My Favorite Cookie

Everyone has a favorite. Chocolate chip cookies are usually number one in almost everyone’s answer. With or without nuts.  It’s a big debate, though. Actually I don’t like nuts in cookies. So there’s my answer on the chocolate chip cookie question 

But they aren’t my favorite. They’re good, yes, but my very favorite is oatmeal raisin. And amazingly enough, my best friend has the same favorite! What are the chances of that!

However, recently we’ve both changed our mind, just a little. Because last year when I was making Christmas cookies,  of course I had to have my favorite kind included. I’d already mixed up the dough, and preheated the oven, but when I reached for my box of raisins, they weren’t there!

Now I almost always grab all my ingredients before I start mixing, but this time….well obviously I messed up.

So now what to do? I really didn’t want to do them with chocolate chips, and plain oatmeal cookies are still good, but I needed to have something else in them. Then I saw the package of Craisins. Well they’re similar to raisins, so what the heck?! 

And I mixed those in. And baked the cookies. 

And I tried them as soon as they were cool enough to eat! Absolutely delicious! Definitely a new favorite. Move over raisins! You’ve been replaced!

So if you want to try this new favorite, here’s the recipe for Oatmeal Craisin Cookies. Or, you can always buy a packaged mix and add the craisins like you would those boring raisins. Just don’t tell your secret!

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 – 8 oz Craisins

Preheat over to 375 degrees. In medium bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar together til light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well.

Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add to butter mixture, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in Craisins. (And don’t eat any of them as you’re doing that; save them for the cookies!.)

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes til golden brown Remove to wire racks and cool. And then you can eat a few as soon as they’ve cooled down a bit. You don’t want to burn your mouth!

And if you want to be adventurous, throw in some white baking chips (about 2/3 cup) with those Craisins! They’re awesome as well!

And now…I need a cookie! Or three.

And by the way, did you know that oatmeal raisin/craisin cookies count as breakfast? At least they do in my book. After all it’s a combination of oatmeal and fruit. So……

Leftover Halloween Candy?

That’s sort of like how to use leftover wine, isn’t it? Like who really has leftover Halloween candy? (or wine?)

Well, actually, we usually do have some leftover Halloween candy each year. We usually buy too much (on purpose) because we do enjoy it, and even though I am still working remotely, I do like to have a candy dish in my home office. And what better to fill it with then those miniature pieces of candy that are so tempting.

And at Halloween it’s worse, because the bags are bigger, and they’re usually on sale.

After Halloween it’s even worse because the bags are marked down even more, and if you get to the store early on the day after, you can really stock up.

When our daughter was still a child, we would sit on the floor after trick or treating with her and our neighbor’s son and sort through all the candy, making sure it was ok to eat of course, and then exchanging pieces back and forth if one kid didn’t like something and the other did. We all made out fairly well from the candy exchange and of course, ended up with a lot more in each house than we really needed to eat!

Now that our daughter is married with children of her own, we don’t have as much leftover candy from trick or treating, because we go to their house and join the granddaughters on their Halloween trick or treating. Their neighborhood goes all out for Halloween, with most of the homes decorating their yards with all manner of blow ups, giant spiders, skeletons; you name it, and it’s there somewhere. Many of the residents (and a lot of them are dressed up as well) sit outside in their driveways with their portable firepits going and hand out candy to all the kids. Some even have adult beverage treats for the adults! Those of us with children (or grandchildren in our case) usually rent golf carts from the clubhouse and decorate them, and then drive around the community with the little ones to get their goodies. It’s really a lot of fun, and much easier to ride in the golf carts than walk, because their development is so big.

But back to the candy. I’ve been hearing ads on the radio and seeing Facebook posts about where to donate leftover candy. Well, that may be good for some people, but chocolate candy is a bit pricey, and call me selfish, but I sort of want to eat it…..?

Last year, I ran across a couple of recipes for brownies using Halloween candy. And I thought, why not try it? I had a big bowl of it sitting around in the kitchen, and since I do enjoy baking I tried it. And it was really good! And easy.

So here’s the recipe for those of you who want to try something new!

Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbl flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • t/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup M&M’s
  • 1/2 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate candy bars

OR, you may want to use a boxed brownie mix, follow those directions and just add the candy!

To make the brownies from “scratch”, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ square baking pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat brown sugar, butter, and vanilla together in a separate large bowl using an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.

