Monday, October 27, 2008

Peanut Clusters

Peanut clusters hold a special place in my heart. My grandma made them every year for the holidays and gave them out to family and friends. They are simple but tasty and keep well, so they make excellent gifts!

16 oz Chocolate CandiQuik
24 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
20 oz Dry Roasted Peanuts

Melt the CandiQuik and chocolate chips together, stirring frequently. Combine peanuts and melted chocolate and spoon onto waxed paper. Let cool completely.

It took me less than an hour to make them today. I opted to melt the chocolate in a saucepan, although microwaving would have been quicker. Cooling time is going to depend on your cooling method and the weather. They can be cooled on a counter top or on trays in the refrigerator or freezer.

Here they are cooling on my counter:

I ended up with 54 clusters. If you need to increase or decrease the recipe at all, the chocolate to peanut ratio is 2 to 1. The exact CandiQuik/chocolate chip ratio is based on package sizes more than anything else and can certainly be adjusted. We don't actually know what proportions my grandma used, but my mom is pretty certain that she used more chocolate chips than CandiQuik.

My grandma used to buy jars of peanuts and then use the jars (washed, label removed) as gift containers. It's a good idea, but you can store them and give them away in any sort of packaging. Festive paper plates and plastic wrap work just as well!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Funnel Cakes

This is a true carnival funnel cake. Light and fluffy. After cooking, dust with powdered sugar and serve hot for a fun and tasty treat. Funnel cake doesn't have to be a once a year event...make it any ight right at home. Make them when you're camping or don't have time to bake. You can pre-mix the dry ingredients and then it is super fast to add the egg and milk for a yummy treat.
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1. Beat egg and milk. Mix all other ingredients and slowly add to the egg mixture, beating until smooth. (I used my blender and it worked great)
2. Using a funnel (a refillable mustard/ketchup bottle from Wal-Mart works great. Just snip the tip to widen it), squirt batter into hot oil working from center outwards. When the bottom looks golden, use a fork to turn it. Remove from the oil when golden brown and crispy. Drain on plates covered with paper towels.
3. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and eat up!

*This recipe made about 3 good sized funnel cakes. It's very easy to double, triple etc.

*Tip: I made a huge amount of the dry ingredients and just added milk and eggs to it. When I first guessed how much powder ingredients to add, the batter was too liquidy so it broke into lots of pieces in the pan. If it's not thick enough, it won't all stay together in the oil. Just add a bit more of the powder ingredients and it'll work great.
* Note in the picture the bottle of batter. It works GREAT! I'd highly recommend using something like this for pouring the batter.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


This is the cornbread my mom always made when I was growing up. I love it. It's moist and delicious. We usually top it with butter and honey. I pretty-much follow the recipe but to make it a little healthier, I substitute wheat germ for half of the flour. Can't taste a difference although it might be a little more crumbly.

Aka: Krusty Korn Kob

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup white flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ¼ cups milk
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons oil

Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together. In a separate bowl mix together egg, milk, and shortening. Add and stir just enough to moisten. Bake in well oiled pan. ( I use a cassarole dish but my mom always used about a 9x9" pan.) Cook at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. I usually have to give it another five minutes or so before the center is fully done. The top should crack if it's done.

Parmesan Corn Chowder

Ready in 45 min or less

2 cups water
2 cups diced peeled potatoes
½ cup sliced carrots
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
1 can (14 ¾ ounce) cream style corn
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, combine the first four ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender (do not drain).

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir into the vegetable mixture. Add corn and Parmesan cheese. Cook 10 minutes longer or until heated through.

Yield: 7 servings

A great side dish is corn bread. Look for a great cornbread recipe in the sidebar under "bread."