CallMeAmaesing http://callmeamaesing.com Bake. Craft. Explore. Thu, 06 Jun 2013 04:50:50 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.2 H20 Warehouse Sale This Weekend http://callmeamaesing.com/uncategorized/h20-warehouse-sale-this-weekend/ http://callmeamaesing.com/uncategorized/h20-warehouse-sale-this-weekend/#comments Thu, 06 Jun 2013 04:50:31 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=3238 You won’t want to miss this. Even if you already have plans, scrap them. If you have a wedding to attend, send them a “Congrats” email instead. If you had a camping trip, mother nature can wait. If you were planning on sleeping in, well, stop being lazy. The H20 warehouse sale is this weekend and you must go. I demand you. You’ll get the best bang for your buck on high end bath and beauty products. This only happens once a year so come early to avoid the lines :)

I stumbled upon the warehouse sale a few years ago and when I did (remember this post?), I felt that I struck gold. Discount H20 products up to 80% off retail prices. Lotions, body wash, hair products, hand cream, gift sets, you name it – it’s there.

H20 Warehouse Sale details:

  • Saturday, June 8, 2013
  • 7:00 am – 1:00 pm (Rain or Shine)
  • 45 West Madison Street (One Block West of Halsted) Chicago, IL

So come one, come all. If you’re lucky you can spot me hauling an overfilled box of bath products to the checkout line. I’m sure it will be a spectacle.

Cheers,

Diana

 

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My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/my-favorite-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe/ http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/my-favorite-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe/#comments Mon, 14 May 2012 18:14:49 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=3220

Everyone has their favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Whether its resorting to the back of the Nestle bag, or an withered piece of paper handwritten from your very own grandmother, each person has their preference. Some like  it thick and chewy, some like it crispy thin and crunchy. For me, I’d grab any type of cookie available in front of me. But I do enjoy cookies with a good soft texture, with an abundance of chocolate morsels in every bite.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, one created by Jacque Torres for his famous cookie recipe. I’m glad Jacque likes a ton of chocolate in his cookies. I’m glad that he exists in the world. He used to have his own TV show when I was younger, and I would watch and record his segments religiously. On VHS. Remember those? It’s amazing what he can do with some sugar, a chocolate block and some parchment paper. I would have mistaken him for a magician, except he never pulled any bunnies out of hats – only amazing chocolate desserts and mouth watering confections.

These cookies are by far my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve made. Hearty, chewy, and great texture. Also the recipe calls for a ton of chocolate, so I gladly accepted the challenge. I didn’t have enough chocolate chips, so I ended up throwing in whatever morsels I had in the pantry, which included my leftover bag of Andes mint morsels I bought for my mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I can tell you though, whatever chocolate you throw in, it will end up fantastic. The aroma from my oven definitely made my apartment floor jealous. The recipe yields a TON of cookies, and I only used half of what it called for and I still got a lot. My favorite thing to do with whatever I don’t eat out of the oven is to heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds and throw it in with my favorite scoop of ice cream.

_______________________

Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from A Tender Crumb + Jacque Torres

Ingredients

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds (32 oz) chocolate chips or any morsels of your choice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Reduce speed to low and add flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.
  5. Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies.
  7. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Or eat it warm!

 

Happy Baking!

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My Favorite Almost No Knead Bread Recipe (Improved) http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/my-favorite-almost-no-knead-bread-recipe-improved/ http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/my-favorite-almost-no-knead-bread-recipe-improved/#comments Thu, 10 May 2012 20:18:09 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=3198

I’ve been really intrigued with using yeast lately. I used to think yeast was the equivalent of the devil – dangerous, evil, unpredictable and when I fail and my baking attempts it’s ready and waiting to point their finger and laugh at me. So I’m starting slow, finding recipes that I hope would be no fail and simple. My first attempt at a no knead bread turned out extremely successful. So I went on a hunt to see if there was any other recipe out there that required little work to produce such a lovely loaf of bread.

