Pistachio, Cashew, and Chocolate Toffee {Secret Recipe Club}

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Pistachio & Cashew Toffee

 

I am doing a quick fill-in for someone in Group D of Secret Recipe Club, so this is my second reveal for April. Fun! I got to explore the new-to-me blog Hapa-tite. Nicole is a (very gorgeous) twenty-something of mixed cultural heritage who loves and embraces her father’s Hawaiian culture. She lives in the DC area, and writes about a mix of recipes, bento box ideas, tea, and restaurant reviews. Nicole is also a graphic designer and has one of the most beautiful blogs I have seen!

I would love to try some of Nicole’s other recipes, like these Date Bars or Homemade Filet-o-Fish, but for today I decided to tackle Pistachio Dark Chocolate Toffee.

I’ve never actually made toffee, but this looked so delicious and I had a bag of pistachios, so it spoke to me. I didn’t realize toffee is really not that difficult to make; this whole process took me maybe half an hour. And I have a whole pan of toffee that looks like it could have come from Williams-Sonoma (without the $45 pricetag!).

This toffee would make a beautiful gift or just nice to have around for some good, teeth-sticking-together, toffee snacking.

Just a note that I used pistachios and cashews … entirely because I got tired of shelling the pistachios. So buy pre-shelled ones or don’t be as lazy as I am. I liked the cashews, but I think all pistachios would probably be best. Or you can throw whatever you want on top of this: dried cranberries, sprinkles, crushed candy cane, candied ginger … the possibilities are endless.

Pistachio, Cashew, and Chocolate Toffee

Pistachio, Cashew, and Chocolate Toffee

Adapted from Hapa-tite.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 ounces chocolate (chips or chopped) - I used about 2 oz. very dark chocolate and 6 oz. milk chocolate chips
  • 1 c. chopped nuts, preferably pistachios, or other toppings

Instructions

Have an ungreased 9x13 pan close by while you make the toffee.

In a heavy saucepan, heat butter, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk constantly until you feel like your arm will fall off and the mixture reaches 300F. It will be a medium golden brown color. When the mixture gets sort of melted-marshmallow consistency and comes away from the side of the pan as you whisk, you're getting close.

Immediately pour the toffee mixture into the 9x13 pan and spread out. Let cool.

Melt chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments until it is about 75% melted. Then keep stirring until it's uniform. Spread gently over the toffee. Immediately top with chopped nuts or other toppings. Use the bottom of a glass measuring cup to gently press the toppings into the chocolate.

Cool in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes or at room temperature 2 hours, until the chocolate is all hardened. Break off pieces and serve. Store any extra in the fridge.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/04/pistachio-cashew-and-chocolate-toffee-secret-recipe-club/

An InLinkz Link-up


Outback Bread {Secret Recipe Club}

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Outback Steakhouse's Brown Bread

It’s been about a million years since I ate at an Outback Steakhouse. But when you eat there, one of the best parts is the dark brown bread that comes before your meal. It’s kind of sweet … and really, I am a fan of any warm bread with butter.

But let’s rewind first.

This month for Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Morsels of Life. CJ started her blog when she found herself with extra free time, and now she loves to share simple food with easy-to-find ingredients. I eyed the Sesame Chicken Sauce, Banana Bread Muffins, and Lentil Sausage Soup, but in the end I was craving that wonderful yeast-rising scent and settled on Outback Bread.

Outback Bread

I was slightly worried that this bread would be really dense, because it only rises once. (You may remember my favorite, 100% whole wheat bread, has a triple rise!) But it wasn’t. It’s a lovely flavor, with the honey and molasses and touch of cocoa, with lots of craggy nooks to sop up butter and jam.

It may not be quite as brown as that Outback bread (probably due to lack of food coloring), but I will highly recommend you try out this recipe for a lovely, dark, honey whole wheat loaf. With minimal kneading and only one rise, it’s the perfect recipe for a beginner bread-baker, too.

Outback Bread

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Outback Bread

This honey whole wheat loaf is similar to what is served at Outback Steakhouses. Adapted from Morsels of Life.

Ingredients

  • 1 T molasses
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 1/4 c. warm water
  • 2 T butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 T yeast
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • cornmeal

Instructions

In your mixer's bowl (or another large bowl), stir together molasses, honey, and warm water.

In a small bowl, cut butter into the whole wheat flour, until it is interspersed throughout. You can use a pastry cutter, two forks, or just your fingers.

Add the whole wheat flour mixture, yeast, and cocoa powder to the wet ingredients. Stir until uniform.

At this point, if you're using a stand mixer, you can start it on the number 2 (kneading) setting with the dough hook attachement. If not, continue stirring with a wooden spoon; you may have to knead a little with your hands.

Add all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time, until it is all incorporated. Knead with the dough hook or hands for 2 minutes, just until it is uniform. Shape into an oval and roll lightly in cornmeal.

