Dangelas Manjar with La Lechera or Sweetened Condensed milk

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Delicious Sweet and Savory Treat

 

 My little boys best friend, has an older sister, who is just a sweetheart.  Her name is Dangela and she is so good with Alex and Ben.  She’s a lot of fun to hang around, and she has made a delicious treat which she brought me for Christmas.  My favorite things to receive on Christmas are always homemade.  This was a most special gift because Dangela had created it on her own.  I wanted to share this recipe because it is sweet and savory, a lovely combination.

 

 

 

 

 

Dangela is from Chile, but has lived here since she was a little girl.  Her mother, Ana, is a fabulous cook and decorator.  So the apple didn’t fall far from the tree where cooking is concerned.   The ingredient in the Manjar is La Lechera.  If you can’t find La Lechera, you can use *sweetened condensed milk.

 

 

 

Dangelas Manjar:

 

1 can *La Lechera

 

2 bags unsalted crackers (like Saltines)

 

Pour La Lechera into a bowl

 

Crush the crackers very well and add to the bowl

 

Stir to combine and then shape into balls

Put in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator

*If you don’t have La Lechera, then use 1 can sweetened condensed milk,

Place unopened can in hot water and boil for 3-4 hours until it turns a caramel color.

Don’t use the easy open can, use the can that you have to use a can opener for, or it will open itself and boil over causing a mess.

 

 

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A new spin on Black Eyed Peas: Spicy Black Eyed Peas Salsa

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Black Eyed Peas for Luck in the New Year 2012

 

We’ve always had black-eyed peas for our New Years dinner, that and Cherries Jubilee.  I always thought it was for luck and money.  Well, I was right about the luck part anyway.  Turns out, that:

 

“The Tradition dates back tot he Civil War.  Black-eyed peas were considered animal food.  The peas were not worthy of General Sherman’s Union troops. When Union soldiers raided the Confederates food supplies, legend says they took everything except the peas and salted pork.  The Confederates considered themselves lucky to be left with those meager supplies, and survived the winter.  Peas became symbolic of good luck and prosperity.”

 

There are several more reasons people eat Black eyed peas on New Years, look for the link below if you want to find out more information.

 

One year, I waited too long and was unable to find a single can of black-eyed peas.  I was not a happy girl, so I got a bag of them and proceeded to fix them like any other dried bean. Nice idea, except they tasted like cardboard.  Maybe that’s even an insult to cardboard.  This year, I have found a recipe my sister sent to my Mom and me an unknown-amount-of-time-ago.  Guess what we are having for New Years this year?  Black eyed Peas made like this!


Spicy Black Eyed Peas Salsa:


1 cup chopped green bell peppers

1 1/4 cup chopped celery

1 1/3 cup chopped onion

2 cans Garlic, basil tomatoes

6 Chopped jalapeno peppers (can omit if spicy is not for you)

1 tsp salt (optional)

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch of allspice

1 TB Tabasco (give or take, or leave out)

3 chicken low sodium bullion cubes 


2 16oz cans black-eyed peas drained and rinsed (rinse to get the excess salt & preservatives off)

1 tsp garlic powder or 3 minced cloves

2 TB flour (if Salsa is too runny)

1/2 cup water (if it’s not runny enough. grin)


Saute the first 3 ingredients with a little oil until onions are transparent.

Combine tomatoes, and the next 8 ingredients and bring to a simmer

Add the onion mixture, stir simmer until mixture thickens (about 20-30 minutes)

Mixture should have a “sauce”

Add some water if it doesn’t

Add the black-eyed peas and garlic 

Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until peas are softened


Serve with Chips, corn chips or tortilla scoops

 

 

 

 

Credits:
Picture taken from:
http://www.gardeningblog.net/how-to-grow/black-eyed-peas/
Black eyed peas history:
Household tips Examiner
http://www.examiner.com/household-tips-in-national/why-eat-black-eyed-peas-on-new-year-s-day

Handmade Cinnamon Broken Glass Christmas Candy

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I enjoy watching the Cupcake and Cake wars on Food Network. I find it fascinating when the chefs make their own candy and spin them into fabulous designs. I may not be able to craft a candy cane, or fantastic flowers or spinning fairies with candy wings, but I can make some delicious cinnamon candy.

