Sunday, December 6, 2015

Candied Black Pepper Walnuts

I came across this recipe recently in P Allen Smith's cookbook and immediately knew I MUST make it as soon as possible.  I wish I could take credit for coming up with this amazing combination, but I will take credit for knowing when something is going to be a huge hit.  So already you can't go wrong with candied walnuts, but then adding the unexpected savory quality of the black pepper to them... oh my word these are so good - and so addicting!  And you know what else?  They make a great homemade gift for the holidays!  You know... neighbors, teachers, bus drivers, you name it.

So let's get started.  This recipe is easy peezy.  Just store the nuts in something airtight when you are done and they will keep for a few weeks at room temperature, or a few months in the freezer.  Who am I kidding?  They will be done in a matter of days, if not hours.  Ha!  


Ingredients: 
  • 4 cups of shelled walnuts
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
Step-by-Step
Have everything ready before you start, because once you begin the process, you won't be able to stop and get your things together.   Included in this is having your pans of parchment or waxed paper, and having all ingredients on hand.


In a large skillet (so they will have plenty of room to move around), combine the walnuts and the sugar.  
4 cups walnuts + 2/3 cup sugar
Stir together on medium-medium high heat until the sugar melts.  It may take a while, but just keep stirring.  You don't need to stir frantically, because the sugar will ball up.  Just let it relax.  All at once, you will see the sugar start to liquify.  That's when things start to happen quickly.

When the sugar melts, continue stirring while you add the 1 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp pepper.
*Tip - hold your breath while you add the pepper.  LOL!  Or you may notice everyone in the kitchen starting to cough.  
After each element is incorporated, turn the walnuts out onto waxed/parchment paper-lined sheet pans, spreading them out as much as you can with a wooden spoon.  

In a matter of about a minute or so, you should be able to handle them with your hands to separate any that are sticking together.  You really don't want walnut "clusters."  But you have to do this before the caramel hardens.

Allow them to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.  I betcha you won't be able to eat just one!  

These make precious gifts.  You are limited only in your imagination.  We add them to wide mouth pint jars with a bit of fabric and a rustic twine to hold a tag.  The wide mouth jars work great because they are easy to reach into, create a great airtight seal, and are reuseable.  

I hope you enjoyed this fabulous and easy recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.


You can also visit my YouTube page to check out short cooking video tutorials.Here is an example of one for Buffalo Chicken Dip YUM!!  Just click the picture and view it right in this page.
  
Here are some bonus recipes for you:

Written Method: 
Have everything ready before you start, because once you begin the process, you won't be able to stop and get your things together.   Included in this is having your pans of parchment or waxed paper, and having all ingredients on hand.

In a large skillet (so they will have plenty of room to move around), combine the 4 cups walnuts and the 2/3 cup sugar.  Stir together on medium-medium high heat until the sugar melts.  It may take a while, but just keep stirring.  All at once, you will see the sugar start to liquify.  That's when things start to happen quickly.

When the sugar melts, continue stirring while you add the 1 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp pepper.  *Tip - hold your breath while you add the pepper.  LOL!  Or you may notice everyone in the kitchen starting to cough.  
After each element is incorporated, turn the walnuts out onto waxed/parchment paper-lined sheet pans, spreading them out as much as you can with a wooden spoon.  

In a matter of about a minute or so, you should be able to handle them with your hands to separate any that are sticking together.  You really don't want walnut "clusters."  But you have to do this before the caramel hardens.

Allow them to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.  I betcha you won't be able to eat just one!   

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Classic Cobb Salad


Hi there everybody!  Gosh, I know you all think I've dropped off of the face of the Earth. How do I know?  Because my mother keeps reminding me.  I'm terribly sorry that I've neglected you recently, but my... ahem... plate has been even more full than normal in the last couple of months.  You want to know what's been going on?  Well... In the middle of September, I opened a cafe called Asiago!  YES!  You heard that right, folks!  All of this hard work on the blog for the last 5 and half years was bound to lead to something, right?  And then to throw the cookbook in the mix.  So I've been working my tushie off lately and haven't had time to really put new things on the blog.  If any of you are bloggers, you know that each post requires hours of shooting, editing photos, writing the blog, etc., and I just haven't had it available.  I hope you will understand.  

Here's one of the salads we do at the cafe.  It's a Classic Cobb Salad.  The cobb has been around since the depression era mid-1930's, so I definitely think that classifies it as an enduring "classic."  We serve it with our house made Creamy Peppercorn Ranch that everyone really loves.   I hope you'll enjoy it, as well.  It's full of great protein and will definitely leave you feeling satisfied.   Please forgive the lack of step-by-step photos, but all you do is assemble the salad.  The recipe link for the dressing is embedded and does come with full photos.  :)  

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients:
    menumusings.com
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Avocados, sliced or diced
  • Grape tomatoes, sliced 
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Crumbled crispy bacon
  • Hard boiled eggs, sliced or diced
  • Grilled chicken, in bite sized pieces  
  • Creamy Peppercorn Ranch
Creamy peppercorn ranch dressing
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/3 c freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano
    • (or Romano)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • ~ 1 medium lemon
  • 2 Tbsp milk (full fat)
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
*For the step-by-step photos of making the dressing, please click the link provided.   But all you do is throw everything into a food processor or blender to combine.  You can do this ahead of time and have the dressing refrigerated.   For the salad, put the Romaine first, then add everything else in pretty rows, or however you would like to present it.  

