Black and White Peppermint Fudge

Fudge 1

I think I’ve told you before, I’m a planner.  As in, I kind of freak out if things don’t go as I anticipated…and with Christmas right around the corner, sticking to a plan is crucial.  We had a list of a million and one things to do, and I had everything perfectly scheduled on my calendar to ensure that everything was completed timely, as stress-free as possible.

But the week before Christmas did not go as I had planned.  Doodle, the Tall Boy and I all got the flu.  This was not on my schedule, okay?  In addition to finishing up Christmas shopping, wrapping, and baking, and trying to get everything squared away at work before vacation (yippee!), now my house needed massive sanitation and more laundry washed than I care to think about.

And I won’t go into details of the “Great Gingerbread Fiasco of 2011″ – just envision making a return trip to the grocery store to replace a shattered jar of molasses–only to find the ginger you thought you had was actually a back-up jar of cloves.

Fudge 2

None of that really matters, though.  The point of the season is spending time with your loved ones, and I’m blessed enough to be able to do that.  A few nights ago, Doodle asked what I wanted for Christmas; when I told him all I wanted was him, he gazed at me, bewildered, and said, “But mama, you already have me.”

I’d say my heart is overflowing with the joy of the season.

If you’re looking for a last minute gift idea, here’s a quick and easy fudge recipe that doesn’t require the use of a candy thermometer.  Make it in less than half-an-hour, and package it up for your neighbors, teachers, coworkers…or just eat it yourself.  It is the holidays, after all.

I’m taking a short break to spend some extra time with my guys over the next week, but I’ll be back in full force in the new year with some great recipes to share.  I wish all of you a joyous holiday–may it be filled with love, laughter, and food!
Happy Holidays

Black and White Peppermint Fudge
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 2 pounds
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 ounce can evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • 12 miniature peppermint patties, chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; pour half of mixture into a small bowl.
  2. Add bittersweet chips to half of marshmallow mixture, stirring until chips melt. Stir in extract. Spread mixture into a buttered 8-inch square pan.
  3. Stir white chips into remaining half of marshmallow mixture, stirring until chips melt. Pour mixture over chocolate layer in pan. Sprinkle chopped candies over white chocolate layer. Cover and chill 1 hour or until firm. Cut into squares.

 

Guest Posting at Mom’s Crazy Kitchen: Peppermint Marshmallows

marshmallows 1

Hi guys!  I’m guest posting today over at Mom’s Crazy Cooking - so please click over and check out the peppermint marshmallows I made to share with her readers.

These are soooooo yummy, and much better than the bagged kind you can get at Wal-Mart.  And seriously, they are really not that hard to make.  Promise.

Cranberry Muffins with Eggnog Cream

cranberry muffins 1

To me, it just doesn’t feel like the holidays until I have cranberry bread.  This is the one sweet-bread that the Tall Boy and I can agree on–it’s just tart enough for him, but still sweet enough for me that I don’t feel like I’m eating something healthy.  Because the holidays are all about indulging, right?  And then we all jump aboard the health-conscious train in January?

Or is that just me?

Anyway, when we were tasked with the ingredient combination of cranberries and eggnog for this month’s Improv Challenge, I knew this was as good excuse for me as any to make cranberry bread.

Except I’m fairly lazy and chopping up whole cranberries seems like such a chore.  So when my mother gave me a cranberry bread recipe she found in our local newspaper that actually called for whole cranberries, I felt like my prayers had been answered.  I adapted the recipe to make muffins, and topped each one with eggnog whipped cream–as if the muffins weren’t calorie-laden enough on their own.

Um…yum.

 

cranberry muffins 2

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Cranberry Muffins with Eggnog Cream
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
For the muffins:
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice (about 3 large oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups fresh whole cranberries
For the cream:
  • ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh eggnog
Instructions
For the muffins:
  1. Cream butter, sugar and egg until smooth. Stir in orange juice, zest and vanilla.
  2. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter-egg mixture; stir just to blend. Add cranberries and mix until well combined.
  3. Transfer mixture to muffin pan. Bake at 350 until slightly golden, approximately 18 minutes.
  4. Cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.
For the cream:
  1. While your muffins are cooling, chill your mixing bowl. With the whisk attachment of your electric mixer, combine cream, sugar and eggnog, beating until mixture forms a thick cream. Dollop on top of your muffins right before serving.

 

Peppermint-Stuffed Double Chocolate Cookies

peppermint cookies 1

Yeah, you read that right.  Peppermint-stuffed double chocolate cookies.

Look, if you have time to make just one more goody for your holiday festivities, make these.  Let me get you a little closer so you can see what I mean.

peppermint cookies 2

I might be a little partial, considering peppermint and chocolate is my favorite flavor combination this time of year.  You know, like this and this.  I could be a bit obsessed.  But something about peppermint and chocolate just says “winter” to me.

