Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dinner for 1

Going through my current "lifestyle change" has left me with the quandary of what to nourish my system with... Typically, this time of year I make at least one pot of soup a week and eat off that for a while... My housing situation has changed and I am not as free to make those decisions as I once was (and hope to be again in the not-too-distant future). I have been left with making GF pasta (which gets old really fast) or purchasing frozen dinners. Now, don't get me wrong, frozen dinners have come a long way from the cardboard crap of the past... With steam bags and trays, frozen dinners seem a mighty good (and healthy) option... However, with my dietary restrictions, I can only eat about 1/5 of the offerings, and of those 1/5, I usually only buy 1/4 based on my own tastes... You can see where things get challenging and I end up just going to McD's and getting a plain bacon cheeseburger...

Case in point - I purchased a potsticker entree for my lunch one day... It had red peppers in the "veggie mix" but I was willing to overlook that addition and just pick them out... I also neglected to read the KIND of potsticker that was listed on the front... Getting a tofu one instead of chicken or pork is kind of a let down... Since I was the stupid one who didn't read the package all the way, I made myself eat it... or at least I tried to eat it... The potstickers tasted like sweet and sour feet and the "veggie mix" was entirely made up of red peppers... Yuck!

I had an epiphany! I can purchase potstickers that I like, add some frozen brown rice, and the veggie mix of my choice and make my OWN frozen entree! So I got a small bag of chicken potstickers (a little bit healthier than the pork variety, but still tasty) and some already-frozen brown rice. I added about 1/2 cup of the brown rice to the bottom of a plastic container and added 3 potstickers on top (the # 3 came from the amount in the original "tofu" packaging). Then I topped off the container with broccoli. **IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL THE INGREDIENTS STAY FROZEN... MAKE THESE, THEN EITHER MICROWAVE IMMEDIATELY OR PUT THEM BACK IN THE FREEZER**
Still frozen, with a bit of sauce added....

Now, I know that this is NOT a GF dish - the potstickers are made with flour... But since I'm allowing myself to eat the potstickers, I prefer to keep it "gluten-lite" and use teriyaki sauce made with tamari rather than soy... It's a personal preference. If you have a better "sauce" then by all means use it... Pour some over the potstickers (to add a bit of moisture to the skins while they cook) and a bit over the broccoli... Then put the lid on and stick it in the freezer for future use... Don't go overboard or your rice will be overloaded with teriyaki sauce and it probably won't be as good. BTW - Yoshida's sauce would probably be awesome on these!

Cooked, and ready to eat!
When you are ready to eat it, just open up one of the corners of the container to allow it to vent and microwave for around 5-6 minutes... This is very easy to put together and keeps well in the freezer. Great for a night when you are by yourself and don't have the time or inclination to cook a meal... And this way, you know pretty much what went in to it (other than the potstickers, of course) because you picked all the ingredients yourself. Season however you want... I typically add just a bit of black pepper...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Entertain Me

These olives are really good and easy to find. The yogurt was delicious too. Try the strawberry. Found at your local Kroger or Fred Meyer family of stores. Next time you're late for a family function or party, grab some of the private selection and be entertained.

Thanks BzzAgent for introducing me! 

Chicken's Done!

Want a quick easy alternative to marinating your own chicken? Try Purdue Oven Ready Roasters. :-)

BzzAgent sent me some promo materials. Thought I would share.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Raid the Fridge Bruchetta

I can't remember if I've spilled the beans here yet or not but I'm about 18 weeks pregnant at this point. (Translation - a little over 4 months along) Although I'm not experiencing the "normal" pregnancy symptoms all the books seem to talk about (frankly I feel like I'm totally allergic to pregnancy), I am starting to get a bit more of an appetite. I was hungry this afternoon and my cravings seem to center around things with HUGE flavor and that stay rather healthy.  I think I got lucky on that one. Hopefully the little one feels the same way. Either way, I did some fridge diving and came up with an old favorite I haven't made in quite awhile. It's quick, easy, and requires very little cleanup. These are all big plus signs for me so I'm going to share in case you feel the same. :-) 

Easy Bruchetta

-  Nice thick Italian or French Bread, sliced on the diagonal - my slices ended up being    about 4 inches across - average 2 pieces per person
-  1 clove fresh garlic, smashed and diced
-  1/4 cup finely diced onion
-  8-10 fresh basil leaves (estimate, it's ok), julianned
-  2 nice tomatoes, diced small (this will make about 5-6 slices)
-  2 slices of Capicola ham per serving - you can probably substitute any cured meat here, we just like capicola
-  a good quality balsamic vinegar
-  a good quality extra virgin olive oil (I noticed the irony too)
-  a pinch or two of salt
-  fresh grated Parmesan (again, optional but fantastic!)

