Snickers Cookie Bars

I’m really not too much of a ‘candy’ person anymore, with one very important exception: chocolate bars.

I don’t think I will ever stop loving chocolate bars. I still remember the first one that I was ever allowed to have as a kid: a Nestle Crunch Bar. After that, I think it was a Payday. I’m also a fan of Twix, 100 Grand, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s with Almonds, Hershey’s Cookies and Cream, Krackle, and Butterfinger.

Major pass on Almond Joy, Mounds, Milky Way and Three Musketeers. Those I don’t like.

You may have noticed one glaring omission from that list. It was intentional, for reasons that you’ve probably guessed. I’ve been considering making today’s recipe for several weeks now, but I was nervous about it. Finally, I made a split second decision and just decided to go for it.

And here we are. My tribute to the best, the ULTIMATE candy bar ever made.

I think I was nervous about trying this for several reasons: first, the candybar it’s inspired from is just so perfect all on its own. Nougat, caramel, peanuts and chocolate; why mess with that kind of sheer perfection?

Second, no matter how many times I’ve done it, and done it successfully, the process of making caramel still makes me nervous every time.

Still, since I had all the ingredients I needed on hand I decided to just go for it. Couldn’t hurt to try.

There’s not a whole lot of labor required for these, but I do recommend giving yourself time to do it in stages. Unlike our favorite candy bar, the first and bottom layer of these is a very rich cookie. The dough comes together in minutes. Once it’s baked and cooled off, you can move on to the tricky part: the caramel.

Here’s the thing about caramel: as much as making it makes me nervous, the truth is that if you have a working thermometer that you pay close attention to, you’ll be just fine. This one is far from the most difficult I’ve made and because we’re making caramel and not candy, it doesn’t take very long. After the caramel peanut layer has been given time to set, things get super simple. You melt some chocolate, spread it on top and sprinkle some peanuts on top of that and you’re done. Waiting for the whole thing to set up before cutting into it is the hardest part, honestly. Because these are very sweet and rich, a little bit of one goes a long way in satisfying a sweet tooth, which means there’s more to go around.

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Snickers Cookie Bars

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

For Cookie Layer

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp and cubed
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For Caramel Peanut Layer

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup, light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup salted roasted peanuts

For Topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • One tablespoon of softened butter, cubed.
  • A couple tablespoons of chopped peanuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper and spray well with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until just combined.

Fold the flour in, in about 2 increments, mixing just until blended and a soft dough forms. Press the dough into a pan and use a spatula to make the top as smooth as you can.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and firm. Cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour while you make the caramel.

Melt the butter in a high-sided saucepan with at least 2 qt capacity. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar, white sugar and heavy cream. Cook, stirring frequently with a wire whisk until sugar dissolves completely and liquid comes to a boil.

Cook until caramel reaches temp of 235-240 degrees Fahrenheit. (I STRONGLY recommend a candy thermometer or an instant read thermometer for this). Remove from heat.

Stir in the peanuts. Spray a spatula with cooking spray and spread the caramel over the cooled cookie layer. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes (I let mine sit overnight just to be on the safe side).

Melt the chocolate chips over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and keep stirring until the butter dissolves completely. Spread the chocolate quickly and evenly over the caramel layer with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.

Let sit for an additional 2 hours to allow the chocolate to set and harden up before using the parchment paper to lift up out of the baking dish and cutting into squares.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #261, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Julianna @ Foodie on Board.

Winter Spice Peanut Brittle

Alright y’all, so listen. I’m just gonna be honest about something right up front.

The best peanut brittle that I’ve ever had comes from my grandmother. That recipe is one that I’ve been eating, and now using, nearly all of my life and it’s unmatched by any other peanut brittle I’ve tasted. Her recipe is the best. All others pale by comparison.

ALL.OF.THEM. (It’s also already on the blog, although I was just starting out as a blogger and my photography skills were basura at the time, so apologies for that. Still, go ahead and check it out after you get done reading this one, kay?)

