Friday, December 23, 2011

Easy and Tasty Bread Pudding

This is my last post of 2011 so I thought I'd share a really good one. This is my mom's recipe for Bread Pudding that she created just a week ago. It won first place in a contest at her work but it has stolen the hearts and stomachs of all who has tried it. This is super simple because most of the ingredients are pre-made. It's super sweet and full of that homey goodness that everyone craves during the holidays. Now - my mother is not one who uses recipes so she was kind enough to attempt to create a recipe. This is what she sent me and what I can't wait to try sometime over the next week.

Three LARGE almond poppy seed muffins. Would have been better if they were a little drier. And maybe not as much muffin
2 1/4 cups eggnog
5 eggs
1 cup sugar (or it might have been half a cup)
a teaspoon of orange zest - fresh
1 T or so of Countreau - or however you spell the orange liquor
1/4 c butter (1/2 stick)
about 1/2 to 1 cup walnuts

Cut up muffins into bite size pieces, set aside
In a large bowl mix (with mixer) eggnog, eggs, sugar and liquor
In a saucepan or frying pan melt butter, add walnuts and orange zest.
Mix egg mixture, muffins and walnuts (but not butter) together, gently to not mush the muffins.
In an ovenproof bowl pour butter and spread all over bowl to keep pudding from sticking
Pour or place in the rest of the ingredients.

Preheat oven to 375, using a roasting type pan (rectangle) fill about 1/3 with water and place
bowl with the pudding into so that it is cooking in a water bath.

Cook until done in center. This is like 30 to 60 minutes. While cooking it will crust but still be jiggly inside until it is done.

Serve warm.

Hard Sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 cup brandy
2 T butterscotch schnapps (optional)

Cook in saucepan, bring to a boil but be careful not to scorch.
Turn down heat. Cook to slightly thicken but
not so that it hardens. Spoon over pudding in bowls. Also serve warm or hot.

Okay, that is the best I can do.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coquito or Puerto Rican Eggnog

I came across this blog post about Coquito or Puerto Rican Eggnog. It intrigued me but I knew I didn't quite have the ingredients. I thought about it some and rifled through the cupboards and came up with a version that is amazing. The alcohol will take your breath away (and we only used half) and the drink needs to mellow atleast 24 hours. We tasted it right after I made it and it was okay. But when we tasted it last night after the 24 hours, it was much smoother and so many more flavors came out. My version has less sugar and alcohol and maybe less fat. It's not meant to be a reduced version - it just came out that way. I still think it's going to be quite the treat at our holiday parties this weekend.

1 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup water
1 can coconut milk
1 1/4 cup half and half
1 1/2 cups gold rum
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp gd cinnamon
4 cloves
1/4 teas cardamom seeds
1 teas orange extract

Using a funnel, pour the powdered milk and water into a large bottle (we used a half gallon ice tea bottle). Put on the lid and shake until the powdered milk is fully incorporated into the water (it's okay to have a few lumps but remember to shake often and break them down before serving). Add remaining ingredients to bottle and shake to incorporate. Don't feel like you have to be gentle - shake with vigor.
Feel free to taste to see if it's sweet enough but remember this will not be the final flavor. Let sit in refrigerator for 24 hours before serving. We actually made this three days early to give it the most time to mellow. Should keep for about a week.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Fudge

Every now and again, I go through my posts and add them to a file so I can easily find what recipes I have posted so I don't repeat them (unless they have undergone dramatic changes). I discovered I forgot to share the Peanut Butter Fudge recipe. I made it the same day I made the chocolate fudge. I think this recipe is the family favorite. The chocolate was good but they have been devouring the peanut butter. We are peanut butter sort of people so it makes since (their favorite cookie is my gluten free peanut butter cookies).
I made it with homemade evaporated milk.
Just a note about next week - I will not be posting next week but I will be experimenting and will have lots to share after the holidays.

