Thursday, December 23, 2010

Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge

I have found that fudge can be very hit or miss when I am making it. Do you also find this?

Fudge is one of Evan's favorite desserts and every year at Christmas time I attempt to make it. This recipe has always been a success for me and it is sooooo simple. Evan likes it a lot.

The ingredients:
3 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips (1.5 bags); 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk; dash of salt; 1 C. chopped walnuts; 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

In a medium saucepan on low heat, melt the chocolate
the dash of salt (1/8 tsp. is my idea of a dash)
and the sweetened condensed milk until smooth.
Once it's all melted, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the nuts and the vanilla.
Take an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan and line it with foil. Spread the very sticky but oh so yummy fudge onto the foil. Chill for 2 hours until firm.
After 2 hours, the fudge should be firm to the touch.
Cut into small pieces and store loosely at room temperature.Next time, I will go easier on the nuts in the fudge, but that's my own personal preference. But, this fudge is very chocolate-y in a good way. It's not so sweet that it's too rich in taste, but still rich enough that you won't eat the whole pan. I gifted this fudge to friends at a Christmas beer potluck and it was very well received and almost all gone by the time we left. I'd definitely recommend making this if you don't know what to bring to your Christmas gatherings.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Russian Tea Cookies

Every year at Christmas time, my mom would bake cookies. I know that most of you had the same thing happen at your house as well, but Mom baking cookies was a big deal. My mom will be the first person to tell you that she doesn't really enjoy cooking. The kitchen is not her place to go to relax away her troubles (as it is mine). So, when my mom baked cookies, it was a rarity that my sister and I would get so excited over.

My mom makes a few select cookies around Christmas and I always remember that her Russian Tea cookies (or Snowballs, as I called them when I was little) were my favorites. I got to help her roll the cookies in the powdered sugar and could eat one while it was still warm. When I started cooking Christmas cookies, I knew that the Russian Tea cookies would be one of my staples every year.

What I just recently found out is that, not only has my mom made them almost every year for Christmas, her mom (Grandma) made them every year when my mom was little and that my great-grandma (Mama) also made them, which is where Grandma got the recipe. What a fabulous recipe to be handing down to the daughters of our family!

The ingredients:
1 C. butter (soft); 1/2 C. confectioner's sugar (plus more for rolling); 2 1/4 C. flour; 1 tsp. vanilla; 1/4 tsp. salt; 3/4 C. pecans, chopped. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Start by mixing the powdered sugar and the butter...
till it looks like this:
Add the flour, vanilla, salt and pecans.
Mix. Now, take this dough (which will be very dry and crumbly) and chill it for an hour or two.
Once it's chilled, take the dough (which will still be dry and crumbly, now just cold as well) and squish them in your hand till you have a dough like texture and roll them into one inch balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Once the cookies have cooked and are still warm, take them and roll them into the powdered sugar.
Like so.
Place on wax paper and allow them to cool.
Once they're cool, roll them again in powdered sugar. See, I re-rolled the one on the right and it's much more snowball-esque.These are a bit more time consuming to roll than some of my other cookie recipes, but they are one of my favorite cookies.
Warning: these cookies are messy! Don't eat them on a first date. Or when you're wearing all black. Unless you care nothing of messes all over your face and clothing, then by all means, scarf them down happily!


Thursday, December 16, 2010


One of Evan's favorite cookies is snickerdoodles. It's one of Elisabeth's favorites too. I always make them at Christmas time and once or twice throughout the year. They are super easy to make and soooo yummy (especially straight out of the oven!).

The ingredients:
1 C. shortening; 1 1/2 C. sugar; 1 tsp. baking soda; 1/2 tsp. salt; 2 tsp. cinnamon; 2 eggs; 2 3/4 C. flour; 2 tsp. cream of tartar; 1 tsp. sugar. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix thoroughly the shortening, sugar and eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients and mix until blended.

Take the dough and cool it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Once it's chilled, take the cinnamon and the 1 tsp. of sugar and mix it together in a small bowl.
Take the dough and make small walnut size balls out of it. Or bouncy ball sized, since I actually can't imagine how large a walnut is; I can imagine the size of bouncy balls because they are thrown about my entire house.