I got the recipe off a friend and co-worker who called it Rock Candy. He would bring bags of it around Christmas and we would all go crazy for it. He wrote the recipe on a torn piece of paper, that is much stained from years of use. I suppose I’ll print off a new one after I blog it to you all.

I do have some warnings to go with this candy, I learned the hard way.

Warning 1: Try as hard as you can not to have your face or any other body parts close to the hot sugar when you add the cinnamon oil. A facial is nice, but having pure cinnamon oil infused into your open pores is miserable. It’s much worse if it goes up your nose, much worse. Trust me, I tried to stay away from it tonight and a little got on my face. My cheek is a little hot, and my hand is red and tingling a bit. I smell very nicely of cinnamon though.

Warning 2: Try to use a very deep pot, or make sure you have on a shirt you don’t mind to ruin with the food color. Once you drop the food coloring into the hot sugar, it will start sputtering and erupt like a volcano of red dye.

Ok, with the warnings out-of-the-way, lets move on to the good part. Making candy! YUMMY.

NOTES: The past few years I used a wooden spoon and was so disappointed that my candy didn’t have a nice cinnamon, well honestly, any cinnamon taste to it. This year I used a stainless steel spoon, and my candy is so nice and Cinnamon flavored.

Rock Candy or Broken Glass Candy

3 3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup white corn syrup

1 cup water

1 small bottle of Cinnamon oil (find in Pharmacy or bulk food store)

Red Food Coloring

Candy thermometer

Sheet pan with sides

aluminum foil (optional)

butter/oil

Powdered sugar

Have the sheet pan prepared before you start boiling the sugar, also have the cinnamon oil bottle opened and close by as well as the bottle of food coloring. Things move quickly once hard crack stage is reached, be prepared.

Mix sugar, corn syrup and water and bring to a boil

Stir constantly until thermometer reaches 300-310 degrees

Remove from heat Immediately stir in cinnamon and food coloring

Pour into sheet pan that has been oiled (or place a piece of aluminum foil on sheet pan and butter it)

Let cool Once cool take the handle of a butter knife, or case knife and crack the candy into pieces

Place in a bowl or zip lock baggy and Roll in powdered sugar

This recipe is very versatile, you can use any sort of flavored oil you like. Peppermint, wintergreen, anise….likewise, you can use any color food coloring you like as well.

If you are making a Gingerbread house, you can pour the candy into pre-made little molds to make the window glass and “glue” it in with royal icing. Place a light inside the house (single corded lights can be found at craft shops all around. They have one socket for a Christmas light bulb) and you’ve made a magical gingerbread house for Christmas.

You can also form foil into a circle and pour the candy into it to make a lovely pond for skaters to skate upon in front of your gingerbread house or Christmas village. Simply tint the candy blue instead of red, once cool dust lightly with powdered sugar to look like snow-covered ice. My Mom always did those things when she made our Gingerbread houses. She really is creative.

 

Dance of the Sugar Plum Candies!

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Often I’ve heard the song, “‘Twas the night before Christmas”, with the lyrics;

The children were nestled

All safe in their beds

While visions of sugar plums

Danced in their heads”

I love that old song, it always creates an image of Christmas magic with elves, candy, stars and Santa dancing in the dreams of sleeping children. I’ve often wondered what a sugar plum was and how delicious it must be, if the children dream of them the night before Christmas.

Children love cartoons, and I have not grown out of that love myself.  I do enjoy cartoons, and don’t mind the least that my child wants to watch them all the time.  One of my favorite cartoons is “Max and Ruby“, a story of a little boy bunny and his perfectionist sister.  In one episode, Ruby and her friend Louise are giving a “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies”, ballet recital to Grandma and Max.  The refreshments include, you guessed it, sugar plums.  I was kind of disappointed to see that they were sugar coated plums.  What a bummer.

