Edible Glitter

I was one of those children whose mother had to keep an eye out on.  Yes, I did attempt to eat glitter (though glue was too yucky), and now that I’ve found this recipe I think my little mind must’ve been on to something.  This is something potentially fun to make for decorating for holidays (I’m thinking ornament cookies or sparkly Easter egg cookies), but it’s also much cheaper than the store-bought colored sugar.

Edible Glitter

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix the food coloring and sugar together until well combined and spread onto a baking sheet.  Bake the colored sugar for 10 minutes and then store in an airtight container.

Some notes to help:

  • Only use granulated white sugar or crystalline sugar (think Sugar in the Raw) for this.  Brown sugar is too moist and powdered sugar won’t sparkle.
  • Use only liquid food coloring as gel food coloring may burn and/or discolor the sugar.  Plus it’s really difficult to mix into the sugar.
  • Parchment paper will make cleanup much easier.
  • You can mix colors together to make multicolored glitter or keep the colors separate.
  • I would suggest saving used, clean shake top spice jars to help you dispense your glitter and keep it safe from moisture.

If children eat this you won’t have to worry as much about hard metals or if they lick their fingers while helping mommy and daddy bake.  Have fun making your baked good sparkle!  🙂

— Sarah

Advertisements

Corn Casserole

TRULY, FOOD IS LOVE. The meals we share with our families and friends are just as important to our lives as the relationships themselves. These are the things that unify us all, that each and every human being walking this earth has in common – food and family. Especially at this time of the year, with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming soon enough, and if you’re anything like me, you start to dream of the meals just as much as you do the memories. Here in the great Northeast, when the snowflakes start swirling and the temperatures drop below zero, we all look forward to the richness and decadence that we have come to expect from our holiday meals.
Today’s recipe is one that I have been making for years. When I was first married, I had never really cooked before, so thanks to its ease, it quickly became a staple in our meal rotation. It is so simple and yet so beautiful and delicious. It is truly minimum effort but will reap a maximum reward for you and your family. Also, it’s not going to break the bank! Due to its richness, a little really does go a long way, but if your family is anything like mine, be prepared to make a double batch!
~Sam~

Corn Casserole
Ingredients:
– 1 15 ¼ oz can whole kernel corn, drained
– 1 14 ¾ oz can cream-style corn
– 1 8 oz package ready-to-use corn muffin mix
– 1 cup sour cream
– 1 stick butter, melted

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x13x2” baking dish evenly with nonstick cooking spray.
2) In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and casserole is set in the middle. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

NOTES:
– You can use salted or unsalted butter in this dish. I prefer to use unsalted butter so that I am controlling how much salt goes into my food.
– When you pour the batter into the pan, shake it from side to side a bit to make sure that you have a nice even layer. Otherwise the cooking may not be even on all parts of the casserole.

20121027-212303.jpg

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops in a Lemon-Butter Sauce

I have a man who adores scallops, and unselfishly (with just a dash of pride) he can blame me.  I love seafood, and I’ll admit it openly.  On a date to a local hibachi restaurant, I ordered shrimp and scallops.  As is our way, we ended up sharing some of our meals with each other, and, wishing to expand his foodie horizons, I gave him a scallop.  It cautiously tried it, and it was love at first bite.  Now, whenever possible, he orders scallops.  Our favorite place to get them is when we’re on vacation in Ogunquit, Maine, but let’s face it:  when you’re that close to the sea, it’s a damn travesty to not order as much seafood as possible!

Eh, enough of my introduction.  Let’s get to the recipe:  Pan-Seared Sea Scallops in a Lemon-Butter Sauce.  Now, a slight disclaimer:  you will want to adjust flavorings to your liking here.  I’ll give you the basics, but if you like more lemon then by all means add more juice… add additional liquids to the pan if you want more sauce… you get the point.  Next, and please read this carefully:  DO NOT BE AFRAID TO COOK SCALLOPS!  For some reason everyone seems nervous about cooking them!  I can only imagine it’s because they appear so delicate and that the cost can be high.  Trust me, if you can get over your fear long enough it’ll be so worth it.

