November 30, 2011

Spinach Souffle like Julia Child

Souffle sounds scary. It sounds like one of those dishes that require special tools and ingredients. I have visions of tv shows (I Love Lucy maybe) where the souffle collapses as soon as it's put on the table and Mom breaks down in tears, deflated and defeated. Souffle takes courage. I guess I figured why not walk on the wild side and take a chance. What did I have to lose, some eggs? We always have plenty of those around here. Some spinach, pretty cheap, so go for it. WWJD: what would Julia do? She had plenty of failures and on tv, no less. I could hide mine in my house if it didn't work.

After I made this the first time, I have made it again, and again, and again. I LOVE this dish. It turns out souffle is not hard. As a bonus this recipe uses 9 eggs and it tastes great. I make it for company and people are so impressed. It looks like I worked at something. Try it out on your family and master the timing and you too will have a "company recipe" in your arsenal. Just remember to serve it right away. This thing deflates fast (fyi, it still tastes good after it deflates). The photo below was not taken fast enough to show you how high it will puff up, it had already deflated. And you don't need a souffle pan or a parchment collar to make this. I used my trusty pyrex dish which I use for every vegetable under the sun.

Spinach Souffle
Julia Child

1 tbsp minced shallots (or use sweet onions)
1 tbsp butter
3/4 c chopped frozen spinach
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 c milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 c grated Swiss cheese (I've also used cheddar, gruyere, and gouda)
5 egg whites

Defrost the spinach in a colander. Squeeze most of the water out of the spinach with a couple paper towels. Cook the shallots and 1 tbsp butter in a saute (like a frying pan with higher straight sides) or frying pan on medium for 1 minute. Add the spinach and salt, stirring around, until the spinach seems REALLY dry. Remove the pan from the heat.

Butter a 6 cup souffle dish and sprinkle it with some of the grated cheese. Set it off to the side. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, melt 2 1/2 tbsp butter. Stir in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes, this should bubble. Remove from heat and pour in milk. Beat with whisk until blended. Return to heat and bubble again, stirring with the whisk. This stuff is going to get thick, when it's like are ready to add the egg yolks one at a time.

Add the egg/ flour base to the spinach off to the side. Add the remaining swiss cheese and you'll have a gooey mess like this.

Get our your mixer and wire whip attachment to whisk your egg whites. Put the egg whites in a large bowl with a dash of salt and beat on high until you have white stiff foam.
Carefully fold in the spinach to the whipped egg whites. Folding means you slowly and gently flip the ingredients around each other. The idea here is you don't want the egg whites to deflate all those little bubbles they have made. 

Pour your mixture into the prepared souffle dish. Put in the oven and turn it down to 375 degrees and bake for 25 minutes. Serve Immediately!


November 21, 2011

Homemade Butterfingers

I just started participating in what's know as the "Secret Recipe Club". It's a bunch of food bloggers secretly making each others' recipes. It sounded interesting, so I signed up. I really had no idea what to expect. For this month, I was referred to a blog called Hugs & Cookies XOXO with the instructions to, "go make one recipe off the blog". I discovered Danielle, the blogger is a talented cookie decorator and makes a bunch of gluten free desserts. I was having trouble focusing on the task at hand, since I was surrounded by treat after treat after treat on her blog. I was in a sugar high, when I arrived at this recipe, homemade butterfingers. Huh? This was a new one on me.
I know what you are thinking, "Aimee, why make this stuff when you can just go out and buy a bag of  Butterfingers?" I guess that's the question I could ask about most of the things I make. There are so many different reasons, beyond teaching my children to love good food, which i definitely my overriding reason. One is cost, sometimes I can save money when I make it myself, like oatmeal packets. Sometimes it just tastes better, like cake with fresh buttercream icing. Other times, it's more like a challenge...a throw down. Can I really make this???
This butterfinger recipe from Hugs & Cookies was just that. Would it be possible to make Butterfingers, which my husband LOVES, that really taste like that peculiar crumbly candy? I had to walk in faith with Danielle. Turns out the answer is....yes! With only three ingredients you too can make candy magic. You don't even have to use your stove or oven!! Here's the three ingredients you'll need....
{I know I have four things on this tray, but I just wanted to show you that you could use either chocolate chips or melting chocolate (I used a mix of both, since I didn't have a lot of either).}
Are you noticing the crazy secret ingredient for this recipe?  It's CANDY CORN! How wild is that? If you want to make these butterfingers, go out now and buy a clearance bag of candy corn, since it's only around during the Halloween season. Go now... I'll be waiting.....

.........back with your $.50 purchase? Good. Here's the recipe.
Homemade Butterfingers(makes 36 pieces of candy)
1/2 c candy corn
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
chocolate for melting
Put the candy corn in a glass dish (or just be lazy and melt it in the measuring cup). Zap it in the microwave for 1 minute and then stir. If it's not a melted mess like the photo below, put it back in for 15 seconds. You don't want to burn it which is easy since candy corn has a very high sugar content, like 99% sugar. The other 1% is food coloring, ha!
To this scary neon orange goop, you add the peanut butter. Stir until it's all mixed well. Your hand may fall off...mine did. Pour the ugly brownish mixture into a foil lined 8x8 pan. (If you want more bars, you could easily increase this recipe to fill a 9x13 pan, just keep the ratio 1:1 for the candy corn and peanut butter.)

