Vanilla Fudge

I love vanilla fudge with or without pecans. I will actually stop at a candy shop at the coast to buy some. I don’t want chocolate, I don’t want cookies and cream, I don’t want butterscotch, I only want vanilla.

When I was young, my bro and I would be sent to bed and I would hear kitchen activity. I figured out mom was making fudge for she and dad. They did not want to share since it was their favorite as well. That’s not quite true; it was just a special tradition for the 2 of them.

18 ounces vanilla or white chocolate discs

14 can of sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup chopped pecans

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine vanilla chips with sweetened condensed milk and melt in the microwave in 15-second increments.
  2. Once vanilla is fully melted add in chopped pecans and stir until combined.
  3. Pour vanilla mixture into a parchment paper-lined 8×8 inch (20×20 cm) baking tin.
  4. Chill for 2 hours or until the fudge is firm.
  5. Cut into bite-sized pieces

This is a very firm fudge, just the way I like it.

  • From the Recipe Box…..

I buy my discs on Amazon. They are super easy to work with and melt extra creamy in the microwave.

and remember: If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission. Big kiss, Lynn

Roasted Romaine Salad

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I love salad. The first time I saw grilled romaine, I was like ‘Shut-up’ this is my jam. Obviously, the best salad ingredients are not available in December. However, you can always count on romaine being of decent quality.

I use romaine all year long. The family loves Caesar Salad. We make it whenever we get together. I love using it for a bed to put a piece of protein on.

Depending on the number of people you are feeding and how finicky they are, and the size of each romaine head, count on 1/2 to 1/4 per person. I keep the core intact until fried, and then I trim it at the end.

During the summer, I put them on the grill. Obviously it’s December here, so put them in a large frypan, and fry away.

I like them with blue cheese dressing. G does too, but he likes olive oil and balsamic reduction even more.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Give them a shot; I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

A sprinkling of black sesame seeds looks pretty cool.

and remember: Stop trying to be liked by everyone.  You don’t like everyone. Big kiss, Lynn

Cake Hack

As much as I would love to be a professional baker, it’s just not going to happen. Who has the time?! When I need to bake a cake or supply cupcakes, why wouldn’t I use a cake mix.

You know how much I love easy peasy. I went on line to discover how to improve the common cake mix. If you follow the tips on how to make box cake better that I found on the Internet, you will be sitting pretty.

Don’t worry, most of these things are already in your pantry or your fridge.  I got most of this information on line from different authors. Thanks kids.

First:

By simply mixing in one additional egg to the eggs that are already called for in the recipe, you are adding both moisture and fat to the batter.

As the mix bakes in the oven that one extra egg gives it more structure and keeps it soft, moist, and rich. 

Second:

Does your batter need some liquid? Yes, of course, it does. Does the said liquid need to be void of any flavor? Sure doesn’t. Many box recipes call for water, but I like to use things that are a bit more exciting. 

Instead of the water, try using the same amount of coffee or milk. Either will give you the moisture you need while giving you an edge on the flavor front. Coffee goes particularly well with chocolate cakes and milk works for all of them. 

If you happen to have some buttermilk in the fridge, this will work too and will give you cake oodles of moisture and lots of tang.

Third:

Most boxes call for oil to be added to the batter. While some people love that texture (and it guarantees a moist cake,) I choose to skip it and instead add in the same amount of unsalted, melted butter. 

This buttery boost will give you tons of flavor and make each bite of your cake that much more decadent and fancy. I mean what’s more decadent than butter?!

Fourth:

For the love of all that is good and holy, sift the dry ingredients. All too often, these boxes are sitting around for a while at the store or on your shelf and home and they get lumps. These lumps will not mix into the batter easily and can create dry pockets in your cake. 

To get rid of them use a fine mesh strainer or a proper flour sifter and sift your dry ingredients into your wet.

Fifth:

Another common mistake is not mixing the batter long enough once the wet and the dry ingredients are all together. Be sure you have a smooth batter with no lumps. As it bakes this will be a tender, moist cake with few crumbs.

Sixth:

I won’t lie to you, I cannot stand frosting in the tub. You have to be tongue dead to not know canned frosting was used.

  • From the Recipe Box:

I’m going to try chocolate with espresso granules next.

I’m not really a sprinkles person, so next time, so sprinkles for me.

and remember what Julia Child said: If there isn’t any cake, it’s only a meeting. Big kiss, Lynn

Chocolate and Greens Revisited

This is a revisit of one of my first blogs.

A zillion years ago, in a far off land, I met someone who was going to have a huge impact on my life.  I was 15 and he was 16 and we were dating.  Ah, young love.  His family made something called Chocolate and Green cookies.  OMG! I think they have a real name, I just don’t know what it is.

