high heat in your oven.
  2. Don’t mess too much with the ingredients on the pan. Toss and then let them be!
  3. Keep the size of your vegetables relatively small to amplify the amount of crusty, caramelized,and golden brown vegetables.
  4. A clean oven will help to make sure there is no smoke-thus setting off your smoke alarm. I wish I was not speaking from experience on this one.

Roasted Red Potatoes & Peppers

Ingredients:

5 pounds red potatoes, roughly chopped/diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, garlic, onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, olive oil, butter, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper and some kosher salt and pepper.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, shaking the pan twice.
Raise the heat to 475 degrees and bake until crisp and brown, 25 minutes.
Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper before serving.

From the Pioneer Woman’s Dinnertime cookbook. Check it out here on Food Network.

Katie’s Notes:

*I halved this recipe. It is plenty for four people.

*To make a wonderful grill menu, combine this side dish with grilled chicken and the sauce from Maya’s Chimichurri Steak recipe on my website.

Oven ready. Just chop and drop onto a pan.  No peeling of potatoes necessary.

Oven ready. Just chop and drop onto a pan. No peeling of potatoes necessary.

This is a wonderful combo. For extra flavor, shave some parmesan on top and sprinkle with truffle salt. I knocked my truffle salt off my counter and is broke into a million pieces all over my kitchen yesterday. "Katie, slow down" is Isaac's favorite phrase.

This is a wonderful combo. For extra flavor, shave some parmesan on top and sprinkle with truffle salt. I knocked my truffle salt off the counter and it broke into a million pieces all over my kitchen yesterday. “Katie, slow down” is Isaac’s favorite phrase.

Zaino’s Eggplant Parmesan

Last week I went to my friend Meg’s house and she taught me how to make eggplant parmesan. Her husband is Italian and this is his grandmother’s recipe. Gotta love stealing an Italian grandma’s recipe! Italians are not the best at using exact measurements, but we did out best to include our best estimates and I took lots of pictures. Eggplant is usually in season between July and October but you can find it year round at grocery stores. Look for a firm and glossy skin. Thanks for the delicious classic Italian recipe Zainos’s!

Zaino’s Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

olive oil

1/2 tsp sugar

2 Tbsp. dried basil

1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce (Hunt’s)

2 eggplants

1 cup italian style bread crumbs

1/2 cup parmesan reggiano (or you can used romano cheese)

2 eggs

1 lb. penne pasta

Directions: 

Make the sauce: In a saucepan, sauté chopped onion in 2 Tbsp. olive oil, about 5 minutes. Add in the tomato sauce, basil, and sugar. Let simmer while you fry the eggplants. Season with salt and pepper.

Make the eggplant: With a carrot peeler, peel the skin off the eggplant. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch horizontal slices. In a shallow dish pour the bread crumbs mixed with 1/4 cup cheese. In another shallow dish, whisk together 2 eggs with a splash of water. In a large fry pan, heat up 2-3 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. You can add more as needed. Dip the eggplant in the egg wash and then the breadcrumbs. Carefully add into the frying pan and brown each side, about 2 minutes a side. When brown, transfer to a 9 by 13 baking dish. Repeat until all the eggplant is browned.

Assemble and cook: Line the 9 by 13 with a layer of eggplant. Drizzle tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with cheese. Add another layer of eggplant, sauce, and cheese. Bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted. While in the oven, cook the pasta according to the package and serve on the side. Serves 4-5.

Crispy eggplant served with a quick and simple tomato sauce makes a complete family meal.

Crispy eggplant served with a quick and simple tomato sauce over penne pasta makes a complete family meal.

Eggplants should be fir my with shiny skin when choosing at the grocery store.

Look for eggplants that are firm with shiny skin when choosing at the grocery store.

When frying, do not over-crowd the skillet. Use a paper towel to wipe out the  skillet in between rounds of frying if the oil starts to burn.

When frying, do not over-crowd the skillet. Use a paper towel to wipe out the skillet in between rounds of frying if the oil starts to burn.

The stars of the Mom & Tot gymnastics class. Luke Zaino, Davey Terhune, Maya, and Georgia.