Fold in candy and press into prepared baking pan. You can add a little extra, which I did, but just don’t add too much or it won’t cook properly. Bake in pre-heated oven 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan on wire rack for ten minutes and then cut into squares.

Then enjoy! They’re delicious. In fact, I think I’ll go make some!

Christmas Pretzel Salad

I’m not a big fan of pretzels. Never have been. And Jello, well, that’s never been on my list of dessert options either! So naturally when I was first served this pretty concoction, and told what was in it, I was a bit hesitant to try it. But my mother and my aunt both assured me it was delicious.

And  it did have strawberries and cream cheese in it, so what could be so bad?

And ever since that first taste, it’s become a staple on our Christmas dinner table. It’s tasty, and the color is perfect to match the festive red and green of the season. In fact, some of our guests have said it’s too good to be served as a salad, and actually prefer it as a dessert.

I will warn you though, it’s a bit tricky to finish making, because you have to be absolutely sure the strawberry mixture is cooled and won’t melt the cream cheese mixture. Cream cheese and Jello soup is NOT what you’re attempting to make!

But it’s well worth the extra time it takes to create it. Be sure to make it a day ahead to give it plenty of time to set properly.

And it looks really pretty cut into squares and served on a Christmas plate decorated with sprigs of holly! Silk holly, preferably!

 

Christmas Pretzel Salad

2 c crushed pretzels
3/4 c butter, melted
3 tbl sugar

Stir together and mix well. Press into bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes til set. Set aside to cool.

1 – 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 c sugar
1 – 8 oz container Cool Whip

Mix together cream cheese and sugar; fold in cool whip. Spread mixture over cooled crust.

2 – 3 oz pkg strawberry Jello
2 c boiling water
2 – 10 oz pkg frozen strawberries

Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Stir in strawberries and allow it to set. When mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread over cream cheeses layer. Refrigerate until set.

Serve chilled.

Christmasy Snowball Cookies

I love the look and taste of those Russian tea cookies, especially for Christmas. They look so much like miniature snowballs, sitting on a Christmasy plate or in a crystal bowl decorated with a sprig of holly, just waiting to be enjoyed.

Most of the recipes I’ve seen are pretty much the same…flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, finely chopped nuts, baked and rolled in lots of confectioners’ sugar.

However, I always felt something was missing in them, and as a huge fan of chocolate (I don’t know too many people who aren’t), I finally figured it out. And adding miniature chocolate chips to them makes all the difference in the world! It’s like finding a sweet hidden surprise when you bite into them! And who wouldn’t want that?!

chocolate-chip-snowball-cookies-1-of-4And I’m also thinking about what else I could put in them to make a bit more of a surprise?! Maybe some finely chopped candied cherries, chopped pieces of candy canes, or other assorted baking pieces you find in the store this time of year.

Now here’s an idea I’ve always thought about doing; making them in different sizes, stacking 2-3 snowballs together, and anchoring them together with frosting so you’d have a round cookie snowman! You could use dots of decorating gel for eyes and buttons, and can you just imagine the cuteness!? It’s certainly something I’m going to try when our granddaughter is a bit older. How fun will making those be??

But for now I’ll continue to bake them as usual and just enjoy eating them one by one. In a few years though, who knows…??

Frosty the Snowman may make his appearance!

 

Christmasy Snowballs

3 sticks butter, softened
3/4 c confectioners’ sugar
1 tbl vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 c flour
2 c miniature chocolate morsels
1/2 c finely chopped pecans
Additional confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, & salt until creamy. Gradually beat in flour.

Stir in chocolate morsels and nuts. Shape into 1 1/4″ balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake until lightly browned.

Sift (not roll!!) confectioners’ sugar over HOT cookies while on baking sheet. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cookies to wire racks to cool. Sprinkle with additional sugar if desired. Store in airtight container.

Tip: Combine 1/3 c confectioners’ sugar and colored sprinkles together in plastic freezer bag. After cookies are baked, gently roll and shake cookies in mixture for a festive look! Serve on serving platter with springs of holly and a Christmas ornament or two for decoration!

Red Velvet Christmas Cookies

Last week I mentioned my red velvet Christmas Cookies in my Christmas fudge blog. Well, I had a lot of requests for the recipe, so after making a batch of them this week, and sampling far too many of them, I decided I needed to share the recipe so you can enjoy them as much as we do!

