Sunday, December 30, 2012

Eggnog Fudge

Jeffrey's Eggnog Fudge
It's been a nice break from work, spending more than a week at home with my family.  Unfortunately, I've been sick much of this week, and my computer  has been behaving badly, so I am not able to get on and post whenever I'd like.  I tried this morning, and so far so good, though it may shut down without any warning.  I'll just keep going until I can't! - Update - it shut down as I wrote this - it's now a day later and after many attempts, I'm back on!  Oops - and back off.  This post has taken  HOURS to complete!

So, as I was saying...

This past week has been one of abundance in so many ways - time with my family, great food, time to relax, read, and even knit!  As I look back upon all of the terrific foods that have been served and available all of this week, there's one in particular that I am eager to share with you.  Fudge.  But not your run-of-the-mill, chocolate fudge.  Eggnog fudge.  My son Jeff's contribution to Christmas dinner was home-made eggnog fudge.  It was such a wonderful dessert, with a silken creaminess that you hope to find in a piece of fudge, and the subtle yet distinct flavors of eggnog.  I asked him for the recipe and am very happy to post it here for you.  But first, some photos of our Christmas morning - as magical as a Christmas morning could be, finding the season's first blanketing of snow as day broke.  I made my way downstairs to my daughter's home before the boys came down.  What a joy to be there as Henry shouted to Peter, "He DID come, Peter.  He did come!  Santa was here!"

A very happy 2013 to all of you!

made by my son Jeffrey from a recipe
he found at


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup eggnog (full-fat will make it creamier)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 10-12 ounces chopped white chocolate (chips are fine)
  • 7 ounces marshmallow creme
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Line a 9x9 pan (or 8x8 depending on your desired thickness) with wax paper or foil.  Set aside.
  • Combine butter, eggnog, and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring occasionally.  Once boiling, reduce heat a bit.  Using a candy thermometer, continue cooking until temperature reaches 234 degrees (soft ball stage). NOTE:  I constantly stir with a wire whisk during this time, but this recipe does not call for that. Personal preference, and it does get hot!
  • Remove from heat and stir in white chocolate.  Continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted and blended in.  Add in marshmallow creme, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla.  
  • Spread into prepared pan.  Sprinkle the top with a bit more nutmeg if desired.  
  • Let cool at room temperature completely before removingfrom pan and cutting into squares.
  • Store at room temperature for up to a week or in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas in the Country

Tonight we traveled over the river and through the woods to Grandfather's house (my children's Dad Gene and his wife Kathryn's home) for a Christmas party in Fort Edward.  The river is the Hudson, and their home overlooks a particularly beautiful stretch, north of Schuylerville.  The woods are here, there, and everywhere between the 45-minute ride eastward from our home in Middle Grove to Gene's and Kathryn's house.  Pete was in awe of the Christmas lights he saw out the car window on our drive east.  There were 7 of us packed into Katie's car -- Kate, Bill, Richard and Sydney, Henry, Pete, and me.  When two of the occupants are in child safety seats, it makes for a cozy, sardine-like packing of people into the otherwise roomy car.  But it was a happy ride, with Christmas carols playing on the radio, and a light dusting of snow covering the ground.

We arrived to see the Barn illuminated in bright light, a huge wreath welcoming us in, a path of luminarias guiding us from the road to the door.

This was an especially happy party, and the guests were a lot of Eddy relatives as well as friends and neighbors of Gene and Kathryn.  In abundance, there was food, children, drinks, children, beautiful decorations, children, neices, nephews, sons- and daughters-in law, children, and a little baby (great nephew).  Mary Lou Eddy, the matriarch of the whole clan, was there.  Sometimes I think she must look around at all the kids and grandkids and great-grandchildren and think, "Wow, I did this!"  Yes, she did, and in the most amazing way!

Everything was lovely.  The food was abundant, along with good cheer.  There were pots of chili, sweet and sour meatballs, platters of cheeses, chips and layered dips, everything.  Kathryn made two beautiful cakes.  Carol made her famous Snickers brownies.  I brought a veggie ziti bake and a platter of cookies.  I'll post the recipe for one of the cookies tomorrow, a sugar cookie sandwiched with melted chocolate mint and drizzled with white chocolate, then sprinkled with crushed candy canes.

I think pictures can describe this evening better than I can...  Thanks so much to Gene and Kathryn for such a warm welcome on a cold winters eve!

You could feel the Christmas spirit in the air!

There was a lot of real food, too.  I just didn't take a photo of any of it!

