Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chicken a La King

Chicken a La King or "Chicken For a King" is the perfect Christmas eve dinner. It's easy to make and very delicious. I got this recipe from "The Sisters Cafe" blog last year. We loved it.

Chicken A La King
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c. green bell pepper, chopped
8 oz. box mushrooms, sliced (opt.)
1/2 c. flour
1 c. cream
5 c. cooked chicken, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup milk, more or less

Saute the peppers and mushrooms in the butter until soft, then add the flour to make a roux. Whisk together and cook over medium heat until the roux bubbles and cooks. Add the cream and chicken and heat through, but do not boil. Season. If it's too thick, add milk to the desired consistency. Serve over bread crowns:
Bread Crowns (I thought this was such a cute idea)
Using store-bought bread, squish the four corners of pieces of bread together. Push the piece of bread into a muffin tin, with the four corners sticking up. Bake in a 250 oven until the crowns are like toast. Lift the crowns out of the muffin tins.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Morning Rolls- a Crown for a King

A Christmas morning tradition at our house for many years is our Christmas Morning Rolls. They form a "crown for a King." You make them the night before- then just pop them in a pre-heated oven 30 minutes before you want to eat breakfast on Christmas morning. Everyone loves them.
24 Rhodes rolls
1 small package cook and serve butterscotch pudding
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (opt.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
After your Christmas eve festivities and Santa-ing(in other words, just before you go to bed), spray a bundt pan or tube pan. Put the frozen rolls in the pan. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the rolls. Cover with a towel or sprayed plastic wrap. Let stand overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cream Caramels

What would Christmas be without homemade caramels. I learned how to make caramels when I was a teenager from an expert candy maker/ my teacher at church. I was pretty sure they were the best thing I'd ever tasted. I made those caramels many times, but then somehow/somewhere lost the recipe. So I began my search. I had made these little treasures enough to remember basically how they were made and with what ingredients- I just couldn't remember the amounts. I did some experimenting and think I've come up with that original recipe- or maybe even better! The trick- there's always a trick- is to make them so they will be soft, but not so soft they stick to your waxed paper wrappers. It's almost impossible to teach that in a blog, but just keep trying. It is so worth the effort!

2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup SALTED butter
2 cups cream

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and 1 cup cream. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage. To test, put some cold water in a bowl. Spoon some of the candy mixture into the bowl. Let it cool, then try to form a ball in the water. When the candy forms a ball that holds together under the water, that is soft ball stage. If you lift it out of the water, it just kind of melts and spreads in your hand, but under the water it forms a ball. At that point, keep stirring while you very, very slowly pour in the other cup of cream. Just stream it in so that the mixture keeps boiling all the while. Then cook until the candy is hard ball stage. Again, get a bowl of cold water and use your spoon to put some candy in. When it forms a ball in the water and that ball holds together out of the water, it is hard ball stage. The candy changes very quickly at this point, so work fast. Pour immediately into a buttered 9-inch pan. If you want you can have chopped pecans waiting in that pan. That is optional. I prefer it without nuts. Let cool without disturbing for several hours. Then, cut and wrap in saran wrap or waxed paper. I use clean kitchen sheers to cut the caramels. It is so much easier than a knife. If your caramels are too soft- no problem. Just put the candy back in the pan and add another cup of cream and try again.

I know most candy makers use a candy thermometer. I've never had good luck with them. The old-fashioned cold water test works best for me. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Layer Mint Brownies

This, my friends, is one my very best recipes. I got the recipe a LONG time ago from a friend in college and it's been part of our Christmas tradition ever since. They are delicious any time, though. In fact, I made them for Michelle's reception (in pink, of course!) BYU is famous for their mint brownies, but I promise these are better. Now, like most recipes I've had for a long time, I've made changes. The bottom layer especially has undergone revisions over the years. I think the end result is, like I said, one of my very best recipes:

Three Layer Mint Brownies
1st Layer
Line a 13 x 9 pan with parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray. (I like to spray the pan, too to hold the parchment in place.) Leave ends out so you can pull the brownies right out of the pan when they are done.
Preheat oven to 350.
4 bars (4 ounces) unsweetened baking chocolate, broken into pieces
3/4 cup (or 1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
Put chocolate and butter into a glass bowl and melt in the microwave until mixture is smooth when stirred. Check often and be careful not to burn it! Depending on your microwave, it should probably take about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes.

2 cups sugar
Stir with a spoon until well blended, then add:
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
Blend well, then add:
1 cup flour
Mix and spread into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

2nd Layer:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
6 T. milk
4 T. instant pudding, vanilla (if you're making the frosting green. If you're making pink frosting, butterscotch pudding is delicious- it makes it taste kind of like those butter mints)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. (or less) mint flavoring
Few drops green or red food coloring
Mix well with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer. Spread on completely cooled 1st layer. Put in fridge until well set.
3rd Layer:
Melt in microwave:
3 squares(3 ounces)  unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate 
4 T. butter or shortening  
Again, melt until you can stir it until smooth, but it needs to be liquid. Pour over 2nd layer tip pan and gently spread until covered and even. Put in fridge until set. Pull the whole block of well chilled brownies out with the parchment paper. Cut into squares. Store in airtight container. You can layer them between waxed paper. They also freeze very well. Merry Christmas!!!

* When I'm in a hurry, I use two really good brownie mixes made according to directions in place of the brownie layer.  It's almost as good.