One day, while shopping in Whole Foods (my favorite grocery store ever), I saw a display of Christmas treats.  I noticed a box of sugar plums.  Now the moment of truth.  I turned the box around to read the ingredients, to my pleasant surprise, it was not a box of sugar coated plums.  Score.  I purchased them and went to the car to see if the sugar plums held up to the Christmas song hype.  They did and then some.  Now, I wasn’t going to spend a ton of money buying these sugar plums, so I would have to learn to make them.  I searched the web for a recipe that was similar to the ones I had finally found.  There were many recipes, but the one I am posting, with a few minor changes, is the one that included all the ingredients I really liked.

The base recipe is by Treva Bedinghaus, About.com Guide.

http://dance.about.com/od/famousballets/r/Sugar_Plums.htm?p=1

I added a couple things which I will include under the original ingredients, and italicized.

Ingredients:

2 cups whole almonds

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp. grated orange zest

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup finely chopped dried apricots

1 cup finely chopped pitted dates

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 tsp. grated ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1 bag semi-sweet chocolates

Whole cloves

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400. Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then finely chop.

Meanwhile, combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg (ginger, cardamom) in a medium mixing bowl.  Add almonds, apricots and dates and mix well.

Pinch off rounded teaspoon size pieces of mixture and roll into the shape of a plum and add a clove to the top as the stem.  (Rinse hands often, as mixture is very sticky.) Roll in sugar, then refrigerate in single layers between sheets of waxed paper in airtight containers for up to 1 month.  Their flavor improves after ripening for several days.

I actually rubbed my hands with a little butter and that helped keep the mixture from sticking.  Before I formed the sugar plums, I used a double boiler and melted the bag of semi-sweet chocolates.  Then as I formed the mixture into plum shapes, I dropped in the melted chocolate and covered them.  I dropped the chocolate coated balls onto a lined cookie sheet and my little boy took a spoon and sprinkled (dumped….whichever you choose) colored sugar on the chocolate (purple would be ideal).  I didn’t use the confectioners sugar. 

A few notes for those who can learn from my mistakes.  I, mistakenly, thought I could take a cup of dried apricots and when they were finely chopped by the food processor, that it would still be one cup. duh, not so.  As my Mom told me, it will vary, best is to finely chop and measure appropriately.  Same with the dates.  If I had chopped the dried fruits first, thereby getting the correct amount added to the mixture, it would have tasted better.  Don’t get me wrong, they taste good, but a little too much nut flavor for my taste. 

My Mom also had a great idea, take a pitted prune (dried plum) and use a melon baller and scoop out the middle, then stuff the sugar plum mixture into the prune shell and THEN dip in chocolate.  Too much detail work for me.  I like short and sweet recipes, not complications….but, for those of you who don’t mind I think it’s a great idea.  Let me know how it turns out!!!


More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/c/christmas_songs/#share


Authentic LEBKUCHEN, Gingerbread recipe from scratch. Wonderfully simple.

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Gingerbread House

Mom is German and in Germany, or Deutschland, gingerbread is called Lebkuchen.  I found a recipe for Lebkuchen in a cook book called, “My Favorite Cookies from the old Country.”  They called for allowing the dough to sit in a covered bowl for 10 days before using it.  That’s more time than I’m willing to wait for cookies, I’d just head right back to the store and get the refrigerated kind.  Well, I really wanted to know an easy recipe for gingerbread, so I called Mom.  As always, she came through with flying colors.  I believe I will make some homemade gingerbread cookies this week.  Let me know how yours turn out, ok? (P.S. The picture is not one of Mom’s gingerbread houses, it’s one we did with the baby a couple of years ago.)

A little note on the cookbook I was reading, they did suggest to leave the cookies out over night to harden and then bake them.  Of course, cover them up first.  I’m not sure why, but it was an interesting step to take.  Well, if you’ve waited 10 days to make cookies, what’s one more night?  Ahhh, but there’s nothing better than a house filled with the warm scents of freshly made, freshly baked and decorated, Lebkuchen cookies.

