Monday, December 31, 2012

Two Tone Fudge

Despite being on service (i.e., covering hospital patients) for the past week, I still had a great Christmas!  D came back from AL on December 24 so that we could have Christmas here together with K.  Santa delivered gifts late to his house (not sure what happened there!  ;-)  ) so, I was there when K saw her princess castle.  While they were gone to AL, I pretty much just stayed at my house, watched movies, and did a bit of Christmas treat making.  I made two different kind of cookie dough balls and some peanut butter fudge.  Mama's favorite was the fudge...mine, the snickerdoodle dough balls. 

I'll share the fudge today.  It's a recipe from Peabody, so you KNOW that it has to be good!  It ended up being pretty easy to make, though I'm not quite sure if I put enough sugar in the peanut butter portion.  Still good.  Try it out yourself!

Double Layer Fudge adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
Chocolate Layer
1 can (14oz) condensed milk
3 cups chocolate chips (of your choice I went semi-sweet)

In a medium saucepan heat up condensed milk over low.  Add chocolate chips and melt. Stirring often.
Mixture will start to get hard and lose its sheen. Spread into a buttered 13x9-inch pan lined with foil.

Peanut Butter Layer from Alton Brown Food
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound powdered sugar
chocolate chips and peanut butter chips to sprinkle on top about a 1/2 cup each

Soften butter and combine in mixer with peanut butter.  Add in sugar until well combined.

*(This may be where I messed up...obviously didn't read the instructions...This is how Peabody did it!):

Combine the butter and peanut butter in a 4-quart microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Microwave for 2 minutes on high.  Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. (Use caution when removing this mixture from the microwave, it will be very hot.)  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. The mixture will become hard to stir and lose its sheen.*

Pour the peanut butter layer on top of the chocolate layer. Sprinkle chocolate and peanut butter chips and press down to help them stick to fudge.  Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cake...Banana Bread Balls

I'm always looking for new ways to make or use banana bread.  When we had our last baby shower, I decided to try this recipe out.  Instead of the typical cake balls, I made banana bread balls.  They ended up being really good!  And on top of the entire THING being good...the banana bread itself was good, too!  Maybe they'd be good for a post-Christmas breakfast treat...or a New Years Party dessert.  Try them out.

Banana Bread Balls from Vanilla Sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
3 tablespoons yogurt
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix together shortening and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time then banana and yogurt.  Mix well.  Stir in dry ingredients.  Pour into a square baking dish and bake until done (30 minutes or so) or in a loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.  Allow to cool.

When cool, crumble the cake into a bowl and stir in the cream cheese.  Place in refrigerator so that it can cool and firm up.  Roll into 1-2 inch balls.  Place them on a baking sheet and place in refrigerator to chill.  Melt and temper the chocolate.  When ready, dip the balls into the chocolate and place on a wax paper lined pan.  Let harden and enjoy!  Chill until eating.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Soup's On!

We've been having the typical MS winter weather...3 days of "cold" weather followed by 3 of 70+ temps and back again.  When it gets cold (or even when it's not!) I like to have soup.  K went to see her grandparents last week, so D and I were alone.  We had a couple of parties to go to but several days in between.  I told D that I thought about soup or Mexican for dinner; so, he went and found a Mexican soup recipe after his clinic was over.  :-)  We ended up not having enough time to make it that night; so, I changed it to make overnight in the crockpot.  At first, we weren't so sure about it...but it turned out really good!  The recipe calls for 2 quarts of chicken broth, which I think was a little too much and I added an extra can of rotel tomatoes and red kidney beans.  YUM!  I still have some in my refrigerator and can't wait to have it for lunch.

Mexican Bean and Squash Soup adapted from AllRecipes
2 cups butternut squash - pealed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 Chipolte peppers (canned in adobo sauce) seeded, and minced
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon cumin
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth (maybe 6 cups next time?)
1 can cannellini beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can corn

For serving:
tortilla chips
sour cream
green onions

Put all ingredients into crockpot and cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 10 hours.  When ready to serve, squirt lime juice on each bowl and top with desired toppings.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Mint Cookies

I told D last week that I'd make cookies for him but we ran out of time before he had to go was calling the next day.  I decided to make cookies anyway!  He doesn't really like mint, but I wanted to make cookies with the Christmas mint M&M' I did one pan with no M&M's and the rest with them.  They turned out REALLY good. 

D said he liked them a lot.  I think I'd consider making this a new base dough recipe with varied mix ins.  I think one thing that made it better was the "sprinkle" of cream of tartar...I love that stuff!  Anyway, try these out for your favorite little elves...or even Santa!  :-)

Christmas Mint Cookies
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
sprinkle/pinch cream of tartar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup mint M&M's

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream together butter, brown sugar, and sugar.  Cream for 5 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla.  When mixed together, stir in dry ingredients.  Dough will be thick.  Add in chocolate chips and M&M's.  Place walnut sized drops of dough on a baking stone or pan.  Place pan in oven and bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from pan and allow to cool for 1 minute before removing to cooling rack.  Enjoy! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fear Not!

Fear not!  How can you "fear not" when it seems there is so much to fear?  When such evil things like happened in Newtown, Connecticut happen?  When children so young are taken from their parents?  When teachers are taken, protecting those who have been entrusted to them for six short hours each day?  When there is a doctor's appointment with the unknown looming?  When bills come that you don't know how you're going to pay?  How can you "fear not?!"  But that's what we're told to do!