That's Grammy Eddy with Claira (middle right)...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday and My Mother's Meatloaf

I just put a 3 lb. meatloaf in the oven for Sunday dinner.  I was out with Katie and the boys this afternoon for a routine Target run, and a ride through the car wash.  You should have seen Pete's eyes popping out of his head as the car was engulfed in suds and brushes!  Our trip to Target was a quick one, and with Henry and Peter securely buckled into the double cart, we were able to cruise through the toy aisle without incident (if they were loose, it'd have been a different story!).  Henry said, a number of times, "That's on my list to Santa."  It is a LONG list and Santa will be doing some extreme editing, no doubt!  Pete's just happy to see anything and, at just two years old, doesn't have the same perspective as  Henry about Santa, toys, time, and repurcussions (!). We had a good time.  The boys conked out on the ride home!

The car ride always knocks them out!

So, to give Katie a bit of a break, since she makes a real dinner for all of us almost every night of the week, I offered to cook tonight.  Usually, I'm the baker, but today I decided it would be nice to make a meat loaf, and a big one, which will provide for tonight's dinner as well as really good brown-bag lunches during the coming work week.

My meatloaf recipe is very basic, and more a visual memory than anything I've ever seen written down anywhere.  My mom used to make a great, simple meatloaf.  She used ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, minced onion, salt, pepper, ketchup, and a little mustard.  I do that as well, but with seasoned bread crumbs, and the addition of steak sauce.  Like my mother, I bake mine free-form, hand-molded in the pan, and lay thin rings of onion on top.  Unlike my mother, I glaze the top with a mixture of ketchup and steak sauce and the onion rings go on top.  (A happy memory is that my mom saved the ends for me.  She knew how much I loved the end of the meatloaf.)

Another difference is that my mom mixed the whole thing up in a big bowl and shaped her meatloaf in the pan.  I use my Kitchen Aid for mixing, since anyone who knows me knows how much I dislike handling raw meat of any kid (just ask my kids about me and chicken!).  So, all the ingredients went into the mixing bowl, I gave it a few whirls, and all that work was done, sans hands!  Still, I did dump the mixture into the roasting pan and shaped it, just like my mother would, freestyle like a long submarine!  I can't help but think of my mom when I cook things she used to make, like tuna casserole, meatloaf, or even when I make a tuna sandwich.  She had a way that made it seem so generous, so caring, and though she really didn't relish making dinner every night for nine people (!), we loved everything she made for us.  We really did.

So, as a tribute to my mom's recipe, here's my rendition of Virginia O'Farrell's meatloaf.  It's simple, delicous, and wonderful, with the bonus of sandwiches to enjoy after Sunday night's dinner.  The sandwiches, if you're interested, are a stacking of thin slices of meatloaf on lightly buttered toast, with a bit of ketchup, salt and pepper.  (My bit of ketchup is more like your generous serving! - what can I say, I love the stuff!  Maybe the meatloaf is just an excuse for more ketchup!).

(as best I can remember, with my own touches added)
Baking or roasting pan, bottom sprayed with cooking spray
Preheated Oven - 325 degrees Fareneheit

3 lb. 85% freshly ground beef
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1/4 cup ketchup
4 tablespoons steak sauce (I used Stonewall Kitchens Roadhouse Steak Sauce)
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt

In large mixer bowl, combine all ingredients until completely incorporated.
Dump into roasting pan, and with your hands form into a log about 4 inches wide and 3 inches high.
Neatly shape the ends and top surface to close up any gaps.

Make glaze:

Mix together
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons steak sauce

With a spoon, spread glaze over top of meatloaf.
Slice more of the onion into 3 rings.  Break apart and arrange on top of glazed meatloaf.

Bake for an hour and a half or two hours until juices run clear.

Let sit, covered in foil, for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Like my mom, I'm serving mine with mashed potatoes and green beans.  It's like having her here in the kitchen with me (I wish!).


(PS - this can be made into meatballs as well.  I'd add a splash of milk, a good 1/4 cup or more of grated Parmesan cheese and a half teaspoon of garlic powder for meatballs.  Bake or fry as you normally would.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Cookie Platter

This morning I delivered the first of more than a few Christmas cookie platters that I'll be putting together over the next few weeks.  A couple of friends had asked if I planned to bake again this year, and at first I said no, that I wanted time to relax and enjoy the season.  Then I started thinking about cookies, and recipes, and more cookies, and what I could do and the impulse to make cookie platters took over and here we are!  These are some of my standards, and seem well-loved by my friends.  My personal favorite are the jam thumbprints, made with Alton Brown's sugar cookie recipe, rolled in coconut, and baked with my friend Catherine Golden's jam.  For this batch, I used her pineapple apricot jam (amazing) and some strawberry jam as well.  Rounding out the cookie platter are gingerbread men, brownie bites (with melted chocolate drizzle and crushed candy canes on top), sugar cookie snowflakes, and peanut butter kisses.