Mix together the tomato, basil, onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. 

Lay the bread out on a cookie sheet or your toaster oven pan. I like the toaster oven because it's a little easier to control and way quicker. 

Spoon the tomato mixture onto the bread evenly across all slices. 

Chop up the Capicola and sprinkle on top of tomato mixture. 

Drizzle each slice with balsamic and olive oil in about equal amounts. 

Place under broiler (or on broil in toaster oven) for 5-6 minutes. Keep an eye on it and when the exposed bread turns a little golden it's ready. The Capicola will also start to bubble and get crisp. It's like bacon but better! 

Take out and using a spatula transfer to a plate. Grate some Parmesan on top and add just a pinch more salt to finish. Salt is optional but I think it's rather tasty with it combined with the tomato. 

My Description of one serving

How much I actually ate, and savored every bite!

You get your essential oils in the garlic and olive oil, some spice with the basil and balsamic,  vitamins in the tomato, and well other than that it's just good! It's a great lunch or dinner. It's also really good paired with some mixed greens with a little of the balsamic and oil drizzled on top. Add a dash of oregano and it become spectacular. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions...

Family lore states that this recipe was concocted by my grandmother (Charlotte, of peanut butter fudge fame) and her mother... in a time when people didn't waste a thing...

While making pies for a holiday feast, they ended up with extra pumpkin pie filling and extra apple pie filling... Not enough to make individual pies themselves, but too much to waste... So, in a moment of GENIUS they layered the apples and pumpkin and created the "PUMPLE PIE"... It just isn't the holiday's in our house without one...

Last year, I made a really AWESOME version and posted it on my "original" blog... I could not find any sugar pumpkins in the store this year, so I wasn't able to make it "from scratch" but I still wanted one... So I made an acceptable version...

The players: Libby's Pumpkin Pie Filling (which I don't usually like to use, but I was in a hurry at the store and couldn't find the "real" pumpkin stuff so I made do with this), Pre-made Pie Crust (I usually like Marie Callender's but, again, I was in a hurry and it looked like they were out), Egg-Beaters (I've noticed that when I use pasteurized eggs in the carton, I don't get the allergic reaction that I get when I use whole eggs), Evaporated Milk, Butter, Pumpkin Pie Spice (I prefer this to cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, but you can use whatever spices in whatever quantities you want), Brown Sugar, 4 Apples (Braeburn and/or Fuji - I like mixing my apples for the best combo of flavor). I got the big can of pumpkin that makes one 9" Deep Dish pie... when making Pumple Pies, this particular recipe makes two pies.
First, peel, core, and shop the apples into bite-size pieces.

Next, melt some butter in a pot...

... and add the apples. Saute for about four minutes.

Then, add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of brown sugar and about 1/4 to 1/3 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice and a dash of salt.

Mix well and continue to cook until the apples are tender and the sauce starts to thicken.

Remove from the heat and let cool (I find this works best in a 9x13 glass cake pan, but use whatever you have)

While the apples are cooling, thaw the pie crust and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet (you'll be very sorry if you skip this step). Use a fork to dock the bottom of the pie crust (ie: poke a bunch of holes in it)

Next, add the pumpkin, eggs, and milk to a bowl (using the recipe on the can of pumpkin)

Mix thoroughly to combine.

When ready to assemble the pies, get all of the ingredients together and preheat the oven according to the directions on the can of pumpkin.

Add a layer of apple to the pie crust. You can spoon in a bit of the cooking liquid from the apples.

Ladle the pumpkin on top of the apples... The dark ring you see around the top of the crust is because I added too much apple cooking liquid before adding the pumpkin...
 Put in the oven and bake according to the directions on the can of pumpkin...

Just out of the oven... Now you see why the foil-lined pan is necessary... no one wants to clean their oven ON the holidays...

Let cool ... as you can see, the pumpkin slumped a bit... I did not precook the apples long enough for them NOT to shrink in the pie... Additional apple liquid bubbled up through the pumpkin... But that's only because I added too much to the apples upon assembly...
The finished product! You can see how the layers form...
If you don't want to try to make one of these yourself, just come on over to my house on Thanksgiving or Christmas... I will always have one (or two) around...

Of course, as always, if you have a favorite pumpkin pie filling recipe, apple pie filling recipe, pie crust recipe, etc, please feel free to use your favorites... This tutorial is more a "concept" than a strict recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, and Spinach

Jessie has some quinoa in her panty and doesn't know what to do with it... So I decided to research a few quinoa recipes for her. I found one that interested me enough to try for dinner tonight. You can find the original recipe here, but I decided to modify it a bit. Mainly, I adjusted the roasted garlic part... Jessie told me to roast the garlic at 375 degrees for 25 minutes... Next time I should probably go for 30-35 minutes, but I'll play with that part of the recipe later...
Most of the ingredients... The garlic was in the oven and the quinoa was rinsed by the time I took this picture...

I rinsed the quinoa, also as per directions (it keeps it from getting bitter). Note: either use a SUPER-FINE mesh strainer or use a bowl and your hand to drain the quinoa... the mesh strainer I used had holes bigger than the grain, so a bit went down the sink...
Rinsed quinoa....

As the garlic was finishing, I sauteed the shallots and crushed red pepper. I didn't measure the shallots out, I just used the smaller part of the bulb.... I also didn't measure the crushed red pepper, just eyeballed it... Added the quinoa, as per the directions and then splashed it with some white wine (probably more than the recipe called for but, meh....)
Quinoa, shallot, & red pepper flake mix... after wine...
After the addition of the chicken broth....
Of course, when cooking with wine, it is customary to pour yourself a glass, or two (or three, I won't judge)...
Wine... yummy... I had to have an extra glass since Jessie cannot (preggers)

While the quinoa was cooking as per directions, I took the garlic out of the oven and let it sit for a bit....

Roasted Garlic

Another departure from the recipe - it calls for a chopped, seeded, small tomato... I chose to use grape tomatoes cut in half and NOT seeded... but that was purely my choice...
Halved Grape Tomatoes

When the quinoa was cooked, I added the tomatoes, spinach, and parmesan cheese and mixed it all together...
Mix it all together...

Note: you should probably taste the combination after you add the parmesan and before you add extra salt... I used "full-strength" chicken broth (and not the reduced sodium type) for the recipe... The parmesan is a bit salty on its own and the addition of salt after the parmesan was added was a bit too much for me... Still edible (and tasty), but not as amazing as it could have been...

If you are making this for a side, it makes 4 servings... If you are making it as a main dish (as I was), it makes two...

I will definitely make this recipe again, as it is light enough for the times when I don't want to eat a heavy dinner, and it has a lot of nutritional value... Apparently, quinoa is high in protein, so it is good for "meatless" nights... It is also awesome for any garlic lover... It is awesomely garlicky!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fabulous 15 Minute French Onion Soup

Pregnancy. It comes with lots of stuff but for me its filled with nausea, food aversion, and weird cravings. Oh yeah, and insomnia. That's where this recipe came in.

We cancelled cable awhile back. We weren't watching it and quite frankly most times I don't miss it. We Netflix now. :) That being said, when you're awake at 2 am there is VERY little on in rural Mississippi. We have religious programming, infomercials, bad newscasts, and PBS Create network. That last one is a savior for me. They are like HGTV without the vapid ugly decorating whores. Mostly though, at night, they rerun the fantastic episodes of French Cooking with Jaques and Julia. This is perhaps my favorite show of all time.

The episode on was for many things like delicious Choux pastry from which cream puffs and wonderful turnovers and danishes were made (that to come later). They also made a wonderfully simple onion soup. So I have had this craving for 2 days now. It's easy, takes like no time at all and tastes wonderfu1!

Fabulous 15 Minute French Onion Soup (for one)

1/2 large onion, large diced
1 can or 1/2 carton good beef stock, I go with Swanson or Kitchen Basics
3 healthy slices of a good french or Italian bread, we had some for making deli sandwiches in the house (note: don't use loaf bread here, go splurge the $1-$3 at your local bakery for good bread. It's totally worth it)
 1 1/2 cups Cheese, it calls for Gruyere but I didn't have that so I mixed a nice salty goat cheese and parmigiano
salt and pepper to taste (liberal)
1-2 tbsp butter

Depending on the size of your pot, put in enough butter to cover the bottom thinly when heated. Turn heat to high and add in the onion.  Sprinkle on a decent amount of salt. Crush some peppercorns and add. Saute until the onions are translucent.

Add in the beef stock and bring up to a nice rolling boil. Reduce to medium heat and add in half the cheese. Stir constantly until melted. it only takes a minute or two. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Remove from heat.

I used my toaster oven to toast the slices of bread. Break them up and put them in the bottom of a nice bowl or crock. Add the onion soup over the bread. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top. Put the whole bowl in the toaster oven on broil until the cheese bubbles.

Wait a few minutes, hot cheese burns your mouth. It's quite delicious!

I never knew it was quite that easy but it makes a nice easy meal for one or two! (Jeff goes sin cebolla)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Pie? Why yes please!

My friend Kadee sent me this recipe. I, of course, tweeked it to make it super delicious. And come on, who doesn't want to drink pie! 

Makes a wonderful easy treat while watching for trick-or-treaters. 

1 cup pumpkin puree (I used what we had left from last years Halloween pumpkins I had painted)
1 very ripe medium-sized banana, you can use the frozen ones you forgot about in the freezer

cup fat-free vanilla yogurt, my favorite is a greek style
2 tbsp honey (We were out of honey and the honey dude hasn't called me back so I used Karo Syrup)
1 cup milk or cream, you could use any sort of liquid that suits you, I just went off of the standard pie recipe

a splash of Mocha or Chocolate flavored coffee creamer, totally optional but why not?! 

3/4 tsp Penzey's Baking Spice
a splash of vanilla extract
a handful of crushed ice


Whipped Cream


Throw everything in a blender. Make sure you remember the lid. Throw that puppy on high speed and let her rip! 

Pour into a lovely glass, preferably with a straw. A scoop or squirt of whipped cream on top and your favorite tiny candy crumbles on top. Perfectly festive! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Redemption Spelt Berry Apple Pear Salad

This isn't an original but it's my tweeked version of a recipe found here:

It's so delicious and reminds me of good times in Florida. It was a regular purchase from Native Sun when I lived there and I missed it so bad I went searching for the recipe. 

Apple, Pear, Spelt Berry Salad

1 cup cooked spelt berries
1 pear, large diced (any variety, I liked the green ones)
1 apple, large diced (any variety, I LOVE granny smith but used Gala because it was handy)
about 1/4 cup celery, sliced thin
1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked in about 1/8 cup water to reconstitute a little
1/3-1/2 cup greek yogurt, plain or vanilla work
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
2.5 tbsp honey, sugar, or karo syrup (I used karo because I didn't have any honey left, but honey tastes better)
1/2 tsp Penzey's Baking Spice (or something similar

Cook the spelt berries. Boil 1.5 cups water and add  in 1/2 cup dry spelt berries. Cover and let simmer for about 40 minutes. Turn off heat, leave covered, let cool. 

Mix the wet ingredients together until kind of soupy. 

Toss together dry ingredients until mixed well, including spelt berries. 

Combine everything into a nice serving dish or storage container. 

Keeps in the fridge for about 5 days pretty well. After that it gets a little soggy. 

You can substitute something like a kamut berry or even some almonds, cashews, or walnuts if you can't find spelt. I just ordered mine from It's a great site and clicking through here should get you a free $10 credit! 

It's a perfect breakfast, meal, or snack. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

This is what happens when I don't cook... crappy food and a worse experience!

Today my husband and I decided to try the local Pizza Hut in Starkville MS. As we entered the restaurant we immediately noticed that the decor appeared quite rundown and in a state of disrepair. The tile in the entrance was cracked, loose, and uneven so bad I tripped. The bathrooms were that of a 3rd world country with cracked bowls, no soap, and not even attached toilets! We should have turned around and left but my husband suggested we stay since the buffet appeared to be in better shape. It's pizza right? What can go wrong? After we were rudely seated by a woman who didn't bother to greet us at all but showed her horrible manners and "threw" the silverware on the table before turning around and walking away. We later learned, she was our waitress, or what should have been. She didn't do anything but throw a check on the table. The seats were badly torn to where they pulled at our clothes, my husband felt something poking him, turns out it was an electrical outlet hanging out of the wall with loose wires hanging from it! 

During our meal we were seated by a pair of women with small children. They were so disinterested in attending to the needs of the children they both screamed and yelled for nearly 30 minutes. This included the women yelling across the restaurant to employees who carried on a conversation. Apparently they thought they were at some sort of family reunion or something. Several other patrons exchanged glances of dismay but continued their meal as quickly as possible to leave. When I stood up to ask them to quiet the child down a bit so we could enjoy our meal, the two women became irate and started to defend their actions stating "children can't be trained". Maybe not theirs, of course they couldn't be trained either... Several employees (that had been yelling across the restaurant, came running over and out from the kitchen, all appearing to be friends. As the scene developed one employee wearing large hoop earrings and a red polo shirt actually physically bumped me with body language leaving no doubt she was wanting a physical altercation to ensue. At this point she started screaming and asking us to leave so I lost it and threw my bill at her (no I did not hit her, it's a piece of paper smaller than an iPhone). This resulted at her lunging at me and about knocking a table over screaming obscenities. 

An off duty police officer intervened and escorted me out of the building as the crowd was ready to draw blood while my husband paid the bill. All of this because someone asked a parent to be a parent. Several other patrons confronted me in the parking lot and said they were about to do the same thing (yeah, right) but didn't. 

Now we've traveled all over the world and been treated like crap by a lot of folks. Most of the time I can take it. This shot me over the edge. I will NEVER patronize another YUM! Brand foods family of stores again! I encourage you to do the same... 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chicken Corn Soup

I promise, if you make this, you will LOVE it! 

1 whole chicken
4-5 stems of celery, diced
5-6 carrots, diced
1 whole medium onion, diced
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups corn (can be frozen or fresh, don't use canned)
3 medium potatoes, diced
3 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp olive or grape seed oil

Put a rinsed whole chicken in a stock pot, cover with water, boil until falling apart. Remove from heat and let cool. If you do this the night before and put the whole pot in the freezer you get a nice layer of chicken fat on the top of the stock. I use this in place of oil in the next few steps. If you don't have time, no worries, use the oil. 

In another large stock pot add the 1-2 tbsp of oil to the pot and put on a medium high heat. Add in the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Saute until soft. It's ok if the bottom of the pot starts to caramelize a little. That means its' building good flavor. Spread everything to the sides and add in the potatoes to the center. You may have to add a touch more oil to combat the startchy-ness. Salt and pepper liberally to build the flavors. I use somewhere around 1 tbsp of each. 

When you get everything soft, add in the stock from the whole chicken pot. Pull the chicken out and remove bones. Cut or pull into small pieces. Add the chicken to the pot.

Add in the corn and the three raw eggs. After about 10 minutes, scoop the eggs out and let them cool a touch in a bowl. Peel and dice then add back to soup. 

Let everything get happy for another 10 minutes or so and serve. This is one of my favorite recipes from being a kid during harvest season. Plus it's how my husband and I spent our first date! He was sick, I made him this. 5 years later we're married and expecting our first baby! :-)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cool Weather Grub!

Fall is DEFINITELY in the air here in Juneau. It was 36 degrees this morning when I took the hubby to work... You know what that means? I can FINALLY cook soups & stews for dinner! Yay! I am trying to convert my husband over to my way of thinking when it comes to the awesomeness that is a pot of delicious soup... He maintains that "soup is not dinner" but I can usually get him to eat stew or chili with few complaints.

Earlier today, I had a craving for lentil soup. To satisfy my craving, I went to the store to get ingredients while I had a bit of time between when I got off work and when Aaron got off work. While wandering the store, I saw a bag of baby yukon gold potatoes... and changed my mind (I just couldn't convince myself that I could successfully add potatoes to lentil soup). So I could use the potatoes that I immediately craved upon sight, and so I could get Aaron to eat it, I decided to make chicken stew.

Another good thing about soup weather? You don't really need a recipe... Just a good understanding of what tastes good together...

Heat some olive oil in a dutch oven (love my Lodge Enameled Cast Iron one). Cut one chicken breast into cubes, season with salt & pepper, and brown in the oil. When browned, remove the chicken and set aside. Add a bit more oil and then add one red onion, two stalks of celery, and two carrots (all chopped) and cook until the veggies start to soften. Add the baby yukon gold potatoes (roughly quartered, but it depends on the size of the potatoes... just make sure they are about the same size, but not too small, or they'll be mushy) and the chicken. Season with more salt, pepper, and about 1 tsp. of an herb blend (I used herbs de provence, but you can use whatever you like). Then, add 1 quart of chicken broth and let it simmer with the lid on over medium heat. Cook until the potatoes are soft. Mix in some cornstarch (mix it with liquid first, or you'll be sorry.... I used some white wine I had lying around). Thicken it to the desired consistency (Aaron likes it thick, so I used about 2-3 tbsp of cornstarch, but 1-2 would probably be fine). Taste for any additional seasoning it may need. Fresh herbs might be nice (but I didn't have any luck with my kitchen herb garden, so I didn't).

Feel free to add anything else you want to it... soup isn't rocket science and it isn't exactly precise... I RARELY measure anything for my soups. And it is pretty rare for me to have a crappy batch of soup.

I didn't get any pictures of the awesomeness, so you'll just have to take my word that it looked and tasted great. Definitely hit the spot for some comfort food. An added bonus? When I plugged the ingredients in to calculate the calorie count of the dish, it works out to a little over 200 calories per serving. We each had 1 bowl and I separated the rest of the pot into two plastic containers. I figure it is about 6 servings a pot, at these quantities. Sometimes I go a little overboard with soup production, but I successfully reigned it in for this one :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Do you love free stuff? Me too!

Obviously I love trying new things. Food mostly but other stuff too! 

This site is pretty awesome. They fully vet every ad to make sure it's real and it's quick and easy. No signing up to 15,000 things and giving out your blood type and first born. Just a site, with links, to cool stuff! 

So check it out ok? Say I sent you!

I do daily and LOVE my mailbox now!! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shameless Plug for Food

 I have coupons from BzzAgent Around somewhere I can share!

When you're done stinking up the place....

We give you guys so many delicious recipes on here. Unfortuantly not all leave your house smelling quite so tasty the next day.

Perfect Solution? New Glade Expressions!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Grandma's Peanut Butter Fudge (Fo' Real, yo!)

So, today I had a major craving for peanut butter fudge... It could be because I'm homesick, or overworked, or missing my grandma... Or it could just be that I've had a craving for it ever since I sent Jessie the text with the "directions" in it... Either way, I needed a break from my school work today and decided to whip some up...

BTW, Jessie, for someone who doesn't like to do excess dishes, you sure made it complicated! Made properly, it is a one pot-one plate experience, with a few additional tools necessary for making the candy.

Directions will be given by picture, so pay attention :) No measurements were taken. This very much depends on proportions and current weather (humidity), etc...

Add sugar and cocoa powder to the pot and whisk to combine.

The sugar-cocoa mixture should look like this (I had to add more sugar to get to this stage)

Add just enough milk to moisten the sugar. I started with about a 1/4 c. and ended up using about a 1/3 c. (just eye-balling it)

Turn the heat to med-low and switch to a wooden spoon... As Jessie said - "Just keep stirring..."

Just starting to bubble a bit...

Getting nice and bubbly...

Really cooking now!
 It was at this stage that I tested the "done-ness" of the candy. I don't have a candy thermometer, so I tested it with cold water. (I didn't get a picture of this because it moves pretty fast). Pour some really cold water in a glass dish (mom used a small drinking glass, I use glass prep bowls). Drizzle some of the candy into the cold water. Stick your fingers in and manipulate the candy ball. It should form a nice ball, but still be pliable (soft-ball stage). If you cook it past this point, the fudge will be too tough to eat... Mine was in the perfect soft-ball stage, so I removed the pot from the heat. This is when you add the vanilla (it maximizes the vanilla flavor).

I also added a couple of heaping tablespoons of peanut butter to the pot and beat it with the wooden spoon to thoroughly incorporate the peanut butter (you can use smooth or chunky, your choice)... WARNING: It sets up REALLY fast so you better be prepared to dump it onto the greased plate as soon as it comes together... otherwise it will start cooling in the pot and it will take forever to get it out again...

Aaron took a picture while I was stirring... I know, not a very good one...

After it's been mixed... It should be the consistency of thick frosting...

Glob it onto a (greased) plate and press flat... Cut into squares while still warm to prevent breaking...
Let it cool and eat your fill!

My mom used to make this anytime one of us kids got sick. We'd take the (nasty) medicine she'd give us and then follow it up with a piece of peanut butter fudge... It made getting sick not so bad!

