Easy Coconut Fudge

Easy Coconut Fudge

 

If you like chocolate and coconut, you will love this fudge!  It’s creamy and smooth and deeply chocolate.  And it’s got the flavor of coconut mingled though every bite.

Everyone in my family likes coconut, but we don’t always like a lot of the coconut texture.  So I kept the amount of coconut that’s stirred into the fudge at a minimum.  I used coconut extract to bump up the flavor though.

The result is perfect!   I had a lot of trouble staying out of this.  It’s so tempting to have just one more piece.

Here’s what you’ll need to make it:   [Read more…]

Easy Salted Caramel Fudge

 

Easy Salted Caramel Fudge

Deep chocolate fudge topped with salted caramel – it doesn’t get much better than this!

And it only takes a few ingredients, along with a simple melting process to make this fudge.

I’ve made quite a few different kinds of fudge this week.  We’ve been debating over which is the favorite.  This one is a definite winner for some of us.  Others voted for the Coconut Fudge recipe that I’ll share tomorrow.

Mostly, we’ve had a tough time deciding because they’ve all been so good!

Here’s what you’ll need for the Salted Caramel Fudge:   [Read more…]

Candy Cane Fudge (and how we tied this into Advent)

Candy Cane Fudge recipe

 

Last week I was asked if I could do a cooking demonstration during our church’s Advent dinner.  They wanted me to do something that would involve the kids.

At first, I had no ideas at all.  But the next morning, as I was thinking I was going to have to call back and decline, I had an idea.  This Candy Cane Fudge recipe is so easy and perfect to make with kids.

And it ties in well to Advent too.  Advent is about preparing (our hearts for Jesus), waiting, hoping and anticipating.

During the program at the church Advent dinner, I asked two girls to help me make the fudge.  I used a small, single burner on a table so we could melt the ingredients.  I showed them how to prepare the pan with foil and which ingredients to use (preparation).  The girls helped assemble everything.  Then they took turns stirring the fudge as it melted (waiting).

We stood to the side, working on the fudge while the rest of the program was going on.  At the end, we took the mic back and explained that we would pour the melted fudge into the prepared pan.  Then the girls sprinkled crushed candy canes over the top.

I explained that while we were stirring, we’d gotten a little sticky.  Things can get sticky in a situation when we have to wait.  Thankfully, God always has it under control, even when things look like a real mess to us!

I told the girls (and the rest of the people there) that we had more waiting and anticipating to do before we could eat that batch of fudge.  It would still need to chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

But I had a plate already done and cut for everyone to taste.  Another girl passed the plate around to all the people there.

Candy Cane Fudge ingredients

 

This is a variation on my favorite fudge recipe.  I’ve made Mocha Fudge and Chocolate Pretzel Fudge.  I’ve also got recipes coming next week for Coconut Fudge and Salted Caramel Fudge.

Candy Cane Fudge (and how we tied this into Advent)
Ingredients
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tbs. milk
  • 3-4 candy canes, crushed
Instructions
  1. Line an 8x8 pan with foil.
  2. In a 3 quart saucepan, melt all the ingredients, except the candy canes, together over low heat. Stir constantly. This will take about 10 minutes.
  3. Pour the melted fudge into the foil lined pan.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
  5. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight.
  6. Remove from pan and foil. Cut into squares.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.

Candy Cane Fudge

80/20 Rule of Christmas Baking (The Law of the Vital Few)

8020 rule of Christmas baking

Do you ever think about all the things you have to do to get ready for Christmas and begin to feel overwhelmed?  Some years I’m excited and ready to get started with all the holiday fun.

And other years are more of a struggle.  Whether it’s because of sickness in the family (mine or a child’s) or some other reason, the holiday season can get overwhelming.

I’m a big believer in the 80/20 rule.  This principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

It’s also been called The Law of the Vital Few.

About 20% of the things we do are vital for moving our goal forward.  The rest may be important, but 20% of the effort is going to create 80% of the results.

What’s your family’s “vital few” when it comes to Christmas baking?  When you think of the memories you’re building in your family, which foods are the most important?

If you find yourself in a place where you just can’t do everything this year, focus on the vital few.  For my family, that includes Peanut Butter Balls, Fudge, and Frozen Fruit Cups (I left these out last year and I heard about it!).

Maybe for you it’s your grandma’s Nut Bread recipe.  Or the country ham dinner.  Or the evening of cookie decorating.  Focus on those memory filled dishes and keep everything else simple.

And if you’re just now building traditions for your young family, consider making a couple of them super simple.  One of our vital few Christmas breakfast items is canned Grand’s cinnamon rolls.  The only time we have these is at Christmas, so they stay special.  It doesn’t get easier than popping open a can.  On difficult years, we add scrambled eggs and Frozen Fruit Cups.  On years with more energy we add something like Western Omelette Casserole and homemade hot cocoa.

I’d love to hear about your vital few recipes in the comments.

And I know we’ve been talking about Christmas baking, since this is a food blog.  But you can adapt this line of thinking to any type of holiday tradition.  Focus on the vital few and add in other things as time, budget and energy allow.

A Trio of Cream Cheese Appetizers – Maple Brown Sugar Pecan, Cranberry and Orange Marmalade

Trio of Cream Cheese Appetizers - Maple Brown Sugar Pecans, Cranberry and Orange Marmalade

If you need a simple appetizer for a holiday party, look no further.  In fact, I’ve got a lot of recipes to share with you today!  I’ve teamed up with some of my favorite bloggers to bring you Holiday Sweets and Treats.  Be sure to scroll down and visit all the links at the bottom of this post for more recipes.

If you find yourself in need of a holiday appetizer, but lack time to put one together, this is your recipe.  This trio of cream cheese spreads couldn’t get easier.

Cranberries, Maple Brown Sugar Pecans and Orange Marmalade are a perfect holiday combo.

It really is as easy as stir and pour.  And you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now.

Cream Cheese appetizer

This is more of a method than recipe.  Vary it any way you like.

In fact, I ended up using apricot jam instead of marmalade because that’s what I had on hand.  I still think orange marmalade would be more Christmasy, but the apricot was very good.

For the pecans:

Use about 1/4-1/3 cup chopped pecans.

Add about 1 Tbs. brown sugar.

Add several Tbs. real maple syrup.

Stir together to make sticky, runny pecan topping.

The cranberry is just canned whole berry cranberry sauce.  Stir until it isn’t clumpy jelled anymore.

Use apricot or orange marmalade jam, stirring until smooth.

Cut one block of cream cheese in thirds.

Spoon the toppings over each of the pieces.

Serve with crackers and apple slices.

Cream Cheese appetizer trio

 

Holiday Sweets

Holiday Sweets

Best Party Recipes for Sharing from Mom’s Tool Box

Cherry Snowball Christmas Cookies from I’m an Organizing Junkie

Chocolate Chunk Toasted Pecan Oatmeal Cookies from Life Your Way

Chocolate Peanut Brittle from The Happy Housewife

Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Trifle from Mom Endeavors

Double Chocolate Candy Bar Pretzel Bark from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

Easy Black Currant Scones from Good Cheap Eats

Frozen Inspired Vanilla Raspberry Bites from Bargain Briana

Gumdrops from Hoosier Homemade

Microwave Caramel Corn from Ashley Pichea

Old Fashioned Christmas Cookies from Mommy Hates Cooking

Snickerdoodle Puppy Chow from Smockity Frocks

Sugar Cookies for Dummies from Happy Little Homemaker

The World’s Easiest Christmas Candy Ever from Money Saving Mom

Savory Treats

savory treats

Bacon and Spinach Frittata Bites from Life as MOM

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus from Jo-Lynne Shane

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts from The Finer Things in Life

Black Bean and Avocado Salad from Kitchen Stewardship

Cheesy Pesto Crescent Bites from Andrea Dekker

Easy Cheesy Vidalia Onion Dip from Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Homemade Sausage Balls from The Humbled Homemaker

Kale Spinach Bites from For the Love Of

Spiced Nuts from Modern Mrs. Darcy

Toasted Pecans from My Blessed Life

Trio of Cream Cheese Appetizers from Eat at Home Cooks

White Cheddar Cranberry Bites from Parenting Miracles

Candy Cane Fudge Ice Cream Sandwich Cake (a make ahead dessert)

Candy Cane Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

 

The other day we talked about getting healthy in January, but today we’re going to serve up a little more elf food.  This is how my brain works.  I want to be healthy, but I want fudge more.  Oh the battle!

Anyway, this is the time of year for sweets, so we’re going with it.

It’s also the time of year for unexpected company and impromptu get togethers.  This dessert is perfect to keep on hand for that.  It can be made ahead of time.  You can bring out the whole cake or just serve up pieces of it, saving the rest for another time.  And there are several pretty ways that you can plate it to make it look even more special.

The best part is that it’s very easy to make.  It’s really just an assembly process.  But before we get to that, let’s talk about serving it.   [Read more…]

Easy Gift Idea: Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels and PBJ Grahams

Easy Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels

 

We’ve got a new Costco in town.  I’m not much of a shopper, but I kind of love this store.

On my most recent trip, I found this big container of peanut butter filled pretzels.  And I knew they would be meeting up with chocolate at the first possible moment.

chocolate covered peanut butter pretzel ingr

 

These would make a great, simple gift idea.  Package them in a cute jar and you’ll make someone very happy.

I also made Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Grahams and Chocolate Covered PBJ Grahams.  No surprise, I liked the PBJ Grahams best.  They are so good!

Easy Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter and PBJ Graham Crackers

 

There are a few extra steps needed for the grahams, but it’s still such an easy process.  These would make great gifts too.

I decided to use almond bark to coat these treats.  It’s very easy to use.  Just melt it in the microwave.  But I have to say, I really like the flavor of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips better.  The darker chocolate isn’t quite as sweet.  Next time, I’ll melt the chips and use those.

For the Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels, it’s really just a matter of melting the almond bark and dunking the pretzels.  Place them on waxed paper until the chocolate firms up.

chocolate covered pretzel dunking

 

For the grahams, I spread them with peanut butter, adding raspberry jam to some of them.  Then I popped them in the freezer for several minutes before dunking them in chocolate.

PBJ graham assembly

 

That’s all there is to it!  They disappeared pretty fast at my house!

Candy Cane Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are one of my favorite Christmas treats.  This year, I had the idea to roll them in finely crushed candy canes, along with the powdered sugar.

The result is a deeply chocolate cookie with just the perfect hint of peppermint.  Small flecks of red candy cane make them pretty on the cookie plate.

I baked these up using Pampered Chef products for their 2012 Cookie Swap.  I love Pampered Chef.  The products are affordable and made for real people cooking at home.

I have quite a few Pampered Chef products already, but I was happy to try some new ones out.  The adjustable measuring spoons are fantastic.  I didn’t know if I would like them or not, but they’ve already become a favorite.  The cookie scoops are fantastic too.

And one thing really surprised me – the cookie sheet.  I’ve always baked my cookies on a baking stone.  That works great, but this time I used the cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper.  The cookies turned out perfectly.  No sticking.  No burning.  Just sweet perfection.  I’ll definitely be doing that again.

Below, you can see the assembly process for these cookies.  I didn’t roll the dough into balls, but just scooped it into the candy cane powdered sugar and rolled it around.  It made the process much quicker and easier than rolling all those balls.

Here’s what you’ll need to make Candy Cane Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.   [Read more…]

Gingerbread Bars with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Gingerbread and orange pair up so well.  Something about the deep, molasses and spice flavor with the bright citrus tastes like the holidays.

This recipe is a mash up of two other recipes: Gingersnap Sandwich Cookies with Orange Cream Cheese Filling from Recipe Girl and my Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce.

I wanted something cake-like that would feed quite a few people.  The Orange Cream Cheese Frosting was perfect for topping it off.  [Read more…]

Holiday Cookie Swap & Cookie Cookbook Giveaway

I’m so excited to host this cookie swap with Liz from Hoosier Homemade and Melissa from Stockpiling Moms.

We love cookies at our house, but I have to admit that at Christmas I focus more on making candy rather than cookies.  This year, I want to change that up.  I can’t wait to see what kind of recipes you have for me to try.

Here are a few of our favorites:

CocoNot Cookies – Not a speck of coconut, but you’d never know it. Fun secret ingredient.

Aunt Gerry’s Pineapple Drop Cookies – A family favorite

Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies – Very Christmasy!

Amish Oatmeal Cookies – Brown sugary yum and rolled in powdered sugar.  [Read more…]

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