LEBKUCHEN (Gingerbread)

½ cup unsalted butter

½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup dark corn syrup

1 egg

2 ½ cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

2 tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. salt

Combine butter and brown sugar in a large bowl; beat until well blended. Add corn syrup and egg; beat until smooth. Combine remaining ingredients in another bowl; stir to mix well then add to butter mixture, a third at a time, mixing after each addition until smooth. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each third in foil and chill at least one hour to make rolling easier. On a well-floured surface roll out one-third of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, cut out cookie shapes, placing them on ungreased baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake at 400 deg. F, for 8 minutes or until lightly browned; remove from baking sheet at once onto a cooling rack. While still warm brush with LEMON GLAZE.

LEMON GLAZE: In a small bowl 2 cups confectionery sugar add 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, stirring with a fork to combine. If too thick add a little at a time more lemon juice until glaze is of spreading consistency. Immediately decorate with sprinkles etc. (I use this same dough and glaze to make gingerbread houses)

Banana-Nut Bread or Muffins

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I have always loved bananas. They are so good for you and they taste delicious. I especially love fried bananas with a fried egg, or banana bread on a cold snowy day with hot chocolate.  Alas, I can no longer enjoy a banana.  Several years ago, I noticed an itchy sensation in my throat when I ate bananas.  My tongue felt thick and tingled, an overall unpleasant experience.  I brought it up to my doctor who informed me it was a food allergy.  I had, to date, never had any kind of allergy to food.  How could this be?  He advised me that some people acquire food allergies as they get older.  He was right, that was the start of several food allergies.  Hopefully, I have stopped developing food allergies, it really is difficult to deal with at times.  When we go to restaurants I have to go down the list of food I am allergic to.  If we are in a seafood restaurant, I have to specify that they cook my food on a clean grill, or in a clean skillet and it can’t be touched by anything that has touched seafood, shellfish, spinach, etc.  I was recently in a seafood restaurant and they advised me that they only had a small grill and could not guarantee that anything they grill for me would not be contaminated by an allergen.  My husband really wanted to eat there, so I ordered something that was “safe”, how badly could nachos get messed up?  Extremely badly as it turns out.  I took one bite and tasted shrimp.  Shrimp is one of my more severe allergies.  I asked the waiter to come over to tell him that the chips tasted of shrimp.  His answer not only shocked me, but caused great concern at the ignorance of a person who serves food to patrons who may have food allergies.  He nodded his head as I told him my discovery and advised me that they, do, fry the chips in the shrimp oil.  He also helpfully added, that the heat of the oil kills all the allergens in the shrimp and renders the food completely safe for those of us who are allergic.  Wow.  Sadly, this is the attitude of many wait staff.  They are not educated, the cooks are not educated, and food allergies are not taken seriously.  People die every day from anaphylactic shock brought on by food allergies.  Restaurants really need to take those extra steps to insure the safety of their food served to the public. Some people have such severe allergies that even the smell of a food they are allergic to can send them into a severe health emergency.  Thankfully, none of my allergies are so extreme.

My husband and son love bananas, we have them in the house but I don’t cook with them as the steam from the cooking bananas can cause a mild irritation to my throat.  We also don’t eat several other things because I can not cook them, due to my allergies.  My mother-in-law came for a visit and she made some banana nut muffins.  We had several left over bananas that I did not want to waste, after she left.  I decided to bake some Banana Bread.  My Dad sent over the recipe they use and I tried my very first Banana Bread.  It smelled really good, and yes, it did  cause me a little discomfort, I just took an antihistamine which seemed to ease the symptoms some.

