Sep 15, 2009


One of my friends mentioned to me the other day that she was craving a treat that my husband makes during Christmas time. Since she is expecting baby #4, I knew I must be prompt (as did my husband - he wisely knows pregnancy cravings are nothing to mess with!!) I mistakenly thought I had posted the recipe already, but I guess I didn't!! So I guess this is a good way to come back after 7 months of maternity leave :^P hehe. This recipe was one that his grandmother used to make. We have had variations but frankly, these are the best. In our family recipe book, they are titled GRANDMA'S BUCKEYE BALLS. Enjoy!!

makes about 1 dozen
(in other words, I suggest at least doubling - we usually quadruple at Christmas)

1/2 cup oleo (aka - shortening)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
16oz. confectionery sugar (that's about 2 cups), sifted
6 oz chocolate chips
2 TBS. Oleo (shortening/butter)
1/4 cake of parfine wax (canning isle)

To make the balls: Beat together 1/2 cup shortening, peanut butter, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl. Using a tablespoon or scoop, form into balls.

Using a tablespoon or scoop and your hands, form into balls.

Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
Making the chocolate: If you don't have a double boiler, like me, take a small pot - I like glass so I can see the water - and place a heat proof bowl on top. You can see mine in the following pictures. Put about 2 inches of water in the pot. You don't want it to touch the bowl, but you don't want your water to evaporate either. Place in the bowl of you "double boiler" the following: chocolate chips, 2 TBS. shortening OR butter, parfine wax (just a note here - the wax often comes in a large block made of 4 cakes - don't make the mistake we did the first time by putting a whole cake - 1/4 the whole block - into the chocolate. I think we ended up with hundreds of Buckeye Balls that year because we had to keep adding chocolate and making balls)

Heat water to low or medium low (back to low once the chocolate melts), stir. Be careful, the bowl might get hot.

When the chocolate is ready, place a toothpick in each peanut butter ball and dip into the chocolate. Twist around to cover. Oh and please don't mind my husband's thumb. These were taken last Christmas and he had shut his thumb in the car door - ouch - ironically while we were on our way into the hospital to check stuff out for our up-coming birth.

When all the peanut butter balls are chocolate coated, place in the refrigerator to chill - at least an hour. When ready to eat, gently twist the toothpick and it will come right out. So there you go, Grandma's Buckeye Balls. Enjoy!

Jan 12, 2009

Cooks Illustrated Enchiladas Verdes

Help I live in up-state NY and there isn't any good Mexican food close by!  Do you ever feel this way, where ever you live? I come with hope today that you too can make a delicious Mexican dish that will knock your socks off! It is not as easy as 1-2-3 (oh please DO NOT open a can of El Passo Enchilada sauce, just don't), but it well worth the effort. Someone gave me this recipe and it is from a source I trust well (that is an understatement). If any of you foodies out there love to cook, you MUST get a subscription to Cooks Illustrated or Cooks Country Kitchen (same people). They are great. Best of all they are free of adds so there isn't anything to interrupt your reading enjoyment! They walk you through the recipe step by step, show you why they choose what they did, and do product reviews. It is really a great magazine. So with out further ado...

Enchiladas Verdes

4 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves, pressed (about 1 TBS)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 LBS boneless, skinless chicken breast (2-3 breasts, trimmed of excess fat)
1 1/2 LBS tomatillos (see picture below), 16-20 medium size, husks and stems removed, rinsed well and dried
3 medium poblano chiles, halved lengthwise, stemmed, and seeded
1-2 1/2 tsp sugar
table salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 oz pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese, grated (2 cups)
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas (I tried these and regular flour and actually like the flour better)

Garnish (optional)
2 medium scallions, sliced thin
Thinly sliced radishes
sour cream

1. Adjust oven racks to middle and highest positions and heat broiler. Heat 2 tsp oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering; add onion and cook, stirring frequently until golden, 6-8 minutes. Add 2 tsp garlic and cumin; cook stirring frequently until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Decrease heat to low and stir in broth. Add chicken breast, cover, and simmer until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees (ok I didn't use the thermometer, I just cut open a breast to see if the pink was gone. Mine were done faster - 10 minutes), 15 - 20 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to large bowl; place in refrigerator to cool. Remove 1/4 cup liquid from saucepan and set aside; discard remaining liquid.

2. Meanwhile, toss tomatillos and poblanos with remaining 2 tsp oil; arrange on rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, with poblanos skin-side up. Broil until vegetables blacken and start to softened, 5-10 minutes (mine took longer - just keep you eye on them) , rotating pan halfway through cooking. Cool 10 minutes then remove skin from poblanos (leave tomatillo skin intact). Transfer tomatillos and chiles to a food processor. Decrease oven temperature to 350. Discard foil from baking sheet and set baking sheet aside for warming tortillas.

