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Category: featured recipes

  1. Thursday, August 27

    Easy Peasy 3-Bean Salad for One! Plus a Very Veggie Giveaway!

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    When it comes to my kids’ lunches, I try to do a decent job of feeding them a balanced meal. There’s not much sugar, always a protein of some kind, and definitely fresh fruit. The one area where I am lacking, however, is vegetables. Once in a while I throw in sliced cucumbers or carrot sticks, but more often than not I miss vegetables entirely.

    quick and easy 3-bean salad recipe for one from @janemaynardLibby’s® recently contacted me about developing a quick and easy single serving recipe using Libby’s Vegetable Cups. To help with developing the recipe, Libby’s mailed our family a box of the Vegetable Cups to try out and experiment with. My daughter Anna, who loves trying food and cooking with me, was genuinely excited about the cups.

    Libby's Vegetable Cups

    Anna: “Mom, what are these?”

    Me: “Those are the veggie cups I am going to use for a recipe.”

    Anna: “Ooooo! Can I have some green beans? Please?!”

    Um, yes, she actually said that. And she actually liked the green beans! She liked the carrots, too, and she looooooved the corn. Anna is 100% supportive of me packing the Vegetable Cups in her lunches.

    quick and easy 3-bean salad recipe for one from @janemaynard

    For the recipe I developed I decided to go with a super quick and easy 3-bean salad for one! This makes for a “fancy” after-school snack or even a quick side dish with dinner when life gets busy. And this recipe utilizes one of my favorite magical ingredients: Italian Dressing. Italian dressing has a way of making pretty much any recipe easier, including salads of all kinds.

    quick and easy 3-bean salad recipe for one from @janemaynardIn addition to today’s recipe, we also have a giveaway! Not only will the winner receive an assortment of Libby’s Vegetable Cups, but they will also be gifted with this ridiculously cute Amanda’s Kids’ Lunch Playset from Food52.com. I wish I could enter the giveaway, all three of my kids would love this playset! (Maybe I’ll just have to go buy it!)

    amanda's kids' lunch playsetTo enter the giveaway, please do the following (comments must be posted by Midnight PT 9/3/15):

    quick and easy 3-bean salad recipe for one from @janemaynard

    And now for the recipe! It seriously took me less than 5 minutes to toss this salad together. It doesn’t get easier than that. Enjoy!

    3-Bean Salad for One
     
    Prep time
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    Author:
    Serves: 1
    Ingredients
    • 1 Libby's Vegetable Cups Green Beans
    • 1 tablespoon garbanzo beans
    • 1 tablespoon kidney beans
    • 1 teaspoon chopped red onion
    • 2 teaspoons Italian dressing
    Instructions
    1. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Voila! You're done!
    Notes
    Cost: Appx. $0.60/serving

    This post was sponsored by Libby’s – payment was received for services rendered.

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  2. Thursday, August 20

    Microwave Homemade Mac & Cheese

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    Years ago I did a Call for Recipes for homemade mac & cheese. Many tasty recipes were submitted and I’ve used several with great success. There was one in particular, though, that caught my eye. It involved the microwave and seemed almost too easy. I finally tried the technique out last week and loved it so much it deserves its own post!

    microwave homemade mac & cheese from @janemaynard

    Cailean was the lovely person who shared the recipe with me. I checked with her and she has no clue where she got the recipe from, although there are many permutations of it online. She knows she didn’t make it up herself, but she did notice that her version doesn’t have butter, which is different than most other similar recipes. So, we’re just going to give Cailean credit. Sound good? Great!

    microwave homemade mac & cheese from @janemaynardmicrowave homemade mac & cheese from @janemaynard

    You’ll still need the stovetop to cook the noodles, but the sauce gets cooked in the microwave. I kid you not, in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the noodles you will be done making the homemade mac & cheese. It’s super awesome and takes up as much of your time as boxed mac & cheese. Which begs the question, why would you ever go back to boxed mac & cheese after this?!