The stars of the Mom & Tot gymnastics class. Luke Zaino, Davey Terhune, Maya, and Georgia. Luke Zaino has some great recipes from  his grandma he can use when he cooks to impress his future girlfriends!

Lasagna with Turkey Sausage & Four Cheeses

Yum. This lasagna has it all. Fresh and gooey cheese, noodles you don’t have to pre cook, and an easy, homemade marinara sauce. I made this twice over the past week. Once for a family I brought dinner to and once for a crowd for my “Italian” Easter dinner feast. I recommend trying this at home, and making sure you invite a few friends over to sample your show stopping lasagna.

Lasagna with Turkey Sausage & Four Cheeses

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lasagna noodles
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one third of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

From Barefoot Contessa Family Style

The turkey lasagna is a nice balance to the richness of the cheese.

The turkey lasagna is a nice balance to the richness of the cheese. Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes to cool before slicing. This will help you remove it easier from the pan.

I had extra filling and noodles so I made some individual ramekins of "personal" lasagnas. to keep in my fridge.

I had extra filling and noodles so I made some individual ramekins of “personal” lasagnas to keep in my fridge.

Chicken with forty cloves of garlic

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic 

Does this title sound crazy? Forty cloves? At first I thought yes, but then again I love garlic and always add more to a recipe than it calls for. One of my favorite meals to cook is Sunday dinner for friends and family. I spend a little extra time making a large dinner and cooking something special before starting a new work week. This dish is rich in flavor and will make your house smell amazing. Chicken is browned in a pot and then a cognac cream sauce is built as the chicken simmers on the stove top. Give it a try for your next family gathering.

Ingredients: 

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:

Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don’t want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

From Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris

Katie’s Notes:

*Instead of boiling the garlic to get it to peel, I simply peeled it myself. Take one clove and place it sideways on the cutting board. Bang the long side of your knife directly on the garlic. The peel will split and easily slide off. OR, you can but pre-peeled garlic at most grocery stores! I won’t tell anyone if you take this shortcut!

*I used only 1 chicken instead of two. This made enough for 6 adults and I had leftovers. I bought one chicken pre cut into 8 pieces for a dinner party of six. Plus, I like having plenty of extra sauce for dipping bread and vegetables.

*Cognac is a type of brandy made from grapes. Any grocery store should have it. You could use brandy instead, but because there are not many ingredients in this recipe, I recommend using cognac if you have it.

Garlic simmering in cognac.-doesn't this look rich and inviting?

Garlic simmering in cognac.-doesn’t this look rich and inviting?

Browning the chicken in the same pot you make the cognac cream sauce in adds flavor and depth to the sauce. All the brown bits get scraped off the bottom of the pan when you add the wine. This is called "deglazing."

Browning the chicken in the same pot you make the cognac cream sauce in adds flavor and depth to the sauce. The brown bits get scraped off the bottom of the pan when you add the wine. This is called “deglazing.”

Bone-in, skin-on chicken breast stays moist and flavorful during this slow cooking process.

Bone-in, skin-on chicken breast stays moist and flavorful during this slow cooking process.

My side dish - roasted green beans and fingerling potatoes with parmesan and truffle salt.

My side dish – roasted green beans and fingerling potatoes with parmesan and truffle salt.

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Hudson National Chili

My dad’s friend passed this recipe along from the chef Bourkney at Hudson National Golf Club. I love trying new soups, stews, and chilis because in Chicago you can unfortunately make comfort food for nine months out of the year! This is a tasty recipe that takes advantage of several chilis to enhance the depth of flavor. You will notice a good heat, one that heats the back of your throat but doesn’t set off a fire alarm in your mouth and send you rushing to gulp milk.  In my opinion, chili needs some heat. If you like less heat, discard the seeds of the chilies before adding them in the pot. I like to serve my chili topped with onions, cheddar or moneteray jack cheese, sour cream, and a squeeze of lime. Tortilla chips would be awesome on the side too. Off to watch Chicago P.D. I love Wednesday nights with Hank Voigt. While the rest of my family enjoys the Arizona weather, I will sit home well fed and happy in front of the TV. Sob story….over.