Having said that, I can now also say that this year was the first time that I made peanut brittle that wasn’t hers. The main reason was curiosity; because the ingredients I was using were a bit different, I wanted to see how it would turn out. If you’ve been following along with the 12 Day of Christmas series at all, then you’ve also seen that I’ve used what I called a Winter Spice blend in another recipe, which brings together spices that I think give baked goods an extra ‘Christmas-y’ taste. As most peanut brittle isn’t flavored with much else but peanuts, sugar and vanilla, I also wanted to see how it would taste if there were extra spices added to it.

Couldn’t hurt to at least try, right?

I say all of this in the recipe instructions, but because it’s so important I’m going to make the time & space to give those same housekeeping instructions here too. Guys, listen. If you choose to make this, or ANY form of brittle in general, it’s very very important that you take this advice.

#1) Grease your sheet pan up with butter and shortening. Slather it on there, to all four corners. Do this before you do ANYTHING else in the recipe directions. Make sure that it’s good and schmeared on. Why? Because you’re not going to have time to do it while the candy is cooking, or after you take it off the heat, and if the sheet pan is not properly greased, the brittle will stick to it. You might (BIG might) still be able to get it off but you’d likely have to use a mallet or chisel to smash it into inedible crumbs/dust/powder. If you grease it ahead of time, it will pop right out, no problem.

#2) Pre-measure all of the ingredients before you begin. There is a very small window between the time where the candy reaches hard crack stage and where you need to add the baking soda, vanilla and spices to it. You’re already going to have been standing over a hot stove, stirring your tush off to make sure the caramel doesn’t burn and are going to have to move fast between taking it off the heat and spreading it into the sheet pan. It will go a lot smoother if all you have to do is reach to your right or left, and pour the stuff in as opposed to scrambling to measure everything out WHILE STILL STIRRING to keep it from sticking. Don’t ask me how I had to find this out for myself. Just take the advice.

Provided you follow my instructions to the letter….ta-da! This is what you’ll get. Pretty cool, huh? I’m not going to say this brittle is as good as my grandma’s–no peanut brittle is, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. But I did like it very much. And gosh, did it get rave reviews from everyone that I shared it with. I think if you’re looking for a different twist on peanut brittle then this is it. I’m gonna go ahead and link this up to Fiesta Friday #202, co-hosted this week by  Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Smoky Chili Crackers

Day 3: Spicy Chocolate Gingerbread

Day 4: Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Day 5: Honey Spice Madeleines

Day 6: Chai Spice Shortbread

Day 7: Winter Spice Peanut Brittle

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Winter Spice Peanut Brittle

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

For Winter Spice Mix:

  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For Peanut Brittle:

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 2 cups salted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons winter spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Special equipment: candy thermometer or instant read thermometer (This really isn’t optional if you want to be sure the brittle will turn out.)

Directions

Before you do anything else, thoroughly grease a 15 x 10 sheet pan with softened butter or shortening.  Have a kitchen towel or 2 pot holders ready to place beneath it.

Get all of your materials and ingredients measured and set out ahead of time on the countertop.

Combine the ingredients for the winter spice mix in a small, air-tight container and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Whisk together to dissolve sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Once it reaches 260 degrees Fahrenheit, stir in the peanuts and butter, stirring CONSTANTLY (no seriously, do not stop stirring), until it reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove saucepan from the heat and immediately add the winter spice, baking soda and vanilla extract. Pour out onto your greased sheet pan, using a spatula you’ve sprayed with cooking spray to spread it out into a somewhat even layer (it won’t be perfect; that’s fine.)

Make sure the kitchen towel or pot holder is placed beneath the bottom of the pan (it will be very hot). Allow the brittle to cool completely, then use a sharp knife to break it into shards. Store in an air tight container.

Popcorn Graham Cracker Toffee

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So you guys want to hear a pretty fun fact about my niece? She’s three years old and she already has an all-time favorite movie.

And nope. It’s not “Frozen”. (Thank God. She certainly loves Frozen but we’ve been given a temporary reprieve from Elsa and Anna for a long while now. I’d be fine if they made that reprieve permanent as well, but that’s probably wishful thinking).

Surprisingly, it’s also not one of the Pixar films like “Finding Nemo” “The Incredibles” or “Toy Story” (Come to think of it, I can’t remember right now if she’s EVER seen any of the Toy Story movies, which means I am majorly failing in one crucial aspect of my auntie duties.)