    microwave homemade mac & cheese from @janemaynard

    Microwave Homemade Mac & Cheese
     
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    Recipe originally from reader Cailean, but I've added a few things and written it in my own words
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 16-ounce package of pasta, small shells or elbow macaroni
    • 2 cups milk
    • 6 tablespoons flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • Two pinches nutmeg (optional)
    • 2 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar is great on its own, but doing half gruyere-half cheddar is nice. For more mild flavor, half monterey jack-half cheddar nice, too.)
    • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon melted butter (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Put the water for the pasta on to boil.
    2. Shred cheese. In a good-sized microwave-safe bowl, whisk together well the milk, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg (if using). Stir in the cheese.
    3. When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
    4. While pasta is cooking, cook the milk-cheese mixture in the microwave on full power 1-2 minutes at a time, whisking after each time. Keep cooking until cheese is fully melted and you have a nice, smooth sauce (probably about 5 minutes total).
    5. Drain pasta, return to pot then add sauce and mix well.
    6. If you want to top the mac & cheese with breadcrumbs, boil the pasta in a wide, oven-safe pot (like my Le Creuset 5½ quart). After the mac & cheese is all mixed together in the pot, sprinkle evenly with panko bread crumbs (about ½ cup or so) then drizzle with butter. Place pan in oven under high broiler and cook until breadcrumbs start to brown, a few minutes. If you don't have an oven safe pot, feel free to transfer the mac & cheese to a 9" x 13" casserole dish before adding the bread crumbs and broiling in the oven.

     

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  3. Tuesday, August 11

    Perfect Chocolate Frosting + One Pan Chocolate Cake

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    Today is all about chocolate.

    PERFECT chocolate frosting with one pan chocolate cake from @janemaynard

    When we were on Cape Cod a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law Pat made a chocolate cake, complete with homemade frosting that was TO DIE FOR. When it comes to cake, I generally like the cake more than the frosting. Not in this case. In this case the frosting, well, takes the cake. (Sorry! Couldn’t resist that one.)

    PERFECT chocolate frosting with one pan chocolate cake from @janemaynard

    And, if you’re looking for something to put that perfect chocolate frosting on, let me introduce you to the one pan chocolate cake. This recipe comes from a 2009 issue of Everyday Food and was originally called “dump cake,” since you just dump everything in the pan and then bake. The cake turned out beautifully.

    one pan chocolate cake from @janemaynard

    There’s only one drawback to the cake recipe: since you mix the ingredients directly in the pan, you can’t butter and flour the pan ahead of time. This means you’ll be serving the cake directly from the pan. Plus, you kind of have to scrape the servings out with a spatula to keep them in one piece, and the first slice of cake will be a bit tricky to get out of the pan. Because of this, the one pan cake may not be the best choice for serving guests or for special occasions. Or maybe it is. You decide. All I know is that this cake recipe is easy and delicious, and maybe that’s all that matters in the end.

    PERFECT chocolate frosting with one pan chocolate cake from @janemaynard

    Perfect Chocolate Frosting
     
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    Recipe from my mother-in-law Pat, adapted from the back of the Hershey's cocoa powder container
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • ½ cup butter
    • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2½ - 2¾ cups powdered sugar
    • ⅓ cup milk
    Instructions
    1. Melt the butter in a large bowl in the microwave, in 20 second increments until butter is just melted.
    2. Whisk in cocoa powder and vanilla extract.
    3. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to the bowl. Using a hand mixer, start on low and beat in the powdered sugar, increasing the speed to medium and mixing well. Add half of the milk, following the same blending technique. Add 1 more cup of the powdered sugar, mixing as described, then the rest of the milk, mixing once again starting on low and increasing to medium speed.
    4. Add ½ cup of powdered sugar (this brings you to 2½ cups) and blend well, starting on low then moving up to medium speed. If you want the frosting to be a little thicker, add up to ¼ cup more of powdered sugar.
    5. Makes enough frosting for a 9" x 13" cake.

