Sunday, December 21, 2008

Incredibly Easy Fudge

I am not a candy person. Well, I am an inexperienced candy person. I do own a candy thermometer, but I have never used it. I am trying...but I am starting off slowly, and easily. I did the peppermint bark (scroll down to previous posts), which was just melting chocolate on a baking sheet. I found this fudge recipe last year, but never got around to trying it. This is my second time to make it this year, it is easy, fast and YUM! Seriously, make this. You are not going to believe how easy this is, and that these ingredients are all that is needed to make actual fudge.

JELL-O Chocolate Pudding Fudge
1 package (8 oz.) semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
1 stick butter, divided
1/3 cup water
1 package Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding and Pie Filling
3 cups powdered sugar
Melt 4 oz. chocolate, 6 Tbsp. butter and water in microwave for 2 minutes

Add pudding mix
Add powdered sugar; one cup at a time (It WILL all mix in, just keep stirring)
Press into foil-lined square pan
Melt remaining chocolate (4 oz.) and remaining butter (2 Tbsp.)
Spread over fudge
Refrigerate at lest 2 hours or until firm.
Cut into squares

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sweet Treats for Sweet People

I made treats for my kids' teachers, and some other sweet friends I know this year. I don't have a set menu that I do every year, it differs each year so far. This year I made mini lemon pound cakes, 7 layer bars, and peppermint bark. Each thing was pretty easy, and they keep well. The lemon pound cakes are fragile, but other than that, these are all great food items to give.7 Layer Bars
5 Tbsp. butter
1 ½ c graham cracker crumbs
1 c coconut
1 c chocolate chips
1 c butterscotch chips
1 c chopped pecans
1 15-oz. can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

Put butter in a 9-inch square pan, and put in a 325 degree oven. When butter has melted, pour graham cracker crumbs over it evenly.
Spread coconut, then chocolate chips, then butterscotch chips, then nuts. Pour Eagle Brand milk (I don’t quite use the whole can) over the layers and bake for 30 minutes. Let sit and cool (so the milk can set up and keep all the ingredients together) before cutting into squares.*You can double this recipe and use a 13x9 dish.

Peppermint Bark
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
6 oz. white chocolate
1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Melt semi-sweet chocolate and spread on a buttered pan. (Not sure why I didn't think to use my silpat liner, but it never occured to me. It wasn't super hard to get out of the pan, but it took a minute. Use your silicone liner, if you have one.) Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Melt white chocolate and spread over semi-sweet. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over white chocolate and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Break apart and store in refrigerator.
*Thanks to my sister-in-law, the candy queen, for the awesome bark recipe!!
Lemon Pound Cake
Another family recipe. My mom has made these for as long as I can remember, and when I moved into my own house, I took her idea of making these for the neighbors at Christmas time. In fact, we are going to deliver ours today! This recipe makes 2 loaves, or you can put all the batter in a bundt pan. These freeze great!!!
*I doubled the recipe, and made 3 loaves and 12 minis in my holiday muffin

1 box white cake mix
¾ c vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 pkg lemon jello (NOT pudding and pie filling) dissolved into 1 c HOT water
1 tsp. lemon extract
juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350. Line one bundt pan or two loaf pans with parchment paper. Spray sides of pan with Pam.
Heat 1 c water in measuring cup until boiling. Add jello and stir until dissolved. Set aside.
In mixing bowl, pour white cake mix, and add vegetable oil. Mix on low speed, and add eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition. Pour in lemon jello mixture. When blended, add lemon extract and juice of one lemon. Pour into pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
When cake is done, stick the cake with a fork and pour as much or as little glaze as you like on the cake. Let cool completely before trying to remove from the pan.

Juice of 2 lemons
1 c powdered sugar
1 tsp. lemon extract
Mix well (don’t worry about lumps). Pour over cake.* This cake freezes great! Wrap well in plastic wrap and put in a freezer bag.


This is my Grandmother's recipe, that my mom has since given to me. I really like it, it is not a super spicy chili (although you could make it that way on your own), and there is not a lot of extra ingredients in it, it is a simple, meaty chili. We also use this is as the topping for cheese enchiladas- YUM!
* The recipe calls for ground chili meat, which they only have this time of year. It is a thicker beef that has not been ground down as much as ground beef. I have never done this before, but this time I used roast. I cut it up into chunks (like for stew) and then continued the same directions. I used a crockpot because I wanted the chili to simmer for longer than usual, since I had the roast meat and I wanted to make sure it got tender.


I large can tomatoes (or 2 small)
I brick chili
1-1 1/2 lb. ground chili meat or roast meat, cut into chunks
5 slices bacon
1-2 onions, chopped
1 whole green pepper, insides removed
1 pod of garlic
beef broth

Brown the bacon in a large skillet pan.

