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Monday, May 20, 2013

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds


 I am well aware that this post is long overdue and I apologize for the delay. This recipe is both complicated and extremely simple at the same time. This time I am not going to simply list the ingredients you need, since there are some important details you need to know as well. Lets talk cooking pan. It needs to be short, not tall like a stock pot. Cooking this in a stockpot type of pan will result in burned hands. This is what I am using so you can get a good idea.
 It needs to be able to handle high heat as well, so your cheap little dollar store pans are probably not going to be able to handle it.

WARNING: DO NOT DOUBLE THIS RECIPE!!!
"Why can't I double the recipe" you ask? For the same basic reason you need a shallow pan like the one above, burned hands! As the almonds cook in your pan, the water is going to be boiling off, and all that steam and heat is going to hit your hands since you need to be stirring almost constantly. If you double the recipe, your hand will be in that heat and steam for twice as long!  

Ok now that I have scared you enough, here is what you are going to need:

Cinnamon
Sugar
Water
RAW Almonds
Vanilla in a spray bottle




 It may be just a dollar store spray bottle, but spraying the vanilla is so much better than just simply pouring the vanilla on the almonds. Trust me, it doesn't turn out the same.

NOW TO BEGIN!!!

First pour in your cinnamon and sugar in the pot. How much you use is up to you, some people like more cinnamon, some people like less but more sugar, etc. Generally I use 2 cups of sugar and 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon. Mix these up but not too quickly unless you want a face full of cinnamon powder. Take my word for it, I learned it the hard way.
Next mix in your water. I generally use 1 or 1 1/2 cups, and though it look thin, remember that even though it is all just going to boil off, it also going to be cooking your almonds! The rule of thumb I have found is that you have enough to barely cover the almonds.

 The next step is rather obvious if you read the step above, add in the almonds! I usually use 3-4 cups.


 Now is the heat. Medium works well for your first time, but I wouldn't go over Medium-High, because there is too much of a risk of getting burned. so mix up all your almonds, making sure they are all coated in the sugar mix.
Here comes the long arduous part of the recipe You are now going to let the almonds cook. While you don't need to stir absolutely non stop, I would not suggest letting it sit for more than a full minute. Once it starts bubbling, it is even more important that you not leave your stove. I usually have an employee, friend or my husband help out with this recipe, to be sure it gets done right. While it is possible to do it alone, it can be extremely difficult. Even if you have someone to watch the kids for 20 minutes or hand you things, I suggest getting help, especially if this is your first time!
As the almonds cook and the water boils off slowly, the sugar mixture will begin looking stringy. THIS IS A GOOD THING! DO NOT FEAR!!!

Once the sugar mix gets stringy enough that you lift the spoon and you can see where it lands, it is almost time for the vanilla. This is the "complicated" part. If you have been following the measurements I have been using, the easiest thing to do is to measure 1/4 cup of vanilla into the spray bottle and then empty it. The heat is going to stay on, and you are going to spray the vanilla over the almonds while stirring them. (See why I get help?) This is the moment I think the almonds smell the best, but by now your house is definitely smelling really good! 

Finishing up is pretty simple. It will become very obvious when they are about done, but the trick is to take them off the heat right before they look completely dry. They will harden up on the baking sheet, but if you leave them in the pan, you will achieve cinnamon almond brittle that is most likely stuck to the pan, and you have to chip it out. When they are done, they look almost completely dry.  

Again, DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN THE PAN TO COOL!!! Pour them out on paper, on a baking sheet, or whatever, but do not leave them in the pan! Personally I like to eat them only a few minutes after they are done, and still warm, but they will last a long time (up to 2 weeks) so if you want to use them as gifts you can too! 

My good friend helped me out today, and she is a great inspiration as well as a friend. Check out her blog @  http://liftingthesoul.blogspot.com/ . Of course don't forget to follow mine for more great recipes too!


CLEAN UP IS A BREEZE!! Don't you just love recipes that clean up easily? I certainly do. If you have a dishwasher, you can just stick your pan and spoon in there as long as there are no nuts left in it. The hot water dissolves the sugar, and the pan cleans off so easy. I LOVE IT!!! Ok, study up on this recipe and get used to it, because my next post will be Kahlua Almonds and the recipe is almost identical! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Seriously Good but Seriously Ugly Chip Dip

Seriously Good but Seriously Ugly Chip Dip




 Yes, you read that right. This chip dip, at least in the pot, it seriously ugly and nasty looking but is some of the best dip for tortilla chips of any kind. It gives weight to the saying "Don't knock it til ya try it." But to give it credit, this has nothing but packaged foods, and if you know my severe preference for fresh ingredients, you know this is a big deal.
 This is one of the easiest recipes you will ever use and can be put in a slow cooker to be served at a party, or tastes fine cold too, though I prefer it warm. For this recipe you will need:

1 Package of Cream Cheese
1 Bottle of Salsa
1 Can of Refried Beans
1 Can of Chili
1 Tub of Sour Cream
1 Package shredded cheese

I am serious when I say that this recipe is one of the simplest you will ever use, it is in its most basic form, to take all of the ingredients listed above and mix them all together while heating it up. Yup, that's it. I will for your sake though, provide the order I make it to make it well mixed. 

The first thing I put in the pot is the Cream cheese. Brand doesn't really matter, but as my husband has told me, I tend to be a snob about certain things, and I like Philidelphia for any recipe I use cream cheese. I use the Warm setting on my stove, but it tends to run hotter than most, so Low would be preferable. I suggest not going over Low since, if you burn the bottom of this recipe you will have to start all over, there is no fix. If you cut the cream cheese up into squares, it will melt faster.



 Next you will add the salsa. For some reason, adding the salsa to the cream cheese helps the cream cheese break up completely so you don't have any chunks of cream cheese in your dip. This is the only time I use a whisk in this recipe, but it is not necessary.
 After the cream cheese is melted and mixed in with the salsa completely, its time to add in the refried beans. Like the picture? Yeah, it seriously reminds me of a can of dog food. My secret for always getting it out in one easy piece? Stick a butter knife in and run it around the sides of the can. It makes it come out so much easier.
 The refried beans are kind of like the cream cheese. Though not as difficult, they will not mix completely into the dip until heated up. Next comes the can of Chili. Yet again, it doesn't really matter what kind you use, I have even used home made chili before, but my personal preference is Nally's Cheesy Chili, it just seems to work best. The chili is really easy to mix in, and after it is mixed in, you will want to leave it for a minute or two so the mixture can heat up. This will make the last two steps easier.

Once the mixture is heated up to luke warm, not boiling, add in the sour cream. If the mix is warm, the sour cream will stir in very easily.
Now that the sour cream is in, let it heat up again. This should be really quick this time, so don't go chatting on the phone. Now you add in your shredded cheese. As with everything else in this recipe, brand doesn't matter, but I like Colby Jack or Cheddar Jack the best for this. Mix it up until all of the cheese is mixed in and heat it up again. 
Once the cheese is melted completely, it is officially finished! Go on! Grab your tortilla chip and grab a big bite! Oh, worth it wasn't it? Yeah that's what my thought was too. Remember to refrigerate the leftovers. 
Clean up? Oh this is a breeze. Because of the cheese and the beans, when the dip dries to the dishes, it scrapes right off. So if you find that you haven't cleaned your dishes and it is caked on, never fear! It is yet again seriously simple to clean up! Enjoy and remember to follow the blog for more recipes!