Cool the mixture in the fridge (about 10 minutes) while you melt your chocolate. I'd like to use a double boiler for melting chocolate, that is if I had one. In the meantime, I just melted the chocolate in the microwave in a glass bowl. By the time you get the chocolate melted your mixture will be ready for cutting. I used a large bread knife, but I think a pizza cutter would work better in the future. I also cut my pieces TOO big. I had to go back and half them, which created about 36 pieces. This stuff is rich!

After you cut your pieces dip them in chocolate and let them cool. Or you could be really lazy smart and just pour chocolate over them, but you'd use more chocolate that way. The point is, you want them to be covered in chocolate just like the real candy bar. I wasn't very careful about covering the bottom, but enough dripped down on my wire racking to cover them mostly. Don't look too closely ;)

So how does the end result stack up against the real thing? I say, spot on! They taste so much alike people may not even know you made them. Since we just had Halloween I happened to have an original Butterfinger in the kids' treat drawer. I cut them both open to show you the color difference. I actually think the homemade version is prettier. The original is crunchier and flakier, definitely more crumbly (ie messy), but you can imitate that if you store them in the fridge. My Butterfinger Connoisseur Husband liked the original, but I noticed he ate quite a few of my version too. I sent most of them in to Awana to celebrate Super Bear's birthday (more on the amazing Magic Tree House birthday party we had soon). The kids and the grown ups there LOVED them. I was a little embarrassed to tell them how easy they were to make.  This is one cooking experiment I'm glad I took on. Danielle thank you for entrusting me with your delicious recipe!! I'll be back when I need another sugar rush. And I think I'll sign up for this Secret Recipe Club thing again. You never know what you'll discover.


November 18, 2011

Harvest Moon Pie Pops

Happy Almost Turkey Day!!!

In need of an easy Thanksgiving centerpiece??? These are waaay simple and like the chocolate acorns, they make a cute decoration for your table (at least until Uncle Jimmy or Cousin April starts munching). Here's what you need: original flavored large moon pies, popscicle sticks, cookie icing, fall themed candies, cello bags, and some ribbon. After having worked with the moon pies, I do not recommend the new flavored ones (peanut butter or mint). Although I think they taste much better than the original, they don't hold together well because the filling is is not sticky like the original marshmallow. I'm not sure about the vanilla and banana but I think those are more like the marshmallow ones, so they may work.
My big kids (8 and 5 1/2) were in charge of this project and they really didn't require much supervision. We had a big yard sale to get rid of a bunch of our baby stuff and the kids sold these goodies at their very own table.

First insert a popscicle stick into the middle of the moon pie. Each circle got decorated with the candy choices using a little cookie icing (bought from the clearenced Halloween section) as glue. We used candy corn (wait til you see what I did with the leftovers),
We made a bunch of flower designs, but they could be done as turkeys?  Or maybe save this project for Christmas and do little trees or snow flakes on them. What about Valentine hearts? There are tons of possibilities!


November 15, 2011

Custom Knitted Hat Winner

And the winner is......... Tina! Congratulations!! She's picked the cute Zoe hat from Hunky Dori Boutique. Thanks to all of you who commented. Please comment again sometime. I love it when I get to hear your thoughts.

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November 5, 2011

Knitted Hat Giveaway!!

Nadia - Baby/Toddler Girl Hat with Vintage Button Accent sizes 0-3, 3-6, 6-12, 12-24, 2T-4T

And the winner is......... Tina! Congratulations!! She's picked the cute Zoe hat. Thanks to all of you who commented. Please comment again sometime. I love it when I get to hear your thoughts.

True Random Number Generator 20 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

I want to say thank you! Thank you to each and every one of you. I have finally made it to 100 email subscribers. That was a BIG goal for me because I know you probably get tons of email. I'm so tickled to know this Chickenville labor of love is giving ideas to someone else, much less 100 of you. I know some of you out there are GFC readers and others are twitterers and still others get their fix on FB and I appreciate each of you. As a big thank you, I am doing a giveaway to celebrate!!!!
That sweetie in the photo above is not mine, but another precious little girl that I know. She's actually (ready to follow this one?) my neighbors' daughter's daughter. She's pretty cute - right? And that hat makes her ridiculously cute! That's what we're giving away! (The hat not the baby). This babe's mom is the uber-talented Dori...

dorifitzDori started out making these little knitted hats for her girls, but when people kept asking her where she got them, she knew she was on to something. She started making them for friends and has just opened an Etsy shop to sell to the general public. I LOVE stories like this. The mom who is doing something she loves!

