Categories
Dessert

Feel like you’re on ‘toffee’ the world with three ingredients

With just three ingredients and a little patience, you can easily make homemade toffee that has a great flavor and can be eaten alone or incorporated into baked goods.

As a complete sweets addict, it figures I would marry somebody who would rather have an extra portion of a savory main dish than eat dessert.

That being said, Joey does still have a sweet tooth—it’s just fairly particular.

So, while most sugary concoctions I share with you are decidedly something I made because I wanted to try it or share it outside our household, this one was 100% made with Joey in mind: homemade toffee.

He loves toffee, and when I found a recipe that promised to be an easy way to make it with only three ingredients, I decided to give it a try.

This comes from the blog “Cook With 5 Kids,” but this recipe appears to only exist on Pinterest. You can find the original post at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/564427765807969699/ or visit her website at http://cookwith5kids.com, if you’re interested in her other stuff. I didn’t change anything, because it was so simple that there wasn’t anything to change.

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Homemade Toffee

With just three ingredients and a little patience, you can easily make homemade toffee that has a great flavor and can be eaten alone or incorporated into baked goods.
Course Dessert
Keyword brown sugar, butter, salt, toffee

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter 8 tablespoons
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Prepare an 8-by-8-inch pan or dish by lining it with waxed or parchment paper.
  • Combine the butter, brown sugar and salt in a medium-sized skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir regularly, making sure everything is smooth and well-combined.
  • Continue stirring until the mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  • Once the mixture reaches 300 degrees, remove it from the heat and pour evenly into the lined pan.
  • Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to let the toffee set up and harden.
  • Once the toffee is set up, remove it from the paper and then smash it into bite-sized pieces. (I used my meat mallet.) Store in an airtight container.

If you wanted to turn this up a notch, I’d recommend melting some chocolate and spreading it on the top of the toffee before breaking it into pieces. Let the chocolate harden, and then break it. You could include a sprinkling of nuts on top, too.

This is great to eat on its own. It’s super crunchy (like peanut brittle), but it also dissolves in your mouth like hard candy if you don’t want to chomp on it.

The recipe’s author also suggest smashing it into much smaller pieces and incorporating it into chocolate chip cookies. I think it would also be great in brownies or sprinkled on top of a frosted cake.

For us, it’s just hanging out on our counter in a little sealed bowl, and every day, each of us savor at least one piece and try not to go back in for more.

I have to admit, I haven’t done a great job of eating only one at a time. Maybe, if I’m being honest, I did make this for myself more than for Joey. Just don’t tell him. He doesn’t need to know.

This piece first appeared in print on June 17, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Dessert

Mini pineapple desserts are a true work of ‘tart’

Pineapple tartlets can be made with a cupcake tin and feature a delicious, light pineapple flavor that is perfect for summer.

No matter how many kitchen gadgets I get, I always seem to need one more.

We were invited to a barbecue recently, and I decided to bring something summer-y, settling on making pineapple tartlets.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a tart pan, let alone any tartlet pans, but I do have cupcake tins, and it turns out that if you have that and a large cookie cutter, you can make tartlets, too.

I actually combined recipes from two different blogs for this recipe. I use the tartlet shell recipe from “A Baking Journey.” You can find it at https://www.abakingjourney.com/tartlet-shells/. I used the filling recipe from “Hawaii Travel with Kids.” You can find that original post at https://hawaiitravelwithkids.com/hawaiian-recipes-pineapple-tarts/.

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Pineapple Tartlets

Pineapple tartlets can be made with a cupcake tin and feature a delicious, light pineapple flavor that is perfect for summer.
Course Dessert
Keyword coconut, pastry, pineapple, tartlet, whipped cream

Ingredients

Shell Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter cold
  • 2 eggs

Filling Ingredients

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 15.25 ounces pineapple tidbits in juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 can whipped cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons shredded coconut

Instructions

  • For the shells, add the dry ingredients to a food processor (or just use a bowl and a pastry cutter or two forks) and pulse to mix. Cut the butter into small cubes and incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles small crumbles. Try to handle the butter as little as possible—colder is better.
  • Now incorporate the eggs until the mixture is a smooth dough. Dump it onto your countertop and knead the dough just enough to make sure it’s smooth. Spilt the dough into two, even pieces, and place each ball of dough between two large pieces of parchment paper and roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thick. Leave the dough between the pieces of parchment and place them on trays in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut large circles out of the dough with a cookie cutter. (Mine was about four inches in diameter, and if you have one with pretty edges, use that.) Place each circle into the wells of a cupcake tin, pressing down so the dough goes evenly up the sides of each and there are no air bubbles underneath.
  • Poke the bottom of each pastry with a fork and then place the cupcake tins in the refrigerator for another hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 10 minutes or until the shells are starting to turn golden brown.
  • While the shells bake, mix the filling. In a mixing bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, sour cream and seven tablespoons of the pineapple juice from the can.
  • Dice about two dozen of the tidbits and set aside.
  • Carefully pour the filling into the prepared shells, being careful not to fill them to the top or overflow them (they will stick in the cupcake tin if they overflow). Add a few pieces of pineapple to each tart.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 375, and bake the tarts for seven minutes.
  • Remove the tarts from the oven and let them cool completely.
  • While they cool, place the shredded coconut in a small pan over medium heat, stirring often, for about three minutes or until much of the coconut is golden brown. Remove it from the heat.
  • When the tarts are cooled, remove them from the cupcake tin and top them with whipped cream, toasted coconut and a few more pieces of pineapple. Serve.

These were literally gone before the meat was done cooking and got rave reviews. If you’re traveling with these, I do recommend waiting until you reach your destination to add the whipped cream and coconut. Mine fell a bit in transit.

And it was nice to be able to create something that looked fancy even though I lack the fancy equipment. I’ll probably invest in a full-size tart pan at some point, but for now, I have it all under control.

This piece first appeared in print on June 10, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

A one-pot meal won’t take up ‘mushroom’ in the kitchen

This one-pot recipe for creamy mushroom pasta is a great dinner for the whole family.

Joey and I have completely different styles when it comes to cooking.

I’m a measurements person. He’s an “add it until it tastes right” person.

I subscribe to the “clean as you go” philosophy. He waits until the meal is over.

I search cookbooks and online for ingredients that meld well. He goes with his gut.

So, it was a little out of character for me when he walked into the kitchen to me scrutinizing a video on my phone while furiously scribbling down notes.

I watched a video of a person with the online handle of “Everything Delish” make what appeared to be an amazing creamy mushroom pasta, but after a long search, I realized that if I wanted to recreate the recipe, I was going to have to figure it out for myself.

I found her through her Pinterest page, if you’re interested in watching the video as well, and she has a website at everything-delish.com, although I couldn’t find this particular recipe on it. So, for the most part, the following is my interpretation.

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One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta

This one-pot recipe for creamy mushroom pasta is a great dinner for the whole family.
Course Main Course
Keyword chicken, creamy, garlic, linguine, mushrooms, parmesan-reggiano, pasta, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into two-inch cubes
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 16 ounces mushrooms sliced (I used baby bellas)
  • 4 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 12 ounces linguine pasta dry
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup parmesan-reggiano cheese grated
  • 6 ounces parmesan shredded
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large pan with a lid over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Don’t worry about cooking it all the way through. Add in the garlic, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, basil, onion powder, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Cook for several minutes, letting the garlic brown slightly.
  • Add in the chicken broth and milk. Raise the heat to a low boil.
  • Add in the dry pasta. Stir to incorporate it. A bit, then lower the heat to a simmer and place the lid on the pan. Let the pasta cook for about eight minutes or until it is al dente.
  • Remove the lid and stir. Stir in the flour, then add the cheeses and continue stirring regularly for five to 10 minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom to keep the cheese from sticking. Once the sauce reduces into a thicker, creamier consistency, stir in the fresh spinach. Let the pasta continue to heat through until the spinach is wilted, and serve.

This was so, so good. I was really nervous at first that the sauce wasn’t going to thicken, but after being patient, it finally got to a great consistency.

It also reheated really well out of the fridge, and Joey and I got several meals out of it.

When Joey figured out I was winging a recipe, he seemed a bit proud of me. I think maybe after a decade of marriage, he might finally be rubbing off on me.

