Friday, November 30, 2007

caramel pecan logs

I didn't purposefully have Mary from the Nativity set up like that. HF thought I was being sacrilegious. Anyway, this lovely candy pictured above is what we call a Caramel Pecan Log. We make them every Christmas and give them to people. They are seriously so delicious and addicting. I have also noticed that if we give them to people that might be expecting lavish gifts from us, one of these usually does the trick and they don't remember that we didn't spend all kinds of money on them for Christmas, but gave them this really unique and utterly delcious treat that they will always remember. So basically, it gets us out of the dog house with HF's family at Christmastime.

I'm calling it a family recipe. I know that my mom and her side of the family have been making these. It seems like many people haven't heard of them. Maybe it's a western thing. I don't know, but our family has always made these it seems. The white inside is a fondant. A creamy, smooth, buttery, sugary fondant. Wrapped around the fondant is homemade caramel sprinkled with pecans. I don't like pecans, or nuts in general, but I will eat them in this without hesitation. I'm telling you, if you make this for people, it will impress them and they will ask for more or for the recipe. You won't hear the end of it. These are awesome. They make great gifts for co-workers, bosses, teachers, friends, enemies, anyone. My mom made them for our school teachers every year. I was totally teacher's pet. These can be a bit tricky to make, but totally worth the effort.

caramel pecan logs

make caramel:
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
2 sticks butter
1 can Eagle brand milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook caramel to firm ball stage. You can test this with candy thermometer, or the water method. Pour onto large cookie sheet covered with chopped pecans. When cool, cut into rectangles that will fit over fondant when rolled.

make fondant:
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 teaspoon Karo syrup
1 cup cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil. DO NOT STIR. Cook to between soft and firm ball. Remove and let cool until able to handle (110°). Beat until changes color and becomes fudge-like (loses its gloss). Add vanilla. Knead until smooth on buttered board. Mold into 6 log shapes (6-8 inches long, or whatever your preference is). Refrigerate fondant logs until chilled/firm. Place in the center of a caramel rectangle and roll and shape caramel completely around fondant until covered. Then wrap in wax paper and gift with additional wrapping paper wrapped around wax paper. May keep refrigerated. To serve, just unwrap, and slice into wheels.

Thanks mom, for helping me make these this year after Thanksgiving. She did most of the work. I had to keep leaving and throwing up. I don't really know why, but seems to happen on Thanksgiving every year, before even eating. I think it's the handling of the raw Turkey.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

lemon blossoms


A few weeks ago, some single guys that live a few doors down from us, brought us over some tasty little treats. One of them said they were called "Lemon Blossoms". I tried to convince HF to go over and ask them for the recipe, but he would not do it. I now see how un-manly that would be, but I didn't want to do it. Finally, I called them and asked for the recipe, and one guy, Chris, told it to me from memory. I had to ask him if he really made them himself, or if someone else, like some girlfriends, did it for them, but he was pretty proud of himself and his accomplishment-as he should be. He told me exactly how to make them, what he does differently from the recipe, and that they are better the second day. I must say I was pretty impressed. Maybe because I've never met any men that know how to cook anything other than hot dogs. Anyway, these lemon blossoms are so good! And so easy to make! I did find out that it's actually a Paula Deen recipe and not Chris's, my bachelor neighbor's original, as I think he wanted me to believe.

Make these babies, they are so good. And I did like my neighbor said for the glaze: 3 cups powdered sugar instead of 4, and a tad bit more water. It was more glaze-like, which is better than frosting-like. I think he also left out the lemon zest, but I wouldn't do that. And you have to make them as mini cupcakes. I tried mini loafs and it just didn't work. I think they were really meant to be miniature.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

worst meal EVER

I love to cook. I love trying new things all the time. When HF and I were dating, I was made aware that he was not accustomed to homemade foods so much. He ate a lot of boxed foods and processed foods growing up, so I was excited to introduce him to an exciting new world of real food. And I thought it couldn't hurt to further dazzle him with some more of my mad skillz.

Using the ingredients I had on hand, I decided to make him some kind of a crustless quiche. This is the first meal ever I made for him other than a sandwich. I'd never made this before, or any time since then. I followed the instructions precisely, poured everything into a cheap metal-like baking dish and stuck it in the oven. When it was ready, I served HF a nice giant slice of this quiche, and waited for his reaction. He didn't swoon or make any pleased sounds like Bob on What About Bob. In fact, I couldn't read his expression at all. He was expressionless. After he ate the entire serving, and helped himself to another, I asked him to be honest and tell me what he thought. He was quiet for a while then he said, hesitantly, "It was really, really bad." I was shocked. So I tried some. And you know what it tasted like? METAL. I don't know what kind of flimsy metal pan this was, or if it was even metal at all, but it's like the cheap metal coating had baked into the eggs. It was like eating pure metal . It was so bad I gagged and spit it out and somehow he had managed to eat his hefty portion of it just to please me. I told him never to do that and to always tell me what he thinks. It was so gross, but it further proved to me how kind and considerate he was.

I can only think of a couple other times where he was pretty grossed out by my food. I made cream of caulifower soup. He has issues with cauliflower not remaining in its original form. If I hadn't told him it was cauliflower he would've gladly eaten it, thinking it was potato or something. The other was a roast. I don't know what his deal is. He's like the only guy that doesn't like roasts.

I have a friend who made french toast for her husband. This was the first time he tried some of her cooking. Instead of sprinkling cinnamon on it, she unknowingly sprinkled cayenne pepper. He thought it was some kind of a joke, but he ate ever single last bite and didn't mention it to her for a long time. She had no idea that it wasn't cinnamon.

What's the first thing you ever made for your spouse? How did it go? If it went over well, have you made anything that was disgusting?