    One Pan Chocolate Cake
     
    Prep time
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    Originally from a 2009 issue of Everyday Food, written in my own words
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
    • 6 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
    • 1 cup cold water
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. In an 8-inch square casserole dish or baking pan (I like to use a pyrex casserole so I can see if the batter is full mixed), whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
    3. Make a well in the middle, then add the vegetable oil, vanilla, vinegar and water in the center. Whisk those ingredients together, then start to incorporate the dry ingredients, whisking until well combined.
    4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a fork or toothpick comes out clean.
    5. Let cool completely before frosting. If you use the chocolate frosting recipe above, you will have some frosting left over.

     

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  4. Tuesday, August 4

    Homemade Pita Chips Are My New Favorite

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    Right now I am in New Hampshire at my in-laws’ home. My mother-in-law Pat, the source of many of my most favorite recipes, is the queen of not wasting food. If the food isn’t rotten or moldy, she will find a way to use it!

    super easy and scrumptious homemade pita chips by @janemaynard

    We bought a bunch of pitas down on Cape Cod last week that we never used, so she packed them up and brought the pita bread back to New Hampshire. The pitas just kept getting staler and staler. Pat couldn’t bear to throw them out, so she decided to try making homemade pita chips, served alongside a scrumptious caprese salad.

    super easy and scrumptious homemade pita chips by @janemaynard

    Why have I never made homemade pita chips before? They were so easy to make and so crazy delicious I couldn’t believe it. They get all crispy but still have some softer spots that make them so much better than anything you can buy at the store. And, seriously, the “recipe” is beyond simple – anyone can make these!

    super easy and scrumptious homemade pita chips by @janemaynard

    I think I may have found my new addiction. And maybe yours, too. You’re welcome.

    Homemade Pita Chips
     
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    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Pita bread
    • Olive oil
    • Sea salt
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 425º F.
    2. Cut the pita into triangle-shaped, chip-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
    3. Drizzle pita pieces with olive oil, enough to coat each piece lightly. Sprinkle evenly with sea salt, then toss everything together with your hands to coat evenly and well.
    4. Spread pita pieces onto a large baking sheet.
    5. Bake until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pita and your oven. You want them crispy, but it's good to not overook them so you still get a few softer spots.

     

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  5. Wednesday, July 22

    Grilled Nutella and Strawberry Sandwiches OR How to Eat Chocolate For Lunch

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    We are in New Jersey right now visiting my family. My sister-in-law Cora introduced us to a new way to eat chocolate for lunch yesterday. I’m always up for making chocolate into a meal, so I was 100% on board!

    nutella & strawberry sandwiches from @janemaynard

    Cora had recently taken her little girl and my niece Sophie to a cafe called Marigolds. They ordered the Nutella panini off the menu and discovered something quite delicious – a panini made with Nutella and fresh sliced strawberries!

    nutella & strawberry sandwiches from @janemaynard

    Of course we had to try making it on our own and that’s what we had for lunch yesterday! And before you start thinking it’s all weird that this is an actual sandwich that you can have for lunch (my mom couldn’t quite wrap her brain around it), this is basically a PB&J if you really think about it. Nutella is a hazelnut spread, so that’s just like peanut butter, right? And fresh strawberries are way healthier than sugar-laden jam. So, you know. totally the same and way healthier! (Okay, not totally, but whatever.)

    nutella & strawberry sandwiches from @janemaynard

    The cafe even served the Nutella panini with homemade potato chips. This is LUNCH, people. I swear!

    nutella & strawberry sandwiches from @janemaynard

    Whether you agree that this makes a healthy and nutritious lunch or not, I do think you’ll agree it’s delicious. Seriously, DELICIOUS. You’re welcome.

    Grilled Nutella and Strawberry Sandwiches
     
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    As created by my sister-in-law Cora Wallin, inspired by Marigold's in Summit, NJ
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Good crusty bread
    • Fresh sliced strawberries
    • Nutella
    • Butter
    Instructions
    1. Spread Nutella on 2 slices of bread.
    2. Layer sliced strawberries on one side then put the sandwich together.
    3. Butter the outside of both slices of the sandwich and grill in a pan over medium heat until golden brown (like a grilled cheese sandwich) or cook in a panini maker.

