Cocoa Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe

Here’s a little gem I have made for a long time. Way back when, I used to babysit for three young kids and their mother always made this recipe for them. I never knew you could make hot fudge sauce with unsweetened cocoa, primarily because my mom used to just buy jars and cans of chocolate syrup. So, when I first tasted this hot fudge sauce, I was in heaven. Easy to make with unsweetened cocoa – and who doesn’t have unsweetened cocoa sitting on the shelf! – and better than store bought, this cocoa hot fudge sauce is simply a delight all year long.

Ingredients

3/4 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Cup whole milk or half and half
1/4 Cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt

Directions

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa and milk, stirring with a whisk or fork until completely combined and smooth.

Put the saucepan on medium heat and stir continually until the ingredients have come to a boil.

Stir in butter and continue to boil until sauce thickens, about 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and salt.

Store in container in the refrigerator. Makes about 12-13 ounces, or about one small jar.
To reheat, microwave for approximately 30 seconds.

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Straight Up Rhubarb Pie Recipe

No strawberries, no blueberries, no pineapple or other fancy fillers to take over the flavor. Just straight rhubarb pie. This recipe is a perfect combination of tart and sweet and gives a good balance of rhubarb and sugar so the filling isn’t soupy.

Ingredients

4 Cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/3 Cups white sugar
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon butter
Pastry for a double crust pie

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the sugar and flour. Line the bottom crust in the pie pan. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the mixture over the bottom crust. Put the rhubarb on top of this mixture. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour mixture. Dot with small pieces of butter and then cover with the top crust. Flute the edges of the pie to seal in the filling. Poke holes in the top crust for venting. As an option, cover the fluted edges of the pie with aluminum foil so the crust edges do not burn and remove the foil about 15 minutes prior to taking the pie out of the oven.

Place pie on the lowest rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bank for another 40-45 minutes.

Old World Kiefle Recipe

These little nut rolls are a lot of work, but are absolutely delicious. I found this recipe a few years ago and they exactly duplicated my husband’s Hungarian mother’s kiefles. Unfortunately, the old world kiefles recipe went with her when she passed, so I hunted for one that seemed to include the same ingredients. I hit the jackpot with this recipe. It does take two days to make these delightful treasures, and I usually only make them at Christmas. But on a snowy, icy, cold day in the middle of April, this will keep me busy.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 package (1/4 ounce) dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream

Filling:

4 egg whites
½ to ¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups finely ground walnuts

Proof the yeast by placing the water in a small bowl and sprinkle with the yeast and sugar. Set aside until the mixture swells and becomes bubbly, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile in a large bowl, blend together the flour and butter with a pastry blender.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add the sour cream and blend thoroughly. To the flour mixture, add the egg mixture alternately with the yeast mixture. Handle gently and shape into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight.

To prepare the filling, in a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a little bit at a time until all the sugar is incorporated. Add the vanilla and fold in the nuts. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 24 balls (the size of large golf balls). Roll each ball into a circle about 8 inches in diameter (you can use an 8-inch pie pan as a guide). Cut each circle into 8 pie-shaped pieces. Place about 1 ½ teaspoons of the filling at the wide end of each piece. Roll toward the center to encase the filling and form a crescent shape that is about two inches long.

Place the kiefles on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 8 dozen. I have found over the years that it is easier to divide the dough into 20-21 balls that are a little larger and with a little more of the nut mixture. Although they make less than 8 dozen, they are still wonderful. In addition, if I run out of the nut mixture, I use the Solo brand apricot filling to make the last batches of the kiefles and dust the top with powdered sugar. My mom loves the apricot kiefles better than the nut kiefles.  My husband loves the nut kiefles better than the apricot.  So, I make both.

Kiefle - small nut rolls

Old World Kiefle recipe

Melting Potatoes Recipe

Here is a simple recipe for a twist on baked potatoes. In Europe they are known as fondant potatoes. Crusty on the outside and soft mashed potatoes on the inside. This is a basic Melting Potatoes recipe and gets a five star rating from my husband. You can experiment and add spices or other ingredients to this recipe for added flavor.