The rest is Thomas history.  I married the boy, I received the recipe as part of his dowry and we have been making them every Christmas, and only at Christmas, ever since then.  There was one exception.  My favorite niece, you know the one, had to have her appendix out, and I made her a batch of Chocolate and Greens instead of bringing her flowers.  They are her favorite, what can I say, and I love her.

This is a family affair.  We make dozens and all the Gkids and that favorite niece have helped over the years.  It’s a little tighter here at the cabin, so sometimes we will make them in 2 shifts.  We make them into sandwiches, but last year I started leaving some of them open faced so we could decorate the the tops with sprinkles.  It was a fun change.  This year one of the Gkid elves had the brilliant idea to  roll the edges in sprinkles.  Amazing!

Sift together in mixer bowl:

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

Heat: 1 ½ cups brown sugar

¾ cups butter

2 tablespoons water

12 ounces chocolate chips

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Stir to melt and blend.  I do this in the microwave; it takes about 90 seconds or so.

Beat in 2 eggs.

Add to flour mixture.  Combine until smooth.

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool and frost.

Frosting

Blend:  1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup soft butter

½ teaspoon peppermint extract

Dash salt

Beat in:       2 cups powdered sugar

¼ cup milk

Green food coloring

*  From the Recipe Box:

Most beloved cookie in our family history.

Make cookies about walnut sized.

Best buttercream frosting recipe, always the right consistency.  I use it for anything I want to frost, just change out the extract.

Four batches of frosting will cover 6 batches of sandwich cookies.  Frosting freezes well in a baggie if you do have leftovers.

For some stupid reason, we only make these at Christmas or when Hillary has her appendix out; this must stop!

Find a favorite food and make sure everyone in the family knows about it. That’s the perfect heritage.

and remember what Hunter S. Thompson said:  Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming, “Wow, what a ride!”  Big kiss, Lynn

Happy Thanksgiving

I was visiting Minnesota a few years ago and was walking along the Red River when I saw a real turkey. He looked a lot like this. I was totally gob-smacked. I know what you are thinking: I am such a maroon. I don’t get out much, but that was a real thrill.

So, with that in mind, please take a moment and plan on enjoying an excellent Thanksgiving. I know things have been interesting in our lives lately, but you deserve all the happiness you can get.

Big kiss, from Lynn and Karen’s Whimsy on-line.

Gingerbread

Why wouldn’t you want gingerbread this time of year? When I was younger, gingerbread was a Grandma O treat. I can picture sitting in her kitchen in Portland, smelling spices and molasses. I date my love of molasses to those days. I also love the history of gingerbread. One of the first recorded gingerbread recipes was from George Washington’s mother. I like history with my food.

I love that you can pick it up with a fork or eat it by hand. I was always looking forward to having a piece the next day after school, but there was never any left. Grandma never made hard sauce to go with it, she always made whipped cream. This is one of the few times I like whipped cream on cake.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Plan on baking for 45 to 50 minutes.

Mix together thoroughly: 1/2 cup soft shortening, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 egg

Blend in: 1 cup black molasses, 1 cup boiling water

Sift together and stir in 2 1/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Beat until smooth.

Pour into a well greased and floured 9″ square pan. Bake. Cut into 3 ” squares in the pan. Keep hot and serve piping hot with sweetened whipped cream.

* From the Recipe Box:

I know, shut up, 2 tablespoons of sugar. Yes, really. This is why my diabetic grandma could eat it, but molasses isn’t without issues of its own.

and remember: An adventurous life does not necessarily mean climbing mountains, swimming with sharks or jumping off cliffs.  It means risking yourself by leaving a little piece of you behind in all those you meet along the way. Big kiss, Lynn

Chicken Breasts with Pineapple

Hey all, it’s time to bake things in the oven. I love chicken with pineapple in the summer, so I thought it might be interesting in the winter. We grill chicken breasts with pineapple slices and melt Swiss or gruyere cheese over them. There are some things that will always be a part of my cooking repertoire. They are so versatile and the leftovers are practically perfect. Now that’s what I call a chicken burger.

Gluten-free girl is coming tomorrow so I’m going to serve this with rice pilaf. Both G and I love pilaf. And then I’ll either go with something green or a salad.

Ingredients

1/4 cup good olive oil

3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)

1 20 ounce can of pineapple

8 ounces mushrooms, sauted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the pineapple into 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

*****From the Recipe Box:

Actually the mushrooms are for the pilaf, but I want them for both and you will too.

And I never buy chicken pieces with skin on them. I just don’t do skin.

I also threw in a few yellow tomatoes. Next time I’ll go with red to give them a color variation. Too much yellow, but it was tasty. This is another disappointing picture. Sorry about that.

and remember: Steve Jobs said it best: If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.  Big kiss, Lynn