Peanut Brittle

Happy Feast Day of St. John of the Cross! We listen to a podcast called Catholic Sprouts every morning on our way to school. It is a podcast for kiddos and is pretty amazing. It is short and sweet, and gets to the point rather quickly as to not lose the very short attention span we all know kids have. If you haven’t heard of it, check it out. I think your kids will enjoy having something to listen to in the car.

I received a request from my great aunt Laura to make peanut brittle. I haven’t made this in a looong time. I remember peanut brittle being sort of one-note and overly sweet growing up. I am pretty happy with how this turned out! I made a few changes to a very old recipe I had on hand from a Betty Crocker book that was written a few decades ago. I hope you love it!

Peanut Brittle

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You will need:

  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1/2 c light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c water
  • 3/4 c roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • candy thermometer

To start, get everything ready ahead of time. Grease a baking sheet and set aside. I use a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Nothing sticks to it….ever. I highly suggest getting some! Measure out the 2 tbsp softened butter, 1 tbsp vanilla, and 1 tsp baking soda. Have those ready to go on the side. This recipe will need your full attention for ~30 minutes.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add the sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil while stirring constantly with a silicon spatula. Do not walk away from this or it will definitely burn. When it reaches 220 degrees F, add in the peanuts. Keep stirring until it reaches 300 degrees F. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter, vanilla, and baking soda. Pour onto the prepared cookie sheet and gently spread around with a silicone spatula until it is all in one even layer. It does not have to be a perfect rectangle.

You can let this cool at room temp for a couple hours, or just pop it in the fridge or freezer to speed up the process. Once it is cooled, break it into pieces and store in an airtight container or bag in the fridge or countertop.

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The roasted peanuts and vanilla definitely give this an improved flavor. I find myself reaching for another bite even after I have finished a piece (not sure if that is a good thing). It is light, crispy, and has just the right amount of sweetness.

I hope you love this recipe, and I encourage you to give it a try if your thoughts on peanut brittle are on the lower end of the dessert scale.

As always, thank you for your support.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Matthew 11: 11-15

 

 

Balsamic and Feta Pasta Salad

Happy feast day of St. Lucy! My oldest daughter started Catholic school this week. I am incredibly happy with this decision, and we are hoping to transition my preschooler over there soon as well. Please, pray for her!

If you are anything like me, you get kind of tired of sweet potatoes, roasted meats, and pies in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I do love those foods, but I tend to crave something light and fresh to help balance things out.

This recipe is one I like to keep in the fridge. I am a busy mom, so food on the go that I can just scoop into a bowl for a quick bite is exactly what I need. Not only that, but it is full of fresh vegetables and has great flavor. I hope you love it!

Balsamic and Feta Pasta Salad

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You will need:

  • 1 lb tricolor rotini
  • 2 c cubed seedless cucumber (English cucumber is what I know them as)
  • 1 pt cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4-6 oz crumbled feta
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c light tasting olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Boil the pasta for 7-8 minutes. Immediately rinse with cold water once it is done. In a large bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, salt, and olive oil. Whisk together. Add in the pasta, tomatoes, and cucumber. Give everything a big stir until all of the pasta and veggies are combined. From here, you can add the feta in and stir it all together, or save the feta to crumble on top of each serving individually. Your prerogative! I do it both ways depending on how much time I have.

I love this pasta salad because I am not a huge fan of red onion or olives that are found in the Greek version (red wine vinegar, red onions, olives, oregano, etc). My kids also enjoy this one better. The vegetables are familiar, and it really does taste amazing.

I hope you have a wonderful week! As always, thank you for your support.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

Luke 1:39-47

 

Cranberry Orange Muffins

It snowed here yesterday and we had a blast playing in it! It was a beautiful way to spend our second Sunday of Advent. We lived in SoCal for so long that we forgot what real weather was like. Moving to the Northern Virginia area has brought us right back to reality. I am happy to report that I am not feeling sick anymore. All of us came down with a nasty cold. We seem to be doing a lot better! It was also Will-Will and Clara’s first snow. We got blurry family photo  to celebrate 🙂

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This time of year I tend to make a lot of baked goods. I don’t know what it is about this beautiful season, but it puts me in the mood to utilize sugar, butter, and everything in between. I had extra cranberries leftover from an appetizer I made, and I wanted to try them in muffins. I put a spin on the blueberry muffin recipe I posted a couple of weeks ago. I hope you love it!