I know, I know, technically it’s not winter for a few more days.  Nevermind the fact that I’m showing up to work these days wearing long underwear, my snow boots, a scarf, mittens and heavy winter coat–and that’s inside my climate controlled office.  But these cookies also trumpet “Joy to the World” when I bite into them.  There’s just a slight salty undertone to these, which pairs fantastically with the coolness of the peppermint patty and crushed mints.

peppermint cookies 3

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Peppermint-Stuffed Double Chocolate Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • miniature peppermint patties, unwrapped and chilled
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • peppermint candies
Instructions
  1. With your electric mixer, beat the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, salt and baking soda on low speed. Beat in the butter and the egg. Turn out the dough onto plastic wrap. Flatten into a disc and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  2. Working with a tablespoon of dough at a time, use your fingers to encase each peppermint patty with dough. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking.
  3. While your cookies are cooling, melt half of the white chocolate in a double-boiler. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining chocolate until smooth. Drizzle chocolate over cookies and sprinkle with crushed peppermints.

 

I had so much fun participating in Brenda’s 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies and Sweets.  A big thank-you to Brenda for hosting this week after week, as well as a thank-you to everyone who participated–what a great way to share holiday ideas and recipes!  I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday season.

 

If you still need ideas for the holidays, be sure to check out some of these other wonderful goodies!

I’m also linked up today at Mrs. Fox’s Sweets!

No-Fuss Fudge Rum Truffles

rum truffles 1

There’s no doubt that baking during the holidays is one of my favorite things to do.  Making frosted sugar cookies with my son to leave for Santa tops the list, but unfortunately, (lack of) time and busy schedules don’t always allow me to make all of the elaborate goodies that I’d really like.  I spent three hours Tuesday evening frosting cookies for a work committment I’d made a few weeks ago, and I also needed to come up with another yummy goodie to take to my work Christmas luncheon today.

And even when I try to plan ahead, things don’t always go smoothly.  See, I’m lucky enough to work from home on Mondays and Tuesdays; knowing I was going to make these truffles for my work luncheon on Thursday, I thought I’d use my lunch time wisely by baking my cake and having it ready to go for later in the week.  So, over the noon hour, I popped upstairs, heated up my lunch, and popped this cake in the oven.  It should have been done in 30 minutes, just as I was finishing my lunch.

Except it wasn’t.

I opened the oven door to take the cake out, and it hadn’t baked.  Not even a little.  In fact, the oven was barely warm, despite the fact it was piping hot when I slid the cake pan in and set the timer.  I had no idea how it happened, but I didn’t have time to attempt to figure it out.  I turned the oven back on, put the cake back in the oven, and went back downstairs to work.  I made a mental note to run back upstairs in about half an hour to check on the cake, since I can’t hear my oven timer beep when I’m in the basement.

But then I got engrossed in work and forgot.

Fortunately, the cake was only in the oven for an extra minute or two, and everything ended up just fine.  But clearly, multi-tasking is not my thing.

These truffles, however, are my thing.  Since this was a new recipe to me, I “needed” to sample the end product for control purposes.  I mean, it would be embarrassing to take these to share with my coworkers if they weren’t good.  So just to be safe, I sampled three two.

 

 

rum truffles 2

No-Fuss Fudge Rum Truffles
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 package fudge cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts (I omitted these)
  • 1 tablespoon rum or rum extract
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • additional nuts, sprinkle, sugar and/or cocoa, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Prepare, bake and cool cake according to package directions.
  2. Once cool, crumble cake into large bowl. Stir with fork until crumbs are fine and uniform in size. Add 1 cup nuts, rum extract, powdered sugar and cocoa. Stir until well blended.
  3. Shape mixture into balls, about 2 tablespoons each. I used a cookie scoop.
  4. Garnish by rolling balls in finely chopped nuts, sprinkles, sugar and/or cocoa. Press firmly to adhere nuts or sprinkles to truffles.

 

Again, thanks so much to Brenda for hosting the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies and Sweets week after week!  Can you believe we’re just a few weeks away from Christmas?  If you still need baking ideas for the holidays, be sure to check out my previous posts:

{Week 10} Homemade Eggnog
{Week 9} Chocolate Cinnamon Chip Cookies
{Week 8} Peppermint Candy Bark
{Week 7} Mint Cookies with White Chocolate Ganache
{Week 6} Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

 

And be sure to check out all of the rest of these yummy treats!

Eggnog Fudge

eggnog fudge 1

Fudge is probably my all-time favorite Christmas candy.

