Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top Secret Family Fudge

Family Secret Fudge



Whenever I set out to do a food post, I do 3 things :
* Get out the recipe/instructions
* Gather my ingredients & supplies
* Grab my camera

When I do a post, I take pictures as I make it. I don't make a special 'pretty' version just for pictures, or make 18 batches of something, to get enough perfect pictures. What you see is what we eat.
Making fudge today was no different, except my husband was home, and he knows the 'family secret' to our fudge. Yup. So he asks me:
' Are you really going to take pictures of you making fudge with the recipe off the container? '
Umm... yes.
That's my family secret. We can read.
No ... (Story time...)

Growing up, my Nini always made fudge for the holidays. No one else could make fudge, it was Nini's territory. Once she was too old to be making fudge, one of my aunts took over the fudge making, and the 'family secret'. Nobody else dared to make fudge, and if they did try, it never turned out like Nini's fudge.
So, we all assumed it was some top secret fudge recipe, only to be really known by a select few.
Until a few years ago, when Nini passed away, and I got tired of waiting around for fudge, so I said Screw it, I'll try to make some myself, and, if it's not like Nini's, oh well, I'll keep trying. And so I set out on the great fudge adventure. Luckily I got it on the first try. 
(And, I've tried other fudge versions, meh, I still like this one the best. It's like Nini's.)
As I made my first batch several years ago, my dad started telling stories of making fudge with Nini when he was little and the different jobs he had helping her.
So now, every year at the holidays, I make fudge, because it's yummy, and to remember Nini.

And, yes, I took pictures of me making family secret follow the jar fudge.






Just follow the directions on the jar (I get the "big" container - it makes more fudge).
Also, I use 12oz of milk, not 10.
And I only use 4c of sugar.
And I like to make flavors other than just chocolate.
Use silicone utensils when making fudge, they are easier to clean in the end,
and don't melt into your hot fudgey mix (don't ask how I know this).
And, use metal pans. Coat in butter and put in the fridge or freezer until you're ready for them.
(A tip my dad told me about, that he used to do. He was the butter-the-pans-boy.)



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shortbread Sugar Cookies



I follow this recipe, just, half as much. Since I'm not baking for an army.  I also use cookie cutters, instead of a cookie press.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/shortbread-cookies-ii/detail.aspx




Ingredients

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour



Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla; add flour and mix well.
  3. Put through cookie press and form cookies onto baking sheets. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.


If you're using a cookie press, after you make the dough, you can fill your press and go.
If you're using cookie cutters, form dough into a ball, wrap in clear-wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 mins. {I also place the cookie cutters I'll be using, and my silicone mats in the fridge to cool}
After 30 minutes, roll out and cut your cookies. (I also keep a dish of oil nearby, to dip my cookie cutters into, so they don't stick)  Bake, cool and decorate.

I used wheat flour this time, and added more vanilla extract (and some almond). You can actually use any extract you want, add food color, even add cinnamon, nuts or chocolate chips if you want.
{And, since there is no raw egg in this, its safe to eat as you go}


Cinnamon Ornaments


I like Martha Stewart's 'recipe' for cinnamon dough the best.


http://www.marthastewart.com/how-to/cinnamon-bird-ornaments#

I didn't have enough cinnamon, or any apple sauce - so I made my own version. Follow Martha's directions for the dough. They are much better than what I ended up with (mine have almost no cinnamon smell).

Mix together 1 cup cinnamon, 1/4 cup apple sauce, and 1/2 cup craft glue. Roll into a ball and let set about an hour. {Or, roll into ball, wrap in clear-wrap, and pop in the fridge for 15 mins. or so} Roll out dough and cut out shapes. Use a straw or skewer to place a hole in each ornament (so you can hang it up). You can let dry out over night, or place into the oven on 200 for about 2 hours (flip over at 1 hr).  Let cool, place ribbons through, and decorate.


Cake Mix Cookies

Probably some of the easiest cookies you can possibly make - Cake Mix Cookies.
(I found this recipe on the internet years ago, I'm not sure what site it was from, but there are probably tons of versions if you search google)





1 box cake mix (apx. 18 oz)
1 egg
½ cup butter (1 stick) softened
2tbs water (if using chocolate mix)
frosting & decorations




Preheat oven to 350 degrees, combine all ingredients, drop on cookie sheet and bake 9-12 minutes.
Let cool and decorate.







Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's begining to look like ...

... A warm, rainy Christmas.

Seriously, it's about 60 degrees here, and pouring down rain. No cold, no snow, just yuck. It doesn't even seem like the holidays. I've had no motivation to really do anything seasonal, just because it doesn't seem like winter. It's like Christmas in Florida or something. But I've sucked it up and have been decorating and wrapping gifts. Last week I put up lights outside, and today I did some inside decorating and wrapping. It's all a lot harder to do when you're 8 months pregnant. 1 trip downstairs is now about 5 trips. 

The lights outside

Front door wreath


Our Winter Evergreen Bush

Our Evergreen Bush isn't a christmas tree. It's not. It's a tree to hang the ornaments I've been given over the years on and put our gifts around.
{ I have my views on what Christmas is, which I''m not going to go into here, but there is a Hanukkah bag under there too}

And, every year I look forward to putting out my cinnamon ornaments. I made them when I was working at a private school, and they smelled so good, year after year. And the smell of cinnamon just puts you in a holiday mood.  Umm, except this year ...


Here is what I found when I opened the box.
Granted, this is probably my fault, usually I put them in a baggie, then into the box. But that's not the point.
The mice that keep getting in our basement decided to eat cinnamon us. Yup. They took off John's head and arm, and both of my arms. And snacked on the candy cane and present too. A serious bummer. I had made cinnamon us the christmas before we got married, and now we're mangled. But, I will make more. And when I do I will post the directions.
I'm also hoping to do a post on Fudge soon. :)