3. Add 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, remaining tsp garlic, and reserved cooking liquid to food processor; process until sauce is somewhat chunky, about 8 1-second pulses (again mine took more). Taste sauce; season with salt and pepper and adjust tartness by stirring in remaining sugar, 1/2 tsp at a time. Set aside sauce (you should have 3 cups).

4. When chicken is cool, pull into shreds using hands or 2 forks (hands are the easiest). Combine chicken with cilantro and 1 1/2 cups cheese, season with salt.

5. Smear bottom of a 13x9 baking dish with 3/4 cup tomatillo sauce. Place tortillas on 2 baking sheets. Spray both sides of tortillas lightly with cooking spray. Bake until tortillas are soft and pliable, 2-4 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Place warm tortillas on counter top and spread 1/3 cup filling down the center of each tortillas. Roll each tortillas tightly and place in baking dish, seam side down. Pour remaining tomatillo sauce over top of enchiladas. Use the back of a spoon to spread sauce so that it coats the top of each tortilla. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese (or more!!). Cover baking dish with foil.

6. Bake enchiladas on middle rack until heated through and cheese is melted, 15-20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with scallions (I skipped this but I'm sure it would be good) and serve immediately, passing radishes and sour cream separately.

Tomitillos and poblanos are NOT hard to find. I found mine at Walmart!

This is a tomitillo in its husk, which you will peel off. Look for husks that are tight fitting around the vegetable, a little of green veggie poking out of the bottom of the husk.

These poblano peppers came a long way to be in Up-state NY, so the quality lacked a little bit. If you can find them before they look wrinkled, that is best. In some grocery stores, you can request items. If you can't find these items, request them!

Peeled the tomitillo looks like a small green tomato, although they are NOT interchangeable!

To the left are perfect tomitillos, dark green in color. To the right are NOT so good tomitillos, light green/yellow.

Jan 7, 2009

Grandma Harmon's Frozen Fruit Salad

I had every intention of posting this before the new year, but then it came and went. I wanted to tell the story about this frozen fruit salad. It was something my Grandmother Harmon made and something I remember my Aunt Sheila making growing up. When I got the recipe for my mom this holiday season, it may as well have been encrypted. In case you are wondering, terminology for recipes has changed in the last 70 years. For example, how many of you know what a #2 can is? Nothing is standardized like that any more. And instead of "grab the cool whip" it is 1 pint whipped cream... You know because there WASN'T any cool whip or redi-whip or any of that stuff. But do you just whip the cream or actually make whipped cream? ah! And what is the world is Oleo (that is actually from my husband's grandma's cookbook)? It is butter or shortening for all of you who didn't know either. And a #2 can is 20 oz or about 2 1/2 cups. And yes you do actually make whipped cream (with sugar and vanilla) not just whip the cream. After all that, I have made this recipe a little easier to understand. I really enjoy this tasty treat - even more than ice cream :^) Noel (my daughter) loves it too. What is best is that because it has fruit in it, you can justify eating it any time of day!  And I think it is perfect for Christmas brunch.  Or Easter.  Or your birthday.  Whenever!

Grandma Harmon's Frozen Fruit Salad
makes 2 8x8 pans

about 20 oz canned peaches, drained and cut up (2 1/2 cups un-diced)
20 oz crushed pineapple
1 large banana, cut up
1 cup mini-mallows
1 small jar of maraschino cherries, drained
1 cup pineapple juice (crushed pineapple still comes in 20 oz cans - thank goodness - and it happens that the liquid you drain from it should give you 1 cup)
2 TBS flour
1/4 cup butter
2 TBS sugar
1 beaten egg (a room temp egg is optimal)
2 TBS lemon juice
1/2 cup coconut flakes (optional)
pinch of salt
1 pint whipping cream (for how to make whipped cream, see below the recipe)

On the stove top in a sauce pan, cook on medium heat pineapple juice, flour, butter, sugar, and salt for 10 minutes until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Then take a small spoonful of the mixture and add it to the beaten egg. This is called tempering and it brings the temp of the egg up to the temp of the liquid so you don't get scrambled egg. Yuck. If you do notice that you got scrambled egg, throw it out and beat another egg. Repeat. Once your egg is tempered, pour it into the mixture and stir it in. Add lemon juice. Add fruit, marshmallows, and coconut (if using). Stir until well combined. Fold in whipped cream. This just means you make motions that are up and down (think of a Ferris Wheel), getting ingredients from the bottom of the bowl and bringing them to incorporate with the whipped cream on top - NOT left and right motions like regular stirring. Place in two 8x8 pans and freeze. Thaw for a few minutes before cutting to eat.

Whipped Cream

1 pint whipping cream
2-4 TBS sugar (I use 2 because it doesn't over power this recipe with sweetness)
1 tsp vanilla

Beat with an electric mixer until peaks form - quite a few minutes. This is a good tricep workout ;^) You will notice when the consistency starts to change - all of a sudden and you are pretty much done.