*Food Nerd Notes - The Cobb Salad was named for its creator, Robert Cobb, the manager of the Brown Derby restaurant in LA.  It was a hit with all of the figure-conscious starlets, who just wanted something to pick at.  Being that it was during the depression, the salad ingredients would have all been something that could have come from the backyard (the chicken, the eggs, the produce, etc), and the blue cheese would have given it a touch of something glamorous and may have been locally produced, or something the hostess could have splurged on. 

Bye for now, my friends.  I do hope things will normalize soon and get into a better pattern so that I can get back to a better routine.  

Here's a glimpse of how it was just before we opened.  I hesitated to put all this on here, but again, my mother said, "Your readers want to know what the heck you've been up to!"  So here it is.  It's an intimate little place that seats only about 20 customers at a time, with tables made from repurposed wood (from old barges that once floated down the mighty Mississippi River) on one side, wine barrel tables on the other side.  You might notice our cute cheese grater lights hanging up in the corner of the photo.  :)  And everything seems to have an Old World feel to it.  We have cheeses from all over the world as well as domestic cheese from all around the US; and we have a limited lunch menu of gourmet salads, sandwiches, soups... that sort of thing.  

Okay.  I'm done with boring you about the cafe.  Thanks for giving me the leeway to do it.  Check y'all later!  






I hope you enjoyed this fabulous and easy recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.


You can also visit my YouTube page to check out short cooking video tutorials.Here is an example of one for Coconut Lime Chicken!  YUM!!  Just click the picture and view it right in this page.
Here are some bonus recipes for you:
Mozzarella Caprese Skewers

Beef Wellington with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Black Pepper Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Funky Monkey Morning Smoothies

Mahogany Glazed Chicken

Oreo Heath Bar Cake

Monday, August 17, 2015

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies

menumusings.com
 Okay y'all... I don't do this very often, but I totally just did NOT find a thing in the world to change about this amazing recipe.  Usually when I'm looking for a recipe for something delicious, I look for several of that genre, change them up to my liking, and come up with something completely new. This recipe for Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies from Gimme Some Oven was just too awesome to change!  So if you get the chance, hop over to Ali's page and show her some appreciation for them. So what will I show you?  Step-by-step of how to make them, of course.  

I mean, these cookies are the BOMB!  Dark, rich, and the perfect amount of not-too-sweet.  The flavors are very well balanced, which is super important to me.  The sea salt brings out the sweetness and yet contrasts it so well.  And you know what is amazing?  Several days after making them, they were still soft and chewy, not dried out and hard.  There are a few tips and tricks that I'd like to discuss as we go along, so... without further ado, let's get to making some cookies!  

menumusings.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla (the best you can find)
    • I use clear, Mexican vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • I used Hersheys
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1 (11 oz) bag Kraft caramel bits
    • You could also cut regular caramels into small cubes
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Step-by-Step:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

Cream together slightly softened butter, sugar, eggs (one at a time), and vanilla until light and fluffy.
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Stir to evenly combine, then stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended.

Mix the caramel and chocolate chips into the cookie batter.
**Some of the people that taste tested the cookie loved them "as is," and some felt the caramel bits were a bit too big and chewy.  You sort of need to know your audience.  You may want to consider chopping the caramel bits further into smaller pieces if your audience prefers less... chew.** 
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls (I used my cookie scoop to get uniform sizing) onto prepared cookie sheets.  **These cookies are incredibly tender, not crisp.  So my recommendation to you is to use parchment paper so that they will just slide off. ** 
I recommend parchment paper over a greased cookie sheet.
The clean-up is also much better.  :)
Press each cookie down slightly to flatten.  I wet my fingers a little bit to keep the batter from sticking to my fingers.
Sprinkle each with a pinch of sea salt. (or kosher salt)
This recipe made about 3 1/2 dozen cookies for me.  Bake for around 10 minutes in the preheated oven or until just set.  
Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets then on wire racks to cool completely.  (Or, I slid the parchment onto my cold granite countertops to further cool the cookies.) You need to allow them to cool completely before picking them up.  As I said, they are super tender. 
Someone MAY have taken a bite or two out of that one.  LOL!
menumusings.com

I hope you enjoyed this fabulous recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)
Here's just one example - High Class Shepherd's Pie (not your grandmother's!)


Here are some bonus recipes for you!









Written Method:  (This recipe made about 3 1/2 dozen cookies for me.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Cream together slightly softened butter, sugar, eggs (one at a time), and vanilla until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Stir to evenly combine, then stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended.  Mix the caramel and chocolate chips into the cookie batter.

**Some of the people that taste tested the cookie loved them "as is," and some felt the caramel bits were a bit too big and chewy.  You sort of need to know your audience.  You may want to consider chopping the caramel bits further into smaller pieces if your audience prefers less... chew.** 

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls (I used my cookie scoop to get uniform sizing) onto prepared cookie sheets.  **These cookies are incredibly tender, not crisp.  So my recommendation to you is to use parchment paper so that they will just slide off. ** 
Press each cookie down slightly to flatten.  I wet my fingers a little bit to keep the batter from sticking to my fingers. Sprinkle each with a pinch of sea salt.

Bake for around 10 minutes in the preheated oven or until just set.  

Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets then on wire racks to cool completely.  (Or, I slid the parchment onto my cold granite countertops to further cool the cookies.) You need to allow them to cool completely before picking them up.  As I said, they are super tender. 

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest