Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

To start with I want to wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! I'm a little behind on this but I wanted you to know the sentiment was there.

Now onto a regular blog post...

With the cold weather finally settling in all over the country our thoughts are turning to hot chocolate. Now what goes perfect with some hot chocolate? Marshmallows!!!

I first tried making these a couple of years ago and the kids never forgot them and had been asking and asking for them ever since.

This year we had already decided that there was going to be a huge paring back. We already have SO MUCH STUFF. None of us NEEDED anything this year. Pretty lucky huh? Sure there are a lot of wants but I think we've been coming to terms that there is a huge difference between WANTS and NEEDS. One of the things I decided to do was to make everyone some gifts. Tony got the homemade hot sauce and the girls got the homemade marshmallows. Worked out perfectly and they opened them for their one gift they get to open on Christmas Eve. Perfect for the traditional cup of hot chocolate.

Homemade Marshmallows (Smitten Kitchen-Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows)
Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows
About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting)
  1. Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.
  2. In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.
  3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
  4. With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. (Some reviewers felt this took even longer with a hand mixer, but still eventually whipped up nicely.)
  5. In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out (learning from my mess of a first round). Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
  6. Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (An oiled pizza cutter works well here too.) Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.
Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.
***I followed this recipe to a tee. Both times I have made them and they've turned out perfectly both times. Love this one. Next time I may try and add some peppermint extract to half of the batch to shake it up a bit!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Pasta - Yep PASTA!!!

I hope you weren't looking for a holiday recipe? I'm so deep in denial about the approaching festivities that I haven't even started baking...and I really need to post more.

I was so excited when I saw this recipe. I LOVE Spinach Artichoke dip and try to talk Tony and the kids into it anytime I see it on a menu when we are out. Yep, made it at home several times too. One of the problems though when I make it at home is that I eat way too much of it! So this way was perfect It was served with pasta and that meant I could have it as a main course and eat as much as I liked...:-)

And did I mention that this dish is fast to prepare? Yep, really, really fast. Like about as long as it takes to cook the pasta fast.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta
(found on Pinterest by Budget Bytes)


2 Tbsp Olive oil
4 cloves garlic
4 oz. cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 can (14 oz.) quartered artichoke hearts
1 package (10 oz.) chopped spinach, thawed
1 Tbsp hot sauce
1 tsp red pepper flake
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of pasta (any shape)


  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil with a lid. When it comes to a boil, cook the pasta according to package directions (boil for about 10 minutes or until al dente). Drain the pasta in a colander.
  2. While you are cooking the pasta, start making the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Mince the garlic and cook it in the oil until it is slightly tender (1-2 minutes).
  3. Add the cream cheese, sour cream and white wine. Stir until everything is evenly incorporated. Reduce the heat to medium/low.
  4. Add the milk and Parmesan cheese. Stir it in until the Parmesan has melted in and is evenly incorporated. Stir in the hot sauce and thawed/drained spinach.
  5. Drain the can of artichoke hearts. Roughly chop them and add to the sauce. Taste the sauce and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes if desired.
  6. Add the cooked and drained pasta and stir to coat. Serve warm.
This is a wonderfully satisfying dinner that goes perfectly with a good glass of white wine!