February 23, 2010

The sandwich maker returns: chicken in puff pastry

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Someone stop me!! Ever since I found out that I could make things besides sandwiches in my sandwich maker, (like pancakes...), I've been going crazy experimenting with the thing! I've made cornbread, omelets, and chicken in puff pastry. The puff pastry experiment was probably the best one - neat little triangles of pastry dough filled with chicken, broccoli, pesto, and cream cheese. Of course, you could do any filling - I had some left-overs from making calzones a few nights before. So, I thought: if it's good in a calzone... Of course, puff pastry dough is not exactly a health food (disclaimer!!) - but...

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I mean, don't those look tasty?? Who knew I could do that in a sandwich maker? Of course, I could also do it in the oven, but would they come out looking so perfect? I used this recipe as a starting point, although I used a different filling, obviously. And I sprayed the thing with nonstick oil instead of using margarine. You could totally do turnovers! I'm getting goofy with this now - dh and I were joking about having a sandwich press Thanksgiving this year - we could have 5 or 6 of them running simultaneously - you wouldn't be able to tell what you're eating except by the color - you could walk around with your wine in one hand and a triangle in the other. 

Anyway, I'd love to tell you about the omelet experiment, but I'm too tired, so it'll have to wait. I'll just give you this picture to ponder:

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February 22, 2010

Popcorn honey balls

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These were so easy to make! I can't believe I've never tried this before. Of course, Picky has only been daring to eat any form of popcorn for 3-4 months now, but still. I got the recipe from a book that I believe is now out of print called "The Good Goodies" by Stan and Floss Dworkin. I managed to pick up an old copy through e-bay after I saw the title mentioned in another cookbook (I think Laurel's Kitchen, or Laurel's Bread Book). They have some good recipes, although they also have some outdated ideas about nutrition. One is that honey is better for you than sugar (it isn't), and so they have tons of candies made with honey in there. The other is that carob is better than chocolate (I'm not sure about this one, but I have my doubts...plus I don't like carob...). Anyway, they do have a lot of treats and snacks with very wholesome, simple ingredients. Like this one. It only has 3 ingredients: oil, popcorn, and honey. You gotta love the simplicity. If you have an air-popper, you can probably skip the oil part. I don't, I have this great old-style popcorn maker pan from Back to Basics - although you can cook popcorn in any large pot, of course.

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Popcorn Balls

  • 1 to 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup popping corn
  • 1/2 cup honey

Oil the bottom of the pot with a thin layer of oil (I use canola). Pour in the popping corn and shake the pot to oil the kernels. Cover pot tightly.

Turn the heat to high and begin to shake the pot. Keep shaking while the corn is heating and for the first few seconds of popping. As the popping sounds come closer together, stop shaking. Leave the heat on until it stops popping.

Pour the popcorn into a big bowl.

Put the honey into a small saucepan, bring to a boil over low heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Pour the honey over the popcorn, and, with a pair of forks, begin to toss the corn gently, to get as much of it covered with honey as you can.

Here the directions say to wait until just cool enough to handle before pressing large handfuls together into balls - but I tried to do this before the honey was cool enough to stick and it was a frustrating experience. Just know that if the popcorn won't stick together, you should wait a few minutes until it cools a little more and try again. You probably don't need to try to spray your hands with canola oil, like I did...

Wrap each ball in waxed paper. They will keep for a week or so. The amount this makes depends on what size the balls are - I made 16 medium-sized balls.

You can also try adding peanuts: 1 cup of shelled peanuts with skins, added before the honey. I haven't tried this yet, but I'm tempted...

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Picky insisted that I dig out an ice cream cone to serve, but that's purely optional. It did make a nice picture, but no one actually ate it that way.

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P.S. - the popper I have is aluminum, but the stainless one looked better, so I linked to this one:

February 20, 2010

sandwich maker pancakes!!!


Ok, I'm not suggesting that you should run out and get another gadget for your kitchen...although I have seen these at thrift stores. I have owned a "sandwich maker" for about  8 years. Oh, you caught that, did you? Yes, my daughter is 5, but I've owned the maker for about 8 years, probably longer. Well, I got it originally for my husband, I admit. He had some nostalgic memories attached to the thing, I think. I remember working at a child care center when I was a teenager that had one, and they used it for snacks all the time: the kids loved the thing. Anyway, I have made sandwiches in it off-and-on for Picky, but just grilled cheese. They come out pretty good, although the cheese in the middle gets really really hot, which can be a problem when you have a child waiting who is hungry right now. Anyway, for some unknown reason, I decided recently to do a web search to see if there were any sandwich recipes specifically for a sandwich maker out there that I could use. And I discovered that you can make things besides sandwiches in there....I honestly never thought of that before!

I decided to give pancakes a try.


They came out great!! You could use any pancake recipe (I have a decent one from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe that I could share, or check out this one on Isabelle's blog from King Arthur Flour.


I heated the maker while I was getting the mix together, and then I sprayed it lightly with non-stick spray (you could use butter or margarine, but I think the spray is easier). I used a scoop to fill the triangles with batter, but I didn't really measure it (fill it full, but not too full). Then I closed the lid and set a timer for 4 minutes. When I opened the maker, I had perfect puffy triangle pancakes! 


Picky thinks I should replace the picture of her making a "yucky face" on the blog with one of these "yummy face" pictures - what do you think?