     

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  6. Tuesday, July 7

    I’m About to Give You the Best Oatmeal Cookie Recipe Ever. Are You Ready?

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    jody's perfect oatmeal cookies, chock-full of chocolate chips and M&Ms, from @janemaynard

    Brace yourselves. Today I am giving you the best oatmeal cookie recipe ever. Well, the best chocolate chip M&M oatmeal cookie recipe ever. No, really. I haven’t met a cookie this addictive in quite some time. I even made myself sick to my stomach a few weeks ago eating too many, like a 6-year-old the day after Halloween. Not one of my finer moments. But I digress…

    jody's perfect oatmeal cookies, chock-full of chocolate chips and M&Ms, from @janemaynard

    Back to the cookies. These cookies are delicious, with wonderful flavor and texture. Additionally, these cookies are made with oil instead of butter. The original recipe says you can use coconut oil or olive oil. I have made them with half olive oil half coconut oil, and I’ve also made them with just coconut oil. I prefer the 100% coconut oil version. If you decide to use olive oil, I would recommend regular olive oil instead of extra virgin as extra virgin olive oil has more olive flavor.

    jody's perfect oatmeal cookies, chock-full of chocolate chips and M&Ms, from @janemaynard

    Okay, so, the recipe. I begged this recipe off of my girls’ piano teacher, Jody. She has no idea where she got it from, so we just call them Jody’s Oatmeal Cookies. If I ever track down the source, I’ll be sure to let you know! For now Jody gets credit for bringing these beauties into our lives.

    jody's perfect oatmeal cookies, chock-full of chocolate chips and M&Ms, from @janemaynard

    5.0 from 2 reviews
    Jody's Oatmeal Cookies
     
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    These Chocolate Chip M&M Oatmeal Cookies are some of the most addictive cookies I've ever eaten. You've been warned.
    Author:
    Serves: 3 dozen
    Ingredients
    • 2½ cups old fashioned oats
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup melted coconut oil (if your coconut oil is already liquid at room temp, you're all set. if it is solid, a few seconds in the microwave will melt it enough)
    • 2 large eggs
    • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • ¾ cups chocolate chips
    • 1¼ cups plain M&Ms
    • (I supposed you could do 2 cups of raisins instead of chocolate chips and M&Ms, but I'm a chocolate girl. If you go with raisins, add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to the dough)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
    2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Add the salt and baking soda and stir well. Add the oats, flour and both sugars and mix well until all ingredients are fully incorporated together. The dough might be crumbly. (Add a teeny bit of oil of needed - I have not ever added any extra oil myself). Alternatively you can mix all the ingredients except the chocolate chips and M&Ms in a large bowl all at once, but I find adding the ingredients in the order listed above makes it easier to mix the ingredients together evenly.
    3. Mix in the chocolate chips and M&Ms.
    4. Form cookie dough balls about 2 tablespoons in size and place on cookie sheet. The dough is tricky to work with, just be patient! Use your hands to really squeeze the dough into a ball. You may have to tuck the M&Ms and chocolate chips inside and underneath the cookie to get it to hold together on the tray.
    5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies begin to lightly brown on top but don't overcook.
    6. Cook all the dough into cookies as the cookie dough balls don't hold together well for freezing and dough is easier to work with when it is just made. Store baked cookies in an airtight container.
    Notes
    The original recipe says you can use coconut oil or olive oil. I have made them with half olive oil half coconut oil, and I've also made them with just coconut oil. I prefer the 100% coconut oil version. If you decide to use olive oil, I would recommend regular olive oil instead of extra virgin as extra virgin olive oil has more olive flavor.

     

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  7. Wednesday, July 1

    Jerkish Chicken, i.e. Kid Friendly Jerk Chicken That Adults Love, Too

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    One of my favorite foods in the world is Back-A-Yard’s Jamaican jerk chicken. I will never be able to make jerk sauce like that restaurant does and that’s okay with me. Sometimes it’s good to have a food you can only get in one place so you really appreciate it. That said, I do hate living so far away from Back-A-Yard, which is located in Menlo Park and San Jose. The other day I was having a serious hankering for some Back-A-Yard and decided to finally try making my own jerk.

    recipe for "jerkish" chicken, a kid-friendly marinade and sauce inspired by Jamaican jerk that is a bit more sweet and a bit less spicy | from @janemaynard

    The one and only problem with jerk is that it is just too spicy for my kids, so I wanted to figure out a way to make a kid-friendly jerk that still delighted my taste buds. The marinade/sauce I created and have made several times now is wonderful, although nothing at all like Back-A-Yard’s. It’s much sweeter with just a hint of heat. The kids devoured their chicken, as did Nate and I!

    Will I ever be able to replicate the pure culinary joy that is Back-A-Yard’s Jamaican jerk? Nope. But I’m okay with that, and I ended up with this scrumptious recipe instead!

    recipe for "jerkish" chicken, a kid-friendly marinade and sauce inspired by Jamaican jerk that is a bit more sweet and a bit less spicy | from @janemaynard

    Note #1: While I was editing this post and getting the link for Back-A-Yard, I discovered that Back-A-Yard is going to start selling sauces and rubs. I AM SO HAPPY! I will be able to get their sauce in my own kitchen! I’ll be sure to include a link in my Friday Show and Tell post when their online store opens.

    Note #2: I forgot to photograph the sauce. It’s brown and tastes delicious. There you go.

    Note #3: You can find the recipe for the potatoes in the background of the first photo by clicking here. They’re amazing. Thought you should know.

    Jerkish Chicken, i.e. Kid Friendly Jerk Chicken That Adults Love, Too
     
    Inspired by Jamiacan jerk, this chicken marinade and sauce has a sweeter flavor and just a bit of heat.
    Author:
    Serves: 5-8 servings
    Ingredients
    • Juice from 1 lime
    • ½ cup olive oil or canola oil
    • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 6 cloves fresh garlic
    • 6 green onions, very roughly chopped
    • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon jerk seasoning
    • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
    • ½ teaspoon pepper
    • 10-15 pieces bone-in chicken (I prefer legs and thighs)
    Instructions
    1. Combine all ingredients (except the chicken) in a blender. Blend until a sauce consistency.
    2. Reserve ½ cup of the sauce to serve with the chicken later.
    3. Place chicken pieces in a ziploc bag then pour sauce into the bag. Close bag, pushing air out, and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
    4. Grill chicken as usual over moderate heat, cooking until inside temperature reaches 160-165º F.
    5. Heat reserved sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed. Serve with grilled chicken.
    Notes
    Prep time is only 5 minutes or so, but there is at least 30 minutes of marinating time to plan on. Cook time is only about 10 minutes.

     

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  8. Tuesday, June 23

    My Smart Girls, All of the Feelings, and Inside Out Homemade Butterfinger Bars

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    recipe for inside out homemade butterfinger bars from @janemaynard

    I have two very smart girls. Smart girls who make posters like this when they are playing:

    inside out homemade butterfinger bars from @janemaynard

    I mean, seriously. Just look at that poster. That is how they play. To say the kids and I were excited about the new Pixar movie Inside Out is an understatement. A movie all about navigating your feelings is totally up their alley! Plus, I think I may have a couple of future psychotherapists on my hands. (When I found that paper, it seriously cracked me up.)

    "inside out" homemade buttefinger bars by @janemaynardWe were going for “Joy” in the group shot, but Owen was apparently overcome by “Sadness”; Anna was going to do all 5 emotions for me, but we only got “Disgust” and a very happy looking “Angry” out of her

    Well, we went and saw Inside Out today. It was wonderful in so many ways and I want to give it all of the awards right NOW. Here is Inside Out in a nutshell: take the last few, way-too-emotional minutes of Toy Story 3, where all you can do is sob as you think about the bittersweetness of growing up, and turn it into a 1 hour 42 minute feature film. Needless to say I cried through ALL of Inside Out, from the first minute to the last. So did Cate. We think Anna did, too, but she won’t fess up to it. (Apparently Disgust is overpowering Sadness in her brain today.)

    recipe for inside out homemade butterfinger bars from @janemaynardThis step of the recipe is perfect for Anger!