Except for the whole kitchen cleaning thing. I’m not quite there yet.

This piece first appeared in print on June 3, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Breakfast

Muffin pancakes make sure breakfast won’t fall flat

Pancakes are easy to create in multiple flavors with just three ingredients: a muffin mix, an egg and milk.

When our family recently got together for Mother’s Day, my three-year-old niece and I got plenty of quality time, looking for bugs, hunting for seashells next to a creek and getting more than just a little muddy.

It was a great day. Once we were cleaned up and inside again, my sister mentioned that my niece was looking forward to a summer sleepover at each set of grandparents’ houses. Apparently, a three-year-old’s interpretation of a sleepover includes kicking Grandpa out of the big bed to have a slumber party with Grandma and something special for breakfast.

I offered up that I wouldn’t mind being on the sleepover schedule, too, and she was immediately interested in what I’d have for breakfast at my house.

I asked her what she thought we should have, and she settled on donuts. Oh, and pancakes. Oh, and bacon. Oh, and cookies. You know, all the normal breakfast stuff.

I figured I better get my pancake skills up to snuff, since I’m notoriously bad at making them, and mine normally turn out thick and dense instead of light and fluffy.

That’s why I decided to try this week’s recipe, which I found posted on social media with no attribution as to who first discovered this technique. It’s a way to turn a simple muffin mix into great, delicious pancakes. It’s insanely easy, as you’ll see, and I didn’t change a thing, although you could add anything you wanted to these—from chocolate chips to fresh fruit to sprinkles.

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Muffin Mix Pancakes

Pancakes are easy to create in multiple flavors with just three ingredients: a muffin mix, an egg and milk.
Course Breakfast
Keyword easy, muffin mix, pancakes

Ingredients

  • 7 ounce muffin mix any flavor
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  • Heat a six-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Spray it with cooking spray.
  • Once the skillet is hot, pour enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom.
  • Let the batter cook for several minutes. Once the edges are slightly brown and bubbles are rising in the middle of the pancake, carefully flip it over.
  • Cook for another minute or so, and remove to a plate. Cover to keep warm while you finish the rest of the pancakes. For best results, spray the pan with cooking spray in between each pancake.
  • Serve with your favorite toppings.

I got four six-inch pancakes out of this batter. If I would have gone a little thinner with them or made silver dollar pancakes, as I probably will when my niece stays over, I could have gotten more. 

I opted for using a blueberry pancake mix, which was pretty darn good. There were several other options at my local grocery store for mixes—from banana to cinnamon sugar to chocolate chip.

You could quickly and easily make several flavors for everyone in the family.

I’m guessing my niece will have a whole new menu planned for us by the time she and I get to have our sleepover. Of course, after her first slumber party at Grandma and Grandpa’s, I’m going to have to up my game. Those people take spoiling to a whole new level, and pancakes and cookies for breakfast probably ain’t gonna cut it.

This piece first appeared in print on May 27, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Cookies Dessert

Combo cookies will be your next crowning achievement

Crownie pinwheels combine store-bought cookie dough with a boxed brownie mix to create pretty, chocolatey cookies.

I have become completely susceptible to online cooking demos.

If I am scrolling through Pinterest or Facebook, I will inevitably find myself watching someone chopping up veggies or mixing up some kind of batter. Even if the recipe doesn’t particularly appeal to me, I find the process of watching someone cook completely fascinating.

It’s either that or videos of pets doing ridiculous things.

This past week, one of those recipe videos spoke to me, because it looked both delicious and easy, taking pre-made cookie dough and a box mix to create something new.

These “crownies”—half cookie, half brownie—were just as good as they looked, so I’m sharing the extremely simple recipe with you this week.

This comes from the website “So Yummy.” You can find the original post at https://soyummy.com/recipe/crownie-pinwheels/. I didn’t change any of the ingredients, but I did clarify some directions a bit.

