Thursday, December 24, 2009

Six Month Fudge?

What treat should we leave for Santa? Sure, he's kind of overweight and should probably share a carrot with Rudolph. But, it's Christmas, right? We also want Santa to forget all about those times we made the naughty list and leave us a nice stash of presents under the tree, so we've got to leave out a plate of the good stuff.

How about fudge?  Mmmm. I think so!

This recipe is called Six Month Fudge?. Notice the period after the question mark. The question mark is part of the name. Why? Well, this recipe comes from my grandmother who called it six month fudge because it can last up to that long. However, growing up this fudge was always gobbled up so quickly, it never even  made it to six days. Sometimes it even vanished in under six hours. Therefore, I had to add the question mark.

Tonight, I'm passing on the recipe to the fourth generation. Liam, my little sous chef, is helping me make the fudge. My mother told me that the amounts of the various ingredients are according to the package sizes during my grandmother's day, and the recipe is very forgiving. So, if your package size is a couple ounces off from what the recipe calls for, don't stress.

I'm sure Santa will love this. Tonight, he can eat all the treats he wants; he'll be working hard for it. Then, his New Year's resolution can be to give up sweets and hit the treadmill.

Fourth generation, Liam, stirring the fudge.

Liam and Tomas with Santa's bribe. 

Hey, Santa! Doesn't this look good?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Argentine Alfajores

So, I took care of the Christmas gifts for my office coworkers. Now, what to do for the neighbors?

Since the coworkers got salsa, Katie and I thought we'd stick with the Latin theme. Why not Alfajores?

Alfajores are a popular cookie in several South American countries, and the recipe we have comes to us by way of Katie's parents who got it from a woman in Argentina. Katie's dad served an LDS mission to Argentina, and Katie's parents also served a mission together in the same area.

Alfajores are filled with dulce de leche, a caramel spread made from sweetened condensed milk. Doesn't sweetened condensed milk make everything better? You can find dulce de leche in the grocery store, but we prefer to make our own.

We had over fifty deliveries to make. Since each alfajor is made up of two cookies, Katie figures she made sixty dozen cookies. Holy Cow! Good thing baking is like therapy for us. But, the cookies really are easy to make, so it goes fast.

And, the cookies are best eaten after a day or two. The dulce de leche softens up the cookies. Yum to the max!

To make things even more festive, we used
food coloring to color the dough red and green.
I'm not a huge coconut fan, so we left it off.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pennington’s Chunky Salsa

Around the office, my coworkers exchange little gifts at Christmastime. I like to give homemade gifts from the kitchen. With over 20 somethings to create, it can get a little expensive and time consuming. Since this year we are still trying to pay off our family's little Austrian summer jaunt and the fact that this semester was one of the busiest I've ever experienced, cheap and easy was the way to go.

I searched through recipes and brainstormed with Katie. And finally, it came to me. Salsa! It was different from anything I'd handed out in the past, and I knew just the recipe.

Over 30 years ago, my mother received this recipe from her friend, Mrs. Pennington. We loved Mrs. Pennington, and we loved her salsa! Katie and I have continued to make it with our family. It is so incredibly simple to make, and it easily beats out any store bought stuff.

In no time at all, I had the jars of salsa ready and was spreading Christmas cheer around the office.

Hand out gifts to coworkers? Check. Now, I wish everything else on my holiday to do list were that easy!

Feliz Navidad! Salsa with red and green tortilla chips.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Caramel Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

When Katie and I were first married, we went to a party and were asked to bring a dessert. Back in those days, our kitchen skills were minimal, but I wanted to try something adventurous. I thought a cheesecake might wow the crowd, and I was up for the challenge.

The recipe must have come from Betty Crocker because I think that was the only cookbook we owned at the time. I probably also had to go out and purchase a springform pan. I don't recall much about the whole experience but I do remember the cheesecake was a hit. I was even asked to make the cheesecake for a get together with friends the following week.

It just sort of snowballed from there. And I might add, it turned into a big snowball. I was testing out all kinds of different cheesecake recipes, studying techniques for achieving the perfect cheesecake, and building my collection of cheesecake recipe books. At one point in time, we were having cheesecake a couple times a week. This was also back in the day when I could eat whatever and whenever I wanted and not gain weight.

We had another birthday at the office, so I decided to pull out this old favorite, which always received rave reviews. Everything about this cheesecake is yummy from the oatmeal pecan crust to the creamy caramel filling. And chocolate makes everything better.

If you have a special occasion coming up, give this a try. And don't worry, it's not really that hard. One thing I have learned, though, is that it gets better with age. So, you can make it a few days in advance and relax the day your guests come over. Your friends and family will be amazed at our skills.

Ooooh! It looks like the birthday 
girl, Nicki, is impressed.