I found this new recipe for no knead bread. Well, it’s almost no knead bread. The secret is to knead it just a few times to get the perfect air pockets and a good rise on the bread. Plus this recipe calls for some beer. Not a whole lot, so you get to drink whatever’s leftover. Works for me.

This is my new favorite bread recipe by far. It’s simple, the taste is amazing. And I love a good crunchy crust.

I also think that this bread is great for pan tomate.  love to cut slices and toast them, rub them with a garlic clove then smear some tomatoes on it, top it with some salt and olive oil. Delicious! And simple. Simple is key for someone like me.

___________________________________________________

No Knead Bread adapted from Cooks Illustrated

  • 3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces) at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) mild-flavored lager
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  1. Whisk flour, yeast and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
  2. Lay 12- to 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
  3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch long, 1/2-inch deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Happy baking!
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Strawberry Ice Cream http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/strawberry-ice-cream/ http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/strawberry-ice-cream/#comments Wed, 09 May 2012 21:04:12 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=3172

It’s almost summer. I think. Status updates of finals being over and the sounds of children laughing during the daytime without backpacks on is a dead giveaway. I have a bias towards the summer, since I prefer fall the best. Summer reminds me of sticky muggy weather which makes me stand in front of the AC vents for hours on end, sucking on ice cubes like it’s my profession. But I enjoy summer for a lot of reasons. One of which is the abundance of fresh fruits available to me. Like strawberries.

Do you like strawberries? I love strawberries. Fresh, cold, right out of the fridge into my mouth. I mean, after I wash it. right. So I decided to put my ice cream maker to use for some homemade strawberry ice cream. I did some research and found an amazing recipe that requires the strawberries to be baked with balsamic to enhance the flavor.

Try it out for yourself. I think I got some amazing results.

 

__________________________________

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream, adapted from Zoe Bakes & David Lebovitz

Vanilla Ice Cream base

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks

For the Strawberry puree

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar – preferably aged
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornsyrup

Start with the Vanilla base

  1. For the vanilla base. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
  3. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
  4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

The next day:

  1. Toss the berries with the balsamic and sugar, lay them out on a baking pan on top of a silicone mat. Make sure you use one with sides, because the juices will over run the pan. Place the pan in the oven and turn it on to 300°F and slowly roast them until they have given up their juices and are kind of mushy looking. Their color will also be darker. This will take about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the fruit.
  2. Scoop the fruit and all of its sugars into a bowl. Add the corn syrup to the fruit, it will add sweetness, but will keep the ice cream a silky smooth texture.
  3. Throw the strawberry mixture into a blender and pulse (more or less if you like it chunky, you can also use a potato masher). Chill the berries until they are very cold- about 3-4 hours.
  4. Add the berries to the vanilla ice cream machine base and turn on. You should start getting soft serve consistency in about 20-25 minutes.
  5. While it is in the machine, place a bowl in the freezer to have ready to scoop the ice cream into. Once the ice cream is frozen to a soft-serve consistency, scoop it into the frozen bowl and place it in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up.
  6. Scoop and enjoy. Pairs well with a slice of vanilla cake. For me I like to eat ice cream with anything. You can even blend some ice cream with a cup of milk, half a banana, and a tablespoon of honey to get a delicious strawberry banana shake :) .

 

More ice cream posts:

Pistachio Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Banana Nutella Ice Cream

 

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Banana Nutella Ice Cream http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/banana-nutella-ice-cream/ http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/banana-nutella-ice-cream/#comments Thu, 26 Apr 2012 17:23:50 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=3150

Did I tell you that I love ice cream? Aside from baking a ton of bread lately, I’ve been making more than enough ice cream to feed the inhabitants of my zip code.

Pistachio

Mint Chocolate Chip

One morning of slathering Nutella on my homemade toasted bread, I thought of making ice cream with Nutella. How brilliant! Not only will I have Nutella for breakfast, but I can have it for a late night snack.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  • 3 medium extra-ripe bananas
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions:

1. Combine 1 cup of the cream, nutella and the banana in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour the banana mixture into a bowl and prepare a fine mesh sieve on top of the bowl. Set aside.

2. In a saucepan, combine the remaining cup of cream with the milk, sugar, and salt. Bring the milk to a bare simmer. Immediately remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolk together in a separate bowl. Set aside.

4. Whisking constantly, pour the milk gradually into the prepared egg yolks to temper them. Return the egg yolks and milk to the saucepan and to heat.

5. Cook the milk and yolk mixture over medium heat while stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and can coat the spoon/spatula (this may take some time) Remove from heat and immediately pour through the sieve into the nutella and banana cream. Whisk until smooth.

6. Add the vanilla and stir.

7. Chill the mixture throughly in the fridge, then freeze it in your ice cream maker of choice. Transfer from your ice cream maker to the freezer to harden.

Note: This ice cream mix probably won’t harden completely in your maker, so please allow for extra freezing time in the freezer.

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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/mint-chocolate-chip-ice-cream/ http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/mint-chocolate-chip-ice-cream/#comments Wed, 25 Apr 2012 19:48:40 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=3136

Did I mention that I’m on an ice cream kick lately? Ice cream is so easy to make and I’m surprised I haven’t put together my ice cream machine until now. The day after making this pistachio ice cream recipe I had to try making mint chocolate chip. It’s been my favorite for years. When I was living at home, any type of ice cream in my parent’s fridge wouldn’t last more than a few days. Eventually they were smart enough to never buy mint chocolate chip since they wouldn’t even get a chance to take one bite before the carton disappeared.

I found a great recipe for mint chocolate chip ice cream from Epicurious. I tweaked it to include Andes mint chocolate chips instead of two kinds of chocolate. Andes mints remind me of getting the check at an old italian restaurant I used to eat at as a child with my family. It was one of the best parts of dinner. When my parents would focus on the bill, I would take their mints and stuff them in my mouth before they had a chance to take it back. What’s also great about this recipe is that you use real mint leaves. The mint flavor that turns out in the ice cream is very distinct, fresh. Don’t have real mint leaves? This recipe here uses peppermint extract, just as delicious!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream adapted from Isaac Mizrahi

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 drops green food coloring
  • 1 cup Andes mint chocolate chips

Instructions:

In large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar.

In heavy medium saucepan over moderately low heat, stir together milk, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and mint. Heat until steaming but not boiling, then remove from heat. After 10 minutes, add peppermint extract and mix.

Ladle about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent eggs from cooking, then slowly stir the egg mixture back into the hot milk, whisking constantly. Place over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon (finger drawn across spoon will leave clear path), 5 to 6 minutes total (do not let boil or custard will curdle). Strain through fine-mesh sieve into large bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids. Whisk in heavy cream and food coloring. Cover and chill until cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Process custard in ice cream maker, adding chocolate chips during last minute of churning. Transfer to airtight container and freeze until hard, about 3 hours.

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Pistachio Ice Cream http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/pistachio-ice-cream/ http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/pistachio-ice-cream/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 18:30:18 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=3105

I received an ice cream maker for my birthday. My birthday was back in September. The machine has been sitting unused on top of my kitchen cabinets until this past weekend, which baffles even myself. I don’t even know why that is, since I love ice cream so much. I’ll eat ice cream outside in the middle of a Chicago blizzard rather than sipping hot chocolate by a fireplace. So this weekend I put my Cuisinart to use and made several batches of different flavors. Pistachio was my first ingredient to try. Here’s how:

The first step is to preheat your oven to 300F. Then you ‘ll need to unshell 1-1/2 cups of pistachios. I ended up using a whole 16 oz bag. Well, 15 oz due to snacking while working. I’m sure that you can find unshelled pistachios at the store, but I tend make life more difficult than I have to. I’m also pretty certain there’s a tool that helps un-shells them for you. But after an hour or so of red callused thumbs, mounds of lightly salted shells, and mental motivations saying ”it’s worth it, it’ll be worth it”, you’ll have the amount you need.