    Once the movie was done, we were all feeling a little emotional. It was actually a rough couple of minutes where none of us were at the top of our game. And then we had to stop at the store. Owen, who was crazy tired, got really mad about our errand. (Why, hello, Anger! Nice to see you!) But then I thought to myself, “Um, duh, let’s make this fun!” (Actually that wasn’t me, it was Joy stepping up to the control panel in my brain.) Owen was the most angry about our errand, so I started identifying his feelings. “Oh, man, Anger is at the controls right now. Wait, I think Sadness just took over. Whoops, now we have Disgust. [Owen looks up and sees a giant blow-up shark.] And Joy is back!” The kids and I couldn’t help but laugh, especially since Owen’s emotions were changing at an impressively quick pace! Suddenly all was right with the world.

    recipe for inside out homemade butterfinger bars from @janemaynardrecipe for inside out homemade butterfinger bars from @janemaynard

    After we were able to laugh and let Joy take the reins, I started asking Cate and Anna what they learned from the movie. Cate responded immediately with, “You shouldn’t let your emotions take control.” Perfect. The conversation evolved from there and made me want to cry {again} and reminded me just how smart my smart girls are. Seriously, they are SMART and, even though emotions are a hard thing to deal with, I think they will have the upper hand as they navigate the choppy waters of growing up.

    recipe for inside out homemade butterfinger bars from @janemaynard

    In honor of Inside Out, going to the movies and chocolate (I’m always willing to honor chocolate), I have a recipe today for Inside Out Homemade Butterfinger Bars. To say this recipe is a labor of love is an understatement. It requires time and patience and you will probably feel Disgust, Anger, Fear AND Sadness while making them, but Joy will take center stage once you take that first bite. I promise.

    recipe for inside out homemade butterfinger bars from @janemaynard

    Homemade Inside Out Butterfingers
     
    Inspired by the movie Inside Out and the classic movie candy Butterfinger. This is a time-consuming recipe but oh-so-delicious!
    Author:
    Serves: 42
    Ingredients
    • 24 ounces good quality dark chocolate (the bars you see pictured used 24 ounces of chocolate - the chocolate was quite thick, if you want it thinner you could probably go down to as low as 18 ounces of chocolate total)
    • ½ cup water
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ½ cup light corn syrup
    • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
    Instructions
    1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside, along with an additional piece of parchment paper on the side.
    2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the corn syrup and stir well. Raise heat to medium-high and clip on a candy thermometer. (I used my instant read thermometer, which worked fine, but I really wish I had a clip on candy thermometer because it takes time for the mixture to get hot and I had to hold the probe the whole time.)
    3. While the mixture is heating, place the peanut butter in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, until melted. Set aside.
    4. When the sugar mixture reaches 280º F (this takes a WHILE, probably about 30 minutes), remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the peanut butter, mixing thoroughly. Immediately pour the mixture onto the lined baking sheet. Working QUICKLY (the stuff starts to set up fast!), put the other piece of parchment paper on top and press down, using a hot pad on top of the parchment paper as the mixture below is very hot. Press out flat to about ¼" thick.
    5. Let harden completely. Place large pieces of the homemade butterfinger in a thick, gallon-sized ziploc bag, then bang the candy with a hammer. You want small pieces, but you don't want to pulverize it to a powder, so work carefully. Set butterfinger pieces aside (you'll end up with about 4 cups of butterfinger pieces).
    6. Line a 13" x 9" baking dish with parchment paper. Cover the bottom surface of the lined dish with a layer of butteringer pieces, about 1 - 1½ cups. Set aside.
    7. Now you need to temper the chocolate. This also takes time, so get ready!
    8. Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer. Place a dry, clean bowl on top and add about 12 ounces of the chocolate to the bowl. Melt the chocolate and cook it over the simmering water until it reaches 115º - 120º F.
    9. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the remaining unmelted chocolate, stir, and let it cool to the low 80ºs F. Do NOT get any water in the chocolate. Stir regularly or almost constantly while the chocolate cools. This process took about 45 minutes for me.
    10. Once the temperature drops to the low 80s, place the bowl back over the simmering water and bring the temperature back up to between 88ºF - 91º F. (Milk chocolate tempers at 86º - 88º F, so if you subbed milk chocolate for the dark chocolate, please use this temperature.) Do NOT let the temperature go above 91ºF or you have to start the WHOLE PROCESS OVER. Once the temp reaches 88º - 91ºF, immediately remove from heat.
    11. Pour the tempered chocolate over the butterfinger pieces in the baking dish. Spread the chocolate out evenly, then sprinkle the top with more butterfinger pieces, about 1 - 1½ cups more. Be sure to press the butterfinger pieces into the chocolate while it is still soft.
    12. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate has completely hardened. Cut into small bars with a long, sharp knife, pressing straight down firmly when cutting.
    13. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
    Notes
    This makes a lot of bars and they are very rich, so it serves a lot of people. It really depends on how big you cut the bars what the final yield is. I recommend cutting it into 6x7 rows and columns.
    You will have about a cup or so of butterfinger pieces left over. Use these however you like...I'm thinking tossed in a batch of chocolate chip cookies would be delish!

