12.31.2012

Your Picks from 2012

Well kids, we've reached the end of quite a year. This was my first year seriously blogging about food, and what an insanely tasty adventure it has been. I still can't believe I made it on TV - laugh myself to sleep sometimes about it.

2013 should be a good one. Our family entering into a new phase of life: post-law school. It's what we've been looking towards for so long, and we can't wait to see where life leads us. 

And now, ladies and gents, I bring you your top 10 favorite recipes from 2012:


Happy New Year!

12.28.2012

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

I remember having a conversation this summer with a wonderful neighbor about making refried beans from scratch. I was pretty curious - my whole life I think I've only had them from a can (except when having them at an authentic Mexican restaurants). Nonetheless, I've always loved dunking salty chips into that creamy, beany mixture. So I found a made-from-scratch refried bean recipe, and set out on the adventure.

First, the recipe was pretty vague on how long the beans would take to cook in the slow cooker. I made these last week when Ryan was out-of-town again for interviews, so the time factor wasn't really an issue. But man, with my slow cooker, these babies took a full 7 hours until they were at the right texture. Skeptically, I followed the directions, and prepared some Mexican rice as a little accompaniment along the way.

I drained and mixed up the beans. I tasted the beans. I hated the beans

they were pretty gross. 

Let's just skip the drama section of this story, and read the bottom line: I was downright cranky, and kind of bugged at waiting for so long, with nasty results on the table.

I grudgingly added the butter, salt, and some of the wonderfully flavorful broth (that the beans cooked in), with hope that maybe those ingredients would turn everything around.

holy smokes. 

It was heaven. It was my Mexican restaurant. It was creamy, buttery, never-again-eating-beans-from-a-can good. I couldn't stop eating it with a spoon.

I slapped the rice and beans in a crunchy quesadilla for the Manchild, and a soft burrito for myself on a warm tortilla.

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Ingredients:
3 C dry pinto beans, washed and rinsed 
water
5 cubes chicken bouillon
1 T garlic salt
1/2 medium yellow onion (outer skin and ends removed, keep whole, not chopped)
1/2 C butter
salt
optional: chopped cilantro

Method:
1. In your 5 qt slow cooker, fill bottom with dried pintos. Fill slow cooker nearly to the top with water.
2. Add bouillon cubes, garlic salt, and half onion.
3. Cook on high until beans are soft, stir occasionally. For me, took about 7 hours.
4. Strain beans, and save bean juice in separate bowl.
5. Add butter and a bit of bean juice.
6. Blend with stand mixer until beans are mixed to desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Optional: mix in chopped cilantro.

*note: my beans only stayed fresh in the fridge for maybe 2 days. After that, they started smelling like death. Fo' reals.

Recipe makes about 4 C refried beans. 
source: chef-in-training 

12.27.2012

Another Fresh Living Segment

Oh man, here we go again...

Whenever I open my email inbox and see another invitation to cook on TV, my stomach immediately turns in knots.

You see, I love being on TV, and the thrilling adrenaline rush of it all, but I get SO DANG nervous every single time.

I worry about saying something... well...

blonde. 

Ironic. I know. 

But almost every time the cameras point away, and I have a minute to soak it all in, I think to myself "I really like doing this, and I'm grateful they wanted me on here."

So it's no surprise when after a good half hour of soaking in the invitation, making calls to lock in a babysitter, and looking through my recipe index, that I happily send in my ''heck yes'' rsvp each and every time.

With that, thanks again KUTV Channel 2, Fresh Living! I had a blast, yet again, being on your show! It was fun being able to chose a recipe to share, see all the wonderfully amazing people at the station, and be able to watch it with my husband's family yesterday at home. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the opportunity.

See the first half of my segment here.

For the Italian Sausage Lasagna Soup recipe, click here.

12.24.2012

Eggnog French Toast

Oh, Christmas Eve. I'm so happy to see it finally arrive - and arrive in style, might I add.

It's as if a giant flour sifter is hanging over the valley, and eagerly sifting as much fluffy powder over the bare grass as soon as possible. I completely love it. We're not doing any serious traveling today. We're stickin' around this sleepy college town (emptied of it's students during the season), and maybe adding a couple more snowmen to our front yard.