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There’s no point in me telling you guys to try and guess what her favorite movie is. You won’t guess. No way. This is NOT what you would think a typical three year old girl’s favorite movie would be. Kinda like…the exact opposite.

But we’ve all accepted long ago that my niece just isn’t a typical three year old and by now this is just normal to us.

Ok, so….her favorite movie?

Its’s “Jurassic Park”. Yeah. the ACTUAL “Jurassic Park” movie.

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See the thing is, my brother in law got her started on LOVING all things that have to do with dinosaurs. From there she graduated from playing with figurines to actually being able to sit through and be entertained by the actual movies with them. I have no idea why a tyrannosaurus rex doesn’t scare the living daylights out of a three year old. I’m pretty sure it would’ve scared the living daylights out of THIS girl when she was three.

But like I said: she’s not a typical three year old. And she loves the movie….to the point where she likes to watch it preeeeetty much every day. Seriously.

I have seen “Jurassic Park” so many times in the last year that I’m sick of it.

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What does “Jurassic Park” have to do with this post?

Well, there’s a scene in the move where the character Dennis Nedry is getting ready to try and sneak the dinosaur embryos off the island and in order to do so, he has to come up with a “believable” excuse for why he has to leave the control room of the park and shut off all the security systems so that he can leave undetected. He goes into this hilarious nervous rambling about going to the vending machine for something salty since he’s only had something sweet. I thought about that scene when I was making this recipe, since it’s a pretty good combination of both sweet and salty flavors.

Actually, correction: it’s an AMAZING combination of both sweet and salty flavors.

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I’ve made a recipe similar to this one before for the second year of the 12 Days of Christmas series on the blog; the main difference there with that toffee bark was that it was missing the extra add-ins that we see here. I’m pleased to announce that today’s recipe is actually a vast improvement. I first saw this on Bon Appetit and when I saw the list of ingredients, decided to go ahead and make my own modifications to it for my own personal tastes:

First, instead of using regular peanuts I went ahead and used the honey roasted variety, since those are a perfect mixture of sweet/salty all on their own. I also used cinnamon flavored graham crackers, as I do tend to prefer them to regular honey. However since having done this I CAN also see chocolate flavored graham crackers being a VERY delicious swap for choco-holics. I also made a note below regarding the sugar syrup mixture that gets poured over the add-ins before baking; if you prefer a very gooey toffee then I recommend you checking it out and reading the whole recipe before beginning.

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Look, I don’t have to sell you guys on this stuff, right?

You’ve got eyes. Use your “imaginatory” tastes buds to just stop and think about what this stuff would taste like: honey roasted peanuts, salty popcorn, cinnamon graham crackers, rice cereal that are all stuck together in a candy-toffee bite. It’s some SERIOUSLY addictive stuff.

Basically, it’s Moose Munch on steroids. And who doesn’t want some of that? Boom.

Happy Fiesta Friday #123, co-hosted this week by  Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Linda @ La Petite Paniere.

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Popcorn Graham Cracker Toffee

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

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Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 15 cinnamon graham crackers
  • 4 cups popped popcorn (from ¼ cup kernels)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped salted, honey roasted peanuts
  • ¾ cup puffed rice cereal
  • cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter*
  • ¾ cup sugar*
  • 1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips (about 6 oz.)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Arrange graham crackers in a single layer on baking sheet, breaking to fit as needed to cover entire surface. Top with popcorn, peanuts, and puffed rice.

Bring butter and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Once boiling, stir once, then reduce heat and simmer, swirling occasionally, until mixture is golden brown and syrupy, 8–10 minutes.
Pour toffee mixture evenly over graham crackers and popcorn mixture. Bake until toffee is slightly darkened in color (the shade of a brown paper bag) and bubbling, 10–12 minutes. Remove from oven and evenly top with chocolate.
Turn the oven off, then return pan inside, just long enough to let the chocolate chips start to begin to melt and get gooey.Remove baking sheet from oven and using a fork or butter knife, begin to swirl and smear the softened chocolate so that it ‘sticks’ to the popcorn/peanuts/rice cereal.
Let cool in baking sheet before breaking into pieces. You can also place the sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so to harden faster.
*This recipe I found created JUST enough boiled sugar syrup to cover the ingredients, with a few loose leaf pieces escaping after they cooled. This was fine with me, but if you personally prefer a ‘gooier’ texture to your toffee, then I do recommend doubling the sugar syrup mixture. You’ll probably have a little bit of extra, but better extra than not enough.

Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

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Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas Series on Cooking is My Sport! Just in case you missed the first post yesterday, I’ll include a complete list of the recipes at the end of each post as we go through all of the days.

Let’s talk about Christmas popcorn tins. You all know which ones I’m talking about; the metal tins with the fancy, or sometimes wonky designs on the outside and three flavors of popcorn on the inside. Yeah, those. I’ve got mixed feelings about the Christmas popcorn tins. When I was young I really dug them, but in retrospect I kinda chalk that up to being a young, growing girl with a rabbit fast metabolism that could eat just about any Christmas treat without complaining. Now, eh…I’m not much of a fan. But for the sake of conversation, I’ll give my own rating of each of the flavors:

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The caramel corn is the obvious star of the three for me; there’s very little that caramelized sugar cannot make taste good, and the combination of the sweet with the saltiness of the popcorn is a pretty solid combination. Caramel corn for the win- 8/10

The regular butter popcorn is…well, regular butter popcorn. If the popcorn you’re buying is still relatively fresh (meaning it didn’t come from a dollar or low-budget store), then it’ll taste pretty decent. I gotta say though, I rarely get a strong butter flavor from it. It’s something for you to eat when you get the munchies, but not much else- 5/10

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The loser of the Christmas popcorn tins is the cheese flavored popcorn- no question. Whenever someone gave us a tin for a gift when we were growing up, none of us would touch the stuff. It just stayed there, untouched while the caramel corn and butter popcorn would get eaten. I don’t even know where to start with what’s wrong with the cheese popcorn: for one, the cheese coating just tastes so artificial and processed. Number two, it sticks and coats on your hands and turns them orange (blegh, yucky fingers). Three, there’s just something about the cheese coating that makes the popcorn taste stale to me. I’ll pass on the cheese popcorn every time, thank you- 2/10

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Before I even started baking for the Christmas series on the blog, I knew I wanted to make popcorn balls. They’re easy, they make GREAT gifts for friends and co-workers at Christmas parties, you can poke holes through them and hang them on a tree for decoration, and there are so many different flavor combinations that you can use when putting them together. I did two flavors this year, and this was one of them.

Think about a sweetened honey roasted peanut; now think about the saltiness of that peanut meeting and melting with a sticky caramel coating. That’s what these are. Salty, sweet balls of goodness. Think it can’t get better than that? Think again- the stickiness of the coating is tempered by the crunchy outer layer of sesame seeds that the balls get rolled in after they’re molded. So friggin good. I literally had to stop myself after taking an undisclosed amount of bites. They’re kryptonite powerful. So you should get in your kitchen and make some, stat.

Thanks for following our series, and once again: if you’re late to party then feel free to check out the complete list of recipe links for this year’s 12 Days of Christmas below!

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Cranberry-Clementine Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

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Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls


Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

  • 12 cups freshly popped popcorn (preferably made over the stove)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. butter, plus 2-3 extra tbsp. for buttering your hands
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 cup honey roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for rolling (about 3/4 cup)

 Directions

1. Bring honey, butter, peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar and water to a boil in a large pot over medium heat, stirring.

2. Remove from the heat; using a rubber spatula, stir in popcorn and 1 cup chopped salted mixed nuts until coated.

3. Butter your hands, then shape into balls and roll in toasted sesame seeds, working quickly before balls cool off. Place finished balls on parchment paper lined baking racks to set.

Thai Marinated Chicken Skewers

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So I know I’ve mentioned before in my Shepherd’s Pie post that I would never, ever, ever EVER think about going to Culinary School or setting out to be some kind of professional chef in a restaurant. This is definitely still the case. I haven’t changed my mind. It’s not gonna happen.

Having said that, I am willing to say that I wouldn’t completely rule out having some kind of career role that has to do with food. In fact, I think I can visualize the perfect culinary career for me.