Ingredients:

3 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes
6 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed

Instructions:

(Note: DO NOT USE a glass baking dish because of the temperature of the oven. Results are best with a metal pan or baking dish.)

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Use the middle position rack. Square off ends of potatoes and cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick disks. (The slices are thick, so best to use a tape measure or ruler for the first couple of slices). Mix the butter, salt and pepper and pour over the potatoes and toss until the butter mixture evenly coats the potatoes. Arrange potatoes in single layer in 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

2. Roast the potatoes until bottoms are beginning to brown around edges, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Using a flat spatula, loosen potatoes from the bottom of pan and flip. Continue to roast until browned on second side, about 15 minutes longer.

3. Remove pan from oven, flip potatoes once more, and add chicken broth and garlic cloves to the baking pan. Roast until potatoes are tender and sauce has reduced slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the pan into a serving dish and pour the sauce in the bottom of the baking pan over the potatoes.

4. Makes approximately 6-8 servings.

Melting Potatoes Recipe

Melting Potatoes are also known as Fondant Potatoes

Recipes Aplenty For Those Uneaten Girl Scout Cookies

I was a Girl Scout. I loved it, but the one thing I always hated was selling those darn Girl Scout cookies. Back then, we would have to go door-to-door asking for an order. Then, on the weekends during cookie season, we had to stand in front of grocery stores and ask complete strangers if they wanted to buy something from us. I’m not a sales person. Never have been. Never will be. To me, selling Girl Scout cookies was a humiliating experience because of my shyness. That’s why, every year for the past 40 years, I buy two boxes of each kind of cookie from the same little Girl Scout. If she is like I was, nothing can be more mortifying than asking a stranger for money.

In order to avoid eating two boxes of everything at once – and it is tempting – we freeze them and eat the cookies throughout the year. But, more often than not, we have leftovers from the prior year, most often the shortbreads – the Trefoils. This year I had six boxes of Trefoils in the freezer, but I still ordered two boxes of everything from the restaurant owner’s little daughter.  I had to.  It was my promise to myself to make a difference with just one little girl who may be shy and timid and didn’t want to sell to strangers.

What to do? What to do? What to do with all these extra Trefoils.  Well, I finally decided that I should crush them up and make something with them, but I didn’t know what would taste good or what to add to these buttery shortbread wonders. I thought and thought but couldn’t come up with anything. So, I turned to the Internet, and to my total surprise, there were tons of web sites that have recipes using Girl Scout cookies. From Delish, which conducted a contest on the best recipe using Girl Scout cookies, to the Girl Scout website itself which categorizes the recipes by the type of cookie, I had all the recipes I needed for a lifetime, plus some thought-starters to create my own recipes. As I read through the abundance of ingredients and instructions, I thought to myself, “I’ll never have leftover Samoas or Thin Mints so why am I reading this one.” But I guess that’s not the point. The point is that there are many people like me who buy Girl Scout cookies for whatever their reasons, then don’t eat them. Well, I’m here to tell you that based on my research there are plenty of ways to use the cookies if you don’t eat them straight up.

Girl Scout Cookie Recipes

What to do with unused Girl Scout Cookies

Corn Oil Pie Crust Recipe

This is a simple corn oil pie crust recipe that I have been making for years. My husband grew up with this recipe and when his mother passed away, I inherited the requirement that all pies in our household have this crust. My husband still covets the original recipe that was cut off the back of either the flour package or the oil container. The crust is moist and flaky, but you need to roll it out as soon as you make it or it will dry out. Also, if you are doing a two-crust pie, then just double the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup corn oil
2 tbsp. cold water

Directions

Mix flour and salt. With a fork, blend in the corn oil thoroughly. Sprinkle all of the water over the mixture and mix well. With your palms, shape into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly and put it between two pieces of wax paper. Do not try to roll the crust out without wax paper. Once rolled to the size of your pie pan, peel off the top layer of wax paper and fit in pie pan, paper side up. Peel off the top paper and continue fitting in the pan. Trim about ½” beyond the edge of the pie pan. Fold the excess under or flute the edges.