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Crownie Pinwheels

Crownie pinwheels combine store-bought cookie dough with a boxed brownie mix to create pretty, chocolatey cookies.
Course Dessert
Keyword brownies, chocolate, cookies, crownies, swirl

Ingredients

  • 16- ounce package chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 10- ounce package fudgey brownie mix prepared

Instructions

  • Place the cookie dough between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper and roll it out until it is the same thickness as the chocolate chips. Try to keep it in as much of a rectangle or square as you can.
  • Spread a thick layer of the brownie dough evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges except on the top one inch. You probably won’t use the entire batch of brownies for this step.
  • Carefully roll the dough, starting from the bottom. You’ll likely have some of the brownie batter squish out a little.
  • Once you complete the roll, gently press to seal the roll, wrap it in the waxed/parchment paper, and place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes so it sets up.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Unwrap the roll and slice it into about 1/4-inch slices. Place them two inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.
  • Let the cookies cool for a few minutes before transferring to an airtight container.

I bought an 18-ounce brownie mix for my cookies, and I ended up having a ton of batter left over. I just sprayed a mini-cupcake tin with cooking spray and made mini brownie bites while my cookies were in the freezer. Win-win.

In hindsight, I wish I would have just bought a second package of cookie dough and made a second roll. I got about two dozen cookies out of the single package.

These were really good. They spread out into thin, pretty cookies that looked a lot more impressive than they should have, considering I really didn’t have to put in much effort to make them.

In the long run, my love of cooking videos is probably a good thing—it makes my suggested posts on social media a lot more positive, and every once in awhile, we end up with something delicious in the house.

This piece first appeared in print on May 20, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

‘Poutine’ all this in a taco is a little crazy

Poutine tacos are a strange twist on the Canadian classic but don’t skimp in the calories the dish normally presents.

I have had several people over the years tell me that this column is promoting bad eating.

I mean, yeah, I agree at least somewhat. If you eat many of the recipes I write about every day of the week, you’re probably not making your doctor or your bathroom scale all that happy.

But I also think reading about decadent desserts or calorie-laden meals is kind of fun. There’s a reason the Food Network doesn’t have a full slate of salad shows in its line up.

It’s not that I’m against eating healthy. Actually, Joey and I try hard to eat well regularly. I have a big bunch of asparagus in my fridge right now, along with some other fresh greens, ready to be cooked for dinner this week.

But sometimes I like to try out the dark side of the cookbook, and if you didn’t see it coming, this week’s recipe is way, way on the caloric dark side.

This recipe, a twist on the classic Canadian dish of poutine, which features cheese curds, French fries and brown gravy, comes from the website “Recipe Champions” by Josh Elkin. If you haven’t ever heard of his website, check it out sometime. He has some truly crazy recipes on there. You can find the original post at https://recipechampions.com/recipe/poutine-tacos/. I took out some steps in my version. Also, I used yellow cheese curds, although the classic uses white. I’d recommend just using what is available in your local grocery store.

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Poutine Tacos

Poutine tacos are a strange twist on the Canadian classic but don't skimp in the calories the dish normally presents.
Course Main Course
Keyword bacon, brown gravy, cheese curds, French fries, mozzarella, poutine, tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 12 ounces frozen French fries
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cheese curds
  • 6 strips bacon cooked and chopped

Instructions

  • Start by making the taco shells. Set out a taco holder or a cupcake pan, turned upside down. Heat a small skillet (about five inches wide) over medium heat. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese evenly into the bottom of the pan. Let it cook, undisturbed, for about three minutes. Then turn the heat to medium high, and when you notice the edges starting to turn brown, check to see if you can move the cheese, if it can move, it’s ready. Remove the circle of cheese from the heat.
  • While the cheese is still hot, carefully place it in the taco holder to create a taco shape or place it in a taco shape between two of the cups on the cupcake tin.
  • Repeat the process with the rest of the mozzarella.
  • As the shells cool and harden, cook the French fries in your preferred method.
  • Create a brown gravy by bringing the beef broth to a boil in a small saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup cold water. Once the broth is boiling, turn the heat to medium-low and whisk in the garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire, dissolved corn starch mixture and salt and pepper. Let the gravy thicken, stirring regularly, and add more salt and pepper if desired.
  • To assemble the tacos, start with a layer of fries in the mozzarella shell, top with cheese curds, and then add gravy and bacon pieces. Serve immediately.

These were ridiculous. They were delicious, with lots of great texture, but they felt ridiculous to eat because of how bad for us they were. It was kind of like when you get something fried and delicious at the state fair.

I can’t say that we’ll be making them again any time soon, but it was definitely worth eating once, feeling bad about it, and ticking this off the life experience list.

I’m sure I’ll wound the egos of some Canadians for putting out this non-traditional version, and I’m also certain I’ll have some health professionals wagging their finger at me, but this was so, so good, and it was fun to make, too.

And to all my naysayers, don’t worry. I promise my asparagus will be made with no frying or bacon involved. I’m just not making any commitments for next week’s column.

This piece first appeared in print on May 13, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Dessert Snack

Love Reese’s eggs? Copy that.

Copycat Reese’s eggs are a delicious facsimile, making it almost impossible to stop at eating just one.

If you do some looking online about the best version of Reese’s candy, you’ll find quite a few articles that discuss the superiority of Reese’s eggs to the normal peanut butter cups.

Yes, I know. I need to spend my time more wisely, but I ended up down a strange rabbit hole, and I figured I’d share the gist so you don’t have to follow suit.

Apparently, the prevailing thought process is that Reese’s eggs are better than Reese’s cups, because they have a better chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio.

A 2019 piece by Chloe Bryan explains that the ridges on the cup are the problem.

“The trouble with the ridges: The thick edge they create disrupts the cup’s delicate peanut butter-chocolate balance,” she writes. “A bite including ridges will not contain as much peanut butter as a bite containing exclusively innards—and the latter is superior.”

She goes on to say that the Reese’s eggs (or the trees at Christmas time) are just like biting into those “innards” only, making them the better choice.

If I’m being honest, I’ll eat any Reese’s option without hesitation—eggs, trees, cups, pieces, mini, jumbo, etc. I love them. But I do agree that there’s something special about the seasonal varieties, which is why I was drawn to this week’s recipe to make a copycat version of the classic Reese’s eggs, and I have to say, it’s a pretty good copy.

The recipe I used comes from a post on Facebook from Tabatha Swartz on a group called “Pennsylvania Dutch Recipes.” I added a little extra peanut butter, since it helped me use the whole container, but I also included the original measurement in case you’d rather measure it out.

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Copycat Reese’s Eggs

Copycat Reese's eggs are a delicious facsimile, making it almost impossible to stop at eating just one.
Course Dessert
Keyword copycat, cream cheese, milk chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, Reese’s

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 28 ounces creamy peanut butter or three cups
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 bags milk chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Beat all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips until well combined. When it comes together, you can turn it out onto your kitchen counter and knead it a bit to finish it out.
  • Form the peanut butter mixture into egg shapes (or whatever shape you like), and place them on a plate or cookie sheet that can fit in your freezer.
  • Freeze for about 30 minutes or until the eggs are completely frozen.
  • Before removing the eggs from the freezer, melt your chocolate by using a double boiler or a by microwaving, 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chips are melted.
  • Lay out sheets of waxed paper on your work surface and then, in batches, dip each egg into the melted chocolate, and then place the coated candy on the waxed paper to harden.
  • Store the finished eggs in the refrigerator or freezer in an air-tight container.

These were amazing. They wouldn’t pass a blindfold taste test, but they were so, so good. And if you’re like the dozens of people who have taken to the Internet to talk about how great Reese’s eggs are in comparison to the cups, this might be just the treat for you now that you have to wait all the way until October for Reese’s pumpkin shapes to be on shelves again.

I would caution that these get melty pretty quickly, so I’d highly recommend keeping them refrigerated or frozen in between enjoying them. Also, the great thing about this recipe is you can make any shape you want. You could easily use cookie cutters to get creative and make all kinds of seasonal peanut butter creations.

And, of course, you could put it into some cupcake liners and get the classic ridges, too. Just don’t post online about messing up the chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio. You may not like the response.

This piece first appeared in print on May 6, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

Spicy ramen makes ‘miso’ happy

Spicy garlic ramen comes together in about 15 minutes, has lots of levels of flavor and is extremely easy to customize with your favorite ingredients.

One of the first meals Joey and I had inside a restaurant after we were officially vaccinated for COVID-19 was to try out some local spicy garlic ramen we heard about online.

The restaurant serves its spicy ramen in levels, with each level getting progressively hotter. Joey started off asking for a relatively high number, and the sweet girl at the counter just shook her head at him and asked if he was sure. He went with a lower option, just in case.

We really enjoyed the ramen. It was flavorful and just the right amount of spicy. It made for a great meal, so of course, we decided we had to figure out how to make some spicy garlic ramen for ourselves at home.

If you’re not into spicy flavors, I’d recommend starting with less of the sambal oelek, which is a spicy chili sauce. I used only one tablespoon the first time, and in the four or five times I’ve made this since, I added a second tablespoon, and it gives it a good “makes your nose run” heat.

This comes from the blog “40 Aprons” by Cheryl Malik. You can find her original post at https://40aprons.com/15-minute-spicy-ramen/. I added extra garlic in my version.

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Spicy Garlic Ramen

Spicy garlic ramen comes together in about 15 minutes, has lots of levels of flavor and is extremely easy to customize with your favorite ingredients.
Course Main Course
Keyword garlic, gingerbread, miso paste, ramen, sambal oelek, sesame oil, soy sauce, spicy

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1- inch knob fresh ginger cut into fourths
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons sambal oelek
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • dash rice wine vinegar
  • 2 blocks ramen
  • Optional toppings: soft-boiled eggs sliced green onion, sesame seeds, fresh sliced mushrooms, etc.

Instructions

  • Combine the broth along with one cup water in a medium-sized pot. Toss in the ginger, garlic, miso paste, sambal oelek, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar and stir to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, letting the flavors meld for 10 minutes.
  • If you are serving this with soft-boiled eggs, place your eggs in a pot and just cover them with cold water. Bring to a rapid boil and remove from heat after six minutes. Drain the eggs and immediately plunge them in a bowl of ice water, and set them aside while your ramen finishes.
  • To finish off the ramen, remove the slices of ginger, and bring the broth back to a low boil and drop in the blocks of noodles. Cook for two minutes or until the noodles reach your desired level of doneness.
  • Serve with whatever toppings you choose.

This was so, so good. I don’t normally make something again, let along numerous times, before I share a recipe with you guys, but this one was so good that it has its own card in my recipe box already. 

It’s so easy to add extras, too. You could add shrimp or chicken or tofu, too, if you want some protein in there.

And the nice thing about controlling the spice level yourself is even if you guess wrong, you don’t have to deal with the judgmental eyes of a cashier, silently telling you, “I told you so.”

This piece first appeared in print on April 29, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish Side Dish

Huge casserole will make you say, ‘Cheese, Louise!’

This over-the-top version of macaroni and cheese makes a huge amount of the creamy, decadent dish.

As the extremely proud aunt of a fantastic three-year-old, I have been around for quite a few meals of macaroni and cheese the past several years.

I definitely can’t argue with her taste in good food. Joey makes fun of me for ordering mac and cheese regularly, and while my niece’s dish of choice is generally a cup of the single-serving microwaveable kind, I tend to opt for a more grown up version.

After I recently saw a recipe online for a batch that claimed to be the “world’s best” and featured three types of cheese, I decided to forgo any boxes of Kraft and try my own version from scratch.

I will warn you, before we even launch into this, that this makes an absolutely huge dish of macaroni and cheese. I would highly recommend halving or even quartering the recipe if you aren’t feeding a crowd or don’t want a lot of leftovers.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Mom on Timeout.” You can find the original post at https://www.momontimeout.com/best-homemade-baked-mac-and-cheese-recipe/. I ended up adding extra pasta to my version, because it was way too soupy for my tastes. I also added garlic powder and extra paprika.

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Over-the-Top Macaroni and Cheese

This over-the-top version of macaroni and cheese makes a huge amount of the creamy, decadent dish.
Course Main Course
Keyword garlic, gruyere, macaroni, panko, parmesan, sharp cheddar cheese