So when Dori contacted me about doing a giveaway for one of these precious hats, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn't love one of these? You surely know a little girl who needs one of these. They are even machine washable! If you are the winner, you get to choose any hat style, color and size (0-4T). This would be a great Christmas present or even a "just because your cute" present.

Lisa - Baby/Toddler Girl Hat sizes 0-3, 3-6, 6-12, 12-24, 2T-4T
You have multiple chances to win! Please leave separate comments for EACH entry and be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. All of them are easy…you ready?…

•Check out Dori's Etsy site and come back here to let me know which hat you'd like to win (on the blog, not on facebook)
•Share this post on Facebook by hitting the FB button at the bottom of the post
•Follow Chickenville and Hunky Dori Boutique on Facebook
•Subscribe to Chickenville by RSS or Email
•Add a link to this post on your site
•Tweet this giveaway

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. All entries must have a valid email in blog profile or leave email address in comments. This giveaway will close Monday Nov 14th at midnight.

Nina - Baby/Toddler Girl Hat sizes 0-3, 3-6, 6-12, 12-24, 2T-4T


November 3, 2011

Warm Pumpkin Spice Pancakes & Pumpkin Spice Lattes (or Gingerbread)

I love pumpkin: pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread. I mean really love it as much as I love cranberries and apples and well everything else fall. Fall is probably my favorite season despite the fact that the fresh air kills me. I'm allergic to all the pretty flowers that grow in the spring AND all of the pretty leaves that fall and get moldy in autumn. It kinda stinks when your favorite times of the year to be outside are the ones that make you miserable. MacGuyver always says he's going to buy me a bubble to live in. (I've never seen it, but I heard there is a movie.)
I made these pancakes last week and the kids were thrilled and even the husband liked them, which is saying something because he doesn't love pumpkin. So even if you a not the most pumpkin loving person, you might try these out. You can also adapt both recipes to create a gingerbread taste, by omitting the pumpkin, adding more ginger spice and a little molasses.

Every Thursday the kids and I enjoy a "day in". Since I homeschool the kids, we have decided that once a week we will stay home and do whatever we feel like. It always starts with a yummy breakfast. You know the kind that you promise your kids you will make and never have time to on normal crazy days? A normal morning for us involves a lot of "hurry up", "eat your food" and "stop kicking your sister". I'm I the only one with mornings like these? This is why my little family has Thursdays - for "yes" time. Yes to pancakes, yes to games, yes to stories read at the table, yes to wrestling, yes to bike riding and whatever else they can think of. BTW, there is a great book called "Yes Day" that my 3 year old told me about. It's so cute and all the kids love the idea of a "yes day" at our house.

I usually make extra of whatever they choose for breakfast on Thursdays (pancakes, waffles, coffee cake, quiche, or bacon) and save them for one of the hectic mornings as a reheat. This pancakes starts out like our traditional buttermilk pancake recipe, but you just add the spices and the pumpkin puree. And if you make the pancakes, you are going to want to make the me they go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Warm Pumpkin Spice Pancakes - Chocolate chips optional :)

2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/3 c buttermilk
1 c sourdough starter or milk
1/2 c pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp oil
1 egg

Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl with whisk. Add buttermilk, starter, pumpkin, oil and egg to the dry mixture. Whisk until combined. Can be thinned with milk or water if the batter is too thick to easily pour. When griddle or pan is hot, pour batter on. At this step you can add chocolate chips if you like. Cook until bubbles form and then flip.
If you want to make gingerbread pancakes, you need to increase the ginger to 1 tsp and decrease the cinnamon to 1 tsp. Then omit the pumpkin and sugar and add 1/4 c molasses.You can even serve them with molasses as the syrup!
Pumpkin Spice Latte OR Gingerbread Latte

1 cup milk (I use skim)
1 Tbsp canned pumpkin
1 Tbsp sugar (or substitute)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (which is basically mostly cinnamon with ginger, cloves and nutmeg added) I just add a little of each, never measuring
1 c strong brewed coffee

Brew the coffee. While brewing, get out a glass measuring cup, the kind you use for liquids. Measure the milk and then add the pumpkin, sugar and spices. Put it in the microwave on high for 1 min - 1:30. You want it hot, but not boiling. When the coffee is brewed, combine your coffee, spiced milk and vanilla in a large mug. You can top it with whipped cream and cinnamon if you want to go over the top, which I of course did!

Variation: if you want to make a gingerbread latte, you omit the pumpkin and up the ginger spice a little and add use molasses as your sweetener. Equally delicious!

November 2, 2011

The "Christian Scientists" - Halloween Costumes 2011

I had to share this year's Halloween costumes. This year we didn't do a book theme like we have in the past. Instead I used it as a way to homeschool at the same time. We all went as scientists. I was a geneticist, trying to create a child that looks like me, which I have failed at miserably. The others were: a rocket scientist, a neurologist, a herpetologist, marine biologist, neurologist, and botanist. You should have seen my daughter set people right when they guessed she was a "nurse"!


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