The recipe isn’t original. I found it on several websites as well as quite a few Pinterest boards. But one thing is totally true; they are delicious!! Yes, I modified them just a bit, but the end justifies the means, as the saying goes. In fact they’re so good my best friend (who does NOT like cooking in any way!) asked me to show her how to make them for their church cookie exchange!

red-velvet-crinkle-cookies9-editsrgbRed velvet is a special taste, although many people say they can’t tell the difference between red velvet and chocolate. Perhaps it’s the red color, or perhaps it’s just what the name seems to imply; a richness that you can’t get just anywhere, or in any other recipe.

I will warn you, rolling them into balls to put on the cookie sheets will most definitely turn your hands red! No matter how chilled the dough is! It also helps to rub confectioners’ sugar on your hands (instead of flour) during the process so the dough won’t stick quite as much. But the finished product is worth it. If you love red velvet desserts as much as we do, that is!

So here is the recipe we used. Feel free to enjoy And a word of advice from my husband; they’re even better warm from the oven and served with vanilla ice cream!

 

 

Sinful Red Velvet Cookies

8 oz cream cheese, softened (the last time I made them I had to run to store to get the cream cheese before we went to dinner and ended up bringing it inside the restaurant in my purse to soften while we ate!)

1 stick butter, softened (I never use anything but real butter)
1 egg, room temperature
1 tbl vanilla
18 oz box red velvet cake mix
3/4 c white baking chips

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.

Beat in cake mix. Blend in chips by hand.

Cover mixture and chill at least 2 hours until easy to handle.

Roll into tablespoon size balls and roll in confectioners’ sugar. Place 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet. I usually make a slight thumbprint on each one before baking.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Cookies will be soft and gooey. Sprinkle with more confectioners’ sugar and red sprinkles for a festive touch.

Remove to wire rack and let cool. Store in airtight container.

And watch them quickly disappear!

Christmas Fudge

One of my mother’s favorites to make for Christmas was chocolate fudge. Along with her Christmas cookies, of course. And she made it every year. It was devoured within a few days.

There’s just something about that smooth, chocolatey sweetness that just screams Christmas! Especially if you add a few shopped candy canes on top of it for decoration. My mother didn’t do that, but if I’m going to cook, I have to put my own touch on whatever I make.

I remember my mom standing in the kitchen, patiently stirring and testing the consistency to make sure it didn’t get grainy or scalded. There is a trick to good fudge making, you know. And with the recipes I have, you really need to use a candy thermometer.

And you also have to remember NOT to try to taste the chocolate mixture as you’re putting it in the pan, because it’s hot and will DEFINITELY burn your mouth! No, I didn’t try it, but just don’t ask who did…..

So I’m happy to share my mother’s fudge recipe with you, as well as a couple others that you may want to try. Yes, you can buy fudge already made, cut apart, and boxed, but this time of year, there’s just something about making real homemade candy and cookies.

Even for someone like me who doesn’t really cook that much!

So here is my mother’s fudge recipe. Feel free to try it, and see how you like it!

 

fudgeRachel’s Chocolate Fudge:
3 c sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 c milk
1 c. light syrup (she used Karo syrup)
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 c butter (real butter, not margarine)

Combine ingredients and cook on low-medium heat until it reaches soft ball stage. Use a candy thermometer unless you want to drip a little bit of candy in a cup of cold water to see if it forms a soft ball. Personally, to be safe, use the candy thermometer!

Remove mixture from heat and stir in 2 tsp of vanilla. Cool for 25 minutes, then beat with a large spoon (not electric mixer) until it thickens.

Spread into lightly buttered 8x8x2 glass baking pan. Let cool, and then cut into squares.
Mom always made two batches; one with nuts, and one without, since I’m not a fan of nuts in cookies or fudge. Try it whatever way you like!

I’ve also included two other recipes here that I’m going to make this year. Please note they are not original creations, and the creators are noted. Please also feel free to visit their websites for more yummy creations!

 

red-velvet-fudge-taste-of-homeRed Velvet Candy Cane Fudge – Taste of Home (recipe created by Crystal Schlueter)
(I love red velvet cake, and I have a red velvet cookie recipe, so I am SO going to try this one!)

2 pkg white baking chips, divided
2/3 c semisweet chocolate chips
3 tsp shortening, divided
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ tsp red paste food coloring
4 c confectioners sugar, divided
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
3 tbl crushed peppermint candies

Line a 13×9″ pan with foil; grease foil with butter.

In large microwave safe bowl combine 3 ¼ c white baking chips, chocolate chips, and tsp shortening. Microwave on high, uncovered, 1 minute. Stir. Microwave at additional 15 sec intervals until smooth. Stir in milk and food coloring. Gradually add 1 c confectioners sugar. Spread into prepared pan. [Sounds easy so far! – Deb]

In another large microwave safe bowl, me; remaining white baking chips and shortening. Stir until smooth. Beat in cream cheese and extracts. Gradually beat in remaining confectioners sugar until smooth. Spread over red layer; sprinkle with crushed candies. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.

Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Remove foil; cut fudge into 1” squares. Store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.

Visit Taste of Home for more recipes!

 

mint-chocolate-chip-fudge-recipe-chocolatechocolateandmore-60aMint Chocolate Chip Fudge – Chocolate, Chocolate and More©
(Since I really like chocolate mint chip ice cream, this one really looks good!)

3 ¼ c white baking chips
2 tbl butter
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2-3 tsp mint extract (not peppermint)
Green food coloring as needed
3/4 c mini chocolate chips, divided

Line an 8x8x2″ pan with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, microwave white chips and butter on high for 60 seconds. Let rest one minute and check to see if melted. If needed, microwave further at 15 second intervals. Stir until all lumps are gone.

Stir in milk, and extract. Add food coloring to desired color. Let cool for a few minutes and fold in ½ c mini chocolate chips.

Press fudge into prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining mini chocolate chips on top and gently press into fudge. Refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours to set before cutting into squares. Store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.

Visit Chocolate, Chocolate and More© to view this recipe and more!

So are you ready for holiday candy making? Let the fun begin!

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

There are a number of special food delights associated with Easter. Certainly chocolate bunnies, Cadbury crème eggs (be still my heart!), those sugary marshmallow peeps, jelly beans, and the chocolate covered Easter eggs we discussed last week are some of the first to come to mind.

You can also find a lot of cute Easter treats to make for kids on Pinterest*, one of my addictions, such as rice krispie “nests” filled with jelly beans or peeps, creatively decorated coconut cakes made in the shape of bunnies or even decorated with more peeps….you get the idea!

But one particular item I’ve always enjoyed at Easter is the Hot Cross Buns. My mother would buy them every year, as soon as they were in the grocery store, which was usually about a month before Easter Sunday. And as soon as Easter was over, once the stock was sold out, you couldn’t find them again until next year.

5ecf625ec1bf91acb4247c48f2cfb15fIt’s funny how my mother, who was a wonderful cook, never tried to make them herself. Most likely it would’ve been fairly easy, especially using her special cinnamon bun recipe.

Next year I’m most likely going to be trying all kinds of those creative treats I mentioned before, because we’ll have our granddaughter next Easter, since that’s what grandmothers are supposed to do. But for right now, I’m going to try this recipe that I found years ago and just filed away in my “things to make sometime when I have the desire” recipe box. It sounds good, and it also sounds fairly easy. And I like both! And don’t be put off by how long the directions seem to be. They are very similar to how we make my mother’s cinnamon buns, and those are easy!

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

1 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 c warm milk, divided
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 c dried fruit (combination of currants, and chopped candied citrus peel – and yes, I’d add a bit extra!)
2 tsp grated orange zest

In bowl, mix together 1/4 c of warmed milk and 1 tsp of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the milk and let set 5-10 minutes, til foamy.

In large bowl vigorously whisk together 3 c flour, salt, spices, and 1/4 c sugar.

Make a well in the flour mixture and add yeast mixture, softened butter, eggs, and remainder of milk. Mix ingredients until well blended (will be “shaggy” and sticky). Add fruit and orange zest.