Cranberry Orange Muffins

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You will need:

  • 1 3/4 c whole wheat flour + 1 Tbsp
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/4 c brown sugar + 2 Tbsp for topping
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 c whole cranberries (frozen are okay)
  • 1 c plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c light tasting olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • juice of one orange (about 1/4 cup)

Preheat your oven to 350* F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cups, or lightly grease a muffin tin/silicone baking tray with nonstick spray.

Combine the honey, 1/4 c brown sugar, Greek yogurt, eggs, olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla in a bowl. Mix until smooth. Sift in the 1 3/4 c flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Stir until just combined. Lightly dust the cranberries with the extra Tbsp of flour. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin cups. Gently fold in the cranberries.

Fill each muffin cup to the top. Sprinkle the tops with a little brown sugar. Bake for 22-25 minutes. I baked mine for 23 exactly and they were perfect.

Let them cool, and then enjoy with some tea or coffee. These came out perfectly sweet and aromatic from the brown sugar, orange zest, and cranberries. I hope you love them!

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As always, thank you for your support.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Luke 3:4-6

Apple Pie Filling

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! This is the first year out of nine that we haven’t hosted or been over to someone’s home. I am cooking a small “linner” (official term for lunch and dinner) for all of us tomorrow, and I went ahead and prepped an apple pie today to give myself more room in the kitchen. Apple pies can be quite bland if you don’t make an awesome filling. I have been making apple pies for years, so this recipe is one I have poured a lot of time into. I used to buy the canned filling and just dump it between crusts, and voila! Come to find out- nobody really liked it. I can’t imagine why?! Ha!

This apple pie filling recipe is the result of many years of compliments, complaints, and the number spoon fulls I want to eat straight out of the skillet.  The combination of browned butter and spices really make this filling something special. I hope you love it!

Apple Pie Filling

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You will need:

  • 8-10 apples
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Peel, core, and medium dice your apples (I used a combination of Pink Lady, Fuji, and Gala). Toss them around in the lemon juice to keep them from browning. This also brightens them up and adds wonderful flavor.

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Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the stick of butter. Let it simmer until it starts to brown. Don’t go too far, because once butter starts to brown- it will burn shortly after. Once the butter is browned, add in the apples and stir until they are all coated in the butter. Toss in the cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, white sugar, and salt. Let this cook on med/low heat until it starts to soften and thicken (about 10-15 minutes). Once the consistency is is how you like it, add in the nutmeg, cloves, ground cinnamon, vanilla, heavy cream, and lemon zest. Give it all a stir, let it cook together for a couple of minutes, and then remove it from the heat.

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From here- you can fill a pie crust, make mini pies in mason jars, eat this by itself with some vanilla ice cream, top it with a crumble and bake it, or do whatever your heart desires! This pie filling has incredible depth of flavor without being too heavy with spices. I put mine in a blind-baked store-bought pie crust (making dough is not my strength) and bake it off until the top dough is golden brown.

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As we go into this holiday, remember what you are thankful for. I am thankful for the normal everyday things my family and I get to do together, and I am thankful for the blessing that is my family. God has been great to us, and I couldn’t have hand-picked a better life to be living.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.

John 15:16

Salted Caramels

Fa-La-La-La-Laaaaaa! I love Advent, I love Christmas, and I love cooking and gifting delicious goodies to people. Salted Caramels are one of my favorite treats, and I want to give you this easy recipe so you can wrap them up and gift them to your friends and families!

Salted Caramels

You will need:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp sea salt + 1 Tbsp for later
  • wax paper, cut into rectangles
  • candy thermometer
  • Just to let you know, this will take you at least 45 minutes to cook. If you don’t have the time- don’t start it. It needs your full attention and constant stirring, so give yourself freedom to stand over the pot, because in this case- this watched pot will boil and boil and then burn!

