Tuesday, December 23, 2008

White Almond Fudge

This creamy fudge is a lovely compliment to your Christmas Candy Arsenal.  I have a weakness for almond flavored. . .anything, actually.  If I could master a good Almond English Toffee all would be right with the world.  I will keep you posted on that front.  In the meantime, enjoy this creamy little treat.

You will need:

4 cups sugar
1 cup cream
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 pkg white good quality white chocolate chips.
1 tbs almond extract

Dump it all in the pot.  Stir until boiling.  STOP stirring and let it boil until the temperature reaches 225 degrees.

Take it off the heat.  Stir in white chips.  Continue to stir until chips are melted. Add Almond flavor and stir until creamy.

Pour into 8X8 inch buttered pan.  Cover and let sit for several hours, or overnight.  Cut into squares and enjoy.

Perfect Penuche

This is a treat we try to make every year.  This year we finally manage to turn it out to perfection (which is more than I can say for a couple other candies I still haven't mastered).  Finally getting it right is really very rewarding.  

Penuche is a brown sugar fudge that is known for its grainy texture, but adding corn syrup makes it creamier and oh so much more satisfying.


2 lb. bag of light brown sugar
1  cup of evaporated milk (if you don't have it substitute 2/3 cup dry milk + 3/4 cup of water. . .I did)
1/2  cup butter
4  tbs. light corn syrup
1/4  tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla


In a medium saucepan mix brown sugar, milk, butter, corn syrup and salt.

Cook--stirring until butter is dissolved.  Then cook without stirring until soft ball stage is reached (or 238 degrees on a candy thermometer.)  

Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm.  Add vanilla.  Beat until thick. It should loose its glossiness as it firms.

Pour into a buttered 9 inch square pan or 11X7 inch pan.  When firm, cut into squares.

Enjoy. . . in moderation, of course. There are lots of other candies to make, after all.  Save some love handle real estate for the next treat.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispies

This is one of the easiest recipes I have made this year, but you get a lot of bang for your buck!  Not only are the ingredients few, and yummy, they are in a nice ratio to remember:

1 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups of Rice Krispies

In pan heat corn syrup and sugar to a boil.  Stir in peanut butter.  Add rice krispies and blend. Press into a 9X13 inch pan.

For the Frosting:

1 cup of chocolate chips
1 cup of butterscotch chips

Melt and pour over Rice Krispies like frosting.  If you prefer more chocolate, less butterscotch, adjust ratio to taste.

Now try not to eat the whole pan--I dare you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Egg Gravy over Biscuits

So, I awoke the other morning with a hankering for biscuits and gravy.  But I had no bacon and no sausage.  I did, however, have eggs.  But a simple white sauce with eggs was not what I had in mind, so I give you MY new version of egg gravy. (For the biscuits I used a pop tube.)

Gravy Ingredients:

1 envelope of onion soup mix
3 cups of milk
1 tbs. of flour
4-5 hard boiled eggs -- chopped
pepper to taste

Stir first three ingredients in sauce pan and heat on medium heat to thicken--while continuing to stir.  

When it thickens add chopped eggs and pepper.

Pour over biscuits.  Then if you like pepper like I do, add more.

I have to say I will be making this again.

French Onion Soup

For someone who hated onions until a few years ago, I find myself cooking a lot with onions.  I have taken to buying to big bag of onions at Costco these days.  Here is just one of my favorite soup recipes.

You will need (this is a big pot of soup--feel free to half it):

Four large onions, six cans of beef broth, one garlic clove, a teaspoon of fresh thyme, one bay leaf, 1 stick of butter.  Plus, a loaf of French bread and a mountain of shredded mozz (is that precise enough for you?).

Cut up your onions and toss them in the pot with the butter.  Press the garlic and add it too.

Let them cook slowly for twenty minutes or so--until the onions are all limp and caramelized.  It takes longer the more onions you toss in there.

Once they are all softy and yummy, add your beef broth. . . (yours should be more limp than this--I was short on time and jumped the gun a little--DON'T do that.)

. . .the thyme. . .

. . . and a bay leaf.

Leave it all on the stove to cook on medium low for 20-30 minutes--stirring occasionally, or longer if you husband hasn't gotten home yet.  When you are ready, fill each bowl, leaving space at the top for your bread and cheese.  Place a slice of French bread in each bowl--load with mozz.  (I actually made this loaf myself--and by "myself" I mean Rob made it. But it was from scratch, and it turned out great) 

Put your bowls on a cookie sheet or broiling pan and broil your soup until the cheese is melted and bubbly and starting to brown.

Eat and sigh with pleasure.  But let it cool a few minutes first, or there will be no pleasure sighing, and no tasting, for that matter.  Trust me, I got impatient last time and burned my taste buds.  Patience, darlings, it will pay off--I assure you.

Cheese Steak Sandwiches

When it is cold outside this is one meal I love to cook.  It is quick and delicious.  I also make it for Super Bowl Sunday almost every year.

First things first.  Cut up a couple large yellow onions and toss them in a frying pan with a couple tablespoons of butter.  Let the onions cook on low, stirring occasionally until they are all caramelized.  They should be very limp and soft.  Then add half a can of beef broth ( about a cup) and let it simmer for 5 - 10 minutes.

In the meantime, rub your steaks in your favorite steak rub.  This time I used two sirloin tip steaks.  To keep them tender don't overcook them.  We like them pink inside.  Then cut them in strips.

Slice your bread -- I used sub rolls that I bought in the bakery section of my local grocery store.  Pile on your steak strips.  Smother it in caramelized onions.  and top with shredded mozzarella cheese.  I am generous with the cheese.  I lavish about 1/2 cup of shredded moz on each sandwich.

To really finish it off right, toast it under the broiler to melt the cheese and make it bubble.  If you follow these step exactly (how can you not with all my very precise instructions) each bite will melt in your mouth.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Peppermint Bark

The Christmas tree is not the only thing a candy cane can, or should, adorn.  I like mine atop a bit of chocolate.  This little holiday treat is lovely to look at and even lovelier to eat.  And since I am a non-partial chocoholic I chose to make mine with both white and dark chocolate.  

The cast--small though it is:

Good quality white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, and a handful of candy canes.

Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil.
Melt the chips in the microwave a minute at a time on 50% power, stirring in between, until they have melted.  (If your white chips get a little dry you can add a teaspoon of Crisco to moisten it up again)

In the meantime, crush your candy canes.

Pour your melted chips onto the pan--make a pattern if you like.  

Then swirl a spoon or knife or fork, or your finger--whatever, around on the pan to just get the white and dark chocolate to swirl together.  Don't over blend or you will have blah chocolate color.  

Then sprinkle your crushed candy cane over the top, lightly tamping down larger pieces so they get good and embedded in the chocolate.  

Refrigerate for at least half and hour to harden up the chocolate.  Then break the bark up and enjoy.  To keep them firm store in a closed container in the fridge.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hot Chocolate Mix

In order to enjoy the Marshmallows you have made, you need some good hot chocolate.  This recipe makes a huge batch, which works for me, because I drink a lot of hot chocolate in the winter.  Plus, I like to pass it out to my neighbors around the holidays.

All you need:

11 cups powdered milk
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 cups powdered coffee creamer (I use French Vanilla)
Box of Nesquick chocolate milk mix (21 oz box)
5 tbs of cocoa (I like to use dark chocolate cocoa)
1 box of instant chocolate pudding

Mix them all together.  Add 1/3 cup powder mix to 1 cup hot water.  And don't forget the marshmallows.


Every year around the holidays I make several batches of marshmallows.  Sure I could buy them at fancy shmancy food stores for a buck a piece, but why do that when they are fun, quick and inexpensive to make.  And they taste much better fresh.  To keep it a special treat I only make them in December. . . mostly.  

All you need is:

1/2 cup water
3 Tbs. Knox gelatin 
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs. vanilla
powdered sugar for dusting


Prepare a 9X13 pan by rubbing down with butter and sprinkling it with powdered sugar.

In the mixer add the gelatin to 1/2 cup of water and allow to bloom for ten minutes.

In a saucepan combine 1/4 cup of water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil.

Continue to boil until the temperature reaches 250 degrees F (hard ball stage).

Running mixer on low, drizzle the boiling sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture.  Turn up speed and add salt.

Mix on high until volume stops increasing (about ten minutes).

Add a tablespoon of vanilla.

Pour into prepared pan and smooth the best you can--it will stick to your spatula, buttering it will help.  It won't be great but that's okay.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and keep smoothing with your hands.

Allow to set, on counter, for several hours, or overnight.

Cut into squares, powdering the sides with powdered sugar to prevent sticking.

Store in air tight container. Or eat immediately in a large mug of hot chocolate.  My favorite is Stephan's Hot Chocolate.  I also like to give these as a neighbor gift and sometimes make homemade hot chocolate mix to go with it.