Slowly sprinkle in remaining flour, 1 tbl at a time, kneading after each addition, until mixture is no longer completely sticking to your hands. Form dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap for 2 hours, or until doubled in size. (Be sure to put in a warm spot in your kitchen)

When ready, take dough, and roll into a log shape and cut into two halves, leaving one half in bowl until ready to use. Cut dough you are using into 8 pieces. Take dough and form into mounds, placing them 1 1/2” apart on baking sheet. Cover mounds again with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

orange-hot-cross-buns-su-xPreheat oven to 400. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tbl milk. Score tops of buns in cross pattern with a knife (deeply cut so that the cuts will stay visible after baking). Brush egg mixture on top of dough. Bake on middle rack in over 10-12 minutes til lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool in pan for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

When buns are totally cooled whisk together 1 tsp milk and 3-4 tbl powdered sugar, adding sugar until you get a thick consistency. Place in plastic bag and snip off corner to make pastry bag. Pipe lines across the top of each bun to make a cross.

*If you want to visit my personal Pinterest board to see the Easter goodies I’m talking about, here’s the link: https://www.pinterest.com/bdnewell/easter-ideas

Chocolate Easter Eggs

I admit I absolutely love those chocolate covered eggs sold this time of year. When I was little I couldn’t wait to get in my Easter basket, grab the big chocolate coconut egg, and take a huge bite out of it! And were they ever delicious!

They still are. And I still have to have one every year!

However, it’s become quite popular now for people (not me yet) to make their own chocolate covered Easter eggs. A lot of organizations sell them as fundraisers. The hair salon where my mother used to go sold them every year, and I’m sure they still do.

One thing I’ve never tried to do, though, is make my own. But I thought just for the fun of it, I’d try to see how complicated they are to make. So I paged through all of my mom’s old church cookbooks as well as recipes she’d cut out of the local newspapers, and came up with a couple of recipes!

easter egg2I doubt I’ll have time to try them this year, but next year, since we’ll have an almost year old granddaughter at Easter, well, I’m sure there will be lots of new things made that I’ve never tried before!

I’ve not made candy before. And I confess I haven’t tried this recipe, but it sure sounds easy enough. Maybe next year I’ll attempt it. But if you try it, or have other similar recipes you’ve tried, let me know. I’m always interested in new ideas!

Chocolate Easter Eggs

½ c butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla or 1 tsp almond extract (I’d probably try coconut extract as well)
2 ¼ lb fine confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ lb semisweet baking chocolate, melted

Decorative icing, sprinkles, or cake decorator candy flowers

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk and extract. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar until well blended. (Note: I’d probably try to add some finely shredded coconut in this mixture, because my favorites are the coconut cream eggs.)

Knead with hands until mixture is soft and easy to shape. Form into egg shapes. (This is where I would say a bit of skill and ingenuity comes in. Probably mine wouldn’t look as close to an egg shape as I’d like, but we shall see…)

Place eggs onto tray or cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Cover and chill for 4 hours or until firm.

Place each egg on a fork and dip into melted chocolate, letting excess drip off. Place back on tray, cover, and let stand until firm. Refrigerate for best results.

easter eggsWhile still most, you can decorate with colored sprinkles, or add the candy flowers. I would wait an hour or so to add the decorative icing, but remember, I haven’t tried these yet, so it’s a matter of trying it out to see which works the best.

I would probably display or serve these in decorative cupcake cups, especially the ones that are shaped as flowers. You might even want to put them in an Easter basket if they turn our really nice!

Happy candy making!

Homemade salt water taffy

I love salt water taffy! Especially when I can go to Ocean City and get it at Dolle’s! Best ever! I’d love to try making it sometime, but for now, I’ll just look at the pictures, read the directions, and be glad that someone else can do it! And if someone wants to make it for me, I’ll be happy to accept it!

Little House Bliss

Homemade Salt Water TaffyThere are a couple of foods that I always associate with trips to New England and the beach.  The first is Campbell’s classic chicken noodle soup (not sure why?), and the other is salt water taffy.  I love the big boxes of mixed flavor salt water taffy, but it never seems to last long enough ( really, is there such a thing as lasting long enough when it comes to salt water taffy?)  Turns out, it’s not that hard to make, and now I can have salt water taffy any time I want, not just every few years on vacation.  And I know that I could probably buy it at Walmart, but it’s just not the same.  Somehow making it at home doesn’t wreck the nostalgia factor like I know buying taffy from a big-box store would.

This is a great recipe to make if you have a husband or other…

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Dreaming of Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Yes, I know I already wrote some thoughts on the day, but still, Valentine’s Day traditionally means, among other things, CHOCOLATE!

Flowers are beautiful and smell wonderful. Diamonds are always the right color and sparkle. And wine and champagne, well, they’re celebratory as well.

