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Snacks Ahoy! Butter Toffee Popcorn and Lemon Yogurt Cake

Yesterday I decided to make a couple of new snack and dessert items that I had downloaded recipes for a while back. Sean had picked out the first one as something he wanted to try, which is Butter Toffee Popcorn. he helped me make it and there is not much too this recipe as far as ingredients or effort, but the final result is a great snack. I got the recipe from Cook’s Country, one of my favorite sources for recipes.

Butter Toffee Popcorn

3 quarts popped popcorn

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups salted peanuts

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease a large roasting pan and place the popcorn in the pan.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla and the baking soda (the mixture will foam a little). Add the peanuts and pour the mixture over the popcorn, tossing well to coat.

Bake, stirring occasionally, until the popcorn is a deep golden brown and the caramel has set, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool to room temperature and serve. The popcorn can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days.

This is certainly the easy way to make your own version of Cracker Jacks and save you some cash. You want to be sure to just use plain popcorn, not popcorn that is already seasoned with anything so you don’t get any additional flavors that might affect the caramel (unless that is what you want of course). Also, I used a disposable aluminum roasting pan when I did this to save myself the aggravation of having to try to wash a roasting pan with baked caramel stuck to it. Overall, it’s a pretty tasty snack that is very easy to make. I love toffee myself, so this worked out very well for all of us.

The second recipe I tried was one from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa of the Food Network. It is for a simple Lemon Yogurt Cake that makes for a great item for a brunch, to bring to a party or housewarming, or just to have in the morning with coffee or for dessert.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1 1/3 cups sugar, divided

3 eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into 1 bowl. in another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup of sugar, the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure that it all gets well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1.3 cup of lemon juice and the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place the cake on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice and pour over the cake before serving.

I did opt to omit the second glaze even though I am sure it looks great and tastes great too. I just thought it was too much sugar overkill for the cake and I liked the way it looked with just the first lemon-sugar mixture on it. It has just the right amount of sweetness and lemon flavor. It’s a great cake to make without needing a lot of time or ingredients if you want something at the last minute.

That’s all I have for today. Check back again to see what other recipes come along. I still have a number of recipes I have tried recently to put up, including a roast chicken and vegetables recipe from Marc Murphy, a grilled sausages recipe from Bobby Flay and a pulled pork sliders recipe from Williams-Sonoma, among many others. Check back and see what comes along. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 13, 2013 in Cakes, Cooking, Dessert, Snacks, Uncategorized

 

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A Double Dip: Chicken a la Vendemmia and Roasted Green Beans and Carrots

If you follow along with me on this blog, you know I tend to make a lot of chicken. This means I am always on the lookout for some new recipes on ways to make chicken, particularly when it comes to roasting or broiling. I came across this recipe one day while watching the Food Network and saw Michael Chiarello on the Barefoot Contessa preparing this dish. It looked wonderful and I knew I just had to give it a try.

Chicken a la Vendemmia

2 pounds seedless red grapes

4 large bone-in chicken breasts, skin on

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons fennel spice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallot

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

1/2 cup chicken stock

Puree the grapes in a blender then strain them through a sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. You should nave about 2 1/2 cups of juice when you are done.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the chicken on all sides with salt, pepper and fennel spice. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over moderately high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the olive oil. Add the chicken breasts, skin side down, and brown well on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the chicken is done throughout, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the skillet. Add the shallot to the skillet and return to moderate heat. Cook until softened, then add the rosemary and cook briefly to release its fragrance, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add 2 cups of the grape juice and simmer briskly until it is reduced by half. Add the chicken stock and any collected juices from the chicken platter and simmer until the mixture has reduced to a creamy, sauce-like consistency. The total volume of the sauce will be a little more than 1 cup.

Cut the chicken breasts in half with a heavy knife or cleaver and return them to the platter. Spoon the sauce over and around them.

During the program, Michael Chiarello also added 3 or 4 quartered fresh figs to the sauce after adding the grape juice and chicken broth just to warm them through for serving. I didn’t have any figs on hand, so I skipped this step. I have to say I loved the grape sauce that was made. It was wonderfully creamy and had a great taste to it with the chicken. I served the dish with white rice and the sauce added great flavor to the rice as well.I did cook the chicken for 2 or 3 minutes longer to really crisp up the skin and it was still nice and juicy, so cook the chicken to your liking and simply check the temperature with a thermometer.

I also served the chicken with some fresh green beans I had picked up at the farmer’s market. I wanted to be able to cook everything in the oven at once, so I found this recipe from Williams-Sonoma for roasting the green beans with carrots and onions.

Roasted Green Beans and Carrots with Red Onion

3/4 pound green beans, trimmed

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally, about 1/4– inch thick

1 red onion, sliced

2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an 8 x 11 heavy roasting pan or a very large, ovenproof fry pan on the rack in the oven to heat.

Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add a pinch of salt and the green beans. Cook the beans until they turn bright green and are just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. The timing will depend on the age and size of the beans. Drain the beans and plunge them into a bowl of ice-cold water to stop the cooking and drain them again.

In a large bowl, toss together the beans, carrots, onion, garlic and olive oil. Sprinkle with the cumin, season with salt and pepper, and toss again to thoroughly combine. Transfer the vegetables to the preheated pan and spread them evenly. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 45 to 55 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

I actually cooked the vegetables for less time since I had them in the 400 degree oven with the chicken. They were actually done in about 25 to 30 minutes instead, which gave me enough time to make the sauce and the chicken to rest. I love roasted vegetables; the roasting really brings out the flavors of the vegetables and the mix of green beans, carrots and onion is great with just a touch of cumin added for heat and flavor.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some more recipes of things I have tried recently. We have some events the next few days, so I won’t be doing much cooking, but I do have some things I have done recently or plan to do in the coming days, so check back and see what comes up. until then, enjoy the rest of your day, have a happy and safe 4th of July and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Vegetables

 

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