If there are any people reading this that work in the food industry and are looking to hire someone to do these duties, feel free to look over my conditions and shout me a holler if it sounds like a good fit.

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My ideal work space is a high rise studio loft in NYC with tall windows and high ceilings- this’ll give me plenty of ventilation and natural light.

I’m gonna need a Kenmore fully furnished kitchen with the latest appliances- and I mean the WORKS; two to three double wall ovens with advanced temperature control, one convection oven, both a flat top and standard grill, two French door refrigerators, a chest freezer, 3 Kenmore Elite dishwashers (because I hate washing dishes), 2 standing mixers, 2 food processors, a hand blender, 2 slow cookers, one deep fryer, and one panini press.

I need the pantry that comes on Master Chef or Iron Chef America- just to make sure I’ve got the ‘essentials’.

While they’re at it, Kenmore could also go ahead and furnish the cookware and dishes too- (just call it for promotional purposes).

And counter space. Lots and lots of counter space. If you could see what I’m working with in our apartment right now, you would definitely understand the desperation behind that request.

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I know, I know. All of that sounds really demanding. But it really wouldn’t go to waste, I swear. See, in my dream culinary job, I would go into work in this space every single day putting every single one of these tools to good use in simply recipe writing, testing and perfecting.

You’re scared of baking, and you need someone to bake a cake for your kid’s birthday? Tell me what they like, and I’ll make it for you.

You want someone to give a review of a cookbook? Send it over to me and I will make every single recipe and give my rating.

Are you a really bad cook and engaged to marry someone who’s used to good homemade eating? We’ll go over some of their favorite foods and I’ll teach you how to make them so that you guys don’t have to starve or order take out after you say ‘I do’.

I could also envision a community service aspect of that job where I would link up with the local homeless shelters or churches and organize a weekly night  where I can serve all the food I spent my ‘workday’ making to a number of people down on their luck who are in need of a good home cooked meal.

So yeah, that’s my dream job: a life where all I do is is cook simple, comfort food all day long, then give the food away to other people. And get paid to do it. That would be the life.

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Hey, it’s another chicken kabobs recipe. And I STILL chose not to make it on the grill like I was ‘supposed’ to. How about them apples.

As yummy as the Sambal Chicken Skewers I made a little while ago were, my family said that they thought these tasted even better. I think it’s the spices in the marinade that does it: I’m just a huge fan of curry powder and all of it’s subtle sweetness with just enough bite to pack a punch. In fact, I love it so much that I don’t even care that I have to scrub and scrub my counter tops super hard to get those dark yellow stains out when I accidentally spill some. And that’s saying something.

Don’t skip on making this peanut sauce. It’s just too good to miss out on. Plus, what else are you going to use to drizzle over the chicken and rice you’re going to eat this with? Nothing, that’s what. You can’t make Thai chicken without a peanut sauce. That’s just not the way the world works.

Whoa, I just remembered it was Fiesta Friday #41. Good thing I’ve got something to bring and share with all of you, huh? Thanks to Angie@TheNoviceGardener for hosting, and especially to Nancy @Feasting With Friends and  Loretta @Safari of the Mind for co-hosting. See you at the party!

 

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Thai Marinated Chicken Skewers


Recipe Adapted from Cooking Channel

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1- inch cubes
  • 24 wooden skewers, soaked overnight in water

For the Marinade

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Peanut Coconut Sauce

  • One 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste

Directions

1. Place the chicken in a medium bowl. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a separate bowl.

2. Pour the marinade over the chicken and massage the meat with your hands for 1 minute to coat the cubes well.

3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper on 2 half sheet pans and place a baking rack on top of each. Spray racks with non-stick cooking spray.

5. Thread 4-5 pieces of chicken one each skewer, and arrange on top of baking racks. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, until chicken reaches inner temperature of  165 degrees.

6. While chicken is baking, prepare peanut sauce: Combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, and red curry paste in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. When chicken is done, brush finished sauce over chicken cubes, and serve.