Peanut Butter Fudge
¾ cup evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
2 TB butter
1 1/8 cups peanut butter
1 7oz marshmallow cream
1 teas vanilla
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, sugar and butter. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly and let boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, marshmallow cream and vanilla until well incorporated. Spread into greased 8x8 dish. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Covered Cherries

There's not many recipes I have made this week that I haven't shared at some point on this blog. Here is one I haven't made in a few years because it's time consuming. It's not exactly difficult - just takes time. The result is well worth the effort.

Chocolate covered Cherries
½ cup butter, soft
2 cups marshmallow creme
1 teas almond extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1 jar maraschino cherries, well drained
2 cups chocolate chips
2 TB shortening
Cream butter. Add marshmallow creme, extract and sugar, mix well. Knead into a large ball, chill for 1 hour. Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten into 2 inch circles. Wrap circles around cherries and carefully shape into balls. Place on lined baking sheet, cover loosely. Chill for 4 hours to overnight. Melt chocolate chips with shortening in a double boiler. Dip balls in chocolate, place on lined baking sheet to harden. Refrigerate in covered container 1-2 weeks before serving.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peanut Brittle

My husband really wanted peanut brittle this year. I was able to get unsalted roasted peanuts (no raw) and thought about how to go about this. I decided to use my toffee recipe. We used Nucoa to make him a dairy free version. Because of this - I believe that the recipe needs stirring. Normally, one does not stir the toffee as it cooks but the nucoa did not exactly meld with the sugar. Stirring would have helped.

Peanut Brittle
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 TBS water
1 1/2 cups peanuts

Bring butter, sugar and water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes until the color turns amber (290 on a thermometer). Stir in peanuts and pour into a greased cookie sheet. Let cool completely. Break into pieces and enjoy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Fudge

I needed a good easy fudge recipe that didn't have too many ingredients since we had to stay within budget for the month. This recipe comes from Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk. I made my own with the recipe I posted earlier this week. The only problem I encountered is that the powdered milk stayed a little lumpy. I made this a second time and beat the milk more reducing the number of little milk lumps. You can't taste the powdered milk and my husband is convinced they are nuts (I didn't add any nuts and have told him several times). We used milk chocolate chips since the semi-sweet that were on sale were gone. The result was a wonderful and rich candy. I, also, found that cooking it for just a few minutes after the chips were melted resulted in a firmer less sticky fudge but either way is great.

Chocolate Fudge
3 cups chocolate chips
14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
¾ cup chopped nuts
1 ½ teas vanilla
Melt chocolate chips and milk in a pan over low heat. Add nuts and vanilla. Pour into greased 8x8 inch pan. Chill for 2 hours.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Microwave Caramel

I can't remember where I found this recipe but I couldn't wait to try it. The flavor of this caramel is wonderful but I just couldn't get it to firm up in the microwave. I ended up taking the two batches I attempted and putting them in a pot on the stove until they firmed up. The result was amazing caramels and I had used the homemade sweetened condensed milk.
I do think this would make amazing (but soft) caramel corn. Which would be perfect for a quick evening snack. I didn't add anything to the recipe after I took it out of the microwave.
*make sure your microwave is really clean - this does bubble over and if it lands on a clean surface you can scoop it back into the batch.

7 Minute Microwave Caramels or Caramel Corn
Yield: About 50 individually wrapped caramels, or 15 cups of caramel corn
Make the Caramel:
Note: If making individual caramels, have an 8x8 dish lined with parchment paper at the ready. If making caramel corn, prepare 12-15 cups of popped kettle corn and place in a large bowl. (1 1/2 standard size bags of microwave popcorn popped equals about 12 cups. This is the amount I used.)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup light brown sugar, tightly paked
1/2 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (not low fat)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
In a large microwaveable bowl or 8 cup glass measure, combine the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Microwave at 100% power for 2 minutes. Stir mixture well. It will be a little grainy. Microwave for another 2 minutes and stir well. Add 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk. Microwave for 3 minutes. Watch carefully, it is prone to bubble up at this stage. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla extract. Be very careful at this stage, the caramel is extremely hot and sticky!

For Individual Caramels:
Sea salt for sprinkling
Pour hot caramel into the parchment lined pan. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Let stand until set, but still slightly warm. Lift caramel block from pan and cut into individual squares. Wrap in wax paper squares.*Note: My caramels held their shape quite well without being wrapped.

For Caramel Corn:
1 cup peanuts or cashews
Sea salt for sprinkling
Pour nuts over popped kettle corn. Pour hot caramel over popcorn, turning popcorn over with a large wooden spoon to coat. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Microwave caramel coated corn for 4 minutes, stopping after each minute to stir. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Let stand at room temperature until hardened. Break into pieces and store in an air-tight container.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweetened Condensed Milk

I found this recipe in a Joanne Fluke book. I like the simplicity of this recipe and the fact that I have everything in my cupboard. This year's holiday baking seems to need lots of sweetened condensed milk so I am playing with this as I go. Tonight I am making fudge and last weekend I made caramels. So far so good.

Joanne Fluke Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/3 cup boiling water
4 TB butter
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered milk
Whisk water and butter until the butter is melted. Add sugar and mix until dissolved. Add vanilla. Whisk in powdered milk until smooth and creamy. Equals 14 oz can of SC milk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Licorice Cookie Strips

Before you discount this cookie because it has licorice in the title, note that the licorice flavor comes from aniseed that dots the cookie. It's really a sort of butter/sugar cookie. This is a staple in our house when the holidays come. My family loves it (and they hate all things licorice). The cookie really needs a new name but this is what it came with. The dough doesn't look like much but it makes about 10 dozen cookies. They are light crispy cookies so when eating them it will not feel like dozens of cookies. My guys were hanging around just to get cookie scraps since I was making this for a cookie party. This is an easy cookie to make but the dough will be really soft. It firms up some if you let it sit (the last ones cooked will be rather easy to work with compared to the first). I use a rubber spatula sprayed with cooking spray to press these cookies down instead of a fork. They do spread so no more than 3 logs on a cookie sheet. With mine spaced about 2 inches apart they did touch when done cooking but I just used the cutter to seperate. Cut the cookies while they are still warm - I use a hard plastic cake froster to cut them. Also, I don't think I have ever added nuts to this cookie and was actually surprised to see them listed in the ingredients last night. It's up to you. If you do - chop them really fine because these cookies come out thin.

Licorice Cookie Strips
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2-½ cups flour
2 teaspoons aniseed
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup chopped nuts
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in nuts. Divide dough into 10 portions; shape each into a 12 inch log. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a fork to 1/4 inch thickness. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes; cut diagonally into 1 inch slices. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chocolate Jelly Truffles

This recipe is thanks to Joanne Fluke except I changed the name. I wanted to open it up to more flavors than just raspberry. This is the easiest truffle recipe out there. I doubled her recipe for convienence but feel free to cut it back in half.

Chocolate Jelly Truffles
1 package chocolate chips (2 cups)
4 TBs fruit jelly
cocoa powder
Melt chocolate chips and jelly in a double boiler until thick and smooth. Let cool. Roll into balls and refrigerate. Remove and re-roll until small smooth balls (they will spread and soften when warm in the beginning but chilled they will hold their shape well). Roll in cocoa powder. Store in refrigerator.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pancake Cookies

This is one of those recipes that we developed in our house from pancake mix. My mother found a multigrain pancake mix and for a few years these cookies were our standard treat. We gave them up when we went gluten free because we just didn't think about purchasing gluten free pancake mix until we reached the end of our GF diet. The other day my son asked about these cookies because he missed them. At this point in time we have homemade gluten free pancake mix that should go well with this recipe especially since we've been making so many applesauce treats. I apologize for the vagueness of this recipe but it's really easy - everything goes in the bowl and you mix it until it's all smooth (unless you add nuts or chocolate chips which you should wait until the batter is smooth before adding). This is so basic that you can experiment with all sorts of flavors. Tonight I am making these with some leftover apple pie filling that needs to be used up.

