Monday, February 27, 2012

Chewy Butterscotch-Oatmeal Bars

We made a major furniture purchase last week.  We finally, and I mean FINALLY, bought a new mattress set.  It's been a long time coming and I cannot even describe to you how awful our old mattress set was.  (Okay, sleeping on our old mattress set WAS better than sleeping on the hard, cold ground, which I realize many people do in this world.  I get it. I totally get it.  I am not as shallow as this blog looks.  I am thankful to have had an old mattress set, even if there were springs poking me in the back.  But I am beyond thankful for memory foam.  I LOVE YOU, MEMORY FOAM!!!)

We've had our mattress ensemble for about four nights, but sadly, for the first three nights I suffered from insomnia.  And I know it was because I was just SO EXCITED about how every night for the rest of my life (or at least until the 20 year warranty is up) I would be sleeping the sleep of angels and newborn babies.  And as I lay there in bed waiting for this beautiful, deep rest to overtake my body and carry me off to the land of nod, my mind began thinking things like "Shouldn't you have already gone to sleep?  You should have been asleep five minutes ago.  Ten minutes ago.  Thirty minutes ago!  TWO HOURS AGO!  LISTEN, IS THAT A ROOSTER CROWING?!"  And my mind got so worked up that I couldn't sleep for all the pressure I was putting on myself about actually falling asleep.

Until last night.  Last night was the first night I really felt like I slept the sleep of angels and newborn babies and dead people.  That sleep where you wake up and say "MAN, I FEEL AWESOME!  LET ME GO ATTACK MY DAY NOW.  DO I EVEN NEED COFFEE?"

Uhm, yes, I still needed coffee this morning, but I feel great.  Which is a good thing, because I will be cleaning out a barn today.

And none of that had anything to do with this recipe, but I'm not going to take the time today to work up transition sentence.  The day.  It calls for me.

I originally got this recipe off the back of a bag of store-brand butterscotch chips.  And I know.  Butterscotch.  Again.  I promise this will be the last butterscotch recipe until the next one I post.

These bars are chewy and sweet, yet substantial and filling.  They are the perfect bar to pack into a picnic basket because they're not gooey or frosted.  I drizzled some melted butterscotch chips on the top for a little decoration, but it's not necessary.

Here are my notes:

-The original recipe calls for transferring the butterscotch-butter mixture to a large bowl.  This time I stirred every thing into the butterscotch-butter mixture in the saucepan because I didn't want to dirty another bowl.  If you do this, stir the eggs in last so they won't scramble when they hit the hot ingredients.  This method worked fine for me.

-This recipe works with any kind of nut.  I used peanuts this time, but almonds, pecans or walnuts would be great.

-The butter and butterscotch chips have a hard time totally blending together.  Just keep whisking and blend as much as possible.  They might not ever fuse together completely until the flour and other ingredients are added.  This is okay. 

Chewy Butterscotch-Oatmeal Bars

1 (12-ounce bag) butterscotch morsels
1 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all–purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup chopped, toasted nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the butterscotch morsels and the butter in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring often until smooth.  Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Add the light brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla; stir until mixed.  Stir in the flour, oats, nuts, and salt, mixing well.  Pour into a 13 x 9-inch pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Cool completely before cutting.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Butterscotch Pudding with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

So yesterday we closed on a home which is equal parts exciting and scary for me.  And we now own five acres with a fixer-upper house, an old rusty barn, a fruit orchard, blueberry bushes, a muscadine vine, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Just kidding about the partridge.  But the pear tree is for real.  As well as some gorgeous old magnolia and pecan trees.  Oh, and fig trees.  And some kind of bush that blooms pretty purple flowers.  And there are azaleas too.   And another bush/tree thing that blooms pink flowers.

I need to grow a green thumb quick because things are budding in my yard and needing attention. The next few weeks will be hectic.  Hopefully not stressful, but very, very hectic.  There is all the moving and rearranging  and organizing to get through.  Mississippi Kitchen is getting a new Mississippi kitchen.  Bear with me if things slow down for a little while. 