About cooking scallops:  it’s easier than it seems, but you have to be right at the pan.  You can’t walk away.  Make sure your pan, oil, and butter are screaming hot.  This means a high heat to being with, and this will lead to a gorgeous crust on the outside.  A crust on the outside means a moist, juicy scallop on the inside.  Speaking of the insides, please, for all that is holy and good in this universe, don’t overcook your scallops.  The insides should be soft and jello-like, not dry.  You may think you’ve undercooked them, but you haven’t.  Just breathe; I promise it’s ok.  Lastly, don’t over-crowd your pan.  If you’re like me, you want to get dinner done and on the table sooner rather than later.  I feel your pain, but work these suckers in batches.  Overcrowding your pan will lead to steaming, not searing, and that’s just a sad thing.

So, onto the recipe!

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops in a Lemon-Butter Sauce

  • 1 pound large sea scallops   NOTE:  ask your fishmonger for dry scallops; they haven’t been injected with any additional juices so you reduce the likelihood of steaming.  They will also remove the foot for you if you ask nicely, otherwise just take off the little tough part sticking off the side of the scallop with a small knife or just take it off with your fingers and you’re good!
  • About a cup of white wine.
  • The juice of one lemon.  Reserve the peels.
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic (adjust to taste)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil (it doesn’t need to be extra virgin because you’re cooking with it)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Take the scallops out of their package and place them on paper towels, bottom and top.  Pat them dry.  This will absorb any extra moisture and reduce the chance that you’ll steam them.  While they stay on the paper towels, place your oil in your pan (a skillet works well) to begin heating it up.  Your pan can be on high heat.  You want this to be screaming hot, like I said before, so that when the scallops hit the pan they immediately start to sear.  Sprinkle the scallops liberally with salt and pepper to taste on both flat sides.  Ready?  Let’s get them in the pan!  Using tongs, grasp the scallops so a flat side is going to go on the pan.  Place the scallop in the pan (be cautious of spitting hot fats from the pan) and leave it alone.  You heard me.  Don’t move it.  Your scallop will “tell you” when it’s done.  Place a couple scallops on your pan, but don’t overcrowd.  It’s better to work in batches (example:  in a 12″ skillet I never put more than 6 scallops on my pan in a shot).  Watch the bottom edge of your scallops.  You’ll see a pale brown crust or coloring forming on the pan-side of the scallop, usually after about 2-3 minutes on the heat.  At that point, gently try to pick up the scallop with your tongs.  If it moves easily, you can flip it over to cook the other side.  If not, leave it a few seconds more and try again; this is what I mean by the scallop “telling you” when it’s done.  It’ll only take another 30 seconds on the other side of the scallops to cook it.  At that point, transfer them to a plate and gently tent with foil to keep them warm.  You can add another tablespoon of oil if it seems like your pan is getting a little too dry.  Once you’re done searing your scallops, melt the butter in the pan and add your minced garlic and give it a quick stir for a few seconds to release the flavors.  Now the fun part that leads to easy cleanup:  pour your wine into the pan and deglaze it.  This means take your spatula and scrape all that goodness off the bottom (it helps flavor your sauce), then add your lemon juice.  You can turn your heat down to medium-high, and just simmer your sauce until it has reduced by about half; this will thicken it up.  At this point I would plate my scallops over a bed of white rice for each individual serving, then just pour some of the pan sauce over the top of it all.  Yum!

Serve with some white wine and your favorite steamed vegetables.  Easier than you thought, faster than you thought, and people will love that you put in the extra effort.  Enjoy the accolades, and happy cooking!

— Sarah

Toffee Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

NOT TO BE OUTDONE by my comrade in cooking, I needed to get this recipe up for everyone about 3 hours ago. This is simply a fabulous cake. I slightly adapted a recipe on www.allrecipes.com (“Pumpkin Cake II”) – I have to add my own little twists and turns in every recipe I make. At Two Girls, we are all about recipes that are easy to make, taste great and look beautiful. We only look like we spent hours slaving away in the kitchen. This recipe has it all. Even my pickiest-of-the-picky two-year-old Maddie LOVED it (I cut her off after two servings). It gets some added nutrition from the whole wheat flour and the wheat bran, and it really is perfect for our chilly Central New York autumn evenings. Another nice twist would be to serve it with some homemade caramel sauce (super duper easy, recipe to follow soon), or even your favorite chocolate sauce. Enjoy!