Thousands of years ago, that's what a young girl was told...and then she was told, you will give birth to the Son of God, without even knowing a man.  In a culture where engagement was as permanent as marriage; where being "caught" with a man was punishable by death!  She was told "Fear not!"  That's what an elderly priest was told when he found out that his wife, well beyond child bearing years, would give birth to the one who would prepare the way for God's Son...and that he would be unable to speak until that child was born.  He was told, "Fear not!"  (Luke 1)

Thousands of years ago, that's what a group of shepherds were told when a multitude of angels filled the sky on a night when they were just doing their jobs...watching sheep, protecting their sheep, protecting each other..."Fear not!"  Why fear not...the promised Savior had been born!  The one to bring peace, the One to save us from sin, the One on whom all our hope is placed, the One who will carry ALL burdens, God's Son...Jesus!  (Luke 2)

God has been telling us to "Fear not" for thousands of years!  He spoke those words through the prophet Isaiah, to the Israelite people during years of war, uncertainty, famine...fear!  "Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." (Isaiah 41:10) And again in Isaiah 35:4 "Say to those with anxious heart, 'Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.'"

It doesn't make sense to us!  But, God sent His Son Jesus into a world of evil to offer the only salvation, the only hope.  He sent Jesus to be the one atoning sacrifice for ALL the sins of the world!  If we but place our hope and trust in Him then we will be safe, forgiven, secure!  Yes, some sins have larger effect, are more heinous, rock us to our core more than others...but we all are in need of someone to save us...someone to bring us peace NOT of this world!  Jesus is that answer! 

"Peace I leave with you; My  peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27) "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

I don't understand why hard things, struggles, or even tragic things like happen at Sandy Hook happen other than the world we live in now is evil.  But I do know that we have been given a Savior.  That Jesus sacrificed His life so that we might be saved.  That He has placed peace in my heart and that He tells us..."Fear not!"  Run to Him, hope in Him, and pray that His comfort would permeate the hearts of all who are grieving and his Peace would overcome all who are fearful!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oreo stuffed Cookie Bars

Back several months ago when D was on a call rotation, I helped with K every fourth night.  Pretty much, every time I kept her, I baked after she went to bed!  This is one of the recipes I made.  I did forget to get caramel, so instead of being oreo AND caramel stuffed, these are just oreo stuffed...and they are STILL fantastic! 

There's something about all of a sudden coming to that center icing of the oreo in the middle of a cookie bar.  I took them to the lounge at work and, per usual, they were devoured!  Try them out...they'd be fun Christmas goodies. You could even use some of the special holiday oreo flavors for some fun.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Bars from Recipe Girl
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temp
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips
24 oreos (recipe says double stuffed which would be awesome!)
1 cup jarred caramel (I didn't have this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13X9 pan.  In a large bowl of a mixer, place butter and sugars.  Cream until smooth.  Add egg and vanilla.  Beat well.  Stir in flour, oats, baking soda and powder, and salt until well incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spread half of the dough in the bottom of the pan.  (This is done easily with your hands.  I wet my hand with water, recipe girl used baking spray).  Place oreos on top of dough, evenly spaced.  Spoon remaining dough over the oreos and spread with your hands.  It's okay if it doesn't cover all the cookies (though it drove me CRAZY!), when it bakes, it will cover them.  Place pan in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely and cut into desired sized bars.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Snack Time!

My family loves to snack, especially at family holiday get togethers!  An hour before lunch, you will find people standing around the counter eating cheese, hummus, dips, sausage, crackers...whatever we have.  I saw a snack mix on Recipe Girl one day and knew that I had to make it for Thanksgiving!  It has fritos and Chex...all loved by my fam.  It is covered in a sweet sugar mix to make it the perfect sweet and salty mix.  In fact, I just got an e-mail from my aunt asking for the recipe!  I'd say, it was a hit.  Try it out for yourself!

Frito Snack Mix from Recipe girl
10.5 ounce bag of Fritos
2 cups rice Chex cereal
2 cups pretzel twists
1 1/2 cups nuts
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup mini M&M's

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix together the Fritos, cereal, pretzels, and nuts in a bowl.  In a small pan, melt the sugar, butter, and corn syrup over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and then boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour over the frito mix.  Stir to coat evenly.  Pour the mix onto a large roasting pan and place in the oven.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Stir and bake for 8 more minutes.  Transfer the mix to wax paper on the counter and allow to cool.  Break into large clumps and place in a storage container.  Pour M&Ms over the mix.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Photo Card

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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Cheddar Mac and Cheese

D loves macaroni and cheese.  He just cooks macaroni and melts Kraft cheese slices into it and adds milk.  I am not a huge fan...but I wanted to make something he'd like for Thanksgiving.  So, I went in search of a creamy mac and cheese recipe.  All the recipes I found for "creamy" versions had Velveeta or condensed cheese soup in them.  I didn't want to use processed cheese this time, so I kept looking. 
What I found wasn't a creamy version but looked good and easy.  It was done quickly and was really good.  I used sharp cheddar, so it had a really cheesy taste...definitely how I prefer mac and cheese!  The first day, D thought it was okay and wasn't a fan of the onions (something that could totally be removed if you have someone who doesn't like them).  The next time he said he didn't really notice the onions.  And by the time it was gone, he said it was good.  Guess I could keep looking or make it again.  :-)

Baked Macacroni and Cheese from Alton Brown (I doubled the recipe below for a crowd of 27)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced (could be omitted)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Boil a large pot of water, then salt and place the pasta in the water.  Cook until al dente.  While the past cooks, melt the butter in a separate pot.  Whisk in the flour and mustard.  Keep moving for 5 minutes (Mine was VERY thick almost immediately, so I didn't go for five minutes).  Get all the lumps out.  Stir in the milk, onions, and paprika.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Crack the egg into a small bowl and pour a small amount of the milk mixture into that bowl, whisking quickly to temper the egg.  Once tempered, pour the egg into the milk mixture.  Stir in 3/4 of the cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fold the macaroni into the cheese mixture and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish.  Top with the remaining cheese.  Place into oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!