Put the pistachios on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 5-7 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes. Then blend the pistachios with 1/2 cup of sugar until course. I left some good chunks in there for texture.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and pistachio mixture until boiling. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. In separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and remainder of the sugar. Gradually add pistachio mixture to the egg (don’t cook the eggs!), and then return everything back to the saucepan. Cook over low heat while stirring for about 10 minutes, until the custard thickens and leaves a path on the back of your spoon/utensil.

Wait 15 minutes until your mixture has cooled before adding your vanilla and almond extracts. I found a faster approach since I have absolute zero patience for anything related to food. Fill a larger pot with ice-cold water and immerse the saucepan in it to cool the edges and bottom, stirring occasionally, then add your extracts after 5 minutes. Transfer everything into a container and chill in the fridge for 2-4 hours until cold.

When your mixture has chilled, set up your ice cream maker (your ice cream mixer bowl should be frozen), and turn the machine on. Add in the whipping cream to your mixture and stir. Pour your pistachio mixture in the machine and watch the magic happen. It should take about 20-25 minutes until you get a soft-serve consistency. I literally stood in front of the machine and watched in amusement as my pistachio ice cream was being made.

You can enjoy the soft serve right away, but I like mine more frozen. Transfer everything into a container and freeze for 6 hours until frozen. Then get your favorite waffle cone and scoop like there’s no tomorrow.

 

Pistachio Ice Cream – Adapted from Epicurious+Cuisinart

  • 1-1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
  • 1-1/8 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, toasted, coarsely chopped

Finely grind 1 cup pistachios and 1/2 cup sugar in processor. Bring milk and ground pistachio mixture to boil in heavy large saucepan. Remove from heat. Whisk egg yolks and remaining cup sugar in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Cook over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes (do not boil). Let mixture cool then mix in almond and vanilla extracts. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Stir 1 cup whipping cream into custard. Process mixture in ice cream maker for 20-25 minutes, until you get a soft-serve consistency. Transfer to container and freeze.

 

 

 

Happy eating!
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Chocolate Caramel Popcorn http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/chocolate-caramel-popcorn/ http://callmeamaesing.com/inthekitchen/chocolate-caramel-popcorn/#comments Tue, 17 Apr 2012 22:10:32 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=3044

I must confess to you all, I have a mad addiction to popcorn. I could eat it everyday for the rest of my life if it was readily available.

Hi everyone. My name is Diana.

Hi Diana…

and I have an addiction to popcorn. It’s been about 18 years now, and I don’t think I can stop myself.

The only problem is that I run out of popcorn so fast. Anyone that has spent time with me knows of my popcorn problem. I’ve have even received popcorn as presents from good friends. I was given the gift of making the best microwave popcorn in the world. No lie. The trick is to microwave it long enough till the insides of the kernel turn a light grey, then right after taking it out of the bag you salt it so it sticks. My absolute favorite is the buttery popcorn you get at the movie theaters. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s mostly my excuse to go see movies. I get those big buckets that normally a family of four would split but all to myself. I also eat popcorn with chopsticks. It’s my invention to prevent greasy hands, but that’s a different story.

This past weekend I attended the Chicago International Movie and Music fest, among other things. I wanted to celebrate the intensity of watching a million movies in the span of one weekend with one of my favorite movie snack, but this time with a twist. I found this caramel popcorn recipe and decided to add chocolate for the hell of it. Turned out to be delicious. So follow these easy peasy steps..

Use an air popper to pop about one cup of kernels to get about 5 1/2 quarts of popcorn. Air poppers are good for caramel popcorn making because the texture comes out rounder and more consistent than microwaved popcorn. You also don’t use any oil/butter combination in an air popper so it doesn’t mix with the sweet caramel mixture you’ll add to it later. If you don’t have an air popper, you can pop kernels on your stovetop with just a eeensy bit of oil.

Make sure to put your popcorn in a large bowl or container. I put mine in two different containers for easier mixing, but the preference is yours.

I’m going to admit that this was my first time making caramel. It’s actually pretty simple. But don’t compare it to the fancy stuff that European candy makers do – they’ll probably lower their heads and shake their head in disgust if they saw me attempting to make this.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the corn syrup and brown sugar and salt. Keep stirring and bring to a boil. Once you reach a boil, you can stop stirring, but keep the mixture boiling for about 4 minutes. You can watch the caramel get darker and thicker. Your heart should be pulsating heavily at this point. You might be dancing and jumping around in the kitchen as well.

Turn off the heat and add the baking soda and the vanilla extract. Stir all together and then with ladle, drizzle the caramel over your popcorn. Use a large spoon to stir all together, making sure to coat every single kernel. Sample a few while still warm. If unsatisfied, sample a few more.

Preheat your oven to 250F. Take out three shallow baking pans and pour out warm oozy caramely popcorn onto them. Spread them out in an even layer. Throw the pans in the oven. Don’t throw. Place gently. Stir the popcorn trays with a spoon every 15 minutes for an hour. Heart rate should equal 170 bpm right now. Take trays out of the oven and let rest. Wait about 45 minutes for the caramel to set. If not happy about that news sample a few more kernels.

Now time for the best part. Put two cups of chocolate chips with one tablespoon of shortening in a microwave bowl. Microwave in 20-second intervals on 50% power, stirring every time in-between until your chocolate is smooth and velvety.

Pour melted chocolate into a disposable piping bag. If you don’t have one, use a ziplock bag. Snip the corner of the bag and drizzle over popcorn. You can channel your inner Jackson Pollock if needed. If you prefer to use more chocolate than mentioned, you can also do so. I won’t tell anymore.

Step #4 is probably the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do in your lifetime. It’ll take about another hour.

#5 is probably the easiest thing you’ll probably do in your entire lifetime. Just break up the popcorn with fork and enjoy. If somehow you end up with extras (which I can’t imagine myself having to deal with this problem), you can store in an airtight container.

 

Adapted from Allrecipe’s Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C).
  2. Using an air popper, pop about 5 1/2 quarts of popcorn (about 1 cup of unpopped kernel). Place popcorn in a very large bowl.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat. I found it helpful to work in half batches, using a large ladle to drizzle the caramel and a wooden spoon to stir.
  4. Place in three large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  5. Place chocolate chips and shortening in microwaveable bowl. Heat on 50% power for 20-second intervals, stirring until fully melted, about 1.5 minutes total. Pour melted chocolate into disposable piping bag, or if you don’t have one, a ziploc quart size bag will do. snip the very end of one corner with scissors and drizzle over popcorn.
  6. Try your hardest to wait till its fully dry before eating!! Break into pieces and store in airtight container if you have any leftovers… IF you have any leftovers.

Enjoy!

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Weekend Whereabouts 4.15.12 http://callmeamaesing.com/onthestreets/weekend-whereabouts-4-15-12/ http://callmeamaesing.com/onthestreets/weekend-whereabouts-4-15-12/#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2012 05:45:21 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=3013

Despite the random bursts of downpour in Chicago, this weekend was a great one. The weather was perfect and just how I like it – cloudy at 60′s. No, I’m not a zombie or a vampire, although that would be very cool. I just prefer cloudy over sunny weather. It’s also probably better for me too I have a bad habit of breaking or losing my sunglasses and even forgetting that someone invented sunscreen. So I pretty much grew up absorbing UV rays and squinting directly at the sun my entire life. Cloudy weather helps me live longer before my eyes fall out of their sockets and my skin turns a crispy, leathery brown. The weekend was jam packed, I..