Place loaf in a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Cover with a dish towel and set in a warm place. (My kitchen is cold; I turned on the oven and set it on top.) Let rise until it is about 1 inch above the lip of the pan. This took mine 1 hour 15 minutes.

If you haven't already, preheat the oven to 350. Bake loaf for 30 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you tap on it in the center. Let cool in pan about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/04/outback-bread-secret-recipe-club/


IMG_5577

Do you have a favorite restaurant copycat recipe?

Beefy Enchilada Soup {Secret Recipe Club}

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Beefy Enchilada Soup

Who wants a big bowl of enchilada soup today? Well, lucky you! ‘Cause that’s what I am serving up.

Today is my first reveal with Group B of the Secret Recipe Club (due to the holidays and a glitch … aka I forgot to fill out a form). I’m excited to have a whole new group of blogs to peruse, although I will miss my Group A-ers a lot!

My assigned blog for this month was An Affair from the Heart. I’ve been following Michaela on Facebook since I got this assignment, and I really enjoy interacting on her Facebook page! Every Tuesday she announces a theme and shares recipes on the page based on that theme. It’s fun to see the round-up without ever leaving FB. Not that I am on there all the time …

Michaela is a stay-at-home mom of four (one in college, one in high school, and two a little younger), and she loves to throw big parties and entertain as well as feed her family. I would call her recipes down-to-earth, the kind of things I love to make: not fussy, not necessarily gourmet, but good and delicious.

I was very tempted to make something from the Popcorn & Snack Mix category, but for the benefit of my weight-loss attempts decided to go with soup instead. This Beefy Enchilada Soup will be great for lunches this week. It made a ton, so I froze about half for a later family meal.

Beefy Enchilada Soup

I had to make a few adjustments based on what I could find at my store. They didn’t have Mexicorn, so I used one can of regular corn and one can of hominy, which I love. I used mild enchilada sauce, and I think the soup could have used a little more kick, so I would recommend using medium or serving with some hot sauce. I also made this on the stovetop instead of using a slow cooker, 100% because I didn’t want to have to wash the slow cooker. Because I AM THAT PERSON. But I am adding the slow cooker instructions for you at the bottom of the recipe if you want them.

Beefy Enchilada Soup

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 20 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 15 oz. Mexican-style stewed or diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 15 oz. canned pinto beans, with liquid
  • 15 oz. canned yellow corn, drained, or about 1 c. frozen corn
  • 15 oz. canned hominy, drained
  • 20 oz. water (two enchilada cans)
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • 2 c. Mexican-blend shredded cheese, divided
  • 6 small corn tortillas, cut in half and then into strips
  • optional: diced avocado, sliced olives, sour cream, diced tomatoes, etc.

Instructions

In a large soup pot, brown ground beef and onion together until beef is done. Drain off fat. Add enchilada sauce, tomatoes, pinto beans, corn, hominy, and two enchilada cans of water.

Stir well and bring soup to a boil. Cover; reduce heat to low and simmer.

Simmer soup at least an hour or as long as you can. Take off lid and add 1 1/2 cups of cheese and tortilla strips. Stir well, then cook another 15 minutes or so (uncovered).

Taste and season with hot sauce if desired (or pass at the table). Top bowls with the rest of the cheese and any optional toppings.

Notes

To make this in the slow cooker, cook beef and onion as directed. Then mix beef/onion with remaining ingredients except cheese and tortillas in the slow cooker. Cook on low 8-10 hours. During the last hour, stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese and tortilla strips and season with hot sauce if desired. Serve with additional cheese and optional toppings.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/03/beefy-enchilada-soup-secret-recipe-club/


Cucumber and Radish Salad

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Cucumber Radish Salad

 

I came across several versions of this little salad while I was working on an article about Spring vegetables last year. When I was pregnant with Joshua, I developed a taste for radishes like I have never had before. And it hasn’t gone away! So this salad became a healthy favorite.

A few minutes with a mandoline or sharp knife, and you will be set with a big bowl of fresh yummyness.

radishes cut on mandoline

The more-authentic recipes of this Eastern European classic dish recommend green onions; they are not my favorite, so I’ve subbed in dried minced onion for ease. You can use the white parts of three green onions, though, if you’d like. The sour cream really mellows out the spicy red radish, but if you like a less-peppery radish, try the watermelon radish variety.

Cucumber and Radish Salad

Yield: 4 side servings

Cucumber and Radish Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber (English or regular)
  • 1 bunch red radishes
  • 2/3 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried minced onion

Instructions

Wash and trim vegetables. Using a mandoline (I have this cheap one, which is great for infrequent use) or a very sharp knife, slice vegetables very thin. Toss together in a medium-sized bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, salt, and dried minced onion. Spoon onto vegetables and stir well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Keeps well for several days in the fridge.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/02/cucumber-and-radish-salad/

 Do you like radishes?

