Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Recipes: Fudge

Everyone has their favorite type of fudge, and very few people don't break into smiles when they are given a gift of this traditional holiday favorite. Try one of these recipes this year! Fudge should be given in tins, boxes or airtight bags. Don't mix fudge with your other homemade gifts such as cookies, it will soften them and "mingle" the flavors slightly of what you have stored together. I keep the fudge in the refrigerator until I give it away. If it's for a long period of time freezing would be good also.

Chocolate Fudge

1 cup butter, or regular margarine(2 sticks)
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme, about 2 cups
1 14 1/2 ounces evaporated milk (1 2/3 cup)
8 (1 1/2 ounce)milk chocolate bars, broken in pieces
1 12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate pieces
2 cups chopped walnuts, optional

Combine butter, sugar, marshmallow creme and evaporated milk in a 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium to low heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Boil steady over low heat for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep mixture at a low boil during this time. Remove from heat, add chocolate bars, chocolate pieces, and nuts. Stir until chocolate is melted and blended. Pour quickly into two lightly buttered 9 inch square pans. While warm mark the fudge into the size pieces you desire, then when cool and firm cut. Makes about 5 1/2 pounds.

Butterscotch Peanut Fudge

12 ounce package butterscotch chips
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
2/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped peanuts

In a saucepan combine the butterscotch chips, milk and marshmallows. Stir over medium heat until marshmallows melt. Remove from heat; beat in peanut butter, vanilla, and dash of salt. Stir in nuts. Pour into a 9 inch square buttered pan. Chill. Cut in squares, and store in refrigerator.

Easy Peanut Butter Fudge

1 2/3 cup sugar
1 small can (5.33 ounces) evaporated milk
16 large marshmallows, or 2 cups miniature
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar, milk and marshmallows in a medium pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Boil and stir 5 minutes. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Pour into a buttered 8 inch square pan. Cool. Cut into pieces.

Cocoa Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
dash salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa, milk, syrup and salt. Cook to soft ball stage (236 degrees). Add butter, peanut butter and vanilla. Pour into buttered 8 inch square pan.Cool before cutting.

Maple Fudge

2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup rich milk or cream

Combine the maple and corn syrup and cream. Place over low heat. Stir constantly until it starts to boil. Continue cooking without stirring until small amounts of syrup form a soft ball in cold water or it reaches 236 degrees. Remove from heat. Add butter. Do not stir. Cool until luke warm. Beat until mixture thickens and loses gloss. Add nuts. Pour into buttered pan. When cool cut into squares.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

No special post today other than to wish everyone in the U.S. a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Scurrying Squirrels in the Snow (2007)

These pictures were taken on Thanksgiving two years ago.
Hopefully we won't have snow again this year. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Autumn Butters

Autumn butters add country charm to company dinners or brunches. They also are the perfect hostess gift presented with a loaf of fresh homemade bread. Add the following recipes to your list of autumn traditions!

Honey Pumpkin Butter

2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt -- optional

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large saucepan. Simmer uncovered on low heat about 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick. When thick enough ladle into jars and refrigerate. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Easy Autumn Butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup softened butter

Beat the brown sugar, pumpkin-pie spice whipping into the softened butter. Keep refrigerated.

Crockpot Apple Butter

8 cups applesauce
4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons cloves

Stir all ingredients together well in a large bowl. Transfer to a crockpot and cook, UNCOVERED, on high for 6 to 7 hours. It isn't necessary to stir it. Cool and place into containers. Keep refrigerated or may be frozen.

Ginger Apple Butter

4 pounds McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1" chunks
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, minced

Bring the apples, cider, brown sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a saucepan, stirring. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until apples fall apart, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Purée in food processor or blender in batches with the minced ginger. Return to pan.

Partially cover apple butter and simmer over medium heat until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Transfer to covered containers and store in refrigerator for up to one week for best freshness.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Helping Out Our Feathered Friends

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. ~G.B. Stern

Many of us feed the birds during the cold weather, but they also need water in the winter despite the snow around them. Always provide clean water with no additives. Place it in a shallow container that is less than 3 inches deep. You can add small pebbles to the bottom of the container to give it texture and keep the surface from getting slippery. If you have a deck or a windowsill that you can access easily in the winter, you can add fresh water daily. Consider the location of the water so it's not accessible to cats or other predators. As with feeders, it helps to place the water about 10-12 foot from a shrub or bush.

You can buy a special heater that will warm the water and keep it from freezing. Be sure it's a UL listed heater made for this purpose and it should be plugged into a outdoor socket. It should have a safety feature or an automatic shut off in case the water goes dry and use grounded plugs.

The sound of dripping or running water will help attract birds and a simple way to do this is to drill or punch a hole in the side of a bucket near the bottom (but not on the bottom) so the water drips into the birdbath. You can hang it from a shepherd's hook over the birdbath.

Birdbaths can be made out of many things including trash can lids, ceramic, clay or terra cotta saucers, pie plates etc. If the surface is smooth then be sure to add a layer of pebbles or sand. Wash your birdbaths on a regular basis as they become soiled.

On OFL we have more tidbits on backyard birds: