Saturday, December 10, 2011

See's Fudge

This was the family fudge recipe that my grandmother made every holiday season as I was growing up. It was one of my grandmother's specialties, but my mother and great-grandmother also made it. I often wondered at the name on the recipe card, "See's Fudge". See's Candy is a favorite in California, but in my memory they never sold fudge.

This is my favorite fudge recipe. My kids love it and I usually make several batches every December because they gift it to their friends.

Now, thanks to the Internet, I've googled this recipe and found several hits. On, they say:

This is the original See's fudge recipe I found when I did a Google search HISTORICAL NOTE: Given to Amy DeVore by Emma Julian c. 1930, this is “supposedly” the original recipe for See's Fudge, produced by the See's Candy Company, Los Angeles. Emma allegedly worked for See's and later owned her own candy store.

Read more:

See's Fudge

  • 1/2 lb (2 cubes) butter
  • 1 tall (12 oz) can evaporated milk
  • 3-12 oz bags of chocolate chips (36 oz total)
  • 7-oz jar marshmallow cream; original recipe calls for 8-oz jar, but they are now making it as a 7-oz jar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Melt butter.
  2. Add evaporated milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. (Do not stir after this point until the pot is removed from heat.)
  3. Bring to a boil, count 8 minutes from the time the mixture starts to boil.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and marshmallow cream.
  5. Add nuts and vanilla and stir to incorporate.
  6. Pour into buttered 13"x10" pan. Let cool and cut into squares.
  7. When first poured, it appears oily. Once it has cooled, the oiliness is absorbed. (Note that this picture, and the previous picture, are from two different batches.)
  8. Store in refrigerator or freezer. Aging improves flavor.

You should not make this on a rainy day or it may not set properly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quinoa Vegetable Soup

I have been returning to a healthier lifestyle. This means I do more cooking. I concocted this Quinoa-based soup using ingredients I had on-hand. This recipe is more carb-y than I would generally make, but I didn't want the potatoes to go to waste and I couldn't break up the bag of frozen peas, so I had to use the whole thing. :)

My kitchen is slowly reflecting healthier ingredients so, in future, I would change out the potatoes and peas for something else.

This soup is very yummy and only improves with age.

This is the first time I used quinoa that is pre-rinsed - it's nice not to worry about rinsing it to remove the bitterness. Quinoa is absolutely packed with protein. I'm going to make this again tomorrow!

Quinoa Vegetable Soup

  • scant Tblsp oil for frying onion and garlic
  • water, as needed, for water-sauteing other veggies
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cubes frozen garlic
  • 3 red potatoes (med sized), cubed
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 Tblsp (generous) Blend It Up Spice (original flavor)
  • 3 tiny zucchini
  • 3 cubes frozen parsley
  • handful of green beans, cut into pieces
  • 1 box no-chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 Tblsp (generous) Fuhrman Vegizest powder (optional)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (prewashed)
  • 1 bag frozen peas (it was frozen solid, so I used the entire bag)
  • couple handfuls of baby spinach
  1. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the veggies that taker longer to cook - potatoes and carrots. Add seasoning - the Blend It Up spice, in my case.
  3. Add water, as needed, to water-saute the veggies. The potatoes start to break down after a bit. This is good.
  4. Add the veggies that cook more quickly - zucchini and green beans, along with the parsley.
  5. Once the veggies have cooked a bit, add the liquid - in my case, a mix of Imagine No-Chicken broth and water.
  6. Add the quinoa, frozen peas and spinach. Add the Vegizest, if desired. (A powder that is packed with nutrition, but is purely optional.)
  7. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, until all the veggies, and the quinoa, are done.
  8. Remove from heat. At this point it is thick, but it will get even thicker as it cools. This is how I like it - almost a stew. But if you prefer a thinner soup, you can thin it out with water or stock.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Toasted Cheesey Polenta Slices - and other Polenta Log Tales

About a year ago my youngest daughter went on an elimination diet that lasted several months. One month was no gluten. Another month was no sugar. Another month was no dairy.

She kicked off the process with the gluten-free month. Wow, it was a tough month. Gluten is in everything. I immediately started stocking up on gluten-free breads (both fresh and frozen), gluten-free treats, gluten-free pastas, gluten-free cereals, and so on. She pretty much hated all of it. With a passion. As part of this effort, I stocked up on polenta logs from Trader Joes.

I first tried a lasanga recipe that I found on allrecipes that used slices of polenta instead of noodles. She said she liked it, and she ate it all up, but she wasn't eager for me to make it again.

I then tried slicing the polenta into round discs and pan-frying it, with dollops of pasta sauce, and cheese on top. Again, she ate it eagerly, but didn't seem too excited for me to make it more than a couple of times.

My creativity ended about there. I could not figure out a good way to prepare the polenta logs. I think I had another 6 logs and they sat and sat.

Long after she was done with the gluten-free experiment, I decided I wanted to use up the polenta. I wasn't crazy about these logs, and I was home alone, so I had to find some form of preparation that pleased my tastebuds.

I could not find a healthy way to prepare the polenta. In this case, healthy (to me) means no cheese, but polenta is yummiest with cheese. I finally discovered my favorite way to prepare it - by this time I had only one or two loaves left. I finished it off, and I can tell you, I will not be buying polenta logs any time soon.

So, here it is.

Simple - yes. Delicious - yes. Healthy - no.

Toasted Polenta Slices

  • Remove the plastic from the polenta log.
  • Slice the polenta the long way, making the slices as thin as feasible. A scant 1/4" is good.
  • Sprinkle the slices with grated cheese of your choice. (I tried also using various types of red sauce but, in the end, I preferred it sans sauce.)
  • Place the slices directly on the wire rack in the toaster oven. Set to 450° F and bake for 20 minutes. The time will vary slightly depending on the thickness of the slices, but 20 minutes is about right.

You end up with slices of yummitude. The long time in the oven (I also tried shorter times, but it wasn't as good) dries them out and makes them firm and crunchy. These are excellent with a bowl of hearty soup.

If you have healthier, but still yummy, ways to prepare these logs, let me know in the comments. I am glad I finished them up and freed up some pantry space. :)

Friday, December 31, 2010

Dakota Smashed Pea and Barley Soup

This is my favorite split pea soup and I have made it countless times.

Dakota Smashed Pea and Barley Soup
(From the California Pizza Kitchen "Pasta, Salad, Soups, and Sides" cookbook)
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

"I've had so many customers say they cannot believe that this soup is nonfat," reports Katie Cooper, a server at the CPK in Santa Barbara, California. "They say it tastes too good to be healthy." We hear that again and again about this unusual version of good-old split pea soup, made more robust by the addition of barley, vegetables, and lively seasonings.

  • 1 lb dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tblsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tblsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 Tblsp dried)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed dried sage
  • Large pinch ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 cups diced carrots
  • 2/3 cup minced onion
  • 1/3 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion greens
  1. In a large pot or saucepan, combine the split peas, barley, water, bay leaves, salt, soy sauce, thyme, garlic, sage, and cumin. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

  2. Stir in the carrots, onion, and celery. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 30 minutes more. Discard the bay leaves. Ladle into warmed soup bowls and garnish with scallion greens.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baked Ziti with Vegetables

To my knowledge, I've never eaten a ziti and I certainly have never made one, but I've always loved the name. Ziti. Ziti. Ziti. Isn't it great?! When the spinach manicotti was gobbled up, eldest daughter was still fuming that she didn't get her fair share, and she pleaded for me to make another. She kinda had a point, because her sister and I eat like normal people and she eats like a bird, but I didn't want to make exactly the same recipe right away, so I decided it was time to investigate Baked Ziti.

I didn't want to make a classic ziti, which is primarily a pasta and cheese casserole, sometimes with meat – I wanted to fill it with vegetables. I often scheme how to get more vegetables into my kids. They like most vegetables, and they do eat salads (especially the dancer), but feeding them a variety of cooked vegetables can be a challenge, and vegetables are where the nutrition is, baby. :)

Neither daughter cares much for mushrooms, but the eldest will eat them if they aren't obvious - she has stated it's ok in this situation. (The youngest would feel betrayed if she discovered that I hid them in her food, but she's not around this week and, even if she were, she's eating gluten free for the next few weeks.) So I decided that mushrooms would definitely be included, and also zucchini, another veggie she isn't crazy about. She likes carrots and spinach, so of course those would also be included.

I had trouble finding a recipe that met my requirements. There was a Baked Ziti Primavera on that was kinda sorta what I wanted, but not quite. There was an uber healthy Baked Ziti with Vegetables on the Mayo Clinic website. I used features from both recipes, added my own ideas, and here you go. I have no idea if it's anything like a "real" ziti, but it's a pasta casserole with vegetables and cheese and the mushrooms are almost invisible, so it's a "home run", as far as I'm concerned. :)

Baked Ziti with Vegetables

  • 1-16oz box Barilla Ziti pasta (or equivalent)
Vegetable mixture
  • 2 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1-8oz box crimini mushrooms, finely diced (any sort of mushrooms could be substituted)
  • ~5oz baby spinach (I used most of a 6oz bag of Trader Joes organic baby spinach)
  • 1-14.5 oz can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (or equivalent)
  • 1/2 cup No Chicken broth
  • 4 cubes Dorit crushed garlic (or equivalent)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • additional broth, or water, as needed
  • salt and pepper to taste
Final mixture
  • 1-24oz jar prepared pasta sauce
  • 1-15oz container of ricotta
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, cut into chiffonade, or 2 tsp dried
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese mixture (plus extra for topping)
  • parmesan (also for topping)

A little mise-en-place


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook ziti, as directed. The Barilla box says to simmer for 11 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet and add about 1/2 cup broth. When hot, add the carrots and cook for a bit. Then add the zucchini and mushrooms and cook for a bit more. Add more broth, or water, as needed. Finally, add the diced tomatoes with juice, the spinach, the 4 cubes of crushed garlic, the dried oregano and dried basil (if using dry). Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until all veggies are cooked and it tastes yummy.

  4. In a large bowl, place the veggie mixture, the ricotta cheese, the fresh basil (if using fresh - I used fresh), and the jar of pasta sauce. Mix together and add the pasta, separating the pieces if necessary. Add about a 1/2 cup of grated cheese (whatever kind you like). Mix thoroughly.

  5. Place the mixture into a lasagna pan which has been sprayed with a non-stick spray. (I have one of those All Clad cast iron enamel roasting pans. It weighs a ton, but I love it.)
  6. Sprinkle with parmesan and any other cheese mix that you like.
  7. Cover with foil and place in preheated oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Notes: Eldest daughter loved the taste, but felt it needed more sauce. For now, I'm serving it with extra pasta sauce, but next time I need to make it "saucier." :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

One of my favorite fall treats are the iced pumpkin scones from Starbucks. This cookie may be even better. In fact, I sometimes have one or two of these with my morning tea, just as I would enjoy a pumpkin scone. :) It is based on a recipe from

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

  • 2-1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I grate mine fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (I use Trader Joes organic pumpkin)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I use my own vanilla that I made several years ago from vanilla beans and vodka)
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (1 tsp is a bit spicey)
  • 3 Tbsp milk, or how ever much is needed to achieve proper consistency for drizzling or spreading, whichever is preferred

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and white sugar. Add the brown sugar, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients.

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (for large cookies) or 10 minutes (for dainty cookies) in the preheated oven. Cool cookies for a few minutes, and move to a wire rack.

While the cookies are baking, mix the icing. Add enough milk to achieve the desired consistency.

Once cookies are completely cooled, either drizzle, or spread, with the icing.

I store these loosely covered. They are moist and don't really appreciate an airtight container. Once the icing has hardened, store them single layer in a container with a loose lid.

Roasted Potato Medley

Oops. Once again I forgot to take a pic before eating had commenced.

There was so little manicotti left after Friday night's dinner, I had to find another recipe to augment Saturday's dinner. I didn't even have manicotti the next night, so the kids could have more (and I don't need that cheese anyway), but DD1 tells me that this potato dish was a nice side for the manicotti. She's asked me to make the manicotti again, immediately. :)

This recipe, based on a recipe from, calls for sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, and red potatoes. I had sweet potatoes and red potatoes on hand, so I used those. I made a larger amount than called for, so I didn't really include amounts, because it depends on how many potatoes there are.

Roasted Potato Medley

  • sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • red potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • olive oil
  • No-Chicken broth, about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (fresh would be good, but I had dried and it was great)
  • fig balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic would also work, but we love the fig balsamic from Mollie Stones)
  • 3 cubes frozen crushed garlic, defrosted

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a mixing bowl placed the cubed potatoes and add the other ingredients. You really don't need too much olive oil (maybe none), but use an adequate amount of broth.

Spray roasting dish with non-stick spray. Add the veggies and put in the oven.

Set the timer for 15 minutes and then stir the veggies. Set the timer for another 15 minutes, then stir the veggies again. I roasted them for about 40 minutes total. The liquid mostly evaporates away leaving a very yummy residue for the tender taters.

Notes: Yum. This is very tasty. Both kids liked them and there were few left, even though I used almost an entire bag of each type of potato (from Trader Joes).