Add white sugar, brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk, corn syrup, and 1 tsp of salt into a large heavy bottomed pot. This mixture will triple in size while cooking, so make sure your pot is big enough. Bring the ingredients up to a simmer (med heat) and stir gently with a silicone spatula making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Stir slowly and continuously until your candy thermometer reaches 245-250 degrees.  I let mine cook at 248 for 2 minutes before removing it from the heat. This will ensure the caramel is firm, yet chewy. Do not let it get past 250 degrees or it will become too hard to chew.

Once your mixture has reached the desired temp, remove from the heat and stir in the 2 tsp vanilla. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 pan, or directly into a 9×13 silicone dish, or into a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper. Any of those three will work great. Let the caramels cool completely (2 hours is ideal). Once the caramel is cooled, turn the pan upside down onto a lightly salted cutting board. The salt will keep the caramel from sticking to the cutting board, and it will also give it great flavor.

Cut the caramels into long strips, and then cut the strips into small bites. If your knife is sticking to the caramel, give it a spray with non-stick spray, or rub it with an oiled cloth or paper towel. Sprinkle sea salt over the caramels and toss them around in it to make sure all sides have a little bit on them. Wrap each caramel in a piece of wax paper and then twist the ends tight. These can be stored at room temp for 2 weeks, or in the fridge for up to a month. Bring to room temp before eating. These make great little gifts and can be put into cute bags or Christmas themed tins for giving.

I hope you love this recipe! I have been trying different recipes over the last few weeks (my family is about sick of caramels at this point) and this one seems to be the winner. I know corn syrup puts people off sometimes, but it is honestly the best way to make caramels. I hope you give it a try.  And…I have a second way to dress these up!

If you have a mini cupcake mold (I have a silicone one that I love) you can layer dark chocolate chips (about 6 per mold), top those with toasted and chopped pecans (half way up the mold), and then top with the hot caramel. Let those cool and they will make pecan turtle stacks. These are so good and they look beautiful! Sprinkle a little sea salt on top and serve on a tray, or wrap for giving.

I hope your Thanksgiving meal is delicious and shared with family and good friends. We will be putting our Christmas tree up on Friday evening, and then we will begin our Advent journey with devotionals and kid’s activities on Dec 1st.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

@thecatholickitchen

Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3

Blueberry Muffins

Advent is coming up soon and I absolutely love this season. The new liturgical year always gets me excited, and my kids are getting old enough to participate in some of the studies I like to do. I have a great calendar from Kendra Tierney that starts us off on Dec 1st. I will also be doing the new Blessed is She advent study, and my oldest girls are looking forward to tea time and journaling.  Plus, we can share some muffins while we talk about our loving God and what this season is all about! I hope you love this recipe.

Blueberry Muffins

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You will need:

  • 1 3/4 c whole wheat flour (+ 1 tbsp to toss the blueberries in)
  • 1 c blueberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 c plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1/3 c light tasting olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • *optional* 2 tbsp raw or white sugar

Preheat your oven to 350*F and line a muffin tin with cups, or use a silicone muffin pan that is lightly coated with nonstick spray. This recipe makes exactly 1 dozen muffins.

In a large bowl, combine the 1 3/4 c whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, maple syrup, olive oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk around until completely smooth. In another small bowl, toss the blueberries with the 1 tbsp of flour. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin cups.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently fold until it is *mostly* combined. Add in the blueberries and carefully fold until they are mixed in. Do not over mix your batter. It will become dense and your muffins will not rise or be as fluffy on the inside.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups until each cup is equally filled.  If you want, go ahead and sprinkle some raw or white sugar on the top of each muffin. This will give them a little crispy sweet topping. If you want to skip this step, it won’t make the muffins any less delicious.

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. I bake mine for exactly 23 minutes and they come out perfect. DSC_0138-2

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Let them sit for 10 minutes before serving. The blueberries get super hot on the inside and will burn your mouth like crazy (speaking from experience here).

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These muffins are delightfully fluffy and full of great flavor. They are perfectly sweet from the maple syrup, and the cinnamon and vanilla will fill your kitchen with a pleasant aroma. Enjoy them with some tea, coffee, or a cold glass of milk.

As always, thank you for your support.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

Shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life.