If making a one-crust pie with a pre-baked crust, prick the bottom well and bake 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees. If baking a filled pie or a two-crust pie, do not prick the bottom, just fill and bake according to the filling’s baking instructions.

Flourless Walnut Torte with Coffee Whipped Cream

I found this recipe after the holidays when I was looking for something to bake with leftover bags of walnuts. This recipe is just awesome and I believe it initially came from Bon Appetit. I can’t find enough words for how good it is. Light and fluffy, easy to make and awesome compliments from everyone who tried it. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Ingredients

• 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons walnuts (about 5 ounces)
• 4 large eggs, separated
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
• 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals dissolved in 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
• 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Walnut halves

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grate the walnuts in a food processor until they become a fine meal, but not pasty. Use on/off turns. Set aside 2 tablespoons ground walnuts for garnish.

2. Butter bottom (not sides) of 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until well blended. Stir remaining ground walnuts into yolk mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into nut mixture in 2 additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

3. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife between cake and pan sides to loosen; remove pan sides. Cool cake completely on rack (cake will fall in center). (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)

4. Using electric mixer, beat cream, powdered sugar, coffee mixture, and vanilla in large bowl until peaks form. Spread coffee whipped cream onto top of cake. Sprinkle top with reserved ground walnuts; arrange walnut halves in center of cake. Cut cake into wedges.

Makes approximately 8 servings.

IMG_1204

Growing Basil Indoors

If you love basil, there is nothing more pleasant than the aroma of a fresh basil plant when walking by the plant. We grew it outdoors for the first time last year and the patio just smelled great. As winter approached, we thought it was a good idea to try and grow it indoors to get that same great fragrance and have fresh basil on hand for cooking. So, if you like basil, and want to grow it indoors without starting it from seed, here are the easy steps:

Start with the Cuttings

1. Take a cutting from your existing basil plant. Take maybe three to five leaves from one stem. Make sure it is not flowering.
2. Place the cutting in a glass of water so it can form roots. Keep the water clean. You may need to change it in about a week.

Wait for Roots

3. After about two weeks, roots will have formed on the cutting. Once the roots are about 1 to 1½ inches long, plant them directly into a container with damp soil.
4. Keep the soil well drained and moist and in a location that gives the plant five to six hours of sun or light per day.
5. Once the basil leaves have grown to the size you want, you can cut them off the plant by cutting the stem right above where the two large leaves meet. Also, if the plant begins flowering, pinch off the flowers and let the plant concentrate on growing the leaves. Once you cut the leaves, you can wash them and use them, or wash and dry them and put them in a plastic bag in the freezer.
That’s it. Very easy and worthwhile.

The Importance of Kitchen Tested Recipes

Recipes Galore

There are millions of recipes on the Internet and in cookbooks. Most come with pictures that look beautiful and enticing enough to make you want to try it out. But, before you go out and buy the ingredients and put all your time and energy into a new meal, appetizer or dessert, make sure it has been kitchen tested.

My Experience with Untested Recipes

It’s easy to cut and paste a bunch of recipes into a website or publish a book of recipes in order to get the sale. It’s a lot harder for the authors to verify that they have tried the recipes before they published them. About 10 years ago, I bought a book by a couple of award winning cooks. I thought I had a goldmine of meals and desserts. The pictures made the finished products look so good and the recipes were easy to follow. However, the finished products didn’t look anything like the pictures and, to boot, they just didn’t taste good. Recently, I took a recipe for a simple loaf of bread off the Internet. I haven’t made bread in a long time and when the recipe didn’t call for proofing the yeast, I thought something might be wrong. Since it had been a while since I made bread, I wondered whether someone discovered a different proofing process. Nope. The bread should have been proofed the old-fashioned way – sitting in sugar and water until it bubbled. High school home economics 101.

So, before you print a recipe off the Internet or buy a cookbook, make sure the author has actually made the darn thing.