But for now, I am still here and I made some delicious homemade butterscotch pudding the other day.  I had never made butterscotch pudding before, so I searched the Internet for a recipe and settled on Gale Gand's.  The taste was exceptional.  My daughter who is not a big fan of butterscotch even raved over it.  I only slightly adapted the recipe.  The original recipe is here.

 Here are my notes:

-The only change I made in ingredients was to add in some dark brown sugar.  Loved, loved, loved the flavor.

 -When cooking the brown sugar and butter, the mixture was thick. 

-When whisking the brown sugar mixture into the milk mixture, some of the brown sugar mixture solidified a little, but I kept whisking until it was smooth.

-I meant to strain the pudding through a fine wire mesh, but I was so excited to pour it into my little jelly jars, I forgot to.  I almost always strain puddings and custards because there is usually something that needs to be strained out of them--little bits of eggs that have scrambled, maybe some cornstarch that didn't dissolve all the way.  If you want it really smooth and silky, I would strain it.  Just push it through the strainer with a rubber spatula.

-You could used powdered or regular sugar for the whipped cream.  I kept my brown sugar theme going.

Butterscotch Pudding with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

(Adapted from Gale Gand)

2 1/4 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons butter 
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, well chilled
2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Heat the milk and cream over medium heat in a medium saucepan until simmering (about 180 degrees on a candy thermometer). Turn off the heat and set aside. 

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the dark brown and 3/4 cup light brown sugar and cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly, to  caramelize the mixture. Mixture will be thick. 

Whisking constantly, gradually add the butter/brown sugar mixture to the hot milk/cream mixture. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Put the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture. Whisk in the cornstarch and salt until dissolved. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the hot milk mixture. Whisking constantly, cook over medium-high heat until thick and just boiling. When the mixture thickens, the whisk will leave trail marks on the bottom of the pot and the mixture will have a few large bubbles boiling up to the top. Turn off the heat and strain through a fine wire mesh strainer into a clean bowl.  Whisk in the vanilla. Pour into 6 to 8 custard cups or small jelly jars and chill, uncovered, at least 2 hours or overnight. 

To make the whipped cream, beat the heavy cream on high speed until foamy.  Add 2 tablespoons light brown sugar and beat until soft peaks form.  Top pudding with whipped cream before serving.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cast Iron Butterscotch-Oatmeal Cookie Skillet With Butterscotch-Bourbon Drizzle

This has been one of the mildest winters I can remember.  Until today.  After weeks of spring-like temperatures,  today is *for real* winter.  High winds from the Northwest at 18 miles per hour.  A high of like 49 degrees.  Wind chill of 39 degrees.  Hard freeze warning for tonight.  (There is probably somebody from Minnesota or somewhere reading this thinking "Really?  Does she really call that winter?")  Yes, I really call that winter.  And it makes perfect sense that I will be outside in it having a photo session with a teenage girl, right?  This should be interesting.

So this dessert is very "winter" to me.  I think it's the perfect dessert to serve in a blizzard because everyone knows that when there is a blizzard, you should bake. (I don't think a blizzard is predicted here today, but if one shows up, I am ready.)   It's basically a giant deep-dish oatmeal-butterscotch cookie baked in a cast iron skillet, with homemade butterscotch-bourbon sauce and vanilla ice cream.  If that doesn't scream comfort food to you, then I don't know what will.

I entered this recipe this past fall in the Keeping it Rural In The Kitchen contest sponsored by Farm Credit, and when someone called and told me I had won their grand prize of $3000, my breathing pattern immediately changed to a series of rapid gasps of air, and I felt my limbs start to tingle. My body reacts to good news in weird ways.

Here are my notes:

-First, if you want to leave the bourbon out, you totally can.  I did because helloooo, dry county here, plus I wanted to make sure that my two year old grandson could eat it.  Yes, the alcohol cooks out of it, but after research, I don't think ALL the alcohol cooks out of it.  You could also adjust the amount of bourbon to your liking.