     

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  9. Tuesday, June 16

    The #1 Freezer Jam Tip You Need If You Plan to Use Sure-Jell Pectin

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    If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I make freezer jam every year. It’s my favorite kind of jam. We never buy jam at the store. We’re completely spoiled and addicted to freezer jam and I blame my mom.

    instructions for making raspberry and strawberry freezer jam from @janemaynard

    ANYWAY…most years when I make my many batches of jam, I share a new tip or two on the blog. Far and away the most awesome freezer jam tip I gave was how many berries to buy for making strawberry or raspberry freezer jam. I don’t know what I would do without that post – I use it every year! If you want to read through the rest of the tips, click here – there is a lot of handy info in all those posts.

    This year’s tip, however, is CRITICAL to success if you’ve ever tried to replicate what I do. Every year I say the following: “Just buy Sure-Jell pectin and follow the instructions for freezer jam. Works like a charm!” Well, DO NOT DO THAT. This year I cracked open my box of pectin and immediately noticed the directions were different. I did a lot of google searching and discovered that last year Kraft inexplicably changed the directions. They have since fixed the problem, but apparently there are still boxes out there with the wrong directions inside. If you follow the wrong directions (which tell you to mix the sugar with the pectin and water and then boil the three together), your jam will absolutely not turn out. So, I’m going to put the CORRECT directions here on the blog, mostly for my peace of mind. I really don’t want you buying bucket loads of berries only to have your jam bomb on account of me telling you to use the directions in the box. Argh!

    Also, lest you think I am a domestic goddess (because I am not), my raspberry jam didn’t come out this year. It’s more like raspberry sauce than jam, but it still tastes like heaven, so whatever.

    With that vote of confidence (I swear this recipe works 99.99999% of the time!), here are the instructions for raspberry and strawberry freezer jam!