We only have a couple Christmas Eve traditions, but I love them. First, we go out to ''breakfast-for-dinner." When we come home, we usually watch some kind of a cozy Christmas movie together in comfy clothes and a large warm blanket, and drink bubbly/eggnog. Then, we read the Christmas story in Luke 2. What I love most about our Christmas Eve/Christmas morning, is that we stay home. I love our families, and we make sure to see them for dinner on Christmas day, but for the Eve and Morning, we get each other all to ourselves. (Then we go party the afternoon and night away at either Ryan or my parent's home - we take turns).

When I was growing up, on Christmas morning, my Mom would almost always make German Pancakes for breakfast. They were always decadently fluffy, and perfectly delicious. Even though I was probably loaded with too much candy by the time I ate breakfast, I loved how my Mom would take time to make something dreamy in the kitchen, yet again. This year, I'm going to try to make them - wish me luck!

These eggnog french toasties were amazing! I had my doubts, but when they came off the griddle and onto our plates, I gobbled up my 3 slices faster than I thought possible. Instead I using all eggnog for the egg mixture, I still threw in a couple eggs. I like the texture it provides, and kept the white sandwich bread away from the soggy end of the spectrum. Also, I wanted to echo the spices I taste in eggnog. I added cloves, nutmeg, and beautiful cinnamon. I served the fluffy french toast on a bed of sifted powdered sugar, and hot maple syrup.

Merry Christmas!


Eggnog French Toast

Ingredients:
6 slices of sandwich bread
1 C eggnog
2 eggs (I know, who cares)
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t nutmeg
1 T cinnamon
1 T vanilla extract  
butter

Directions:
1. Heat griddle to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare egg mixture: in a shallow dish, whisk together eggnog, eggs, ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla.
3. Melt a small bit of butter on griddle. Lightly dunk (coat) bread slices (both sides) in egg mixture and lay on hot griddle. When downside is golden brown, flip french toast.
4. Serve with powdered sugar, hot syrup, or fresh fruit.

(I made the powdered sugar tree by cutting a tree out of a piece of paper, then laying that paper on the french toast. Then I lightly sifted powdered sugar over the paper until the tree was filled in, and lifted up the paper to reveal the shape). 

BwB original recipe
Makes 6 slices of eggnog french toast, about 2 servings.

12.23.2012

Totally Worth It

 Hosted my very first Christmas Cookie Exchange Party this past weekend 
for the wonderful ladies in my neighborhood. 

And loved every second of it.  

Every ounce of nervousness, excitement, and preparation was more than worth it. 

Plus, I enjoyed being a total sponge for the evening; 
soaking in as many beautiful new recipes as possible. 

My oven can barely stand the anticipation :)

12.20.2012

Spinach and Cream Stuffed Chicken Parmigiana

We've had chicken parmigiana a number of times in the blondie household. But never had we taken this dish to the absolute next level.

Until recently.

On Saturday, a friend in the neighborhood let me take a couple bricks of cream cheese off her hands. (Thank you, thank you!) She is a serious trooper in avoiding dairy products for her little one at this time. I would die.

Immediately, though, I knew what dish I wanted to try with said cream cheese. And let's just start off with this:  Never in Baking with Blondie history have I prepared a dish in our home for dinner, and liked it so much, that we went to the store the next morning to purchase the same ingredients (minus the plethora of cream cheese) to make the same dinner yet again. This stuff was incredible, and Ryan + Manchild went nuts over it.

Also, Ryan didn't even notice it was packed with spinach until the last few bites were devoured. This man hates spinach, and I have converted him. Happy Birthday to me. Wait, that was last week.

This dish is also a wonderful meal to prepare when you want to strangle or bash something. The chicken breasts require a bit of pounding, and although I didn't have a meat tenderizer, I most certainly had a rolling pin for whacking. Therapy comes in many forms, my friends.

What I loved most about this decked-out version of Chicken Parmigiana was the perfect combination of textures. The crunchy cracker crust + the tender, moist chicken + the creamy, melty spinach/cheese filling + the zing of tomato in the sauce, was enough to send me over the edge. 

The only changes I made was adding another egg to the egg mixture, and switching the frozen spinach to chopped fresh spinach. I loathe the texture of frozen spinach. The fresh spinach tasted lovely. Again, Ryan (the spinach-hater) polished off his plate before asking what the 'green stuff' was.  