Hudson National Chili 

Ingredients:

1/4 lb. chopped bacon

2 1/2 cups chopped onions

4 Tbsp. chopped jalapeno chilies

8 Tbsp. chopped poblano chilies

2 Tbsp. chopped serrano chilies

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 cups fresh plum tomatoes, diced

3 Tbsp. chili powder

2 Tbsp. ground cumin

3/4 tsp. black pepper

24 oz. canned diced tomatoes

1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 cup of your favorite beer (sorry to say mine is Miller Lite)

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans and navy beans in cooking juice

 

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. ground beef (I used 80/20)

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

Directions: In a heavy pot, cook bacon until brown. Add garlic, onions, and chilies. Cook 10 minutes until tender, stirring often. Add fresh tomatoes and cook until they begin to fall apart. Add spices, lime juice, and beer. Cook 15 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and simmer 30 minutes. Add beans and water they were cooked in for 15 minutes. Season with salt.

In a separate frying pan, brown ground beef in the vegetable oil. Drain some of the fat. Add ground beef into the chili. Cook 30 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Katie’s Tips:

*Shhh…I cheated and used 14.5 oz cans of the black and navy beans. I drained half of the juice in the can and added the rest into the chili.

*Make chili a day in advance if possible.

*I served this with my FAVORITE skillet cornbread from Nancy Souders. This is also on my blog.

Nothing says comfort food like a big bowl of chili and a warm piece of cornbread.

Nothing says comfort food like a big bowl of chili and a warm piece of cornbread.

Your house will smell wonderful as the chilies, onions, garlic, and bacon get to know each other.

Your house will smell wonderful as the chilies, onions, garlic, and bacon get to know each other.

Chili is something that cooks slowly as you add the different layers of flavor. Add a bit of water to the chili to loosen it up if it gets to thick while cooking or when reheating.

Chili is something that cooks slowly as you add the different layers of flavor. Add a bit of water to the chili to loosen it up if it gets to thick while cooking or when reheating.

In other news, guess who turned 2 this week? My crazy Georgie.

In other news, guess who turned 2 this week? My crazy Georgie. Thanks for the new jammies Cousin Enzito. 

Taco Soup

Do you ever feel pulled in too many directions? Sometimes I wish I had just one passion to focus on and give 100%  towards accomplishing full success. I guess life does not usually work that way. I  have too many ideas but not enough hours in the day to accomplish them. Oh well. Such is life. I guess Malcolm Gladwell had a point in his book Tipping Point. The people who were successful and did something amazing had over 10,000 hours of dedicated and uninterrupted time and energy to practice and achieve greatness in their skill or craft. Must be nice….!

Well I have been meaning to find time to post this dinner recipe. My sister made this the other night for a big group, and everyone loved it. It has simple ingredients and is a hearty dinner you can make in advance. Guests can add various toppings to their liking- it is the perfect one pot wonder.

Taco Soup

Ingredients:

1 can (14.5 oz.) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can  (14.5 oz)pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14.5 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

1 pkg. taco mix

1 small can diced green chilies

fresh cilantro (optional)

2 Tbsp (a handful) chopped green onions

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cooked and diced)

1 can (14.5 oz) corn

2-3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

Toppings: cheese, sour cream, chips, onions

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 20 minutes, allowing the flavors to combine. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with you choice of toppings.

Mix it all in, and let it do it's thing. The beauty of soup.

Mix it all in, and let it do it’s thing. The beauty of soup.

IMG_4765

“do, do a dollop of Daisy!”

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta

This is a fancy yet approachable appetizer that is bursting with flavor. I know it isn’t summer yet, and tomatoes can be hard to come by, but you can usually find decent cherry tomatoes at the grocery store. I made this as an appetizer for a dinner party in Arizona. It was followed by Vodka Pasta & Steak. I am always on the prowl for a good appetizer, especially one that you can fix before guests arrive. Enjoy!

