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I’m Baaaaack!

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Wow! It has been an insanely long time since I have blogged. Life has been more than a little crazy. I accepted a new call in Missouri and we packed up and headed south. We are now (mostly) settled into our new lives in this beautiful place. I say “mostly,” anyone need a house in Council Bluffs, Iowa?????

While we are waiting for our house to sell we are renting a little townhouse so my kitchen is a bit of a downer after my previous three ovens. However, we are adjusting. But don’t expect too much from this blog until we upgrade!

So, what recipe is worth of my return post? I thought I’d share this little dandy with you today. Think the candy bar but a whole pan of them.

Peanut Butter Bars

Ingredients
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup + 4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Directions
In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan. In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the peanut butter, stirring every 30 seconds until melted until smooth. Spread over the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

Candied Nuts

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Every Christmas I candy nuts. One of my parishioners would give a huge container of pecans to me for Christmas so I had a large stash to work with. Unfortunately, he passed away right before Christmas and I miss him like crazy. He was about as tough as one of those nuts and he was so much fun to visit with. The Christmas season was really busy as his funeral was the day before Christmas Eve. I never got around to making any candied pecans until just the other day. I really don’t have an excuse. They are insanely easy. I just didn’t have the heart to do it until just the other day. Strange how you mourn for people in different ways, isn’t it?

So, here’s the recipe. Like I said, they are absurdly simple and your house will smell like heaven as they bake (and for quite some time after).

Candied Nuts

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 4 cups nuts (I used half pecans and half walnuts)

Preheat oven to 225. In a large bowl beat the egg whites and water. Add pecans and stir to coat.

Whisk together the sugars, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then pour over the pecans, stirring to coat.

Spread pecans on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray and bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Orange We Gonna Stop MS? – Creamsicle Fudge

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Guess what this week is? MS Awareness Week! Oh, you didn’t know there was an MS Awareness Week? Well, now you do. Next question. Do you know the MS Awareness color? Orange! Honestly, I really don’t like the color orange but I guess all the good colors were already taken. I don’t think I even have anything orange in my closet. So, rather than wear orange we’ll just make a whole week of orange flavored recipes, how’s that? Also, take some time to go check out the website for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Do you remember the Creamsicles of your youth? It’s March and unless you are a die-hard (or you live somewhere warmer than Iowa) you probably aren’t craving a popsicle. That’s okay you can still have that fun flavor without getting the brain freeze! All in all, this is a simple recipe and I say go for it. I didn’t have marshmallow cream and I was too lazy to pick it up at the store so I melted a bag of marshmallows with some corn syrup. For the record, it works but it makes some pretty messy dishes. I found this sweet little recipe (and I mean sweet) while meandering around Pinterest.

Creamsicle Fudge

  • 6 ounces (1.5 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package (12 oz) white chocolate chips
  • 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow cream (I melted 1 bag of mini marshmallows with 1/5 cup corn syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon orange extract
  • orange (or a combination of red and yellow) food coloring

Prepare a 13×9 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cream, and butter over medium heat. Continually stir the mixture until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil, and once it starts boiling, stir continuously for four minutes. After four minutes of boiling, remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the marshmallow cream and white chocolate chips. Stir until the white chocolate has melted and the fudge is completely smooth.

Working quickly, pour about a third of the white fudge into a bowl and set aside. To the remaining fudge, add the orange extract and orange food coloring, stirring until it is a smooth, even color. It is important to perform these steps quickly, because the fudge will start to set if you take too long, and the end result will not be smooth Pour the orange fudge into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Drop the white fudge over the top by the spoonful, then drag a table knife or toothpick through the fudge to create orange-white swirls. You can spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray and gently press them into the top to smooth out the swirls, if desired.

Allow the fudge to set at room temperature for 2 hours, or in the refrigerator for 1 hour. To cut, pull the fudge out of the pan using the foil as handles. Use a large sharp knife to cut the fudge into small 1-inch squares.

Oreo Bites

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When baking/cooking I get into little kicks and I will do similar things again and again until eventually I get sick of said kick. Apparently, I am currently on a bite/ball kick. I blame current fads around the blogs. Everyone is taking things and making them into little balls and bites. Much like everyone was into cupcakes not that long ago. Next up, pies. Mark my words. Anywho, bites and balls. I’ve been into them lately. What I’m not into? Calling balls or bites truffles. Anyone who has any respect for the culinary masterpiece that is truffles knows better than to slap the moniker on whatever bite sized food they feel like. Oreo truffles are the latest. These are not truffles but they are amazing. It is depressing how good they are considering how easy they are. Don’t you always feel like really good things should be at least a little difficult? Maybe that’s just me. Well these aren’t. But before you make them you should probably decide how you are going to dispose of them because if you don’t you will eat them all yourself.

A Few Notes: Many recipes for these call for crushing the Oreos and then mixing them with the cream cheese in another bowl or mixer. I don’t like superfluous dishes so I mixed them in the food processor. Save yourself some work and dirty dishes; do it all in the food processor. Also, chill the dough before rolling it into balls. Then chill them again before dipping them in chocolate. This dough is not particularly messy but it is spongy and soft. I know that sounds strange but you’ll believe me when you work with it. This may be because I used Double Stuf Oreos, a decision I don’t regret. If you’re gonna do it, do it right! Another thing, my Oreo balls are pretty ugly in the picture. That is because I’m cheap and I don’t like to waste melted chocolate. Therefore, I use the minimal amount of melted chocolate and constantly manipulating these little snacks to get the last bit of chocolate in the bowl makes them a bit wonky. If you want more attractive results use more chocolate to dip them in. The deeper the melted chocolate, the easier it is to make them pretty.

 Oreo Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 8 ounce block of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 bag Oreos, I used Double Stuf
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Using food processor, process Oreos until crushed. Add cream cheese and pulse until well incorporated and mixture starts to come together. Chill mixture, about 1 hour. Form chilled mixture into balls and chill again. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval. Coat chilled balls in chocolate. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper until coated balls are set.

Oh, fudge!

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There’s nothing that makes me feel more at peace with the world than the smell of melted chocolate. Oh my goodness! This week is very busy/stressful so there has been a lot of chocolate melting in my kitchen. Be warned: this recipe is deadly! But oh, what a beautiful way to perish!

Many fudge recipes are surprisingly difficult. They involve things like candy thermometers and soft-ball stages. But not this recipe. This is about as easy as making cold cereal. Try it. Seriously.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. cream
  • can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 c. chocolate chips(I used milk chocolate)
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • vanilla extract

In a sauce pan, warm the cream and the sweetened condensed milk. Do not boil. Add vanilla.

Once the milk mixture is warmed almost to the boiling point, remove it from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir well. Return to heat to make sure all the chocolate has melted and is smooth and creamy.

Pour into a very well greased pan or a pan lined with parchment paper. Let it cool overnight or for several hours until it’s set up.