Sometimes having food allergies makes me sad.  My Mom and I have taken several cruises and most of the time the food on the menu has some sort of allergen.  The wait staff are very good about making sure the food is safe.  It’s important to tell them prior to your sail date of allergies and then to discuss with both the Maitre dee and your waiter, your allergies.  They are, however, unable to change the menu.  After several nights of eating a small variety of things, I was so upset to discover that there was nothing on the third nights menu that I could eat.  I broke down in tears and left the dining room.  The waiter followed me out to the elevator to ask what was wrong.  I told him that there was nothing on the menu I could eat.  He was so nice, he offered to get me a hot dog from the Lido deck.  I laughed and motioned to the evening gown I had on and said no thank you.  He coaxed me back to the table and made it his mission to bring me a grilled chicken breast with other things I could eat.  Of course, his kindness and concern again had me in tears, but that is what should happen.  None of us asked to have food allergies, it’s annoying to the people who go out with us, it’s annoying to the waiters and chefs/cooks, it’s annoying to us.  The fact is, people have food allergies.  They are dangerous, and they can kill.

That said, please try this wonderful recipe, unless you are allergic of course .  The Banana Bread came out of the oven and between my son and husband was devoured shortly thereafter.  This recipe is for muffins, however the bread recipe is at the bottom.  I don’t like nuts in my food, as a general rule.  So I left the pecans out.

Banana-Nut Muffins:

author: unknown


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup mashed ripe banana

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl’ make a well in center of mixture.  Combine egg, mashed banana, milk and oil; add mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  Stir in pecans.
  • Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling three-fourths full.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until golden.  Remove from pans immediately.  yield: 1 dozen
  • Per muffin: Calories 217 Fat 10.6g Cholesterol 20 mg Sodium 184mg

Spoon batter into a greased 81/2 X 41/2 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Yield: 1 loaf.

German Broetchen or German Hard Rolls

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My Mom is German, as I’ve said before, and she brought a bag of German Hard Rolls home one day when I was little.  She was very happy she found them at our local grocery store.  I remember looking at them, thinking they didn’t look that special.  I poked one, sure enough hard as a brick,  I thought Mom was crazy.  Why in the world would anyone want to eat a roll with a crust like that.  Surely it would break your teeth out.  Was I ever wrong.  Crusty on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside.  A true breakfast treat.  I never thought I would bake them myself.  I’m trying to branch out my kitchen skills.  I am finding that I do love to bake bread.  Good for my family, bad for my figure.

 These were so much fun to bake, even more fun to eat.  You will need two days to make this recipe so make sure you plan your time accordingly.

This recipe was e-mailed to me, so I do not know whom to give credit for it.  Whomever you are, thank you, simply delicious!

Ingredients:

Note: you will need a spray bottle with water for this recipe.  This is what makes the crust crunchy.

Day 1: 

2 cups Bread Flour

1 1/3 cup water

1/2 tsp instant yeast

Day 2: 

5 1/2 cup bread flour

1 1/3 cup water (extra if needed)

1 tsp instant yeast

1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt

Preparation: 

Mix all the Day 1 ingredients in a bowl until smooth and lump free

Cover loosely with plastic wrap

Leave on counter overnight (this makes the “sponge”)

Day 2:

Mix the sponge with 5 cups of flour, water and yeast

Knead for 8 minutes, preferably with a stand mixer

Add up to another half cup of flour until dough barely sticks to the bowl

Sprinkle salt over the dough and mix for 4 minutes

The dough should be smooth but still tacky, adjust with water,  a teaspoon at a time,  or flour, a tablespoon at a time

Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl turning once to coat

Place a damp towel or plastic wrap over the top and let the dough rest for 2 hours

Turn dough out on lightly floured work surface and cut into pieces the size of a small orange

Let dough rest for a few minutes then form into small balls or any other shape you like

Coat in flour and place on parchment paper about 2 inches apart

Cover with a damp cloth and let them rise for another hour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Place an old pan on the bottom rack

Lightly score  rolls with a serrated knife or blade

Place rolls on cookie sheet and place  in the oven on the next shelf above the pan

Pour 1 cup water into the old baking pan and close the door quickly

Spray sides of the oven with water 2 or 3 times in the first 5 minutes of baking

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes

Cool rolls on wire rack so that the bottom will not get soggy

Rolls should be eaten warm and crispy

Place in the fridge then re-crisp in the oven or toaster if you are not eating them the same day

They can even be frozen

I didn’t have a spray bottle so I used a basting brush and a cup of water to splash on the sides of the oven, it worked nicely.