Take the balls and roll them in the cinnamon mixture. (I just love those dimpled little hands.)Snickerdoodles spread, so give them room to grow on the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
The finished product!
I love love love cinnamon, so I always enjoy these cookies. And, they're a great cookie to make if you need your time broken up since you have to wait for them to chill anyway. If you're feeling festive, you can always use the colored sugars to mix with the cinnamon to give the cookies a holiday look.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Ham & Noodle Casserole

I have only recently begun liking ham.

I distinctly remember hating it as a child. It was always served on Thanksgiving and Christmas and I didn't like the smell, the look, the taste. If ham was the only meat served at one of the holiday meals, I ate only sides. And desserts.

As the years have gone by, I went from hating to ham to only disliking it to tolerating it. This year, however, I believe I have moved on to liking it.

It's okay to be proud of me; I am.

One of the couples who came to celebrate Thanksgiving with us brought a full ham. They very kindly left us with a bajillion pounds of it in our refrigerator. You can only eat so many ham sandwiches before you start hunting around for a recipe to help you get rid of it faster. I found this recipe and after making it, knew I needed to share it with you all. Some of you may be having ham dinners in the next couple of weeks and you need to have a back up recipe for leftovers!!!

The ingredients:
2 Tbsp. butter; 1/4 C. chopped onions; 1/2 C. chopped green onions; 1 can mushroom soup, undiluted; 1 C. sour cream; 1 (8 or 10 oz.) package of noodles, cooked and drained; 2 C. shredded Swiss cheese; 4 C. cooked ham, cut up. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I need you to stop right here and pay close attention. This is the soup you need:
No matter how hard your hand tries to auto-pilot you to the cream of mushroom soup, it is not the soup you seek. GOLDEN MUSHROOM SOUP. Say it ten times before walking down the soup aisle. Don't let your mind try to play tricks on you!!!

Start by melting the butter in a medium pot and saute the onions...
and the green peppers.

Once the veggies are sauteed, remove from heat. Add the GOLDEN MUSHROOM SOUP...
and the sour cream.
Cut up all that leftover ham you have learned to like.
You are ready to layer.
First start with a layer of noodles (1/3 of your total noodles).
Add 1/3 of the cheese. (I hunted the entire cheese aisle for shredded swiss and did not find it. The slices worked just as well for me.)
Add 1/3 of the ham.
Add half of the soup mixture.
Repeat the layers. The last third of the ham is the last layer.
Bake for 45 minutes until it looks like this:
People, I need to tell you how yummy this meal was--it was yummy!!!!
We all liked it; even Evan who is leery of all things with "casserole" in the title. It's totally the soup mixture and the swiss cheese that really give this casserole dimension. Please do not substitute the cheese because I think it would totally change the whole song and dance of the dish and would ruin it. We felt it needed salt and pepper and I will add them next time. It was great warmed up as left overs as well. I will definitely be using this recipe in the future for all left over ham emergencies.


This Week's Menu

Monday: Meatloaf
Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday: Chicken & Barley Soup

Wednesday: Beef Fajitas
Spanish Rice

Thursday: Hot Chicken Salad

Friday: Crock-Pot Italian Beef
Broccoli Salad

Saturday: Hot dogs & Brats
Baked Beans
Corn Salad

Friday, December 3, 2010

Corn Muffins

I know that I just posted a cornbread recipe, but that was for Skillet Cornbread and it was a very non-sweet cornbread. Delicious? Yes. Sweet? No.

So, I thought I'd share a recipe for a sweeter cornbread for those of you out there who need a bit of sugar with your bread of corn.

The ingredients:
1 1/4 C. cornmeal; 1 C. all-purpose flour; 1/3 C. packed brown sugar; 1/3 C. white sugar; 1 tsp. baking soda; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1 egg; 1 C. buttermilk; 3/4 C. vegetable oil. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal,
brown sugar,
white sugar,
baking soda,
and salt.
In a small bowl, beat the egg, buttermilk and oil.
Good job!
Blend into the dry ingredients until moistened.
Use your spatula to make sure none of the dry ingredients are hanging out at the bottom of the bowl still dry. I hate it when dry ingredients are stubborn and refuse to be blended.
Fill your muffin cups 3/4 full.
This is 3/4 full to me. You want them this full so they have a fabulous muffin top when they are done. (The only time when you will ever be excited by having muffin tops...)
Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Here they are!!!!
They were sweet and yummy and we ate them with chili. Elisabeth thought they were the same as the skillet cornbread and didn't really want one, but when she tried it, she ate two.
And Evan? Well, he still likes the skillet cornbread more, but he found these corn muffins worthy of his chili.