Linked here is the recipe for the sugar cookies,   I rolled the dough (not chilled) into1-inch balls which were then rolled in an egg white wash (one egg white beaten with a tablespoon of water) and then into coconut.  I flattened them a bit, made a good dent with my thumb (thus the name) and filled the indentations with about 1/4 tsp. jam each.  I baked them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes or until the coconut was nice and toasty.  You can see by the photo how they look when they're done.

Now I'm uspstairs (my house) with Henry who's testing a gingerbread man - 2 thumbs up!

Hope you enjoy your weekend.  We'll be baking more cookies today!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lemon Dessert Crepes

If you've followed this blog for a while, you know I love everything lemon.  This morning, I was inspired to make a lemon-filled crepe, using a simple recipe (based on a Weight Watchers recipe) and lemon curd which can be made at home but can also be purchased in the jams/jellies section of your favorite market.

This is a not-so-guilty pleasure dessert.  The crepe itself has very little fat, and while there is no sugar in the crepe (and sans the vanilla extract could lend itself as a dinner option using savory fillings), the curd is plenty sweet.  It would be fine for breakfast, but would be equally as fitting as a  light and sweet ending to any dinner.

This recipe comes together in a flash, and I could see it as the foundation for a great Girls Night In (GNI).   You could make dinner crepes with your favorite protein and veggies, and then create your own dessert crepes.  Doesn't that sound like fun?  Hmmm.  I think I have to send out some long-overdue invitations!

Here are photos; recipe follows...

makes 2+ servings
10" non-stick sautee pan, spritzed with cooking spray

Lemon Curd

1 egg
2 egg whites
pinch salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whipped cream for garnish

Make crepes:

In bowl of electric mixer or with whisk, beat egg, egg whites, and salt until light and frothy.  Whisk in flour and combine thoroughly, making sure any lumps are broken up and batter is smooth.  Add milk and blend thoroughly.

Pour 1/2 cup of batter into hot saute pan that's been spritzed with vegetable spray, and immediately reduce heat to low.  Tilt pan  to cover entire bottom with a nice circle of batter.  Cook about 2 minutes or until golden brown on bottom.  Using a wide spatula, carefully flip crepe over and cook an additional 2 minutes or until it is nicely golden as well.  Remove from pan to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.  You may have enough for 3 crepes (I did) but you'll get at least 2.  (Double the recipe if you want 4+ crepes.)

In the center of each crepe, spread two generous tablespoons of lemon curd.  Roll up.  Cut in half. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with a side of whipped cream.

Prepare yourself for rave reviews.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nestle Toll House Oatmeal Scotchies!

I just put the first pan of Nestle's Oatmeal Scotchies cookies in the oven, and already the warm aroma of these classic cookies is wafting through my kitchen!  My plan, this Christmas season, is to post a number of tried-and-oh-so-true recipes that your family would be so happy to enjoy, because they bring with them memories of cookies that many of us remember as favorites.

It's hard to beat Nestle's Toll House's other star, the chocolate chip cookie, but as I was mixing this scotchie batter, I realize why this recipe has also stood the test of time.  This is one delicious cookie dough, before it even thinks of becoming a cookie.  The simple flavorings of vanilla and a bit of cinnamon are all that are needed to accompany the smooth and flavorful butterscotch morsels.  Oatmeal adds body (and whole grains - I used "old fashioned") so this cookies is a well-rounded dessert by any means.  It stands on its own, but would be happy to be in the company of an icy cold glass of milk!

The timer is ringing for the first batch.  Can't wait!

And here they are! (recipe follows)

Nestle Oatmeal Scotchies
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees Farenheit

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange (I used vanilla)
3 coups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11 oz. package) Nestle Toll House Butterscotch morsels

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Beat butter, granulates sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in oats and morsels.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet (I always use parchment paper).  Bake 7-8 minutes* for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

*NOTE:  I made larger cookies using a scoop, and baked them for a longer time.  Mine took 12-13 minutes to be done.  Watch to make sure they are no longer wet on top but don't start to get too brown on the bottom.  Ovens vary, you need to know how yours will do so start watching at 8 minutes and keep them in there a while longer if you need to, especially if you make bigger cookies like I did.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

And for "just because," here's today's photo of my buddies!

Henry and Pete,  visiting this morning.