Tag Archives: Microwave

Microwave Chocolate Pecan Toffee

24 Dec

It’s Christmas Eve! For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you’re ready to enjoy a wonderful day. I have kind of mixed results on my holiday preparedness this year. I had most of my gift shopping done early, but we didn’t decorate our place at all. Once it got close to the holidays and we still hadn’t done anything, the BF and I agreed that it was kind of silly to put a lot of effort into decorations when it’s just the two of us here and we’ll be spending much of our holiday time at our parents’ houses. So instead of going all out, I just put little tiny star ornaments on our bamboo plant. That works, right?

O Christmas Bamboo O Christmas Bamboo...

All I have left to do is bake! Today, I’ll definitely be making a couple apple pies — one for each family’s house — and the apple cinnamon baked oatmeal. After I talk to my brother and sisters, that plan might be slightly expanded. After all, it’s not Christmas without coconut balls.

If you still need something to add to your family’s dessert table or something to take to a holiday party, try this amazing toffee. It’s super easy, so you’ll be able to get it done in between wrapping those last-minute presents and blow-drying your hair.

The only thing better than a delicious candy recipe is an easy delicious candy recipe. I had never made toffee before, and for some reason, I had it in my head that it’s a difficult thing to make. But it wasn’t at all. It was actually super simple. And DELICIOUS. Toffee is kind of like a hard caramel. Yum!

YUM

Somehow this recipe came to me through a long chain: a friend of the stepmom of an ex-boyfriend of a friend. So who knows where it first came from, but I’m glad it arrived in my inbox.

I made a few batches of toffee as gifts for volunteers who helped out with a big work event. It was quick and easy:

Microwave all the toffee ingredients together.

Step 1

Pour it on a pan and spread the chocolate chips over top that.

I have no idea what's up with that weird shadow.

Let it cool/harden, and then break it up into bite-sized pieces.

DONE

I packaged them up in cute little boxes that I got from AC Moore and tied some ribbon around them. Adorbs.

Packages tied up with string...

The only downside to this recipe is that it can get a little expensive. It doesn’t really make a ton of toffee, especially if you’re trying to fill a box, so I had to make quite a few batches. With butter, chocolate, and nuts… not the cheapest.

But it’s so delicious and good-looking, it makes an excellent gift. After I packaged all the pieces up, I collected all the leftover little pieces that were too small to load into the boxes, chopped them up even smaller, and packaged them in a jar as Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Topping. Yum!

Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Topping... It's a little frosty from the fridge, but dang if I'm not craving a bowl of ice cream now.

Well, all that’s left is the recipe. Hope you enjoy it. Happy Holidays!!

Microwave Toffee with Chocolate and Pecans

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Coat the sides of a large mixing bowl with butter and place the remaining butter in the bowl. Add sugar, salt, and water; do not stir. Microwave on high for 11 minutes or until mixture begins to turn light brown. Pour onto a greased cookie sheet.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the toffee and let stand 1 minute. Spread chocolate over the toffee to form a melted layer, and sprinkle with pecans. Chill until firm.

Break into bite-size pieces. Package or serve. Yields about 1 pound.

Delicious delicious toffee

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Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole

8 May

My mom is affectionately known as Aunt Dee Dee or just Dee Dee to all of her nieces and nephews. She is the fun, crazy aunt who not only lets you throw a ball in the house, but is often the one to initiate and participate in said indoors throwing game. I was jealous of my cousins as a teenager because at that age, I thought my mom was a way cooler aunt than mom. But now I have a little more perspective (and a little less attitude), and I more remember all the fun and crazy projects my mom cooked up over the years, which now loom much larger than the fights and arguments we were having when I was in high school. For example, my Double Dare birthday party was the coolest party of the 4th grade, complete with pie-throwing contests, tricycle races, and a relay race that involved massive amounts of butter, popcorn, Jell-o, and a Slip ‘N’ Slide.

My mom is also a pretty amazing chef, and it’s humbling to think back over the years at how she taught herself new skills in the kitchen. When my siblings were very young (before I was around) and our family didn’t have a lot of money, they ate a lot of casseroles, soups, and one-pot meals. They were classic, homey meals that were cheap and easy to put together, perfect for a mom working crazy hours with 2 small kids. But by the time I came along, my parents were a little more settled. My mom left work to stay at home with us, and our meals became more complex, fresh, and nutritious. By the time my little sisters were in the picture, the family was eating ethnic foods like Indian and Japanese, and our meals had a lot more fresh produce and a lot less cream of mushroom soup.

I think this trend is very interesting from a sociological standpoint, but I also think that from a personal view, I became very used to learning about food and trying new things. Now my mom and I swap ideas for new foods, new recipes, and how to use the massive quantities of rosemary she gets from the rosemary bush in her backyard big enough to hide two toddlers in (speaking from experience). I regularly call her for advice (“Mom, 10 people are showing up for dinner in 20 minutes, and I ran out of ___. What should I do!?” or “Mom, this chicken I just cooked is, like, gray… If I eat it, will it kill me?”), and I give her tips I pick up from health food nuts and farmers’ markets in my more liberal small town. My goal one day is to be able to take a quick glance into a pantry or refrigerator and put together a dinner plan, just like I’ve seen her do a million times. I’m not that comfortable or familiar yet with food, ingredients, and recipes, but I think I’m getting there.

When I was staring at the broccoli – this month’s seasonal produce – and trying to figure out what to do with it, I could not stop thinking about broccoli casserole. This is a huge throwback dish, something my mom made relatively regularly when I was a kid. I loved it so much, I think I even requested it as part of my birthday dinner one year. But as I explained above, our family has trended over time toward more nutritious foods, so this is a dish that my mom no longer makes or eats. It’s very unhealthy, especially since I only want it if she agrees to my request for extra cheese. Every year at Thanksgiving she proposes leaving it out, and every year my siblings, cousins, and I demand that we have it. It’s a Thanksgiving staple that I generally only have once a year. So she agrees to its presence at our Thanksgiving table, but one of us has to make it ourselves. It’s a very simple recipe that can be made in 15 minutes or less. So here it is… Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole.

Start with 1 bag frozen broccoli. Thaw it completely (on the counter or in the microwave) and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Spread it in the bottom of a glass casserole dish. Top with a layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Broccoli and cheeseSpread a layer of cream of mushroom soup over top the cheese.

Cream of Mushroom SoupAnd now spread another layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese. Cover with plastic wrap, cut a slit in the center, and cook it in the microwave on high for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the broccoli is cooked.

More CheeseI hadn’t made this in a long time, but I knew the cheese was the most important part, so I just kept adding some. I wasn’t sure how much was necessary. When I pulled it out of the microwave, it really just looked like a dish of cheese with a few broccoli bumps. I realized I went a little overboard, but obviously it was good because I tried to take a picture a few minutes later, but people were already digging in!

Broccoli Casserole

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!