Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Fudge for Valentines

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Finished Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Fudge

Sometimes you get lucky and someone gives you a whole bunch of boxes of Christmas Peppermint Candy Canes. I was lucky, my friend gave me six boxes of candy someone had given her. She was surprised when I said I wanted it, and she wanted to know what I was going to do with it. I said, “Make Peppermint Fudge, of course!”

Span was excited to help me because he got the job of breaking up the candy canes into more manageable pieces. First he did this with his hands, came and showed them to me and I said, “You know, breaking them goes quicker when you use a hammer.” So, he got a hammer, and he started banging away at them. I was washing dishes and didn’t realize he had started, or where he was going this. I now have little bits of candy cane on the floor in the living room. No big deal, I will vacuum them up. The point is he had a good time, and really felt he was helping.

We made the fudge last night and put it in the refrigerator to firm up. I was thinking of dipping the pieces in chocolate, but I only had unsweetened chocolate. If that happens to you, it’s not a show stopper.

How to Make Dipping Chocolate with Unsweetened Chocolate

Double BoilerI like to melt my chocolate in a double boiler. I also prefer to make my own double boiler by placing a metal bowl above pan half filled with water. The bowl’s circumference is much larger than the pan, so a) there is no chance of the chocolate falling into the water, and most importantly, b) because of the large circumference, there is little chance of steam getting to the chocolate and making it seize. Once chocolate has seized, about the only thing it’s good for is breaking up for chocolate chip cookies, or beating the heck out of it to make chocolate ganache.

Making Dipping Chocolate with Unsweetned ChocolateI found myself in a quandary as I did not have enough semi-sweet chocolate to dip all the fudge, and I didn’t want to waste time going to the store to buy more. It’s actually not a problem, you can add sugar to melted chocolate, and it will be just fine. As a matter of fact, just as in using salted butter gives you little control over saltiness in dishes, using semi-sweet chocolate also gives you limited control over the sweetness of the chocolate. The important thing to remember is that you must use the finest grain pure cane sugar you can get to avoid grittiness. Add the sugar to the melted chocolate, slowly, stirring all the while. Whatever you do, don’t let the sugar liquefy or you’ll just have a mess of seized chocolate. The ratio is about 1/4 cup of sugar to every ounce of unsweetened chocolate. You will have to test it for taste, though, depending on how sweet you want the final product.

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Cranberry Orange Ginger Cream Cheese Salad Ring

Recipes in this PostCranberry Orange Ginger Cream Cheese Salad Ring

I don’t know why people insist on buying the cranberry sauce in the can. Making cranberry sauce from scratch is almost as easy as opening the can. In some cases, when your can opener refuses to play well with the can, it’s even easier! Sugar, cranberries and water, how simple is that? In addition, you get the fun of listening to the berries as they pop like pop-corn. How cool is that?

Ah, but I can’t leave well enough alone. I have to make something special for Thanksgiving, so I’m going to doll my cranberry sauce up, put it into a ring mold, and have a lovely presentation.

When I was a little girl, going to my Uncle Bob’s house for Thanksgiving, he made the most wonderful cranberry ring with cream cheese. I loved it, but never got the recipe. When I asked him about it, he said he hadn’t made it in so many years he had forgotten how to make it, and never wrote it down. I’ve looked all over the Internet, but, alas no joy. So, today, I’m going to attempt to make a similar side dish. Wish me luck!

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Bacon and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

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Whilst at the local grocery store this morning trying to figure out what I was going to make with the defrosted chicken in my refrigerator, I came across some lovely large mushrooms, perfect for stuffing. I don’t know about you, but I love mushrooms, and stuffed ones even more.

The Braised Chicken with Onions and Mushrooms that I am making for dinner also calls for bacon, so it was just a matter of cooking off a bit more to add to my stuffing. You will love the way these taste, I had fun eating the little bit of stuffing that was left in the bowl!

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Strawberry Torpedoes – Balsamic Infused Mocha Stuffed Strawberries

Strawberry Torpedoes - Balsamic Infused Mocha Stuffed Strawberries
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I recently joined a great MeetUp, Entrepreneurs Professionals Glendale, and wanted to bring something nice for everyone to share. One of the members, Aron Ganz of Ganz Media gave the berries their name, Strawberry Torpedoes, a much shorter name, and I am grateful for that!

This is a group of entrepreneurs and professionals, who own small to medium businesses. We are not drones of the corporate world, and realize that even though being self-employed has its difficulties, it has huge rewards. Our group, led by Lynn Sarkany of MarketFinders, meets to exchange ideas to help our businesses, share stories, and network with each other. If you are a like-minded individual, you might consider joining us. Please visit Entrepreneurs and Professionals to find out more.

I had recently found a whole bunch of baking chocolate on sale, had some strawberries and a package of cream cheese. But, instead of making the Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Strawberries that I made last time, I thought I would add a little more adult flavor to the dish.

I added cocoa, coffee, vanilla, almond and cinnamon to the cream cheese filling, and I injected the berries with balsamic vinegar. When you bite into these berries, they explode flavor into your mouth.

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Nancy’s Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes

Recipes in this Post Nancu's Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes

I have a wonderful friend, Nancy, who makes the best chicken, Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken. Nancy was a Pan Am stewardess, so you know that chicken had to be good. Now, Nancy is a member of Kiwanis. As part of her volunteer work with Kiwanis, she invited my son to help her be Guest Chef at Ascencia. My son was too interested in playing with the other children who had also been invited to help her. I don’t think the kids did much helping, they just did a lot of playing.

She made this moist, crusty chicken that everyone loved. I got to be on the clean up team, but I’m not a forensic chef, so I didn’t know quite how she made it. None of those children made any notes on how she prepared that chicken, either.

Nancy;'s recipe for Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Nancy’s Recipe for Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Well, I saw Nancy a few days ago, and she wrote the recipe down for me. I asked her if it had bread crumbs, and she said no. Well, I decided to change the recipe, just a bit and add Panko bread crumbs. I like Panko bread crumbs because they stay nice and crisp, and they have very little flavor of their own.

My local corner store had some lovely fingerling potatoes at the counter when I was checking out a few days ago, and I picked some up. Potatoes go very well chicken, and these little ones will be done at the same time the chicken will be done. Tonight, when I was washing them, I noticed one of them had grown a few eyes. I put it back in the bag and put it in the dry goods drawer. It will be going out and living in the Apartment Vegetable Garden when its roots get a little longer.

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Juniper Pickled Beets and BBQ Meatloaf for Cruise Night 2013

Recipes in this PostPickeled Beets with Juniper Berries

Every year, Glendale, California closes off its main street, the Brand Boulevard of Cars. Beautifully kept antique cars park up and down the street, some with their hoods up, so everyone can enjoy them. Spane and I have been going to Cruise Night since before he was born – I say that because I even went when I was pregnant with him. As usual I like to cook something special for Cruise Night dinner, mainly because even though there are hamburgers and hot dogs available, I would rather have my own fresh food, and save money for a treat for Spane.

I love beets, I mean I really, really love beets. So does Spane. We like them plain, pickled, cold, hot, red beets, orange beets, any beets! Beets are very good for you, and studies have shown it can prevent liver, heart and muscle diseases. This is not the same thing as a Sugar Beet, which although is in the same family, almost all sugar beets are genetically modified, and used to make sugar.

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