Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Taco Seasoning

Just a quickie here. I remember when I was a kid, tacos were one of my favorite meals. And these days, they're one of the favorite meals of my two nephews. Maybe you loved them as a kid, or have kids of your own who love them now. I say ditch those little yellow packets of taco seasoning mix that you get at the store for $1 and make your own. It's just as good (I think it's better), quick and easy, and probably cheaper since you can make it from bulk spices, all of which you probably have lying around already.

You will need:

1/2 c chili powder
1/2 c cumin
1/4 c garlic powder
1/4 c dried onion flakes
3 T crushed red pepper
2 T kosher salt
2 1/2 T pepper
2 T onion powder

Frank's Red Hot
Fish sauce

Simply mix up all the dry ingredients thoroughly, and you'll have enough spice mix to handle 10 lbs. of ground beef. Make as you normally would, except that I highly recommend the addition of a little Frank's and a few drops of fish sauce, depending how many people you're feeding. Add Frank's to taste, but as for fish sauce, I make 10 lbs at a time at work and use maybe a tablespoon. (Depending on how thoroughly you drain your hamburger, you may have to add a little vegetable oil and/or water. I try not to drain it all the way, myself; fat is where the flavor is, right?)

No, I'm not kidding about the fish sauce. You won't taste a few drops, but you'll know it's there. I love the stuff anyway, but the other day I was listening to The Splendid Table, and they said adding a dash to different foods adds Umami. So now I've been using it in just about everything, not just Asian dishes. (Even before I started using it all the time, I was of the opinion that fish sauce could rightly be called a liquor. It really can be intoxicating, in a way.)

As I said, I used to love these as a kid. I rarely eat them like this anymore because I have a chicken taco recipe that is almost beyond words, so I try and eat those as much as possible.
That recipe is coming soon. You don't want to miss it, trust me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ooey Gooey Caramel Kisses

This recipe comes from my grandparents so you know it's going to be excellent. I mean, have you ever eaten something that was made using somebody's grandparents' recipe and not loved it? Well, even if you have, it wasn't one of my grandparents' recipes (remember the pickles?) and it most definitely wasn't this one.These things are good. Really good. And best of all, there's not a lot of ingredients and they're a cinch to make! (Simple stuff usually is the best, isn't it?)

Gather up:

3/4 lb butter
2 c white sugar
2 c brown sugar
1 16 oz bottle dark Karo corn syrup (light should be fine too)
1 16 oz can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

Optional: 1 c chopped walnuts

Easy enough so far right? Let's keep going!

Melt the butter in a large pot (6-8 qts) add the sugars and corn syrup and cook over medium for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the condensed milk (and nuts, if you're using them). Cook until a candy thermometer reads Firm Ball. Remove from heat and pour into a
10 1/2 x 15 1/2 pan (or a mixing bowl that you can eat it out of with a spoon in front of a movie later...)

And that's about it! I mean, there's more to the actual recipe, but it mainly involves waiting until the caramel cools and cutting it up and wrapping it in wax paper, but that's a lot of work. A lot of unnecessary work. I mean, why wrap it up just to unwrap it again? It would make sense to do that if you were going to be giving some away to somebody, but you won't be doing that, trust me. You're going to keep all of this ooey gooey goodness to yourself. Not only that, but the way my grandparents' recipe reads, they actually say the yield of candy is between 250-300 pieces! I don't know how the hell they came up with that number- I got about 15...
I suppose if you really want to give some away or something, you can probably figure out the wrapping in wax paper part on your own. I just left mine in the pan and scooped it out by the spoonful. Like I said, simple=best. A couple notes, though: the original recipe says to grease the pan that you're going to pour the caramel into with butter. I did that, but found it to be unnecessary, especially in the summertime. Also, on my candy thermometer it says "firm ball" is 245-250, so I shut the heat off right at 245 and poured it into the pan. Well, the caramel turned out pretty gooey (hence the name). Perfect for eating with a spoon, but maybe a little difficult to eat with fingers. I was thinking that maybe next time I'd try heating it to a few degrees higher, when I noticed on the recipe that it said in parentheses after firm ball, (248).
(Probably should have read the entire recipe before starting, eh?)

P.S. I took some photos of my batch of ooey-gooey-ness. If any of them turn out, I'll post one or two in the next few days when I get my film developed.