    Raspberry or Strawberry Freezer Jam
     
    Instruction for using Sure-Jell pectin to make raspberry or strawberry freezer jam. If you want to make another kind of jam, the instructions on the inside of the box have a chart indicating the amount of berries and sugar needed. Be sure that you follow the directions below for making the jam, however, as Kraft misprinted the jam technique in 2014.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • FOR STRAWBERRY JAM: 2 cups crushed strawberries + 4 cups sugar
    • FOR RASPBERRY JAM: 3 cups crushed raspberries + 5¼ cups sugar
    • FOR BOTH KINDS OF JAM: 1 box Sure-Jell Pectin
    • FOR BOTH KINDS OF JAM: ¾ cup cold water
    Instructions
    1. Freezer jam can be stored in any airtight container. Make sure containers are clean and dry.
    2. Crush berries and, using a dry measuring cup, measure the exact amount of prepared fruit into a large bowl.
    3. Measure exact amount of sugar then add to the berries, stirring well. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Once berries have been sitting for at least 5 minutes (to time everything properly), mix the pectin and the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat stirring constantly. Once mixture is boiling, boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
    5. Add to fruit-sugar mixture and stir constantly for 3 minutes, until sugar is dissolved (a few crystals may remain).
    6. Add to containers, leaving ½" space at the top for expansion when freezing. Cover with lids and let stand for 24 hours. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 1 year. Thaw frozen jam in refrigerator.

     

     

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  10. Tuesday, June 9

    Coconut Almond Fudge Bars, i.e. Crack Bars

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    Honestly, I don’t love using the word “crack” when describing food, but today I’m breaking my rule. Here’s the deal. Nate called these coconut almond fudge bars “crack” after his first bite, which is saying something. Nate is nothing like me. He can pass on dessert. I DON’T GET IT. But this dessert? He was rendered as useless as I was in its presence.  That alone should tell you how good these bars are!

    recipe for coconut almond fudge bars, i.e. crack bars, from @janemaynard

    I wanted to create a special recipe for my candied coconut almonds. The kids and I were watching some TV food show where they featured a bar from a bakery in Cambridge, MA. My bars are nothing like what we saw on TV, but they did get my creative juices flowing. And the result was, well, crack.

    recipe for coconut almond fudge bars, i.e. crack bars, from @janemaynard

    These bars have a crust that is sort of like a cookie crust but also really not at all like a cookie crust. The texture is coarser but still holds together and is all buttery and wonderful. Then comes a perfectly fudgy layer that could really be eaten on its own, but why would you do that when you can sandwich that fudgy goodness in between so much other goodness? The top layer consists of candied coconut almonds. Fair warning: coconut almond fudge bars can get a little messy because of that top layer. I recommend using a plate. But even if you don’t use a plate, the mess is totally worth it.

    recipe for coconut almond fudge bars, i.e. crack bars, from @janemaynard

    Also, these bars are better fully cooled because everything sets up so nicely. But if you cannot wait and have eat them warm out of the oven, use a fork and go ahead and indulge in the buttery, chocolatey, gooeyness.

    Feel free to call these bars whatever you like. Go the proper route and call them Coconut Almond Fudge Bars. Or go the Momofuku route and call them Crack Bars. I’m good either way.

    Coconut Almond Fudge Bars, i.e. Crack Bars
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    These bars are irresistible, with a cookie-like bottom layer, fudgy middle layer and candied coconut almonds on top!
    Author:
    Serves: 9-12
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 7 tablespoons salted butter, softened to room temperature
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour (use whole wheat for the best texture!)
    • ½ teaspoon +1/8 teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk (this will be half of a 14-ounce can)
    • 1½ cups candied coconut almonds
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. In a stand mixer or in a large bowl with hand mixer, beat together on medium speed the brown sugar and 6 tablespoons of the butter for 3-5 minutes, until well mixed and lighter in color.
    3. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
    4. Add the flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and baking soda and mix just until combined.
    5. In an 8" x 8" baking dish, press the sugar-flour mixture into the bottom of the dish to form an even layer. Set aside.
    6. In a small bowl combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, remaining 1 tablespoon butter and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir well until all chocolate is melted.
    7. Spread chocolate mixture over the cookie layer.
    8. Sprinkle candied coconut almonds over the chocolate layer, then press that layer down into the chocolate with your fingers. Whatever doesn't get pushed into the chocolate will remain loose even after cooking, so you want to carefully work it to get as much pressed into the chocolate as possible. But don't worry if there are loose pieces!
    9. Cover dish with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
    10. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting and serving.

     

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