Grain-Free Chili-Ranch Chicken Bites

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Grain-Free Chili Ranch Chicken Bites

Note: This post is sponsored by Naturally Fresh® and The Motherhood, and I was compensated for my time and recipe development. All opinions, pictures, and experiences are my own, and I hope you enjoy them. As always, money earned through sponsored posts will be donated, and I thank you greatly for giving me that ability! 

Party food. It’s basically the best, right? I am positive I could live on dips, maybe with a stuffed jalapeno and chicken wing thrown in there. And there is no time for party food like the Super Bowl.

I have zero interest in football. This morning I had a Trivia Crack question about who played in the 2014 Super Bowl, and I had no idea. I went to a party on campus. I swear! I cooked amazing chicken chili, which won a cook-off. But I had no idea who played in the game.

Naturally Fresh and The Motherhood asked if I would develop a Super Bowl snack recipe using one of their dressings. When I read that their dressings and dips have no preservatives or artificial colors or flavorings, I was sold! I hopped down to Publix and found a jar in the refrigerated section, near salads. Imagine that – the Ranch dressing is made with actual buttermilk that needs to be refrigerated.

I was impressed with the ingredients list, especially how low sugar is on the list; and I recognized all the ingredients on the label. I’ve been experimenting with making my own Paleo mayonnaise, mostly so I can make Ranch dressing. But so far that has been a disaster. And I am not eating dairy-free, so I’d much rather grab a nice jar of Ranch that I know tastes good than do battle with my immersion blender and have a kitchen splattered with olive oil again.

Ranch chicken bites

 

Since I am trying to eat grain-free right now, I decided to make a little chicken nugget that fits my diet. The chicken is marinated in Ranch dressing and spices, a technique I’ve used for years to make great pork chops. These are then breaded with almond meal and fried in palm oil shortening (or whatever you want to use for deep frying – it’s an oil I feel comfortable using).

I thought these were delicious, but I wasn’t sure if I could sell my kids on the gluten-free breading. Libbie happened to come by when I was trying them, though, and was ecstatic to be a taste-tester. And she LOVED them. Woohoo! These may be a good lunchbox staple, too.

Grain-Free Chili-Ranch Chicken Bites

Yield: about 40 chicken bites

Grain-Free Chili-Ranch Chicken Bites

Delicious fried chicken nuggets take on a new flavor profile after being marinated in Ranch dressing and coated with almond meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 c. Naturally Fresh® Classic Ranch dressing, plus more for dipping
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 c. coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • oil for deep frying - I used palm oil shortening
  • salt for sprinkling

Instructions

Toss cubed chicken with the Ranch dressing, chili powder, and garlic powder. Cover and refrigerate at least half an hour.

Set up three bowls for coating chicken. In the first, put coconut flour. In the second, beat the egg. In the third, mix almond meal, salt, and pepper.

Heat shortening or oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Your oil should be about 1 inch deep. Test to see if oil is ready by using the end of a wooden spoon. If bubbles form around it, it is hot enough. Watch your oil and keep it fairly low. If too hot, the almond meal will easily burn.

Coat chicken pieces in coconut flour, then egg, then almond meal. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until chicken feels firm, flipping in the oil once. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate, and immediately sprinkle lightly with salt. Fry in batches, being careful not to overcrowd chicken.

Serve with extra Ranch dressing for dipping.

Notes

Cutting chicken while it is partially frozen will make it easier to get even cubes. For a spicier nugget, you can add some cayenne to the marinade or to the almond coating.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/01/grain-free-chili-ranch-chicken-bites/

Want some more gluten-free party food for your Super Bowl shindig? Try one of these!

Do you have a favorite Super Bowl party food? Anyone who leaves me a relevant comment will be entered to win a coupon for a free bottle of Naturally Ranch dressing. Woo! 

Banana Paleo-Cakes

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Paleo Banana Pancakes

There are about a million versions of these super simple banana-and-egg pancakes. Yes, the combination sounds super weird, but it works. And these work with my new grain-free, refined sugar-free diet right now!

Here is how I like to make these little pancakes. (David and Joshua will eat them too. Libbie, my pickiest eater, is not a fan. But she doesn’t like regular banana pancakes, either. She is weird.)

Banana Paleo-Cakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 11 minutes

Yield: 7-8 small pancakes

Serving Size: 3 pancakes

Banana Paleo-Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T coconut flour
  • 2 T butter (ghee, if you are Paleo) or coconut oil for frying
  • maple syrup or honey

Instructions

In a bowl, mash banana well. Beat in eggs. Stir in coconut flour.

Melt butter, ghee, or coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of batter into the hot oil/butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, flipping once, just like a pancake, until cooked through.

Once cooked, drizzle with pure maple syrup or honey.

Notes

Butter is fine if you haven't cut out dairy, but a true Paleo diet does. Most Paleo followers will eat clarified butter (ghee), which has all the milk solids skimmed off. Coconut oil is a great alternative, though, if you want to avoid butter altogether.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/01/paleo-banana-pancakes/