A Side Note: I have many new recipes to post but I keep getting behind. I think it’s because I have a three year old and a two year old and one on the way….YES you read correctly. Baby Heath number three is en route. It will be a domestic adoption. We can’t wait. Actually, we can. We need to save a bunch of moola and also figure out how my girls will share one bedroom. A little time may be good before the next one arrives.

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta

Ingredients:

6 ounces good feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, 1/2-inch-diced
3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
20 to 25 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (place nuts into a dry roasting pan for about 4-5 minutes. When you begin to smell them and they turned slightly darker, they are done.)

Directions:

For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.

For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

From the Foolproof cookbook of Ina Garten. Here is the recipe link.

Tomatoes mixed with fresh herbs, shallots, and oil. Yum!

Tomatoes mixed with fresh herbs, shallots, and oil. Yum!

 

Rustic cutting board makes an easy serving tray.

A rustic cutting board makes an easy serving tray. Making the whipped feta in advance helps keep work to a minimum when guests arrive.

Brownie Pudding Dessert

Oh man. This was so good. I brought dinner to my best friend and had to take a sample bite out of her dessert before I left the house! Sorry Lindsay. This is a simple dessert that has a crusty outer rim and a silky smooth pudding-like inside. It reminds me of a molten chocolate cake from Morton’s steakhouse but way easier to share! For me, it’s the ultimate ending to a perfect meal.

Brownie Pudding Dessert

Ingredients:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Adapted from Ina Garten Back to Basics cookbook 

 

 

The Best Vodka Sauce with Penne Pasta

I recently made this for some close friends when I was in Arizona at my parent’s house over the past two weeks. It was a dinner party consisting of some excellent cooks, real Italians who know their stuff when it comes to good food, and my daughter Maya who only cared about the brownie that was for dessert. With a group of foodies, I needed to make something good!

This sauce is slow cooked in the oven to intensify and concentrate the onions, garlic, herbs, and plum tomatoes. The final touch is adding cream, fresh parmesan, and fresh oregano. I found the recipe after watching the Barefoot Contessa where Ina cooks with her friend and chef from a local Italian restaurant in the Hamptons. I had to give it a try after watching the episode and it is now my favorite vodka sauce I have made. You will not find a better sauce for penne pasta. I think all my dinner guests would agree. Enjoy!

Slow roasted garlic, oregano, red pepper, plum tomatoes, and onions make this sauce irresistible.

Slow roasted garlic, oregano, red pepper, plum tomatoes, and onions make this sauce irresistible.

The Best Vodka Sauce with Penne Pasta

Ingredients:

1/4 cup good olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup vodka
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound penne pasta
4 tablespoons fresh oregano
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.

Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.

Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.

 

From the Barefoot Contessa

Chicken Enchiladas

My sister bought me the Dinnertime cookbook from the Pioneer Woman for Chrismas and I have been trying out several recipes over the last few weeks. I brought dinner to a good friend who recently had her sixth child. If you think you are a busy mom, just think of her! I used a short cut or two to make this recipe quicker but just as tasty. Hope you enjoy. PS-this recipe is not for the January dieters. It is filling and contains cheese and lots of carbs. So, it is a perfect dinner for me. I prefer to work out so I can eat freely.

Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:
10 to 12 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons Cajun spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
Three 15-ounce cans green enchilada sauce 
3 cups grated Cheddar-Jack cheese, plus more if needed
Sour cream, for serving
Diced tomatoes, for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.One at a time, hold the tortillas over the stovetop burner (heated to medium heat) to brown slightly, about 30 seconds per side. Set the warmed tortillas aside. This is an important step. It wakes up the tortillas and adds a little grill flavor to them.

In a bowl, mix together the cumin, chili powder, Cajun spice, salt and pepper. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the spice mix.Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the chicken on both sides until done in the middle and the juices run clear, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Set aside on a plate to cool, then shred finely with a fork.* See my shortcut below for quicker step.

Throw the onions into the same skillet, stir them around and cook until deep golden brown and caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes; set them aside on a plate. Pour the enchilada sauce into the skillet and reduce the heat to low, allowing it to warm through.

To assemble the enchiladas: Pour 2 cups of the sauce into a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish and leave the rest in the skillet. Dip a tortilla into the sauce in the skillet, then lay it on a baking sheet or plate. Sprinkle some cheese down the middle, followed by some chicken and finally, some of the caramelized onions. Roll it up tightly, then place it seam-side down in the casserole dish. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas, then sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Give it a final sprinkling of chili powder.

Bake until hot and bubbly, 30 minutes. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve the enchiladas topped with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of diced tomatoes, a sprinkling of cilantro and a wedge of lime. Recipe is here

Katie’s Shortcuts: 

*Buy a rotisserie chicken. Shred the chicken. Heat the oil, spices, and chicken in the skillet to let the flavors mix into the chicken and you can skip the step of cooking a chicken breast. Yet another use for a rotisserie chicken. They are my favorite!

*Buy pre chopped onions to save time, a floor full of onion pieces, and runny mascara.

*To serve on a busy weeknight, buy rice, beans, and salsa from a local Mexican restaurant. It is cheep and saves time, energy, and more mess in your kitchen. I like Burrito Parilla in Wheaton on Schmale.

*Leave a few tortillas with just cheese and leave off the onions for kids. My kids and husband for that matter spotted the onions from a mile away. Next time I will make a few without the onions.

One final note: PLEASE text me a picture if you make these again. I forgot to take one!

 

Happy New Year!

Tropical Fruit Salad

I know it is the dead of winter, but this fruit salad can be made in spite of where you live or what temperature it is outside. It is sure to bring some happiness and thoughts of summer to your family. I made this fun fruit salad for my friend’s baby sprinkle and it was not only delicious but beautiful for the table.

Ingredients:

1 cantaloupe, peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces

1 pineapple, peeled and diced into one once pieces

2 limes, peeled and sliced into half slices

2 oranges, peeled and sliced into half slices, removing the seeds

2 Tbsp. agave nectar

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

Zest of one lime

 

Directions: In a large bowl, combine the cut up fruit. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, agave nectar, mint, and lime zest. Drizzle lime juice mixture over the salad. Stir to combine. Serve.

Agave nector, lime juice, and fresh mint brightens up the fruit salad.

Agave nectar, lime juice, fresh mint, and lime zest brighten up typical fruit salad into something special and unique. 

The table for the baby sprinkle. It was in December, so I used pink and red roses for easy flower arrangements.

The table for the baby sprinkle. It was in December, so I used pink and red roses for easy flower arrangements.

Mini Italian Frittatas with proscuitto, spinach, and fontina

Need a good Christmas brunch idea? Try these flavorful make ahead mini frittatas. Make them in advance and heat up Christmas morning. Yum! I made them for a baby sprinkle I hosted for my best friend Carrie and they were all gone at the end. The baby sprinkle was a brunch so I was able to make the mini frittatas the day before, keep them in the refrigerator, and bake them right before guests came. The flavor is intense in these little frittata bites-thanks Ina Garten! I love her Make Ahead Cookbook if you need any final Christmas gift ideas. It’s free shipping and 20% off at Williams & Sonoma right now and they have the cookbook listed for 35 bucks.

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

Ingredients: 

2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups chopped leaks, white and light green parts
4 ounces sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
8 ounces fresh baby spinach
2 1/2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese
8 extra large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a standard 12-cup muffin tin with olive oil, including the top of the pan.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the leeks and saute for 3 minutes, until tender. Add the prosciutto and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, breaking it up with a fork. Add the spinach, tossing with tongs, then cover the pan and cook for 3 minutes, tossing once while it cooks, until the spinach is all wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the basil and lemon juice and set aside while you put together the egg mixture.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper together until blended. Divide the spinach mixture evenly among the 12 muffin cups, leaving an liquid behind. Sprinkle the fontina evenly on top. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the filling in each cup, filling the muffin cups to the top. Sprinkle each frittata with the parmesan cheese.

Salty Proscuitto, Creamy Fontina, and Bright Spinach make this a delectable two bite treat.

Salty Proscuitto, Creamy Fontina, and Bright Spinach make this a delectable two bite treat. The best part-you can make it in advance!

Family Lasagna

Mark this down as your new lasagna recipe. It has all the components- plenty of meat, cheese, and noodles. My sister found this recipe on Allrecipes.com listed as “The World’s Best Lasagna” and has a over 9000 reviews! She tried it for her family and it was a hit all around. She graciously split the recipe and gave half to my family and Isaac ate three helpings! This makes a 9 by 13 but you can easily split it into two 8 by 8’s or two 9 by 9’s. Happy Thanksgiving and give this a try next week when you are sick of eating turkey and mashed potatoes.

Ingredients:
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

-In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
-Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
-To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
-Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
2015 Allrecipes.com

Family dinner that everyone can get on board with!

Family dinner that everyone can get on board with!

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Can you say cheese?

Baked Brie with Maple, Brown Sugar, and Green Apples

Thanksgiving is next week and no doubt you are beginning to think about your family gathering and menu. This is a low stress, easy, and elegant appetizer that I love! It is a recipe from my friend Kelly and after trying it at her house I got the recipe and tried it out at home. It is now one of my go to ideas for serving a warm appetizer at any family gathering. Enjoy!

Baked Brie with Maple, Brown Sugar, and Green Apples

Ingredients:

1 wheel of brie cheese, rind left on

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

1 large green apple, thinly sliced

Crusty bread, extra apples slices, and/or crackers for serving

Directions: Preheat oven to 375. In a small baking dish place the brie cheese. Mix syrup and sugar together in a small bowl and pour mixture over the brie. Sprinkle the green apples on top and on the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. You will know it is ready when the cheese is hot and bubbly on the inside. Serve warm with bread, apples, and/0r crackers for dipping.

An easy fall appetizer perfect for your Thanksgiving feast. I like make small cut into the brie  so people know they can dig in! No one wants to be the first to but it open.

An easy fall appetizer perfect for your Thanksgiving feast. I like to make a small cut into the brie so people know they can dig in! No one wants to be the first to open it!

Creamy Potato Soup

The wind is howling outside and the winter is sneaking up quickly in the Chicagoland area. Good news for Bravo TV as I will help increase their viewership now that I am becoming a winter couch potato. Bad news for my BOB stroller and running shoes which won’t be seeing much action I’m afraid until Spring. What I like best about cold weather is the excuse to stay in and cook comforting soups and stews. That sounds a bit nerdy, but it’s true. You have to try this Pioneer Woman soup. It is highly rated online and uses easy to find ingredients. Your family will love it. This soup, crusty bread, and a simple salad makes a satisfying winter dinner any night of the week.

Creamy Potato Soup

Ingredients:

6 slices thin bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 carrots, scrubbed clean and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 small russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice mix, plus more if needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
1 cup grated Cheddar

Directions: 

Add the bacon pieces to a soup pot over medium heat and cook until crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pot and set it aside. Pour off most of the grease, but do not clean the pot.

Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the carrots, celery and onions. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with the Cajun spice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook until the potatoes are starting to get tender, about 10 minutes. Whisk together the milk and flour, then pour the mixture into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove about half of the soup and blend in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Pour it back into the soup pot and stir to combine. Let it heat back up as you taste for seasoning, adding more of what it needs. Stir in the cream, then the parsley,

Serve in bowls garnished with the grated cheese and crisp bacon pieces. The soup can also be frozen.

Link to the recipe: Pioneer Woman’s Potato Soup

 

Comfort in a bowl- potatoes and vegetables sautéed then blended into a creamy soup then finished with cream and topped with cheddar and bacon bits.

Comfort in a bowl- potatoes and vegetables sautéed then blended into a creamy soup then finished with cream and topped with cheddar and bacon bits.

Fillet of Beef Sandwiches

How can you improve fillet of beef? It’s hard to find any meat that tastes better than fillet of beef.  I typically reserve it for a holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving because of how much the meat costs. But here is a great way to cook this wonderful tenderloin for mini steak sandwiches that are out of this world. You can make enough for four people and still have enough money to buy groceries come Monday morning. This meat does not allow much prep or cooking because it is such high quality and you don’t want to handle it too much! It will literally melt in your mouth. In my family, eating fillet of beef creates an “oh Fey” moment which refers to “What About Bob’s” magical scene where Bill Murray feasts on Dr. Leo Marvin’s wife’s amazing meal. Here is the link if you need a laugh. 

Fillet of Beef Sandwiches

Sauce:

1/4 pound creamy blue cheese
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fillet of Beef:
1 1/2 pounds whole fillet of beef trimmed and tied (butcher will trim and tie it for you. Just ask!)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

To Assemble: 

8 small dinner rolls

1 bunch arugula

2 Tbsp. room temperature butter

 

Directions: For the dressing, mash the blue cheese with a fork and blend with the sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

To make the sandwiches, cut each roll in half. Spread 4 of the slices thickly with the dressing. Top with slices of beef and arugula and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the rest of the slices of bread very lightly with butter and place, butter-side down, on top of the beef. Makes 8 small sandwiches.

To make the Fillet of Beef:
Preheat oven 500 degrees F.

Melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.

Place beef on a baking sheet and pat the outside dry with a paper towel. Using a pastry brush coat the beef with the melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes at 500 degrees F for medium rare.

Remove the beef from the oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing.

slightly adapted from 2001 Barefoot Contessa Parties!

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All the things I love in one bite.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Carmel Brownies

Who doesn’t like a chocolate brownie-especially one that has carmel in the middle. I am a chocoholic. Just ask my husband, the empty bowl of Halloween candy sitting by the door, and the extra chub on my booty….sorry TMI.  I can’t help myself. With these brownies, I like to cut them in little pieces and pop them in my mouth every time I get a chocolate craving. I don’t make them often, but when I do, they disappear shockingly fast. The recipe is great for bringing people meals because you can make them a day in advance and the keep them in the refrigerator before serving. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Caramel Brownies                                                                                 (modified from the amazing Knock You Naked Brownies from the Pioneer Woman)
Ingredients:
1 stick butter, melted, plus more for greasing
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1/3 plus 1/2 cup evaporated milk
One 18.5-ounce box German chocolate cake mix or chocolate fudge cake mix
60 caramels, unwrapped
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-by-9-inch baking pan. Cover the bottom with a piece of parchment paper so you can easily get then brownies out after they set.

Begin by pouring 1/3 cup evaporated milk into a bowl with the cake mix. Add the melted butter. Mix the ingredients together.

Divide the dough in half down the middle. Press half of it into the bottom of the prepared pan to make the first brownie layer. Bake until slightly set, 8 to 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven and set aside.

While the brownie layer is baking, in a double boiler (glass bowl set over a bowl of simmering water) combine the caramels and the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Stir occasionally until the caramels are totally melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the caramel mixture over the first baked layer, spreading so it’s evenly distributed. Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the top.

Next, on a clean kitchen counter press the remaining dough into a square shape slightly smaller than the baking pan. Carefully set it on top of the chocolate chips. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let the brownies cool to room temperature. Cover the pan and refrigerate the brownies for several hours to allow them to set.

When you’re ready to serve sprinkle generously with the powdered sugar and cut them into large rectangles before removing from the pan.

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Some stores have caramels already unwrapped for baking. I could not find them so Maya was my “candy unwraperer”

All the things I love in one bite.

All the things I love in one bite.

Again, another Katie modification! I could to find German Chocolate ale mix so I used chocolate fudge this time around.

Again, another Katie modification! I could not find German Chocolate cake mix so I used chocolate fudge this time around.

Step one! You can focus on melting the caramels while this first layer bakes.

Step one! You can focus on melting the caramels while this first layer bakes.

Step two! The caramel should be smooth and silky.

Step two! The caramel should be smooth and silky. “Low and slow” is a good method for melting caramel.  Low heat and letting it slowly melt while stirring constantly. 

Step three! Make sure to press the square on the counter first then transfer it to the pan.

Step three! Make sure to press the square on the counter first then transfer it to the pan.