Except for a few years following the Christmas I ate so much of my grandmother’s fudge that I got sick.  Really sick.

But seriously, it wasn’t my fault.  I mean, if people leave stacks of candy and cookies around on tables, buffets, countertops, and anywhere else a kid can reach them without asking for permission first, you have to know it’s going to get eaten.

I ate a lot of it.

Needless to say, I was super excited when I found out that Tina’s Crazy Cooking Challenge this month involved posting fudge recipes.  Sugar-coma heaven, here I come!  Don’t know about the Crazy Cooking Challenge?  Check it out:

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And since I just recently attempted to make my own eggnog, I was especially thrilled when I stumbled on this recipe for White Chocolate Eggnog Fudge over at Not So Humble Pie.  I adapted the recipe a bit to add crushed peppermints to the top, since I am basically a peppermint addict this time of the year.

This fudge was amazing!  And even though the recipe entailed using a candy thermometer, it wasn’t hard at all.  I used the leftover eggnog I’d made a few days before in this fudge–I’m not sure if it was my eggnog recipe, or if store-bought would have the same results, but this was the creamiest fudge I’ve ever eaten.  Absolutely fabulous.  It was also extremely smooth, and I loved the contrast of the crushed peppermints on top.  Fudge perfection!

eggnog fudge 2

4.5 from 2 reviews
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup fresh eggnog
  • 11 ounces chopped white chocolate
  • ½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 7 ounce jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • crushed peppermints, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x9 inch pan with buttered foil.
  2. Combine sugar, butter and eggnog into a heavy sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, attach a candy thermometer and reduce the heat to a hair above medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes until your thermometer reads 234°F , stirring constantly.
  3. Once your mixture hits the appropriate temperature, remove from heat and add chocolate stirring vigorously until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add the marshmallow creme, nutmeg and rum extract and mix until well blended.
  4. Pour the mixture into your pan and sprinkle with crushed peppermints. Allow to cool on a wire rack until room temperature.

Check out some of these other great fudge recipes:

Poinsettia Sangria

sangria 3

Let’s not talk about the abysmal quality of this photo, okay?  Just trust me when I tell you that this stuff is yummy.

Truly, I’d planned to re-shoot this photo, but my week is not going as planned and I’m just trying to “go with the flow” instead of resorting to breathing in a brown paper bag.

Ahh, the holiday season.  Gotta love it.

And actually, I do love it just a little bit more with this in hand.  And by swapping out the alcohol for a little more cranberry juice and some lemon-lime soda, this can easily be adapted for a kid-friendly version.

Author: 
Recipe type: Beverage
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • ¼ cup orange liqueur
  • ¼ cup thawed frozen cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 Gala apple, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Cover and chill 1 to 8 hours. Garnish with additional fruit, if desired.

 

Homemade Eggnog

eggnog 1

A few years ago, I went on this total health-food kick and pretty much gave up anything full-fat.  I know, I know, some fat in your diet is actually a good thing, but back then I had a difficult time determining how much was too much.

Like, is it too much to drink an entire half-gallon of Southern Comfort traditional eggnog all by yourself…in three days?  ‘Cause I could sure do it, friends.  Don’t think I didn’t.

And that’s when I decided to really tone back my eating.  It was a sad, sad time.  Especially when I convinced myself that low-fat eggnog was just as good as the Southern Comfort kind (or any full-fat kind.  The SoCo stuff is just my own personal favorite.).  Umm….a half-cup of Southern Comfort traditional eggnog has 200 calories and 9 grams of fat; the low-fat stuff hovers around 120 calories with 2.5 grams of fat.

They are not the same, okay?

In terms of holiday food and beverage, eggnog is probably the number one thing I look forward to during the holiday season.  I mean, you can’t even buy it eleven months out of the year–why should I deprive myself, right?  Anyway, now I just allow myself to indulge in the real stuff, and share it with Doodlebug so I don’t end up drinking the entire container myself.

I’ve always been interested in making my own eggnog, but have been a little timid about the whole raw-egg thing.  However, this recipe cooks the yolks, and since we didn’t drink it gallons at a time, I felt pretty safe in consuming it.  I have to say: this was the absolute creamiest, frothiest (hmmm, if that’s not a word, it should be!) nog I’ve ever imbibed.  Definitely worth the fat and calories!

Happy Holidays!

Recipe type: beverage
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces bourbon*
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 egg whites
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the ⅓ cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture.
Notes
*Since I made this family-friendly, I omitted the bourbon and instead added a few teaspoons of rum extract.

Yikes!  I can’t believe it’s already Week 10 of 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies and Sweets! Thanks so much to Brenda for hosting this week after week.