2 cups pancake mix
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1 egg or 1/2 cup oil or 1 cup peanut butter (or to taste)
1 tbs. molasses
1 teas vanilla
Bake @ 350 for 10-15 minutes

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Krispy Scotcharoos

This is one of those recipes that my mom made when I was growing up. As an adult I looked for the recipe because she had gotten off a box of rice krispies. The recipe had changed over the years so you will notice that there is an alternative to the recipe - that is how my mother made it all those years while the recipe I have is the one rice krispies had during my search. It's been years since I found it so there is the possibility it has changed again. The only problem with this recipe is that it doesn't hold together as nicely as a rice krispie treat but they taste so good it doesn't matter.

Krispy Scotcheroos
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups rice krispies
6 oz chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
Melt sugar in corn syrup over med heat, stirring until begins to boil. Remove. Add peanut butter, mix, add krispies. Stir until well coated, press into greased pan. Melt chips together, stir well. Top cereal mixture, chill until firm.
-alternative: add butterscotch chips to cereal mixture with peanut butter, top with plain chocolate.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Peanut Soup

This is a weird recipe but the finished result is so good that my family just devours it. It's so easy that a kid can put this together and it doesn't take long to cook.

Peanut Soup
2 TB oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 lg tomatoes or 13 oz diced tomatoes
6 ½ oz peanut butter
3 ½ pint chicken stock
Sauté onions until tender but not brown. Add tomatoes, cook slightly. Add peanut butter and chicken stock. Cook until heated.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lentil Chili

I plan on making this family favorite this week. It's easy to dump in a crockpot or cook over an open fire. My son used this recipe for his first Dutch Oven contest.

Lentil Chili
4 cups dried lentils
6-7 cups water (more as needed)
3-4 large tomatoes chopped or 1 pound canned diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
black pepper to taste
Place lentils and 6 cups water in Dutch oven. Bring to boil and let simmer until the lentils are tender. Add chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, and thyme. Let cook 30 minutes, adding water as necessary. Add tomato sauce, stir and let simmer another 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and black pepper.
Serve hot.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Squash Soup

I made this soup last Christmas and it was a hit. The entire family loved the flavor and the texture. This is a crockpot recipe but I made it on the stove and I did not use the blender. I got the recipe from a Joanne Fluke book.

2 ten-ounce packages winter squash (the kind that’s in a solid block and already pureed)
½ cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon beads (or whatever measure it gives to make 2 cups of chicken broth)
2 cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon pepper
8-oz package cream cheese, unwrapped and softened in the microwave for 1 minute
sour cream and/or parsley for toppings
Cook the squash according to package directions, drain it and put it in a blender. Add the chopped onion and the chicken bouillon beads. Add the heavy cream. Zoop it up in the blender and make sure all the onion pieces are pureed and the mixture is smooth. Add the pepper and the softened cream cheese. Zoop it up again until it’s all smooth and then dump it in the crockpot you’ve sprayed with Pam. Once your soup is in the crockpot, give it a final stir and taste a little bit for seasoning. If it needs more salt, DON’T ADD IT. Add another teaspoon of bouillon beads instead to make it really chickeny. If you want to make your soup sinfully rich, this is the time to cut a half-stick of butter (4 ounces, ¼ pound) into little pieces and throw them in the crockpot. Turn the crockpot on LOW and cook for 4 hours. (This can go an hour or two longer if your company doesn’t arrive on time.) Check for seasonings again right before serving. When you dish it into the bowls, you can top it with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh parsley if you like.
Yield: approximately 4 cups.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Evaporated Milk (dairy and dairy free)

My family has a bug and it's a doosy so my cooking has been rather limited. I hope to take some time tomorrow to rest up and gather my strength and do some cooking in the afternoon.
Last night I made two impossible pumpkin pies. As I am pulling out the ingredients I realize I don't have anymore evaporated milk. I thought this was a perfect time to pull out those substitution recipes I have been holding on to. The pies came out great and you couldn't tell I hadn't used real evaporated milk.
I used powdered milk this time but you can substitute soy milk powder for a dairy free version.

Evaporated milk
1 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup water
Blend well

I just added the milk with the dry and the water with the wet but the instructions for this recipe say to blend in a blender. The milk powder was very visible in the batter but completely gone in the final product.