Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In the Kitchen: Chocolate Cracker Toffee

After a week off for my Etsyversary giveaway, In the Kitchen is back with a new recipe and I thought it was time for a dessert! Since you've probably figured out I'm all about quick and easy, this week's recipe is no exception. Some of you may have had this yummy treat or a variation of it, but I was first introduced to it only a couple years ago during an office cookie exchange - and it was love at first bite. You will find a link to a printable recipe card at the end of this post.

Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 12 min | Makes about 36 pieces

What you'll need:

1 sleeve rectangular buttery crackers
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (NO substitutes!)
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a sturdy 10" x 15" baking sheet with aluminum foil and cover the surface with the crackers in a single layer, edges touching.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, add the sugar and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, for 2 minutes. The mixture will gradually combine and form a thick sauce. Be careful as it can burn very easily - keep whisking! This sauce is also delicious poured over plain popcorn to make homemade caramel corn.

Gently pour the sauce over the crackers and carefully spread it out with a spoon to cover all the crackers.

Bake the tray for 10-12 minutes or until the sauce bubbles all over
the surface.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Return to the oven for 1 minute to melt the chips.

Remove from the oven again and, using the tip of a knife or spoon, spread the chocolate to cover the crackers.

Let cool completely (you can refrigerate) and cut or break into pieces. I find it easiest to lift the foil off the pan and peel it away from the toffee before breaking it into pieces. If you have any trouble with the foil sticking, you can spray it with non stick cooking spray before laying out the crackers, though I have never had a problem. It comes off pretty easy if you pull it slowly in one big piece.

I prefer to store this in the fridge to keep the chocolate from melting or getting too soft. Be warned, it's highly addictive… but I'm weak.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meet the Family, Part 2: Skid

Last time I introduced you to our cockatiel, Smudge. Next up, the OG kitty himself, the first of the pack, Skid. AKA Skidmark, Skidders, Brownpaw Sh*tstain and Mo. Skidmark, you ask? I'm a firm believer in naming pets after you've had them for a bit so the name really fits. Well, he was so tiny when we rescued him that he didn't even know how to poop. We would come home to tiny little paw prints all over the laundry room - 'nuff said.

Skid's a mama's boy but the biggest troublemaker in the house. He's a big fan of boxes that are half his size, though his true obsession lies with shoes, like his mama :)

Two down, eleven more to go - stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In the Kitchen: Hashbrown Casserole

This week - Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole - if you like it at Cracker Barrel, you will like this! The hardest part about this recipe is finding a big enough bowl to mix it in. It's delicious for breakfast but also makes a great side dish for dinner. This recipe could easily serve about 10 but it also stores well in the fridge. When I make a pan, we just heat up individual servings each morning for breakfast and it lasts through the week. You will find a link to a printable recipe card at the end of this post.

Prep time: 15 min  |  Cook time: 45 min  |  Serves: About 10

What you'll need:
one bag frozen shredded hashbrowns
1/2 C margarine, melted
1 small can cream of chicken soup
8 oz colby cheese (cheddar works, too)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 C finely chopped onion (optional)

In a large bowl, mix the margarine, cream of chicken soup, cheese, onion (optional), salt and pepper until blended. I leave the onion out but use about 1/4 tsp onion powder instead.

Next add the hashbrowns and mix until coated. It helps to leave the hashbrowns out to thaw in the fridge about an hour before making this, or on the counter for about 30 min. If frozen, beat the bag on the edge of the counter before mixing in to help break them up.

Grease a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray or butter and spread mixture evenly into the pan.

Cook at 350° for about 45 minutes or until top begins to bubble and brown. The potatoes will still look the same as they did when frozen, so you can taste it to make sure they are soft and cooked through. 

It's also hard to over cook this, so it's great to make for a party or potluck - just throw it back in the oven to warm it up before serving. It also reheats well in the microwave.

One bite and you will surely be addicted.