Philippians 2:15

 

 

 

 

 

All Saints Day Dark Chocolate Stout Cake

All Saint’s Day is approaching, and if you are planning on having a special dinner or lunch after Mass, I have the perfect dessert for you. After all, our wonderful saints come from every corner of the world, and this cake contains ingredients that are not only rich in flavor, but also in history.

Chocolate originated in mesoamerica and made its way to Belgium, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Stout beer has roots in Sweden, Ireland, England, and the Baltic states. Coffee’s historical beginnings are found in Ethiopia, where its eventual road trip began and resulted in its implementation in cuisine all over the world. Each ingredient has a history, and so do our saints from all over the world.

This cake is delicious, and my favorite thing about this recipe is that it is not overly sweet, and it won’t hurt your teeth with each bite. I much prefer a bold flavored cake that will satisfy my dessert needs. The dark chocolate and stout make this cake, so if there is any advice I can give you it is please don’t substitute those ingredients.

I hope you love this cake as much as I do! Enjoy.

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake

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You will need:

  • For the cake:
    • 1 cup of AP flour
    • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (if you cannot find it, regular cocoa is fine, but the color will not be as dark)
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 cup stout (Guinness works great here, and you can find it just about anywhere)
    • 1/2 cup strong coffee
    • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened (12 Tbsp or 3/4 cup)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 4 oz dark chocolate chips
  • For the dark chocolate ganache frosting:
    • 8oz dark chocolate chips
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 2 Tbsp butter

Preheat your oven to 325*F (160*C). Prep two 9 inch round cake pans by smearing butter along the bottom and sides, and putting a piece of parchment paper on the bottom as well. Go ahead and smear butter on top of the parchment paper too. I use silicone pans, so I just butter the bottom and sides and skip the parchment step.

We’ll begin with the dark chocolate ganache frosting. This seems backwards, but it requires some refrigeration, so it has to go first.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

  1. Add the dark chocolate chips and butter into a bowl. Pour the heavy cream into a coffee cup or microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until it is steaming hot. Pour over the chocolate chips and butter and let it sit for 30 seconds or so.
  2. With a whisk, stir the mixture until all of the chocolate is melted. It might seem stiff at first, but this is normal. Keep stirring until it is smooth and shiny.
  3. Once that is done, pop the bowl into the fridge and move onto the cake.

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake:

  1. In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Add in the chocolate chips. Give it a quick mix. In a separate bowl or glass measuring cup, add in the stout, coffee, vanilla, and sour cream. Give that a good stir.
  2. In a bowl attached to a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer and a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. You want to cream this for about 5 minutes total. Mix it for 1-2 minutes, scrape down the sides, and continue to mix. You want it to be super light and fluffy. Once is it creamed together, add in the eggs one at a time until they are all mixed together.
  3. Next, alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture until they are all combined together. Stop every couple of minutes to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is getting mixed together as thoroughly as possible.
  4. Split the batter evenly between both cake pans. Get them into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  5. When the cakes are done, let them cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes until you can touch the pans comfortably. Flip them onto a cooling rack, or a clean towel/surface to cool COMPLETELY. Emphasis on the completely. If you put frosting on a cake that is still warm- it will become a melted mess.
  6. Once the cakes are cooled, assemble your frosting station. I use an offset spatula and a cake turntable (or just a butter knife/back of a spoon and a plate you can move around easily). Whatever you use, make sure it is where you cake is going to stay once it is done.

Cake Assembly:

  1. Remove the chocolate ganache from the fridge. It should be firm and kind of shiny. Whip it on high for 1-2 minutes until it is fluffy with either a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla and whip for another 10-20 seconds.
  2. Using your frosting tools, frost the cake however you see fit. I like to put a little frosting down in the center of my cake plate and put the first layer down (like cake glue). I put about 1/3 of the frosting on the middle of the cake and spread it towards the sides. You want to put more on this layer than you think. The frosting will move to the sides of the cake as you push the top layer down.
  3. Once that is done, put the top layer on and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Add fresh strawberries, shaved chocolate, or a combination of the two on top for decor. Slice and serve with a good cup of coffee and great company.

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As always, thank you for your support!

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

Brothers and sisters:
Grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:7