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Spinach and Cream Stuffed Chicken Parmigiana

Ingredients:
15 ritz cracker, crushed to powder, 1/2 C
2 eggs, whisked together
2 C chopped fresh spinach leaves
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 C grated mozzarella cheese
4 T grated Parmesan cheese
2 large chicken breasts, trimmed, and sliced horizontally (to create 4 pieces)
1 1/2 C spaghetti sauce, heated

toothpicks
cooking spray
plastic wrap

Method:
1.  Preheat oven to  375 degrees F.
2.  Lay chicken breasts on a cutting board. Lay a layer of plastic wrap over chicken. With meat tenderizer (or rolling pin), flatten chicken breast halves to about 1/4 inch thickness.
3. Prepare three shallow bowls for dunking:
- Bowl 1: whisked eggs
- Bow 2: crushed crackers
- Bowl 3: mix cream cheese, spinach, mozzarella, and parmesan until well blended (I used my new mini-food processor. Made life easier.)
4. Spread cream cheese mixture over chicken breasts. Starting at the short end of each chicken breast, roll up chicken tightly. Secure with wooden toothpicks (remember to remove these after baking).
5. Dunk (with one hand for wet ingredients, one hand for dry) chicken bundles in the eggs, then in the crushed crackers. Place seam-sides down in a greased 13x9 baking pan.
6. Bake 30 minutes or until chicken registers 165 degrees F with a meat thermometer. Remove and discard toothpicks. Serve chicken on a bed of warm spaghetti sauce (and sprinkle with mozzarella if desired).

Recipe Source: recipe.com
Makes about 4 servings 

12.19.2012

White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

I know, I know. Here's the dang recipe y'all have been bugging me about. And guess what? I'm guest posting it over at one of my favorite fashion blogs today:

 
Click HERE to see the story behind these beloved cookies. 

Thanks again, Emily, for asking me to share a little holiday treat on your beautiful blog! 


 

White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies
makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:1 1/2 C butter
2 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C molasses
4 1/2 C flour
4 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
2 t ground ginger
1 t ground cloves
1/2 t salt
granulated sugar for rolling
1 bag white chocolate chips
sprinkles

Method: 
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Add the eggs and molasses.
2. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together, then slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
3. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll into sugar. Place on greased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes (mine were done at 7, so set the time shorter, and watch them for the first batch to see how your oven treats the cookies.) Cool cookies on a rack. Store cookies in a container with a slice of bread to keep soft.
4. Melt your white chocolate chips in a double broiler and dip half of the cookie into it. Add a little vegetable oil to the mixture if it's too thick. Place onto wax paper to dry. If you're using sprinkles, sprinkle cookies immediately after dipping in white chocolate. Or you can drizzle them, too!

Recipe adapted from: the girl who ate everything


12.18.2012

Citrus Wassail

I was raised on wassail.

I can't remember a Christmas season without it.

My mom would have her old-school crock pot on the counter; filled to the brim with this decadent broth of heaven with a few slices of orange/lemon or sticks of cinnamon floating on top. It tasted more like the holidays than any dessert or drink I can remember, and even now I can't leave her home during these cold winter months without having a glass or two. The warmth it brings on such a snowy day is immeasurable, the nostalgia it evokes is hard to shake, and the number of flavor palates you can satisfy with just one drink is infinite. You can add more citrus if you like, or more tart flavors with cranberry if you prefer. If you want it to be more like cider, hit up those flavors. Whatever your taste preferences are, you can switch up your wassail to match.

This recipe is by far my favorite. I had tried it a couple years ago at my Uncle's home for Thanksgiving, and remembered it was amazing. This year, we spent our Thanksgiving at his home once again, and my heart almost jumped when I saw the wassail once again on his table; calling my name. I fell in love all over again, and shyly asked for the recipe (knowing it was practically a treasured family heirloom). Eric shared it with me, and I was so excited to have his permission to share it on here. Ryan prepared this recipe on Sunday, and by the time Monday morning broke, the entire pot was gone. This probably goes without saying, but I'm making another batch tomorrow.

And in case you were wondering, pomegranates have absolutely nothing to do with this recipe. My photo needed some texture, and I just think pomegranates are gorgeous. (and downright tasty).

