Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Salted Caramel Praline Grahams

At heart, Bill and I are still just kids who love graham crackers. 
When I saw this recipe on the back of a graham cracker box, I KNEW I would be making Salted Caramel Praline Grahams.

Sweet, salty, crunchy,and caramel richness topped with chopped pecans. A perfect snack for grownup kids.

Be aware that once you eat one of these, you cannot stop eating them!

Five ingredients and twenty minutes is all you need to make this great tasting crunchy snack.

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of packed, brown sugar
  • about 1/2 of a 14 oz. box of cinnamon graham crackers
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • coarse or fine sea salt
  • Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Using a baking sheet with sides, line it with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Lay out a single layer of graham crackers in the prepared baking sheet. You may have to break, or cut some of them to fit. 
  • Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat
  • Stir in the pecans and brown sugar
  • Bring the butter-sugar-pecan mixture to a boil, over medium high heat. 
  • Boil for two minutes
  • Pour the hot mixture over the cinnamon graham cracker and spread it evenly over the crackers.
  • Sprinkle with the desired amount of coarse, or fine sea salt that you want over the crackers. I used fine sea salt and just sprinkled it across the top of the caramel. 
  • Bake for ten minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Let cool completely before cutting and removing from the pan.
  • Store in a container with a tight fitting lid if you have any left after cutting them and eating one, or two, or the whole pan!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sallee's Six - Sweet September Snacks

1. Chocolate Chow Mein 
  • Microwave 1/4 cup each of peanut butter, butter, and chocolate chips until melted. 
  • Put 3 cups of chow mein noodles, 3 cups of Chex mix cereal, 1/2 cup peanuts, and 1/2 cup raisins into a large bowl. 
  • Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the cereal and stir lightly until the cereal and noodles are evenly coated. 
  • Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and toss lightly until the powdered sugar is evenly distributed. 
  • Store in an airtight container.
2. Apple Moons
  • Slice an apple into wedges. 
  • Spread each wedge with peanut butter and then press granola on top. 
3. Ricotta Apple Pockets
  • Roll out pizza dough 1/4 inch thick. 
  • Cut the dough into three inch rounds. 
  • Fill with ricotta cheese, diced apple, and a pinch of cinnamon sugar
  • Brush the dough edges with beaten egg, fold the round in half, and press the edges to seal.
  • Poke a hole in the top of each round, then bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. 
4. Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch                            Click Here for the recipe
5. Chex Funfetti Cake Batter Buddies                  Click Here for the recipe
6. Chocolate Coconut Graham Crackers             Click Here for the recipe

Monday, September 21, 2015

SalleeShares: The MasterChef Grand Finale

I am going to tell you a secret. Are you ready? Here it is - I do not watch MasterChef until the final six chefs are left. Yep, I prefer to not watch until the top six chefs are consistently bringing their A game and have found their culinary voice. Season 6 has had an unusually high calibre of home cook competing. 

Due to the outstanding cooking abilities of the home cooks, Season 6 has been exciting. Judges Gordon Ramsey, Graham Elliot, and Christina Tosi have consistently remarked that each home cook is cooking at a professional restaurant level. Wow, fine dining from home cooks is exciting. However, the top 3 were fairly easy to pick out.

The final three contestants - Derek Peltz, Claudia Sandoval, and Stephen Lee - were simply amazing to watch as they cooked for a VIP crowd of thirty in the MasterChef Restaurant. The VIP's were the culinary teams behind Gordon Ramsey, Graham Elliot, and Christina Tosi. Can you imagine cooking for professional sou chefs, pastry chefs, and restaurant managers? With a quarter of a million dollars and a cookbook deal at stake, the three finalists cooked their hearts out. 

Stephen was edged out by Claudia by the smallest seasoning margin. However, Gordon Ramsey told Stephen to get together his food truck business plan and he would personally invest. You know that the cooking level is amazing to have a world famous chef offering to invest in your food truck dream. Maybe Stephen needs to consider going onto the Great American Food Truck Race?

Claudia and Derek faced off in a three course meal consisting of an appetizer, an entree, and dessert. Family members were present at the final cook-off. Claudia asked her mom and grandma to pray for her and I do believe God was involved in Claudia's cooking as she stuck to her Latino cooking heritage and brought it to a fine dining level. Graham Elliot said she was cooking with "la vida loca", an ultimate accolade for a home cook.  

Derek and Claudia consistently presented beautiful plates that contained heavenly, well seasoned, offering to the three judges. Ultimately, Claudia won by the narrowest of margins. 

Congratulations Claudia Sandoval! 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Waffle Iron Brownies

Yesterday was a no-baking day. Just because I didn't feel like baking. Ever have a day like that? After our no-bake supper of pasta-n-crab salad, the hubby asked if there was anything for dessert. 

The hubby loves dessert and I didn't want to disappoint him. I looked through the pantry shelves and found a family-size box of brownie mix. Hmmm...I have made cookies with the waffle maker, how about brownies? 

So that is what I did. Following the directions for cake-like brownies, I mixed up a bowl of brownie batter while the waffle iron was heating up. 

Using canola oil pan spray, I sprayed the top and bottom waffle grids. 

How much batter? I decided to use about 1/2 cup of batter. Just enough to make a thick waffle, but not overflow the waffle iron. 

My next decision was cooking time. A waffle takes about five minutes. A brownie needs to be softer than a waffle. I decided to put batter in the waffle maker and check it every minute. Two minutes later, I carefully removed the brownie waffle by quarters.

It is necessary to remove the soft brownie waffle by quarters with a spatula and a fork. However, the soft quarters of the brownie waffle quickly firmed up as they sat on the cooling rack. 

I think I made about five or six waffles this way. Honestly, I forgot to count because I was concentrating on removing the waffle quarters to the cooling rack. Laser focused! lol...lol

Two waffle quarters,  sandwiched and topped with extra creamy whipped topping, was the dessert I served Bill. However, my mind is already full of all the fillings - toppings I can use to layer with brownie waffle quarters - cherry pie filling, chocolate, vanilla, or banana pudding, and chocolate mousse are some the fillings I want to try next!

Store the waffles in single layers with parchment or waxed paper in between. The moist waffles will stick to each other. I hope I have inspired you to grab your waffle iron and a box of brownie mix!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Princess Party Cupcake

My church has a dedicated lady who sponsors an annual Kindergarten to 4th grade princess party. When I asked her how I could help this year, she asked if I could make pink, frilly, jumbo cupcakes. My reply? You know I said,"Sure, I can do that. How many do you need?" 
Her answer was twenty cupcakes. 

My first step to planning any cupcake is to look at pictures of cupcakes that have been created by other bakers.  In about 20 minutes, I knew exactly how I wanted the princess cupcakes to look. 

Pink,ruffled, ombre layers, sparkling with clear sanding sugar, and topped with a white fondant crown sitting in a silver foil liner. 

Yes, that was my vision for the perfect Princess Party Cupcake. 

The Day Before Baking
Make white fondant crowns and let them air dry on parchment paper. 
 Click Here for the pictorial directions for making the crowns over at Cuppycakes & more. 

Creating Princess Cupcakes Step 1 -  Bake 24 jumbo cupcakes using 2 boxes of Party Rainbow Chip cake mix. Follow the package directions for mixing and baking temperature. Bake for about 18 minutes.
Step 2 -  While the cupcakes are cooling, make butter cream frosting and tint one third dark pink. Put the dark pink frosting into a piping bag that has been fitted with a Wilton #125 petal tip. 
Click Here for my Silky Smooth Butter Cream Frosting Recipe
Step 3 - Place a cooled cupcake onto a lazy susan and pipe a ruffle around the outside edge of each cupcake. 
Note: I tried holding and turning a cupcake while piping on the first ruffle. It was difficult to achieve a uniform ruffle. The difference between the first, hand-held ruffle and the second, lazy susan ruffle in the picture below is noticeable. 
Step 4 - Squeeze the unused dark pink frosting from the pastry bag into a small bowl. 
Add additional white frosting and stir. I do not measure the white frosting when I do this. I just add white frosting and stir until I have a paler pink that I am happy with. 
Load the same pastry bag with the paler pink frosting. 
Before piping the second ruffle, squeeze the pastry bag and clear the remaining dark pink frosting from the piping tip. Repeat step 3 with all of the cupcakes. 
NOTE: You will achieve a stripe effect on your second ruffle from using the same pastry bag.

Repeat Step 4 for your third ruffle. I used the same pale pink for the third and fourth ruffles. Apply sanding sugar to each cupcake after piping the third and fourth ruffles. 

Step 5 - Top each cupcake with a white fondant crown.

For how I made the crowns, Click Here for the pictorial over at Cuppycakes & more.