Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Have I ever told you that my husband can draw?  Well, he can.  And he's amazing at it.  His first "love note" to me consisted of a car drawn on a napkin...he was 16.  :-)

Since we've been married, he has drawn all of our pumpkin designs.  It all started with a mouse...

Then, things got a little beastly...

Amazing, right?  No stencil or anything!

So this week, while I was in the kitchen cooking pumpkin, he was sitting at the table designing his latest masterpiece...Wile E. Coyote!

Step 1: Clean out pumpkin guts (ew!).

Step 2: Tape drawing to pumpkin.

Step 3: Use a thumbtack to poke holes.

Step 4: Carve the pumpkin, connect-the-dot style.

Step 5: Marvel at handiwork.

Step 6: Put a candle in it and ooooh and aaaaah.

"Ooooooh!  Aaaaaaaah!"

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Linked up with Gold Star Wednesday!

PS - My friends and I are starting something new!!! Every Monday, we'll be hosting a blog party called THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS, each week devoted to a different theme. This week's theme...pumpkins! If you have a food blog, link up your favorite pumpkin posts and then come back to see what others have to offer.

Friday, October 29, 2010's your birthday!

Why are we smiling here at Delightful Country Cookin'?  We're celebrating our first birthday!

One year ago today I started this blog...if you happened to follow me then, you will remember that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I still don't.  But I can say with confidence that I've gotten better (especially in the photography department) and now have over 100 husband-tested-and-approved recipes in my stash.  I'd say that's worth smiling about. :-)

In order to celebrate this grand occasion, I'm going to give you our top picks from all of this past year's recipes.  It was a hard, hard decision.

But first...the smiles.

I grew up enjoying apple smiles.  They were always a treat to take to school (who doesn't love a smile?), and they were easy enough for my sister and I to make as kids.  Never, as a kid, did I dream that these were healthy!  I ate them because they were fun.

While recently at Apple Hill, I saw these beautiful Arkansas Black apples.  Once I saw their rich red color, I knew I had to make apple smiles.

Wash, peel, and core the apples, and then cut into even slices.  It's best if you can get 16 slices out of each apple.  Pour some lemon juice into a bowl, and dip the cut sides of the apples into the juice...this keeps them from turning brown.

Once you have your apples sliced, gather up your supplies - creamy peanut butter and some mini marshmallows!

Using a paper towel, dab the apple slices to get rid of excess liquid.

Spread peanut butter on one side of each slice.

Finally, sandwich 3-4 marshmallows in between two apple slices, using the peanut butter as glue!

Are you smiling?

And now....drum roll please...our top picks of this past year's recipes!  My picks are listed first.  My husband's are listed second (and since he's the official taste tester, his are probably more important).

The Breakfast - Corn Waffles (we actually agreed on this one!)

Linked up with Gooseberry Patch's Recipe Roundup: Kids' Goodies!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

apples and oranges

Can you feel it in the air?  It's fall!

One of my favorite things to do during this season is head on out to a charming little place called Apple Hill.  It's a beautiful collection of Christmas tree farms, pumpkin patches, fudge shops, craft stores, wineries, and (of course) apple orchards situated in the beautiful foothills near Lake Tahoe.

This time of the year, the apple orchards are so crowded that you actually have to park in the orchard!

People come from miles around to stock up on freshly picked apples in varieties that you will never see in a grocery store.

Even more people line up for a taste of apple cider, apple wine, apple olive oil, apple pie, apple dumplings, and one of the best culinary creations known to cider donuts.

There are corn mazes...

...crafts booths (don't you just love this fall decoration?)...

...craft sheds selling all of my favorite Gooseberry Patch books...

...and tons of fall produce!

My favorites were these little guys...I think they are called Turk's Turbans.

All of the fall fun at Apple Hill inspired me to do a little fall decorating of my own.

Ironically, I chose to carve some oranges. :-)

Yep, I said oranges!

Oranges can be carved just like pumpkins much more quickly and with much less mess.  With a tea light inside, orange jack-o-lanterns make the perfect fall decor, especially when sitting on candlesticks.

It's incredibly easy to do.  First, draw the face...

...and draw a circle on the top - you need an opening, after all.

Use a craft knife to cut into the peel, and then scoop out the insides with a spoon or melon baller.

These are fun...make a bunch!

This recipe is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table
Also linked to Foodie Friday

Thursday, October 21, 2010

cracker candy

I have been utterly failing you lately when it comes to provide healthy desserts.

I can't help it.  I blame mass media...and those islands in the supermarkets that showcase marshmallows and chocolate bars...and my fellow bloggers who keep posting such beautiful cookies and cakes and candies that Willy Wonka would be jealous.

For this particular dessert, I blame flu season.

You see, every year during flu season I buy a box of saltine crackers.  When I was a child and got sick, my mother would give me 7-Up and saltines and the world would become a better place.  Since I don't live with my mom anymore, I figure that I should be every year I stock up on saltines and 7-Up, and I save them for the inevitable day that my husband and I get sick.

The problem is that we didn't get sick last year.  Not that I'm complaining or anything, but I have an entire box of saltines just sitting there taking up space in my pantry...and the expiration date is August 30, 2010.

I didn't want to be wasteful and throw the crackers away, and I figured that what my husband doesn't know won't hurt him.  So, I made candy...cracker candy.

I've seen this recipe numerous times, but this is the first time I've actually ever made it.  The result was a nice combination of salty and sweet...and the perfect way to use up my last-season's flu crackers.

First, line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and then cover the bottom with saltines.  If you need to, break some of the crackers in half so that the bottom is completely covered. 

The next two ingredients are where my failure comes in...a cup of brown sugar and a cup of butter.  So not healthy, but oh, so good!

Combine the brown sugar and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil over medium heat for about 2 minutes.

Then, pour your boiling caramel over the cracker and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.

Here's where I need some advice...has anyone ever made this before?  Are the crackers supposed to rise up or are they supposed to form a "crust" for the caramel?  My crackers definitely rose...

When you pull the caramel and crackers out of the oven, sprinkle a package of chocolate chips over the top and let it rest for a few minutes.

After the chocolate chips get soft and shiny, spread them around with the back of a spoon so that they evenly cover the caramel.  Be sure to lick the spoon when you are done!

If you are feeling feisty, sprinkle some chopped nuts over the top, pressing slightly into the chocolate layer.  I used pecans, but I think just about anything would taste great.

Some recipes I've read say that you can just let this sit overnight and then break it into pieces, but I found that my caramel didn't harden enough for that.  I had to place my cookie sheet in the freezer to get everything to firm up before breaking up the candy, and then I found that it was best to store the candy in the refrigerator to keep it hard.

Experts out there - what has been your experience?

Either way, it tastes great and definitely solved my "cracker problem."  For another similar and delicious looking recipe, check out Picky Palate's Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Caramel Club Bars.

Cracker Candy
saltine crackers
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup butter
12 oz. package chocolate chips
chopped nuts

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and completely cover the bottom with saltine crackers.  Combine brown sugar and butter in a heavy saucepan and boil over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Pour over the crackers and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top, spreading with the back of a spoon after they are melted.  Freeze until firm and then break into pieces.

Linked up with Foodie Friday and This Week's Cravings: Thanksgiving Treats and Sweets!
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