My Grandma’s Peanut Brittle

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12 Days of Christmas Treats

Christmas Facts Continue:

1. Did you know if Santa Claus was alive today he would be 1739 yrs old? (The kid in me wants to say: “But he IS still alive…isn’t he?” lol)

2.Did you know originally the 9th reindeer that Santa had was actually called “Rollo”? (Rollo the Red Nose Reindeer…doesn’t really have that much of a ring to it, does it?)

3. Did you know in Morocco, Santa Claus is called “Black Peter”? (Umm….I don’t get it. Why?)

Source

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This another one of those recipes that I’m extremely proud of myself for pulling off. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I was gonna be able to. Peanut brittle is literally candy, and there’s always been something about making candy from scratch that’s scared the living bejeesus out of me. There’s so much to worry about; temperature, stirring, burning, cooling, consistency- ugh.

In this case however, I was prepared to roll up my sleeves, suck it up, and make an exception. My grandma’s peanut brittle is worth it. More than worth it. It’s been a Christmas institution in my family for literally as long as I can remember. My grandma always made it since my grandpa’s a huge fan of nuts. Being a ‘grandpa’s girl’, I wanted to eat whatever it was that he was eating. The best part was, I didn’t even have to pretend that I liked it just because he did. From the very first time that I sampled peanut brittle, I loved it. The saltiness of the peanuts works so well with the rich caramel flavor of the brittle. It’s seriously addictive.

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As you can see, the peanut brittle fortunately turned out pretty well. Luck? I don’t think so. In fact, I know so. In retrospect, I can see several essential factors that played into this recipe’s success:

1. A Candy thermomemeter. I can’t emphasize the necessity of having this on hand when making peanut brittle enough. i’m pretty positive that if I hadn’t had one of these suckers, I would’ve messed up the whole thing. If you’re not experienced with making candy, then you must have a candy thermometer. I repeat: you MUST have a candy thermometer. Also if possible, try to use a candy thermometer that gives the numbers, as well as the various ‘candy stages’  (Soft Ball, Hard Ball, Soft Crack, Hard Crack, etc), and one that clips onto the saucepan so you don’t have to keep pulling  it out of the caramel.

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2. Stirring. The recipe will tell you to stir the caramel constantly as it cooks, but I’m gonna place a particular emphasis on it here too. Just so you know that it’s serious. Stir. Stir. Stir. I’m not saying that you have to be glued to the stove top, but don’t wander off to do laundry, take a shower or anything that keeps your eyes off the saucepan for longer than 1-2 minutes. You’d be surprised how easily this stuff can stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, especially nearing the end when it’s almost done. You don’t want it to happen to you. At all. Once it does, the burnt flavor will get into the entire caramel and the batch will be ruined.

3. Butter your sheet pan thoroughly. When the caramel is done cooking and is ready to spread out, it’s gonna be very hot, but it’s also gonna be VERY sticky. Making sure the sheet pan is nice and oiled up with butter ensures that the brittle will spread as quickly as possible, and will also come off easily when it’s fully hardened.

I know it may sound intimidating, but if you just follow the directions, and my tips, this peanut brittle really isn’t so hard at all. And it’s definitely worth it!

I don’t think this movie needs much of an introduction, or defense. If you’re looking for feel-good movie at Christmas (or come to think of it, any time of year) then Love Actually is a must see. It’s a romantic comedy that takes place in the UK, featuring a stellar cast each with their own personal stories and challenges that interweave with one another that all center around…love actually. I’ve watched this movie twice already and I just may try to sneak it in one more time before Christmas. Because all I really need this time of year is my family and love…actually.

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My Grandma’s Peanut Brittle

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

*2 tbsp butter

* 2 tsp baking soda

* 1 tsp vanilla extract

*2 cups raw peanuts

*2 cups sugar

* 1 cup white corn syrup

*1/2 cup water

Directions

1. Bring 1/2 cup water to boil. Add 2 cups sugar and 1 cup white syrup.

2. Now add 2 cups raw peanuts and cook slowly over a low fire until hard crack stage (300°-310º), stirring constantly.

3. Take from heat and add 2 tbsp butter, 2 tsp baling soda and 1 vanilla extract. Stir quickly.

4. Spread on large, well buttered cookies sheet. Place in refrigerator until completely hardened and shiny. Use a knife to break up the pieces of peanut brittle into shards. It should crack easily.

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