  •  attended the Chicago International Movie and Music festival
  • found some new favorite restaurants and bars in the city
  • volunteered at a bakery
  • cleaned my entire apartment
  • made some caramel popcorn with my air popper
  • baked some bread
  • my favorite activity (next to eating) – people watching!

Saturday was perfectly cloudy, so I decided that before going to watch the next movie screening, I was going to indulge myself in one of my favorite activities. And Navy Pier was just the place to do it. It’s always crowded with all walks of life. Teenagers, families, couples, pets, you name it. I convinced one of my friends to meet me downtown and took the walk towards the giant ferris wheel on Lake Michigan.

After stopping by the funnel cake booth, we plopped ourselves at a bench on the end of the pier and took in the sights and conversations of anything around us. If people watching was a professional career, I’d be all over it. I could stay in one busy spot for hours and just enjoy people walking past me.

Just as I expected, the sky was slowly getting heavy and dark. Even the seagulls were warning us about the weather when they weren’t trying to snatch at our funnel cake. (Don’t worry they didn’t get any). So after a short while we decided to catch the film screening before the rain caught us. I figured I need to come back soon to continue what I came there for. Once summer comes around, I’ll be back with my ears perked and a pair of sunglasses… ears perked and squinting eyes.

Hope you had a great weekend!

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Gofres in Barcelona http://callmeamaesing.com/onthestreets/gofres-in-barcelona/ http://callmeamaesing.com/onthestreets/gofres-in-barcelona/#comments Wed, 11 Apr 2012 20:27:46 +0000 Diana Maes http://callmeamaesing.com/?p=2960

There’s something about walking by the sea during a sunset. I haven’t quite put my finger on it, but the air is different. Fresh, breezy, with a hint of salt. The sky is brighter to, as you can see in this picture. One of the last days in Barcelona before heading towards our next leg of the journey was to walk along the lower end of La Rambla on the Passeig de Colom.

You can see on the right side of the picture the famous statue of Christopher Columbus as he points towards the new world. I guess his mother never taught him that it is rude to do so. This was the route along the sea after we stopped for more bocadillos and cava at the famous and crowded Champagneria. At this point, my stomach is regretting ever being part of my body and my friends decided that it would be best to grab some fresh air after stuffing our faces and being in an extremely crowded, claustrophobic bar.

The Port de Barcelona. Amazing looking building.

I also took this picture of the plaza in front of the Port. I like this picture a lot. Reminds me of Callibotte’s painting, Paris, a Rainy Day. Only exception is that this is in Barcelona. And the streets are completely dry. This plaza is located right by the sea. On the other side is the pier. If you turned around and walked fifty feet you’d be underwater. But – if you turned around and walked twenty feet away you’d encounter a gofre stall. And before I realized it, both Kesha and Elissa were in line to get their gofres.

         

I snapped a picture of my friend Kesha as she buys her gofre. Look at the giant smile across her face. It’s one of the few times she allowed me to snap a picture of her with her utmost consent.

What is a gofre?. Very similar looking to a waffle, but the batter is thicker, sweeter, heavier, and it is cooked for a longer period of time to get a good crisp on it. Also it’s different than a waffle in that is it not a breakfast food. It’s a dessert. A sweet snack of sorts. Think of  the funnel cake stall at the amusement parks and outdoor festivals. Yes, you know what I’m talking about. The stall you try to avoid walking past but eventually end up going back for seconds. I believe you can get a variation of things put on a gofre, but I guess the favorite with my friends is just dulce de leche.

We plopped ourselves down along the edge of the pier to watch the sunset across the sea with our delicious treats in hand. And just as I liked, this spot was great for people watching.

The walkways were dotted with all sorts of people trying to also catch the sunset.

And what a beautiful sunset it was.

 

Don’t have a passport? Go get one and see the world!

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