Ingredients

  • 24 ounces elbow macaroni cooked al dente
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar shredded
  • 2 cups gruyere shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/2 cup parmesan shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a three- or four-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  • While the pasta cooks, combine the shredded cheddar and Gruyere in a large bowl and set it aside.
  • When the pasta is finished and drained, add it to another bowl and drizzle it with the olive oil and mix to combine. Set it aside.
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt six tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and continue to stir for one minute. Whisk in the milk and heavy cream until the mixture is smooth. Continue stirring regularly until small bubbles start to form on the surface. Whisk in the salt, pepper and garlic powder and continue cooking, stirring regularly, for about two more minutes. Reserve two cups of the combined cheddar and gruyere, and add the rest to the pot, a handful at a time, whisking in between additions until the sauce is smooth. Once all of the cheese is melted into the sauce, add the pasta. Stir to fully coat the pasta and dump half of it into the prepared baking dish.
  • Add the rest of the cheddar and gruyere in an even layer and then top with the rest of the macaroni mixture.
  • In a bowl, combine the panko, parmesan, four tablespoons melted butter and paprika, and stir until all of the bread crumbs are moistened.
  • Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on the top of the dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is browned and the cheese is bubbling.

This was so rich and really delicious, and while gruyere is not a cheap cheese to buy, it really did add some complex flavors I wouldn’t have been able to get with just the sharp cheddar.

Two things I would add as tips are, first, you might want to bake this on a baking sheet in case it spills over. My baking dish was just over three quarts in size, and I could barely fit the entire batch into it.

Second, if you want the best results, shred the cheddar and gruyere yourself. Pre-packaged shredded cheese often doesn’t melt as easily because of additives put in to keep it from clumping together.

I was amazed at the size of this batch of macaroni and cheese by the time I was done. I ended up giving away quite a few helpings so that it would all get eaten.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy this one with my niece. We’ll have to have a mac and cheese date sometime soon; although, I suspect that my use of “fancy” cheese won’t impress her too much and with her three-year-old appetite, we’re bound to have a lot of leftovers.

This piece first appeared in print on April 22, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Cookies Dessert

‘Tassie’ together some mini pies this week

Pecan tassies are a bit quicker to accomplish than a full pecan pie, and they’re a great crowd pleaser for a dessert table.

I have said before that I actually really enjoy making pie.

I think now that I feel confident with pie crust, the idea of creating a shell and a filling that (at least in theory) comes out in whole, beautiful slices is one of my favorite things.

Joey has been a wonderful and willing participant in my pie experiments over the years, with pecan being his absolute favorite, so when I announced I was making pecan tassies, he was on board to be my taste tester.

If you’re not familiar, a “tassie” is a mini pie. An old article by Betty Rosbottom in the Los Angeles Times points out that the word really just means “cup,” but in the U.S., at least, we tend to use the term for the dessert.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Baking a Moment.” You can find the original at https://bakingamoment.com/brown-sugar-pecan-tassies/. I doubled the vanilla in my version. Also, feel free to skip the whiskey in these. You can’t taste it in the final version outside of it amplifying other flavors, but if you’re not feeling it, it won’t hurt anything to leave it out.

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Brown Sugar Pecan Tassies

Pecan tassies are a bit quicker to accomplish than a full pecan pie, and they're a great crowd pleaser for a dessert table.
Course Dessert
Keyword brown sugar, cream cheese, mini pie, pecans, tassies, vanilla, whiskey

Ingredients

Pastry Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans plus more for tops

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • For the pastry, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, and then beat in the flour and salt. If you’re using a mini-cupcake pan, divide the pastry into 24 equal balls; if using a regular cupcake pan, divide it into 12.
  • Press the pastry into the bottoms and up the sides of each well.
  • For the filling, beat the egg, brown sugar, melted butter, whiskey, vanilla and salt until it’s smooth. Fold in the pecans and evenly distribute the filling into the prepared pan.
  • Top each well with some more pecans, and bake 25 minutes for the mini-cupcake pan or 30 minutes for the regular cupcake pan.
  • Let the tassies cool, and then remove them from the pan. Store them in an airtight container.

These were awesome. I opted for the mini-cupcake pan version, and it produced cute little pies that were easy to just pop into your mouth. Especially if you wanted to create a dessert buffet table or had a gathering where people will be snacking, this is the recipe for you.

If you’re not with me on enjoying pie baking, this is a good one to try in order to dip your toe in the pool or to just avoid trying to roll out pie dough altogether. Plus, if you need him, I know a guy who makes an excellent taste tester.

This piece first appeared in print on April 15, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.