Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Candy (Doc) Man Can

Do y'all know that song?  The Candyman Can?  It's from Willie Wonka.  :-)  The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

We had to make two different kinds of candy, one of which had to involved tempered chocolate.  Sooo, off I went in search of candy recipes.

I found one here for homemade butterfingers.  Um, yes please!  I'm not so sure if the butterfinger part actually came out like it was supposed to.  It tasted good but the texture was...hard.  Interestingly enough, they were easier to bite straight out of the refrigerator.  Once they warmed up some, not only did the chocolate start melting, but it was nearly impossible to bite.  I'm not sure of the mechanism of that...but it happened!  That just meant that I couldn't take it to share with anyone else...too bad.  Ha!  I chose to use the tempering method of melting the chocolate and then cooling it with unmelted chocolate.  It was fairly simple...except that my candy thermometer didn't measure low enough, so I had to guess as to when the chocolate was at the correct temperature.  I think it still worked well! 

My next candy was the Southern classic...divinity!  My dad suggested this one when I visited them, and I decided it would be fun to try.  Of course, Mississippi in the summer is almost always humid, and divinity is a very stubborn candy!  Thankfully, it decided to work the day I decided to make it.  The recipe I used came from Southern Sideboards.  As much as I've heard about divinity, this actually was fairly simple.  The one thing that wasn't clear was how long to whip the completed mixture at the end.

  The recipe said until the glossy mixture becomes dull...hmmm.  So, I checked with some recipes online and found one that said the most common mistake is not whipping long enough.  It suggested 10-15 I did about 15.  By that time the mixture was definitely "dull."  Oh goodness!!!  Divinity...ssoooooo good!  I took them to my clinic this past Thursday, and when I walked it one of the nurses said "Oh!  I was just saying I wanted something sweet!  These are just perfect." I felt like it was pretty sweet, but everyone who tried them said that they were great and NOT too sweet.  YAY!  Thanks for the challenge this month.  It was a fun one!

Butterfinger Candy adapted from Not Without Salt
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup light corn syrup
½ cup water

Butter an 8-inch square pan then set aside. In a small, microwave-safe bowl combine the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Set that aside.

In a very clean medium saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Using clean hands combine those ingredients and remove any grains of sugar left on the sides of the pan with your fingers and a bit more water. On medium-high heat cook the sugar until it reaches 290*, just under hard crack. While the sugar cooks warm the peanut butter mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds to keep warm. This is important...I forgot to do this and it made the mixture firm up too quickly!

Once the sugar has reached 290* quickly add the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine. The mixture thickens quickly so once combined immediately put the mixture in the buttered pan. Let cool for about 7 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from pan and cut into desired shaped pieces.  After you temper the chocolate, dip the pieces in the chocolate and allow to drip and set up on a cooling rack with waxed paper underneath.  Keep in refrigerator.

To temper chocolate:
Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over boiling water (double boiler) until it reaches 45°C / 113°F.  Remove from heat and add tempered un-melted chocolate and stir until it brings the temperature down to 27°C/80.6°F. Then place the mixture back over heat and bring to its working temperature of 32°C/30°C/29°C /// 89.6°F/86°F/84.2°F depending on the chocolate you’re using (dark/milk/white). Now use it for molding, dipping and coating.

Divinity from Southern Sideboards (recipe halved)
1/2 cup boiling water
 3/8 cup (slightly less than 1/2 cup) light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch salt
1 egg white
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cook water, corn syrup and sugar to 234 F (soft ball stage). Meanwhile, whip egg white until starting to fluff.  Add half of the mixture a tablespoon at a time, beating constantly.  Continue to cook the remaining syrup until it is 270 F (crack stage).  Pour the syrup into egg mixture and continue beating on high.  Beat until "gloss changes to dull." This is about 15 minutes.  Fold in pecans and vanilla.  Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper.  Do this quickly.  This makes about 24 pieces.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Old Days

I had my 10 year high school reunion this weekend.  I know, I know....that is not that long, but it just makes me feel old!  However, after going I've come to realize that ten years REALLY isn't all that long!  Most of us looked pretty much the same as we did in high school (senior awards night)

...and all of the high school "groups" were still in order!  It was almost funny!  We had Friday night in the cafeteria (that was interesting) and seeing all the same groups sitting together at our old cafeteria tables was kind of funny.  Everyone made a comment about it!  After that dinner, we went to the football game.

  For all of you who may be like one of my best friends' husband...there are, indeed, high schools like Friday Night Lights!  My high school is one of is HUGE!!  Unfortunately, our game Friday was pitiful...but we were still jumping up and down at the end of the game when we finally scored to make it 35-7!  Woo Hoo!  Anyway, Saturday night was at the local ag museum...a cool place for a party when the band isn't too loud.  Unfortunately, we couldn't really hear anything other than the band; so, about half of us ended up outside for a while.  Still it was good seeing people.  Just with that more people had been able to come...sure missed Katherine!

These cookies are kind of a flash back for me, too.  My aunt used to make these WONDERFUL cookies when I was growing up.  I thought they were the BEST...and we pulled them out of her monk cookie jar!  Such fun. 