-I cooked mine for 34 minutes.  Don't overbake because you want the center to be softish.

-The sauce can be made a head of time and rewarmed on the stove or in the microwave.

-I would take the time to toast the nuts.  They are so much better that way.  I used walnuts this time.

-Just dump the whole bag of butterscotch chips in.  The bag will probably be two cups, more or less.

This is not brown enough yet, but it's getting there.

-The browned butter adds SO much flavor.  It will take about 3-5 minutes for it to become nutty smelling and brown.  Expect for it to be foamy. 

-This dessert really is best warm.  Let it cool for about 15 minutes, so it will cut easily.  It will still be perfectly warm enough to melt the ice cream.

Cast Iron Butterscotch-Oatmeal Cookie Skillet With Butterscotch-Bourbon Drizzle

1/2 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups butterscotch chips
1 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small heavy saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter over medium heat until melted.  Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes or until light brown and nutty smelling, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside.  Beat the cooled butter, shortening, 1/3 cup sugar, the dark brown sugar, 2/3 cup light brown sugar, the eggs, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Mix in flour mixture until combined.  Stir in the oats, butterscotch chips and chopped pecans.  Spread evenly in an ungreased 10-inch cast iron skillet.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown around edges and on top.  Do not overbake.  Cool for about 15 minutes before cutting.

Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup light brown sugar, the cream, the bourbon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and whisk until well blended.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to rapid simmer and cook for five minutes, whisking occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Sauce will thicken as it cools.

To serve, slice warm cookie into 8-10 wedges.  Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on each slice if desired, then drizzle with the butterscotch-bourbon sauce.  Store any remaining sauce in refrigerator.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet but Sultry Strawberry Dip

Did you know Valentine's Day is almost upon us?  It is.  

You wanna see my Valentine?  Here he is:

He looks kind of mean here, but he's really a gentle giant.  He likes football and hunting and he always gets out and reads historical markers.  He also hunts the old fashioned way.  With gun powder and a powder horn and a flintlock muzzle loader.

He's very unique.  One of a kind.  And he's all mine.

And I'm glad that he is.

So I like to keep my man happy by making him something special every now and then.  And this recipe fits the bill.

Golden, crispy coconut-crusted shrimp with a sweet and spicy strawberry dipping sauce.  Sounds kind of weird, but honestly, it's delicious.  

Here are my notes:

-I only put 1 chipotle pepper in the dip because I am a wimp when it comes to spicy food.  A wimp.  If you like it really spicy you could put 2 peppers in, or you could put a teaspoon of the adobo sauce from the can, or you could leave the seeds in.  Or all three if your tongue is made of steel.

-The shrimp will cook fast if the oil is hot.  Don't overcook it or it will become rubbery.

-The sauce can be made the day before and warmed in the microwave.  

-The strawberries should be diced very finely for the dip.

-This could be an appetizer or it could be the main course.  Whichever.

Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet but Sultry Strawberry Dip

Printable Recipe

Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon red onion, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 chipotle pepper, seeds removed and very finely diced
1 cup fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and very finely diced

Canola oil, for frying
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 egg whites
3/4 cup all –purpose flour
3/4 pound large shrimp, deveined and peeled with tails left on

Coat a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat until hot.  Add the red onions and cook until soft and transparent.  Add the strawberry preserves, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, and the chipotle pepper.  Whisk until smooth.  Add the finely chopped strawberries and cook for about 3 minutes or until mixture starts to boil.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool to warm. 

Pour oil to a depth of about 1/2 inch into a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Toss coconut, panko crumbs and salt in a pie plate. Beat egg whites in another pie plate or shallow dish.  Place the flour in a third pie plate or shallow dish.  Dip shrimp into the flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg whites, then into the coconut mixture, coating all sides.  When oil is very hot, fry shrimp about 3-4 minutes in batches until golden brown and crispy.  Remove to paper towel lined platter for draining.

Serve shrimp with warm strawberry dip.

*For a hotter dip, increase the chipotle pepper to two.

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