My grandmother is no longer alive, but anytime I visit my Auntie, she makes me peanut butter fudge. I'm usually not a great candy maker and the last few efforts of making peanut butter fudge were disastrous! My sugar constantly crystallized... it made for very gritty peanut butter fudge. But, it must be sufficiently humid out today because I had no problems with this batch... Yummy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Grandma Charlotte's Fudge

Chocolate. Is there any word in the English Language (apart from beer, which incidentally goes fantastic with Chocolate) that cultivates such heartfelt love? I'm happily married to a wonderful guy I love, but I gotta tell you chocolate stirs a passionate feeling so deep it might just trump my nuptials. 

That being said, yesterday I was craving chocolate and was sorely lacking in supply. Of course my first contact was to Jen to help me out. She pulled through. Sort of... See her solution was to whip up some Grandma Charlotte (her's, not mine) Fudge. Now I'm not exactly a fudge making pro. Just to make it a big more interesting, she sends me the directions via a series of Text Messages! 

Here's what I got: 


Helpful right? 

So here's the translated ingredient list: 

1 1/4 cup sugar
2 3/4 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract (this was my addition because I LOVE it)
1/4 plus 1 tbsp milk 
1 cup peanut butter

The Cast
These ingredients probably need tweeked a little. The taste is amazing but it's a little crumbly to work with and Jeff likes gooey fudge. 
Here goes nothin'!

My favorite cook wear is All Clad. I love it. Can't explain it, just do. 

Sift the sugar and cocoa together into about a 6 inch pot. You can use smaller if you like but the more room it has to spread out (without being too thin) the better it will kind of carmelize. Add milk and stir well.  

Cold, Wet, and Sweet - There's got to be a joke there.
Add vanilla. 
I call this "Honeymoon Vanilla".
We bought it at a market somewhere in Mexico.
 Turn the heat on to a medium low. Let the mixture kind of warm up and start to get glossy. Keep on stirring. Think Nemo... 

Concoction Starting to Glaze
At this point, risk of burning is pretty low. So while it heats I recommend finding a dish and lining it with plastic wrap. I know, I know. Deviation from Grandma. But I hate dishes.  Grandma would still be proud. 

Wrap it Up.... 
 Here is about half way done. You can see some of the grainy-ness of the sugar on the spatula. Keep on stirring... 

At about 3/4 of the way through you'll be able to swipe the pan and the mix will hold consistency for a few seconds. 

 Tilt the pot. If it still looks grainy and lump, keep on stirring. I played with my heat a bit here. Up a little to get the sugar to melt more. Not too high though, it's easy to burn. Burning sugar tastes like dirt... Well, sort of. First it tastes like caramel, then like dirt really quickly. Someone should talk to sugar... 

Grainy like a 90's camera phone.  
When it really starts to come together (this is about 8 minutes in) you'll get a little separation of cocoa and milk fat from the carmely sugary sauce. Keep stirring. I stopped for a second to show this but ideally you keep it all combined. 

I see swirls. 
 You're shooting for around 200 - 225* F. Keeping it there on a medium heat melts the sugar crystals without burning anything. I found this awesome candy thermometer at an estate sale for $1. If you don't have one, no worries. 

Between 200 and 225 it gets this nice black glossy look. You can read your fortune, or maybe just keep stirring and make fudge. Your call. 

Shiny! Squirrel! 
I turned off the heat and removed the pot from the burner just to cool a touch. It was really just because I needed 2 hands to prep my KitchenAid Mixer and Mom didn't have quite enough radiation to produce that third arm. 

Glass bowl, whisk attachment. 
I would show here putting in the peanut butter but again, no third arm. So here are a series of shots of the mixer combining everything. Put in the peanut butter first, start the mixer, than pour in the sugar/cocoa mix. 

PB in the center, whipping out. 

Whip it, whip it good now. 

It fully incorporates and looks like Oreo Crumbs. At least mine did.

Me Want Cookie!

 Dump contents of mixer bowl into the lined dish. 

Fold over plastic wrap. 

I used a smaller bread pan to smash everything down tight and into the lined pan. You could use fingers if you want. This was quick and easy. 

Flipped the now-fudge out onto the marble counters, keep the plastic wrap on. 

Practice Safe Rolling. Prevent dirty counters. 
 Using a rolling pin, I smashed it out a little thinner. 

Purely Illustration. 

About as thick as a pen. 
 Get ready for my favorite part! I brewed up a cup of Brooklyn coffee and enjoy! 

Three of my favorite things! 

So here's to you Grandma Charlotte. And a big thank you to Jen for making my morning a little better!