Turns out...they were just cake mix cookies.  I have a typical cake mix cookie recipe that I use, but the Southern Living book has a slightly different version.  These were good, I thought, but I do think that I prefer my typical version.  But who can resist a cake mix cookie?  Not many!  Enjoy!

Cake Mix Cookies from Southern Living Incredible Cookies
1 box cake mix (I used butter pecan...called for chocolate)
1 egg
1/2 container thawed cool whip (oops! I used the whole thing, just saw that it said half!)
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

Combine first three ingredients...will be sticky!  Stir in pecans.  Preheat oven to 350. Shape dough into balls and roll in the powdered sugar.  Place on baking stones.  Bake in preheated over for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven then remove cookies from sheet to cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I am DONE!!!  Done with my nights for this month of ER, that is.  I still have a full month of nights next month, but for now, I'm glad to be back to the real world. I decided that I kind of like working at night but that it makes me miss the rest of life.  I am very isolated to work and my apartment...pretty much nothing else.  THAT I don't like!  So, though I'd be willing to do a night here and there, I think I'll stick to working during the day time for now.  Guess that's one of my preferences to pay attention to when searching for a job after my chief resident year. 

Per usual, in the midst of all that goes on I am still working through the Southern Living Cookie cookbook.  A couple of months ago, I made these raspberry swirl cookies.  Wasn't really expecting a lot, but I totally enjoyed them.  It combines some great flavors...shortbread cookie, raspberry, and walnuts!  They were also surprisingly easy to make.  Just be patient with waiting for the dough to firm.  So good!

Raspberry Swirl Cookies from Southern Living Incredible Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Beat butter until creamy, gradually add sugar and beat well.  Add egg and vanilla and mix well.  Combine flour, baking powder and gradually add to butter mixture.  Wrap dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.  When ready, roll dough into 12 X 9 rectangle.  Combine jam and nuts and spread evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2 inch margin.  Roll dough jelly roll style and pinch edge closed.  Wrap dough and freeze until firm.

Preheat oven to 375.  Unwrap dough and cut into 1/4 inch slices.  Place on cooking stones or sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.  Cool for 1 minute on baking sheet and then remove to cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Help! I'm Stuffed!

Went to see The Help yesterday with a friend.  It was good; made me want to re-read the book.  It was also really neat to see some of the locations that I see daily on the movie screen!  Yep, any of the town scenes that you saw were my neck of the woods; I see those places, albeit changed some to make it more appropriate for the time of the move, daily.  After the movie, we went back to K's house and went swimming. Despite the water being 94 degrees it was still enjoyable.  After that, I decided to come home and make stuffed eggplant.  I must admit, some of my inspiration came from Meghann, but I have always wanted to try this.

OH!  It is SOOO good!  The total recipe probably takes about 40 minutes but hands on time is only about 15 minutes.

I chose to have a completely veggie filling, but you could easily add some ground meat, shredded chicken, shrimp, tofu, tempeh, etc.  You could even add beans (I almost did this) or couscous, tabouleh, bulgher...the possibilities are endless!  Please, just try it!  I don't think you'll regret it!

Stuffed Eggplant
1 eggplant (the big, fat, purple kind)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
1 small zucchini, cut in half moons
1 yellow squash, cut in small squares
1 can diced tomatoes with basil (Italian style)
Italian blend cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut eggplant in half.  Scoop out the center meat of the eggplant.

Chop this and put it in a skillet.  Season the flesh of the eggplant halves (I used garlic and herb Mrs. Dash) and place in oven.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook remaining eggplant meat, onions, pepper, squash, garlic, and zucchini in a skillet until softened.  This took about 12-13 minutes for me.  Season with Cavenders and Mrs. Dash.  A couple of minutes before the eggplant halves come out of the oven, add the diced tomatoes.

Remove eggplant halves from the oven.  Fill with veggie mixture.  This used about half of mine.  Top with cheese.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is browned.  Use remaining filling for whatever repurposed meal you choose!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Gone and Back

Sorry for my absence.  Last week my computer kept freezing...turned out my hard drive was bad.  Then I couldn't find my system discs before I went home.  So I was without my computer and pictures (thankfully, my external drive did back everything up like it said it did) for about a week.  But things seem to be working right now...though I did just notice that there are some pics I don't have because I didn't back up since I put them on the computer.  Hope I have them on my phone! 

This recipe is from a LONG way back!  I remembered from Thanksgivings past that my grandmother make a chocolate pound cake and my cousins seemed to really like it.  I decided that it would be fun to make her cake for dessert this year.  It is a true pound cake with lots of butter and eggs, but it's good.  The chocolate is a very light flavor, but it works well. Everyone enjoyed it but I'm not sure if they realized that it was Granny's pound cake.  Oh, well!  I still enjoyed making's always fun to make things that relatives have made in the past.

Granny's Chocolate Pound Cake
2 sticks butter (oleo!)
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla
5 eggs
3 cups flour
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) cocoa
12 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 325.  Cream together butter, sugar, shortening and vanilla. 

When creamed well, add in the five eggs. 

Sift dry ingredients together.  Add flour to sugar mixture alternating with milk (dry, milk, dry, milk, dry).  Pour into prepared 10 inch tube pan.

 Bake for 1 1/4 hours or until done.  Enjoy!