But chocolate. Chocolate talks to you. It loves you. It really, really loves you. And let’s face it, there are really very, very few of you who don’t like chocolate. I’m sure there are a few scattered here and there, but basically, chocolate cures just about anything. Or so it seems.

You say you had a bad day? Eat some chocolate. You’re feeling a bit down? Eat a piece of chocolate. A bad hair day? Chocolate helps. Chocolate understands.

You get the picture, right?

And I’m not talking white chocolate. That’s good, in its place. But for now, I’m talking the true milk chocolate, or my personal favorite, dark chocolate.

So for chocolate lovers everywhere, for Valentine’s Day, or for National Chocolate Day, whenever that may be, here are two of my family’s special chocolate recipes to try.

Mom’s Chocolate Fudge Deluxe

3 c sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 c milk
1/2 c light karo syrup
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 c butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 c walnuts (optional, especially for me!)

Mix first 6 ingredients. Cook until it reaches a soft ball stage. Remove from heat and pour into large mixing bowl. Stir in vanilla. Cool for 25 minutes. Beat until thickened; stir in nuts, if desired. Spread in 8×8’ buttered pan; cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!
chocolate fudge
Aunt Mary’s Hot Fudge Sauce (just right for a special hot fudge sundae)

1 large can evaporated milk
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Mix ingredients and cook in double boiler until thickened, stirring constantly. Cool somewhat and pour over ice cream. Serve immediately!ice+cream+sundae

Remember, there’s always room for chocolate. And on holidays or other special occasions, there’s no calories in it!

Super Wings…Eastern Shore Style

Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, no one really bought chicken wings to fix for anything special. They were sold in packages in the local grocery store, but the only people who bought them, bought them to make chicken soup or chicken stew. Or, like we did, to use for crab bait.

Back when I was growing up, chicken wings, and chicken backs and necks, were mainly used for crabbing. We’d buy them on sale and keep them frozen until we needed them. Then we’d thaw them out, safety-pin them on a weighted string line, and toss them off the pier into the Bay. We’d end the day with three or four dozen crabs, and have a great dinner! If there were any leftover wings, we’d re-freeze them, and use them the next time. After all, the crabs didn’t care whether the wings had been re-frozen several times or not. They didn’t have to worry about getting a stomach ache, because they were going to end up in someone else’s stomach!

But more on the joys of crabbing another time. This post is about making chicken wings for your Super Bowl party. Eastern Shore style wings. Made with what else, that extremely popular favorite seasoning for Maryland steamed crabs, Old Bay®! (Which our son-in-law puts on almost everything, but that’s another post for another Saturday!)

Chicken wings have become extremely popular for casual dinners and parties, since my younger days of using them as crab bait (and we still do when we have the opportunity to go crabbing). There are tons of variations. The traditional Buffalo (spicy) style, honey glazed, barbecue, teriyaki…you name it, there’s a recipe for it.
grilled wings
So in honor of Super Bowl 50, why not try one of these two Old Bay® chicken wing recipes? I can’t promise they’ll be the hit of our own Super Bowl party, but I guess it depends on which team our guests are cheering for! Of course, there’s no Maryland team in the big game this year…but I’ve already picked my winner!

Grilled Chicken Wings with Old Bay®

3 lb chicken wings (separate drumettes and wing tips)
3/4 c flour
2 tbl Old Bay® seasoning
1/4 c butter, melted
1/4 c hot sauce

Mix flour and Old Bay® in large re-sealable freezer bag. Wash chicken wings and pat dry; add wings, several at a time. Shake to coat well. Remove to platter. Repeat until all pieces are well coated.

Grill over medium high heat 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through and skin is crisp, turning often. (If you’re like us, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit chilly outside. The grill is always ready!)

To serve, mix butter and hot sauce in large bowl. Add cooked wings; toss to coat. And enjoy with your favorite libation!

Beer Baked Chicken Wings with Old Bay®

2 lb chicken wings (separate drumettes and wing tips)
3/4 c Old Bay®
1/2 c vinegar
1/2 c beer (brand of your choice)
1/2 c vegetable oil
Non-stick coating spray

Wash chicken wings and pat dry; place in re-sealable freezer bag. Stir together vinegar, beer, vegetable oil, and Old Bay®; pour into freezer bag over wings, shaking well so wings are covered. Put the bag on a big dish and refrigerate at least two hours; preferably overnight, turning a few times to coat well.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray two aluminum foil lined cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Remove wings from bag and spread on cookie sheets in single layer.

Bake 40 minutes or until crisp and browned.

Serve with ranch dressing, bleu cheese dressing, or other dressing of your choice.

And may your team WIN!

Chicken and Dumplings Time

Last Friday night we were sitting around the table as the freezing rain (not snow, thank goodness!) pounded on the skylights and the wind howled an ugly melody none of us wanted to hear. We had guests coming for dinner the next evening, and I had no idea what to fix. All of a sudden, it hit me. What more appropriate warm comfort meal than good ol’ Eastern Shore chicken and dumplings! Definitely one of Ben’s favorites, and something neither of our friends had enjoyed before.

So chicken and dumplings it was! Except I had no chicken. No problem, just go buy one the next morning, right? That got a bit tricky, however, because when Ben went to the store for me, the first three grocery stores he went to were totally out of chicken. Seems the upcoming predicted snow storm produced a run on chicken. Who knew? Fortunately the butcher at the last store he visited said they didn’t have any whole chickens left in the meat department, but the deli department did. I guess the butcher felt bad for him when she saw the look of disappointment on his face as he explained how his wife had offered to fix chicken and dumplings for him, and he HAD to find a chicken! Of course, the deli department manager said they couldn’t sell the uncooked chickens because they weren’t cooked! Yes, that’s what he wanted them for…to cook! After some convincing by the butcher, the deli manager packed up two uncooked chickens for Ben, and he happily brought home his two prized birds!
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Ben grew up in the Midwest where they had chicken and dumplings as well, but the ones he’d always had were biscuits cooked on top of a pot of chicken. Not at all what we make on the Eastern Shore. When he first looked at my mother’s chicken and dumplings and saw this concoction of flat white squares of shiny dough, he wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to do with them. He didn’t want to insult my mother, but, well he’d made up his mind that he probably wouldn’t like them.

Surprise! They instantly became his favorite meal!

There were many Sunday afternoon family dinners when I was growing up that featured chicken and dumplings. LOTS of dumplings. My uncles would always argue good naturedly over who got the last bit of them, and there were never any left. And even better, when my grandmother would bake one of the chickens from her henhouse, sometime eggs would be inside; just the yolk, no shell. Now THAT was some good eating! And reserved for us kids only!

I’ve fixed this for years, and introduced lots of friends to the joy of chicken and dumplings. Our daughter loves them, too, and they’re actually one of the first things I taught her how to fix. As a kid she liked rolling out the dough and cutting it into squares to drop in the chicken stock.

If you’re counting calories, or carbs, this dish isn’t one you can eat too often. If you need gluten free, well, I don’t know which gluten free flour to recommend, or even if it would work with gluten free flour. That’s up to you to try, but be sure to let me know if you’re successful.
dumplings
Chicken and Dumplings – Eastern Shore style

1 oven roaster or whole frying chicken (if the chickens are small, depending on number of guests, you may need two)

Bake chicken in covered roasting pan with a little water at 325 degrees until done, usually 30 minutes per pound. You can season it with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, whatever you want. When chicken is done, remove to serving plate, cover to keep warm. Do NOT drain the juices from the pan, because that’s what you will cook the dumplings in, on top of the stove. I put the pan on the stove, lengthwise, over two burners, and bring the juice to a slow boil. You’ll probably need to add extra water to it so you’ll have enough for the dumplings.

About 20 minutes before the chicken is done, start preparing the dumplings. How many you make depends on how many people you are serving. My rule is normally 1 cup of flour mixture per person.
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tbl shortening (I use Crisco)
1 tsp flour
Water to make the dough

That’s it. Combine the ingredients, using a pastry cutter for the shortening. Add water slowly and mix enough in until the dough is a consistency to roll out. Roll out on a floured surface until it’s about ¼” thick (if you’re like me and using several cups of flour, you’ll do this several times, rather than using one big hunk of dough; trust me, it’s easier).

Cut into 2”-3“ squares and drop the dumplings into the chicken juices. Since you’re making them in advance before the pan is ready, just stack them on a plate and cover until you’re ready to cook them. Cook 20 minutes. Scoop up into a bowl and serve immediately. With the chicken, of course!

And don’t fight over who gets the last helping!