Toffee Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

Ingredients:

– 3/4 cup all purpose flour

– 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

– 2 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1/4 tsp salt

– 2 tsp ground cinnamon

– 1 tsp ground nutmeg

– 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

– 1 cup canola or vegetable oil

– 1/2 cup wheat bran flakes

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1 29-oz can pure pumpkin

– 3 eggs

– 1 8-oz bag English toffee bits

– 1 12-oz bag milk or semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Heat oven to 350. Coat the inside of a bundt pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl, sift together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3) Using the stand mixer on low speed, combine the sugar and oil. Blend in the vanilla extract and the pumpkin. Add the eggs, one at a time, with the mixer running on low speed.

4) Blend in the wheat bran flakes. Gradually add the flour mixture with the mixer running on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Fold in the toffee bits and chocolate chips.

5) Scrape batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. If the edges are browning too quickly, cover the rim of the pan with aluminum foil.

6) Remove from oven. Let stand for 10 minutes. Invert the pan onto a serving plate. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

NOTES:

– I cannot live without my stand mixer. If you don’t have one (or if you have one but you don’t want to drag it out!), a hand mixer or even an old fashioned wooden spoon will do the job just fine.

– My oven can be quite touchy. I always start with the shortest cooking time (sometimes even less) and I always babysit it when I bake.

– The cake SHOULD slide easily out of the pan when you flip it upside down. If it doesn’t, turn it back right side up and carefully run a sharp knife around both the inside and outside edges.

~Sam~

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

Last week at this time I was getting ready and packing for my cousin’s wedding.  In the mean time, I’m thinking to myself that I really want something sweet to take with me in the car, but given that it was almost midnight I wasn’t prepared to be up all night cooking.  I actually had to be lucid for my teacher inservice, so I couldn’t afford to stay up late.  Enter the latest:  Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats.

Yes, indeed.  You read correctly.  Cake batter. Krispies.  I can hear your inner child screaming in sugared glee.

And it’s not like this took any additional effort.  Most everyone has made rice krispie treats at one time.  They’re a common bake sale staple from a harried mom whose child informs them the night before that they need something sweet and sugary for tomorrow.  Having no kids myself, I was indulging my own childhood and keeping in mind that the teachers who came into my room might take my ramblings a little more calmly if they had something in their hands to nosh on.

It worked!  The plate was gone before I could take the leftovers in the car with me, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Plus, we all know that you could do worse on the waistline than eat a Krispie treat.  I’m posting the basic recipe, but feel free to top it as you’d like or make it yours. Your kids and the kids-at-heart will thank you.  😉

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 – 10 oz bag of mini marshmallows
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup dry funfetti cake mix
  • One small container of colorful sprinkles

Here’s a tip before you get started:  spray your spatula/spoon and your pot with non-stick cooking spray.  You won’t have as much issue with the marshmallows sticking.  You can spray a little oil on your hands, too, if you want to press the treats into the pan manually.  Be mindful that the mixture will be very warm coming out of the pot, so be careful (I have to include the reality check here).

Grab a large soup pot to give yourself plenty of room.  Melt your butter over low heat, then add the entire bag of marshmallows.  Stir until the marshmallows start to melt.  A tablespoon at a time, add your dry cake mix and stir into the marshmallows until well incorporated.  Add your vanilla and mix a minute more to release the flavors.  Add your cereal and, if you want, some of your colorful confetti sprinkles to add additional color to the treats.  Once your treats have been mixed well, gently press them into an 8″x8″ pan or a 9″x13″ pan (depending on how thick you want them) and generously sprinkle the top with more of your sprinkles.  It looks like a party in a pan!  Cool for at least a half hour before you cut them (do your best not to cheat).

Enjoy, and happy cooking!

— Sarah