Monday, May 24, 2010

Dad's Microwave Caramel Corn

I remember when my parents brought home our first microwave. We had a family lesson from my dad on how to operate the microwave too! It wasn't an el cheapo flimsy piece of kitchen gadgetry either. It was a nice microwave. I also remember that one of the first things my dad learned to "make" in the microwave was Microwave Caramel Corn. I was probably about 10 years old at the time and my dad still makes this same recipe today. Although my father has always popped his own popcorn for the recipe, I use the microwave popcorn (the fat free, as it is the most plain) and it turns out just fine.

4 qts popped corn (about 1 C unpopped, or 3 microwave bags popped)

1 C brown sugar

1 stick butter (1/2 C)

1/4 C light corn syrup

dash salt

Place popped corn in brown paper grocery sack. (You can also use a big Tupperware with lid if it will fit in your microwave.) In microwave-safe dish cook brown sugar, butter, syrup and salt 3-5 minutes on HIGH, stirring every minute. Once brown sugar has dissolved, pour over popcorn, roll bag shut and toss well to coat. Place closed bag in microwave and microwave on HIGH another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and shake well. Return to microwave another minute, and remove and shake well again. Place bag outside or in other cool, dry place until caramel is set. Break into pieces and store in airtight container. The nice thing about this is it's easy clean-up! Simply throw the bag away and only 1 dish to clean!

Texas Sheet Cake

I think almost everyone I know has a version of this recipe somewhere. This one came from my mom, and I am thinking she got it from her mom, although I am not 100% sure. Note that for my family I omit the nuts. However, my father says he can only eat sheet cake if it has nuts. So, there ya go! I will leave it for you to decide :)

Oh, and incidentally my friend from Texas wanted to know WHY it's called "Texas Cake" or "Texas Sheet Cake". Personally, I think it is because it is a BIG cake and since all things Texas are BIG, hence the name. Then again... who knows!

2 Sticks Butter
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 C water
2 eggs
1 tsp vinegar
1 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 C sugar
2 C flour

Preheat oven to 350. In saucepan, heat butter, cocoa powder and water to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from burner and set aside. In separate mixing bowl lightly beat 2 eggs. Add 1 tsp vinegar to 1 C milk and stir to make "sour milk"; add to eggs. Next add vanilla, baking soda and cinnamon and mix well. Gradually add sugar and continue mixing. Finally, add flour a little at a time and beat until no visible lumps, scraping sides of bowl clean. Gradually add hot mixture to batter a little at a time and mix till smooth. Pour into greased 10x15 jelly roll pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
(Make frosting while cake is baking.)

Texas Cake Frosting:

1 stick butter
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
6 Tbsp milk
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 C chopped nuts (optional)

Combine butter, cocoa and milk in saucepan; bring to boiling. Add pwd sugar and vanilla. Stir well and pour over warm cake. Top with nuts if desired. Let cool completely before cutting.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Simple Salsa Fresca (mild)

So, back when I was visiting my old college roomie, Ardis, during Spring Break we ate and ate and ate and ate! Did I mention that we ate? Tee hee...

Anyway, she is one FABULOUS cook! And one night we had these DIVINE Creamy Chicken Tacos and she whipped up some of this HOMEMADE Salsa Fresca as well. I could not eat enough! That visit was about a month ago, and I've made this recipe at least 4 times since. It tastes great, and I think it tastes even better the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to "share" a little bit with each other. Here is Ardis's recipe for fresh salsa, or what I am calling Simple Salsa Fresca! Enjoy!

6-8 roma tomatoes (or garden tomatoes)
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 bunch green onions
3-4 garlic cloves, more or less
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded
juice from 1/2 lime (optional)
salt, to taste

Coursely chop veggies and place in blender. Pulsate until well blended. Add salt to taste. Chill until ready to serve. Best if eaten within 5 days of making. Keep refrigerated in airtight container.

For medium or hot salsa you can experiment by adding a few of the jalepeno seeds or by using other peppers, such as a habenero.