Jeanne Ambrose and Lindsey Ambrose are a mother-daughter seasoned food-writing team who, between 'em, have done a lot of eating around.
     Jeanne creates, edits, and writes food, nutrition, and health features. Lindsey is a small-space gardener extraordinaire with a penchant for cooking fresh and local. She goes for full-flavored, somewhat-spicy cuisine with a flair for ethnic-fusion feasts. Read More >>


Shortcut Dark Chocolate Almost Toffee

You may have fallen in love with these already. But if you need a really fast homemade gift, this is it.

Saltine crackers, blanketed in melty butter and brown sugar, plus a heavy-handed scattering of chocolate chips and almonds. Done.

I’ve been making this for years from a recipe that was handed to me scribbled on a piece of notepaper. I’ve tweaked it a bit to include dark chocolate and sliced almonds. (But you’ll probably find something similar all over the Web.)
It’s one of my go-to last-minute treats for entertaining…You can have a batch ready for nibbling in 15 to 20 minutes.
Crunch. Munch. Moan (in an ecstatic way).
Dark Chocolate and Almond Toffee Crisps
 
40 saltine crackers (1 sleeve)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips and/or chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan (10x15x1) or rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper (or foil). Line the crackers in a single layer on the parchment paper in pan.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Let it bubble for 3 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Immediately pour mixture over crackers. Bake for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top; let stand for 5 minutes, then spread melted chips evenly over all. Top with sliced almonds. Cool completely, then cut or break toffee into pieces.

Extremely Easy Old-Fashioned Stew

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” ― Laurie Colwin

old fashioned beef stew

STEW: Before

I’m all about the ease of finding recipes online, but you can’t beat good old-fashioned recipes from dog-eared cards written by hand or those found in favorite old cookbooks.

I’ve been nose-to-the grindstone busy with projects at work and at home for the past three months. This weekend was my first catch-up time slot in what seemed like forever.

First on the agenda. Spring cleaning. Yeah. I know. It’s fall. My timing is somewhat off.

Next up: Invite friends over for dinner. I have missed being social. Chitchat around the office water cooler doesn’t count. I like to entertain. Sometimes I love to fuss. But I’d rather keep things casual and entertain more often than fuss and be so exhausted I don’t want to think about inviting anyone over again for several months.

Hence tonight’s meal. Friends. Conversation. Laughs. Old fashioned stew. (Apple pie for dessert.) I dug up the stew recipe from Laurie Colwin’s book: Home Cooking. It’s in the oven now.

Toss chunks of chuck roast (2 1/2 pounds or so) in flour-pepper-paprika. Brown in olive oil. Add layers of thick carrot slices (I used 5 big carrots), a couple of chopped potatoes (1-inch pieces), wedges of onion (I used 3 gigantic onions) and minced garlic (I put in 6 cloves because I’m a garlic lover). Add 2 cups (or a bottle) of red wine, a small can of tomato puree and a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Toss in a spring of rosemary and thyme and a bay leaf. Oh. Salt and more pepper, too. Bring it to bubbling on the stovetop, then put the lid on and stick it in the oven for 3 hours. Uncover for the last 15-20 minutes.

Laurie’s recipe suggests serving it over noodles. I like to serve mine over mashed sweet potatoes. Or nothing. It’s that good.

Want the more-detailed recipe? Go find Laurie Colwin’s book. Or come on over for dinner.

 

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Heart Break Recovery Kitchen
Everyone has good reasons to throw a pity party and the Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen shows you how to wallow with flair and flavor. Authors Jeanne and Lindsey Ambrose share enough comfort food and chocolate recipes in this cookbook to coax happy sighs from just about any misery-burdened soul.

In addition to 85 recipes including Deep Blue Funk Cocktail, Huevos Divorciados, Total Satisfaction Salad, Change Your Fortune Cookies, and Walnut-Studded Dark Chocolate Brownies, the book includes tips for bouncing back from the blues. There also are essays by writers around the country who share their stories of how they found happiness after heartbreak.

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