Discard bacon (eat it, crumble it for the top of the chili, whatever you want!) and saute the onions in the bacon oil.
Dredge the chili meat in flour, season with salt and pepper
Add chili meat to onions, cook until browned
Meanwhile, in the crockpot (or dutch oven if you are not using the crockpot), add tomatoes, whole green pepper, garlic, beef broth (about 1 cup), and chili brick. Mix well.
Add chili meat mixture, stir.
Cook on low for 3-4 hours or in the oven at 350 for at least 1 1/2 hrs.
Discard the pepper and garlic, add chili powder to taste and serve.
We like crumbled crackers and lots of cheese on ours!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sugar Babies

I don't know if you do this or not, but we have a special treat that we make with extra crust. When you make homemade crust, there is always a little bit left over, and in my family that meant sugar babies!!

All you need for sugar babies is:
- leftover pie crust dough
- melted butter
- cinnamon sugar

Roll out the dough.

Slice the dough.

Brush melted butter on the slices.

Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.
Bake for about 5 minutes, it doesn't need too long.
My kids loved helping me with this, and I love passing down a family tradition. I can remember being excited my mom was making dough for peach cobbler, because it meant sugar babies!! She always let me brush the butter on and do the cinnamon sugar, even when I was pretty young, and then I would have to fend off my stepdad to get any!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Party Treats

My husband had a work party and they asked that I bring some desserts to the party. I made 3 things: holiday cupcakes, cookies and fudge.

Holiday Cookie Muffins
I will admit- I used refrigerated cookie dough.

Get about a tablespoon of the dough, and drop in a mini muffin tin.

Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375.
I placed a M&M in the middle of each cookie muffin, red or green of course!!!
Holiday Cupcakes

I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe and my favorite vanilla icing recipe.
* Don't forget to add a package of vanilla pudding. It will make it more moist. Try it with your favorite scratch cake recipe or try the one I have linked there.

Quick and Rich Vanilla Frosting
(this is THE BEST vanilla frosting I have ever made. This has now become my new staple vanilla frosting)

2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch salt

Stir these 3 ingredients in a bowl until the salt dissolves.

Beat in until smooth: 2 1/2 sticks butter, softened

Reduce speed and slowly add in 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

This is the trick, beat this for at least 3 minutes. I literally watched it transform in front of my eyes. After 1 minute, I thought, "Ok, this looks like frosting, I can stop." But the recipe said to beat it for 4 minutes, so I kept going. It just got fluffier, and prettier as I kept going.

My sweet husband and dad bought me these silicone baking trays in holiday themes. I sprayed them with Pam even though they are silicone, I don't want to take my chances.
Fill these only 2/3 way full, maximum. Bake for 15-20 minutes, keep your eye on them.
Let cool in the pans, don't try to take them out of there when they are still warm, they will break on you. I iced this side of them, because the other side had all the pretty snowflake detail on it.
I did say I made fudge. I made fudge the weekend before and sent the leftovers to the party. I was in a hurry the day I originally made the fudge, so I didn't take pictures. It was a recipe for "easy fudge" and it was definitely easy, so I will make it again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

Our schedule is hectic and filled with even more family functions that normal-we are so blessed to have all our family live close by. Alot of my dinners have been leftovers, or just quick, light items recently. Not a lot of time to try new recipes or make a big dinner. Whenever I make something I haven't posted already, I will post that, but I probably won't have a weekly menu post until after the holidays.

Chicken Pot Pie
I usually use Pillsbury Pie Crust, but this time I made the pastry dough from the Pizza Rustica for the crust. It was good- I think that is my go-to pastry crust for savory dishes. For this dish, I cut the dough into 3 sections, and used two. Check back for a post about a yummy treat with leftover pie dough!!

1-1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast or tenders, cut to bite size
2 cups frozen veggies
2 cups chicken broth
garlic powder
dried herbs (your preference)

Mix a few Tbsp. of flour with 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder (I use more garlic powder, it's your choice) Toss the chicken pieces in flour and garlic powder, and saute in pan with 2 Tbsp. butter, until browned, 5-7 minutes.
Add the chicken broth and frozen veggies. Season with salt, pepper, and dried
(or fresh if you have it- good for you!) herbs of your choice.
(I start with a cup of broth and add more as needed.
I don't like it too soupy, since it's going in the crust)
I like a double crust, so I put a third of the dough in the deep dish pie plate.
Pour the chicken mixture (I thickened it with some corn starch and water) in to the pie pan.

Top with second dough
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350. Let sit for 5 minutes to cool!