-------
Grammy Pat's Citrus Wassail

Ingredients:
1 1/2 C sugar (this is a ton of sugar, but it's the way Ryan likes it. I think it only needs about 1/2 C)
6oz can frozen orange juice
6oz can frozen lemonade
10 C water
1 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract

Method: 
Mix all ingredients together in a crock pot or large pot. Bring to a simmer and serve hot. 

Recipe from Grammy Pat Price 
Makes about 10 servings

12.12.2012

Marshmallow Snowflakes

It's crazy-cold here in the valley. I was going to take the Manchild out yesterday to play in the couple inches of snow in our front yard, only to look outside late-afternoon and find the snow completely melted! At first I was sad, because he loves the snow. Then I had to laugh maniacally, because I honest-to-goodness hate the snow. Poor kid.

How to make it up to him? Hot chocolate. (warm chocolate, in his case). Even though the snow was gone, it was still freezing outside, and our bellies needed some sugary love.

The night before, I had made a sheet of fluffy marshmallow, and was so excited to finally use my new winter cookie cutters (97 cents each at Spoons 'n Spice). At first, I was nervous because after a few hours of making it, the marshmallow was painfully sticky. I was cautiously optimistic that after leaving it overnight, the marshmallow would eventually set up correctly. So I left it out on the counter, and hoped for the best.

It worked!

I think it made our hot chocolate that chilly afternoon extra special (and the snowflake marshmallows were a delicious distraction from the lack of snow outside). The marshmallows were thick, so they didn't melt as soon as they hit the rich, chocolatey mug of heaven. They tasted wonderful, and I found myself eating a few too many while taking a few pictures. I think the next time I make these, I'm going to add in a few drops of peppermint extract, or even a swirl of red coloring.

Marshmallow Snowflakes

Ingredients:
2 envelopes (each about 1 T) unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 C sugar
2/3 C light corn syrup
1/8 t salt
1 t vanilla extract

vegetable-oil cooking spray
parchment paper
snowflake cookie-cutters
candy thermometer

Method:
1. Coat a very large cookie sheet (rimmed) with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper, set aside.
2. Pour 1/3 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add gelatin and gently stir. Let mixture soften for about 5 minutes.
3. Place sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil. Remove lid and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup reaches 238 degrees (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes.
4. With mixer on low speed, whisk gelatin mixture and slowly pour the syrup in a steady steam down the side of the bowl. Gradually  raise speed to high and beat until mixture is thick, white, and triples in volume - about 12 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat 30 seconds to combine.
5. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet, smooth with a spatula. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered until form, at least 3 hours, or overnight.
6. Coat snowflake cutter with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Cut out as many marshmallows as possible; coating cuter with more cooking spray as needed. Use marshmallows immediately, or store in airtight container at room temp up to a week. 

Recipe Source: martha stewart 
makes around 75 marshmallow snowflakes


12.11.2012

Studio 5 Shout Out


HUGE thanks again to Studio 5 for having me on the show last week! If you missed the action, they've finally uploaded the video here

To see the three toffee recipes I presented, click here.

You guys rock my socks.

Rotini in Fresh Basil Pesto Cream Sauce

 
Remember that one time back in September when I made Roasted Maple Almond Butter? Even though it was beyond delicious, and we ate it all before Ryan came home from work that day, it was an extremely bittersweet moment in my kitchen.

You see, it was when my mini-food processor was pushed to the limit, and kicked the bucket.  

Forever.

Since then, in it's permanent absence, I've tried to find suitable alternatives, and it was going alright, until yesterday....
This is when I learned that making homemade fresh pesto is nearly impossible without a food processor. I thought maybe my blender would take care of business, and do work in the kitchen, but boy was I wrong (no offense to the blender). The ingredients all hid beneath the blades in the bottom, and avoided their inevitable doom. Thankfully, the basil was already pretty broken down, but I couldn't ignore the thick grated Parmesan and whole pine nuts. Pine nuts cost and arm-and-a-leg for about a 1/2 C portion right now. So there's no way I was going to give up. I searched my cup boards, and felt like I hit a dead end.

Light bulb, folks.

I poured the heavy cream directly in the blender with the homemade pesto ingredients. It made a beautiful puree. I heated my butter in the pan, and poured the puree over it = perfection.

Other than my pesto drama, this recipe is a cinch. The sauce lightly coats each rotini piece, happily filling in it's ridges with little pieces of basil and rich creamy sauce. Also, I really loved how the tomatoes aren't cooked through, leaving their texture integrity deliciously intact, and added contrast to the soft noodles. We will definitely be making this again, and again, and again (mostly because my kid inhaled this stuff...)
 
Rotini in Fresh Basil Pesto Cream Sauce 

Ingredients:
12 oz rotini pasta
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 C grated Parmesan + more for sprinkling
2 vine-on tomatoes 
1 recipe fresh basil pesto (about 1/4 C), my recipe here

Method:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, cook pasta according to directions on the package. Drain. 
2. In same pot, while pasta is draining, heat butter and cream over medium heat. 
3. Add in pesto and stir until combined. Heat through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. 
4. Pour in hot pasta directly into sauce, allow flavors to soak. Stir in fresh tomatoes.
5. Serve immediately, sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

Recipe source: damn delicious
Makes about 6 servings

12.10.2012

Spicy Thai Noodles

There has been an offensive amount of baking this past weekend. My oven was on for 6 straight hours Friday morning/afternoon. And it's not about to slow down! I don't mind one bit, actually. I'm really enjoying it. It's been a perfect distraction from the usual continued-semester/finals-week widowing. Thankfully, Ryan takes his last final this Friday: the day before my birthday. This will be our first December in 6 years when neither of us has an end-of-semester college final on my birthday. I know, we're pretty psyched.

. . .


The busy baking bustle of the holidays still includes me feeding my son and husband a decent dinner, but unfortunately with me a not-so-decent dinner (stomach spoiled by too many cookies from said baking).Yikes. Double yikes. Worth it? Only if I can get a run in at some point that day.

This dish was loaded with all kinds of spicy/mild flavors (oxymoron, I know). But they balance each other out so well, and easily filled our bellies. I love Thai noodles, especially with raw fresh ingredients gracing each bite with such a delightful crisp. I made a few adjustments to the recipe: I added peanut butter because it makes the sauce a bit creamier and complimented the raw peanuts on top. Also, I served mine warm. The original recipe calls for chilling, and serving the dang thing cold. It's winter, I'm serving it warm. I totally regret not having carrots on hand to toss on the mixture, too. It would have been amazing, and given the dish more color to play with.

These noodles were wonderful, and would serve as great eat-it-now-or-later kind of meal. The noodles only became more sinfully savory with each minute. Re-visiting them for lunch the next day was nothing short of perfect.

Also, Baking with Blondie made The Huffington Post again today! Check it out here.


Spicy Thai Noodles

Ingredients:
1 box linguine 
1 T crushed red pepper
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/4 C sesame oil
6 T honey
6 T soy sauce
1/4 C peanut butter (optional) 
add-ins: green onions, cilantro, raw peanuts, shredded raw carrots, toasted sesame seeds

Method:
1. Boil noodles, drain. 
2. While noodles are boiling, chop green onions, cilantro, and peanuts. 
3. Heat both oils and crushed red pepper over medium heat in a small pan. Strain out red peppers, reserving oil in pan.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add honey, soy sauce, and peanut butter (optional). Stir until uniform throughout and mixture is bubbling. 
5. Remove from heat and toss sauce with noodles. Before serving, top each individual serving with onions, cilantro, peanuts, carrots, and toasted sesame seeds. Serve warm or cold. 

Recipe adapted from: a small snippet
servings: about 6

12.07.2012

15 Holiday Cookie Cravings

 
 White Chocolate Covered Soft Ginger Cookies
(soon to appear on my guest post over at The Jacksons! Stay tuned.) Thanks Emily :)

Happy Friday! This week has been one crazy whirlwind after the next, and I feel like I'm losing my marbles all over the place. Today I forgot to add baking soda to my cookies. After taking one batch out of the oven, I knew right away what I had done. Baking soda is VERY important, people. VERY important. Luckily, I saved the rest of the dough, and added in the necessary ingredient for baking success. Meltdown averted.

To add to the madness of December, I decided early this week that I wanted to host a 'Cookie Exchange Party' for my neighborhood ladies. From the response so far, they are preparing to make all kinds of delicious goodness. I can't wait to try all their wonderful recipes (literally), and spend a delightful evening together with 'just the girls'. The stress will be well-worth it.

In lieu of the season, and the aforementioned dessert-soaked-events December inevitably brings to the table, I've compiled a list of 15 cookie recipe I tried this year. Each one different. Each one tried-and-true delicious.

Enjoy!
 

 
  


Enjoy your weekend, and these fabulous cookies! 

12.05.2012

Toffee, Three Ways

A couple weeks ago, I received the call to be on Studio 5 again! I was really excited. I had so much fun the last time, and really enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people. My excitement immediately turned to dreaded fear when they told me they needed someone to make toffee during their candy week.

You see, I have never made toffee before.

I've eaten my fair share of Skor bars, but that was really my only experience with toffee.

So I immediately made my regretful confession to the producer. She still wanted me to take a whack at it. So here we are, the day before, and my fridge is full of beautiful different flavors of toffee! Even though my stomach is in knots, I can't wait for tomorrow.

I learned so much about toffee this weekend. I used one recipe, then created two different variations from it. I still can't get enough of the salty-dark chocolate flavor, and with the Holiday season in full-swing, I just had to use candy canes somehow. And the toasted almonds brought such depth of flavor to the rich chocolate and crunchy toffee. It was WAY easy to make, I tell you. Just make sure you have a candy thermometer on hand, and patience enough to not turn the heat up to speed up the process. I also learned a few handy tricks along the way - I plan to share them tomorrow. Here are the tried-and-true recipes below (as always), enjoy!


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Chocolate Covered Toffee with Toasted Almonds

Ingredients:
2 C butter
2 C white sugar
1/4 T salt
2 C semisweet chocolate chips
1 C finely chopped almonds, toasted
-shortening for cookie sheet
-candy thermometer
-aluminum foil

Method:
1. In a very large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until butter is melted (with a wooden spoon). Attach candy thermometer to inside of pan, with the tip inside the bubbling mixture.
2. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until mixture becomes a dark amber color, or when temperature has reached about 285 degrees. Stir occasionally.
3. While toffee is cooking, cover a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and grease with a little shortening (this will make it super-easy to remove toffee from pan).
4. As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it onto the prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, and let sit for about a minute (when they begin to look glossy and melt). Spread the chocolate (with a spatula) into a thin and even layer. Immediately sprinkle with toasted almonds and slightly press into chocolate.
5. Place toffee, uncovered, into refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from: allrecipes.com
  
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Dark Chocolate Covered Toffee with Sea Salt

Ingredients:
2 C butter
2 C white sugar
1/4 T salt
2 C dark chocolate chips
1/4 C sea salt
-shortening for cookie sheet
-candy thermometer
-aluminum foil

Method:
1. In a very large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until butter is melted (with a wooden spoon). Attach candy thermometer to inside of pan, with the tip inside the bubbling mixture.
2. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until mixture becomes a dark amber color, or when temperature has reached about 285 degrees. Stir occasionally.
3. While toffee is cooking, cover a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and grease with a little shortening (this will make it super-easy to remove toffee from pan).
4. As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it onto the prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle the dark chocolate chips over the top, and let sit for about a minute (when they begin to look glossy and melt). Spread the chocolate (with a spatula) into a thin and even layer. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
5. Place toffee, uncovered, into refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

--------

White Chocolate Covered Toffee with Crushed Candy Canes

Ingredients:
2 C butter
2 C white sugar
1/4 T salt
2 C white chocolate chips
3/4 C candy canes, crushed into very small pieces
-shortening for cookie sheet
-candy thermometer
-aluminum foil

Method:
1. In a very large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until butter is melted (with a wooden spoon). Attach candy thermometer to inside of pan, with the tip inside the bubbling mixture.
2. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until mixture becomes a dark amber color, or when temperature has reached about 285 degrees. Stir occasionally.
3. While toffee is cooking, cover a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and grease with a little shortening (this will make it super-easy to remove toffee from pan).
4. As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it onto the prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle the white chocolate chips over the top, and let sit for about a minute (when they begin to look glossy and melt). Spread the chocolate (with a spatula) into a thin and even layer. Immediately sprinkle with crushed candy canes and slightly press into chocolate.
5. Place toffee, uncovered, into refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.