Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CHOCOLATE LOVERS CHOCOLATE PUDDING

If you love chocolate, as much as I love chocolate, I hope you will try this recipe. I have been perfecting it for a couple of years now, and the process has required a lot of delicious taste testing sacrifice on my part, but the end result is perfection: thick, ultra-chocolate-y, super rich and addicting....just right!!



2 1/4 cups milk (I use 2% milk, but any kind is ok)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar (I use dark, but light is ok)
3 egg YOLKS  (yolks ONLY)
3 level tablespoons corn starch
1 (11.5 ounce) bag milk chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk the brown sugar and corn starch together and set aside. This step isn't absolutely necessary, but if you do it this way, the cornstarch will not clump up or lump up when you add the milk. 

Whisk the cream, milk and yolks together in a saucepan that has a nice heavy bottom (it prevents scorching). Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and whisk until smooth. Make sure you scrape the corners of the pan because the corn starch likes to "hide" there.

Cook on medium heat (stirring) until it gets thick and starts to bubble all over the entire surface of the pudding. TURN THE HEAT DOWN to a level where it still bubbles (but isn't going crazy) and cook/stir for another 30 seconds.

Remove from heat and add the butter, milk chocolate chips and vanilla; whisk until melted and smooth.
 
Now, if you REALLY want that super smooth and silky mouth feel, pour the cooked pudding through a mesh strainer, it REALLY makes a HUGE difference but isn't absolutely necessary.
Pour into dessert dishes and lay a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap right on the surface of the hot pudding (this will stop any "pudding skin" from forming). Chill for at least 4 hours.
 
A NOTE ABOUT CHOCOLATE CHIPS: Any brand milk chocolate chips will work. I usually use Nestlé's or Ghirardelli chocolate chips and try to stay away from the waxy generic house brands of chocolate chips. But that's just my preference.

ENJOY !!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

ALMOND JOY BITES

This treat is very quick and easy to make and it tastes very much like an Almond Joy candy bar (only I think its even better).

Just a few ingredients and no baking makes this recipe a real winner and they look so pretty. Great for gift giving or just for snacking.


3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
3 to 4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
12 ounce bag of milk chocolate chips (see note)
1/4 cup toasted almonds (optional)(see note)
Mix the coconut, sweetened condensed milk and extracts in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped and thick and sticky.

Put 12 mini cupcake papers into a mini cupcake pan and set aside.
Melt the chocolate chips  (until smooth)in the microwave, on 30 second blasts (stirring well after each 30 seconds). My microwave to a total of about 75 seconds, or 2½ blasts).

 Spoon about 1-2 teaspoons melted chocolate into each mini cupcake paper and smooth it around the bottom of the paper a little.

Next put about one to 2 teaspoons of the sticky coconut mixture on top of the melted chocolate (I rolled them into small balls).

Top coconut mixture with another 1-2 teaspoons melted chocolate. That's it!!  Set the candy in the fridge for about 10 minutes to "set" the chocolate. It couldn't be easier!!!  Makes 12 candies.

NOTE: Any flavor chocolate chips will work. I like milk chocolate, but semi-sweet or dark would be good too.

NOTE: I don't put nuts in this candy, but if you want them, go for it. A whole toasted almond on top of the sticky layer looks pretty.

ENJOY !!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

KID FRIENDLY SLOPPY JOES

Years ago, when our hungry teenage boys came home for dinner (with hungry friends tagging along) it was a challenge to feed them all with one pan of Sloppy Joe's. Unexpected "guests" at the dinner table were fun, but required some quick thinking, so I "stretched" this simple but tried and true recipe, by adding kidney beans, extra shredded veggies and cheese. It was always a big hit. Necessity is the mother of invention I guess, thank goodness for versatile recipes like this one.



 These days, with the kids all gone, I still make full size batches of Sloppy Joes but I freeze the extra in quart freezer bags. I put the leftover meat into the bag, removing as much of the air as possible, then patting the meat into a 1" thick flat shape before freezing it (this thin "disk" of Sloppy Joe filling thaws out quickly). I love "instant" meals like this. 

1 pound lean ground beef (I use 90% lean)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup shredded carrot
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/8 (to)1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (see note)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 hamburger buns, split and toasted

Cook the hamburger and vegetables together until meat is no longer pink (chopping up the meat as it cooks) (drain meat well).

Stir in remaining ingredients (except buns). Simmer on med-low for about 20 minutes (to reduce the consistency of the sauce, but don't let it get too dry). Fill the hamburger buns with the beef mixture and serve.


NOTE: After this is cooked, it keeps well in the crockpot (on low) if your dinner hour is uncertain.

NOTE: I serve these with a slice of cheese under the meat mixture and a squirt of yellow mustard on top of the filling (our favorite).

NOTE: I make this with an 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne because picky-picky husband is VERY SHY when it comes to heat/spice in his food. If you like a little more spark in your sandwich, use 1/4 teaspoon.


ENJOY !!!