How is everyone else faring in their holiday planning and preparation?  If you need some inspiration for your holiday baking, check out my previous posts:

{Week 9} Chocolate Cinnamon Chip Cookies
{Week 8} Peppermint Candy Bark
{Week 7} Mint Cookies with White Chocolate Ganache
{Week 6} Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

And if none of those strike your fancy, check out some of these great ideas from all of this weeks participants!

Caramel Apple Swirl Cake

Caramel Apple Swirl Cake

I’m not usually a cake-from-a-box-mix kind of gal.  Which really has more to do with the fact that I don’t often make cakes than it does with anything else.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I like cakes just fine.  But it’s really the buttercream icing I love–and it’s better that I don’t get started eating that.

I mean, I would like to be able to fit into the same shorts next summer, and with the way this holiday season is shaping up, those chances are starting to look pretty slim.

Why did no one tell me that starting a food blog also meant gaining weight?  Argh, quality control is my nemisis.

Anyhoo, the kind folks at Duncan Hines sent me coupons to try some of their products as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers Program, and I really can’t turn down an opportunity to make sweets or some other form of baked goodness.  And in all seriousness, when I do purchase cake mixes, I really do prefer Duncan Hines.  See?  Here’s the proof, back when I knew absolutely nothing about food blogging and even less about taking pictures.

Since I hadn’t tried some of Duncan Hines newer products, I decided to give a few of those a try:

duncan hines ingredients

Okay, the Wilderness-Comstock apple pie filling was not new to me, but I thought it would be a great way to spice up the Apple-Caramel cake mix.  And boy, was I right.  I have no doubt that the mix would have been wonderful just on its own, but the fruit filling gave the dessert a little more of a “homemade” feel.  You all know how I feel about homemade stuff, right?

To make this cake, I simply followed the directions on the back of the box.  This mix came with a packet of caramel sauce that you dollop over the top of the prepared batter once you pour it in your pan.  Then I used the can of apple pie filling and dropped it onto the batter as well.  Gave it all a swirl, and baked.  We ended up with this:

duncan hines cake 2

And then drizzled the glaze on top:

duncan hines cake 3

If you need a quick and easy dessert for a holiday party this year folks, this one is it!  This cake took less than five minutes to get into the oven, and it baked while we ate dinner.  Not only was this super-simple, but it got rave reviews from the Tall Boy, who isn’t even big on sweets.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, Duncan Hines has provided me with coupons to give away to my readers for any one (1) free Duncan Hines product ($3.99 maximum value).  To enter for a chance to win simply:  (1) Leave a comment below and (2) “Like” my Facebook page.  (If you already like my facebook page, all you need to do is leave a comment below).  I’ll select two random winners to receive two coupons each.  Winners will be announced on the bottom of this post and also on my Facebook page Monday, December 5, 2011.  USA residents only.  Good luck!!

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a coupon for a free Duncan Hines and Wilderness-Comstock product. However, any opinion expressed in this post is solely my own, ’cause that’s how I roll.

The giveway is now closed.  Random.org was used to select the winners.  Congratulations to lucky commenters #1 and #5–Melanie and BreAna!  Please e-mail your mailing address to me at kitchenmeetsgirl(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll have your coupons out in time for holiday baking!

 

Summer Sausage

summer sausage

Next to sweets, my favorite thing on the holiday table is summer sausage (can someone please explain to me why we call it summer sausage when we eat it during the Christmas holiday??).  But not any summer sausage–my mom’s summer sausage.  Look, I’m not saying there is a thing wrong with the stuff that looks like this:

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Photo by Hickory Farms

I’ve eaten this on many, many occasions, and it’s totally fine.  Good, even.

But great?

Ummm, not when you compare it to the kind you can make yourself.  I’ve gone along for years thinking this was a difficult item to make, since it requires curing salt and I’d never purchased that before, let alone used it.  Also, since I “didn’t know how” to make my own summer sausage, that meant that I could convince my mom to make it for me and then I’d stuff the extra rolls into my purse to smuggle home.

The only problem with that is that if you forget to take it out of your purse, your tube of Bare Escentuals Buxom lip gloss ends up smelling like a meat factory.  Also, you’re sort of limited to how many slices you can eat.

And since I like to eat a lot of this (as do the Tall Boy and Doodlebug), I decided it was high-time I learned to make it myself.  And guess what?  It’s not hard at all.

Don’t tell my mom.

 

Summer Sausage collage

5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Morton Quick Cure Salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic juice (you can substitute garlic powder or granulated garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon whole mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients, working together well with your hands.
  2. Shape into three tolls about six inches long. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 24 hours.
  3. Remove wrap and place rolls on a rack in a shallow pan. Bake at 300 for one hour. Rolls will turn pink during cooking.
  4. Cool; then wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge.