The Best Fudge I’ve Ever Had

We interrupt the Halloween Party recap to bring you my favorite recipe find of the month. I came across this recipe in Sharon Bower’s book Goulish Goodies. Even though I have never been a fan of fudge, this recipe seemed easy enough to try, and therefore ideal to include in our party menu. I loved the idea of a dessert that actually had the pumpkin and spice flavors of Fall, since the rest of the  selection was geared more toward the kids.

Needless to say, I loved this stuff, which is definitely saying something since I don’t like fudge. My husband says it may be the best fudge he has ever had. I probably should re-name it “Diet Killer,” because I was hard pressed not to eat the whole dang pan. Luckily, I remembered that I really like my skinny jeans, and exercised a little self control…though I am having to suck in the tummy this week.

I have never made fudge before, but luckily for me, this recipe was pretty much fool-proof.

Vanilla-Spice Pumpkin Fudge

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use the good stuff!!! no imitation!!!)

1) Grease a 9-inch square baking dish

2) Combine first 10 ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved; stop stirring and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for a full 5 minutes without stirring.

3) Remove pan from heat and stir in the white chocolate chips, pecans and vanilla. Stir until the chips are completely melted (this took  longer than I expected, so just be patient and keep stirring. It probably took me 4 minutes to get the chips completely incorporated). Pour fudge into prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into pieces, and serve. Try to exercise some self-control.

Tell your skinny jeans I’m sorry.

The Halloween Party Part 2–Desserts!

When I was originally planning the desserts for the Halloween party, I wanted food that was fairly simple, kid-friendly, and that did not require special slicing or serving during a hectic party.

Here is what I came up with:

First, we have the tombstone sugar cookies, decorated with a little royal icing. I loved the tombstone cookie cutter as soon as I saw it, so I had to include these, despite the fact that they were pretty labor intensive.

Next we have some cupcakes that did not turn out quite how we planned. They were supposed to have marzipan tentacles like a sea monster, but after J and I waged an epic battle with the marzipan, the marzipan won.

Then we have my trifecta of Halloween goodness: pumpkin-shaped Rice Krispie treats, pumpkin cake balls (salvaged from cake-pops gone wrong), and the best find of all, Vanilla-Spice Pumpkin Fudge.

My husband swears that the fudge is probably the best he’s ever had, and I’ll be posting the recipe this weekend. I’m just too busy with heathen children tonight.

J made some caramel apples:

I also made some extra of the Rice Krispie Treats, because who doesn’t need more of those?

So, there ya have it. My dessert plan was good in theory, but required quite a bit of improvisation due to a minor disaster here and there, specifically cake pops that went way off course, and a marzipan feud that I ultimately lost. While I am normally not into such labor intensive food for such a large gathering, I think half the fun of a Halloween party is the creative/goofy/fun food that goes with it.

If I had to do anything differently, I would have test driven ALL of the recipes beforehand, so that I would not have had so many last-minute surprises. Zero-hour before a huge event is not the time to experiment…you think I would have learned that by now….

The Halloween Party–Part 1: Setting the Mood

Our big Halloween party was definitely a labor of love.  For the past two months, we’ve been working on projects like this:

and this:

and this:

We’ve decorated like crazy:

and tried to make every space a spooky, eye-catching nook:

Overall, our goal was to have a little bit of  each room decorated in some form or another (with the obvious exceptions of our bedrooms…even I am not that ambitious). I think we accomplished this, and our outdoor decorations far surpassed our initial vision.

On the night of our party, I received a compliment that made those weeks of effort worth it…one guest repeatedly commented that our home looked like a magazine photo shoot. At that point, I felt marginally less guilty for dragging my husband, friends and everyone that would stand still long enough to hold a glue gun into my madness.

The key word there is marginally….

Tune in tomorrow for food!!

No, I am not lost…I’m tired

In case you’ve missed it, this weekend was our big Halloween party. I have been a busy girl. I’ve cleaned, cooked, cooked some more, had J talk me down from a ledge or ten, and finally had the Halloween party of my dreams.

I am tired. My poor husband is practically comatose (with good reason…he managed to keep 15 kids entertained, happy, engaged and out of trouble). After two months of planning, dreaming, and dragging our friends into the Halloween madness with us, we accomplished everything we wanted and more. Like any clueless hostess, I managed to throw a party and take…maybe 5 pictures of the whole shebang. Luckily, I have some good friends, and super-awesome in-laws, and they covered my proverbial behind. They managed to capture some great shots of our party, and as soon as I round them all up, you’ll get a play-by-play of the day. This will include some recipes that impressed us all, some harsh lessons about checking kids’ pockets for chewing gum before the pants hit the dryer, and a special thank-you to J and her husband L, who were right there with us through the whole messy thing…you know a gal is your friend when she is right there with you at midnight, hand-making party food and washing dishes like she lives here.

So, tune in this week for the play-by-play… I promise it is coming…after I sleep, eat, and have a restorative cocktail or …three.

Boy’s Weekend

Last weekend, my husband took my monkeys off into the wilderness for a Cub Scout camping weekend, along with all the packs in our area.

He asked me if I wanted to go. I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants.

Not really, but I decided to pass on this trip, because camping can be a lot of work, and I was just not up for it the weekend before our big Halloween party. Besides, J and I had pressing matters to attend to…like brunch…and shoe shopping.

Apparently, they had a blast, because they came back filthy, exhausted, and cute as can be.

My husband managed to text me some pictures on the iPhone of their shenanigans:

Did I mention they had a Civil War re-enactment?

Meanwhile, J and I just barely managed to hold down the fort…brunch is hard work, ya know.

Five Things for a Fall Friday

With the temperature yo-yoing like crazy, we’ve seen days as warm as the mid 90’s in the past week. I definitely have a difficult time getting into the Fall spirit, especially when I can still wear shorts and tank tops outside. Louisiana weather is fickle and unpredictable like that. To help me combat the feeling that summer will never end, I have five things to remind me that other seasons do, in fact, exist.

My mums…they are pretty, pretty, and I’ve actually managed to keep them alive…for now….

 

My latest Halloween find was too cool to pass up, and is there to greet me on my porch when I get home:

I have the Great Pumpkin on DVD, and can watch it as needed…You’re never too old for some medicinal Charlie Brown…luckily I still have kids and can act like I’m watching it for them. Riiiggghhtt.  

  The canned pumpkin shortage in my town continues, but I still managed to find some. Therefore, I can bake up a storm this weekend, and fill my house with the smell of Fall baked goodies.

And if all else fails, I will hit the Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, channel my inner-Linus and bring cooler weather to my town by the sheer force of my will and Autumn sincerity.

I just checked the weather, and the high tomorrow is 89 degrees….

Dang it!

Dinner + Picky Eaters + Stubborn Mama = Mexican Stand-Off

Meal planning at my house is very similar to Cold War disarmament negotiations.

My husband is a picky eater. He will not eat a variety of things, including but not limited to green onions, under-cooked yellow onions, purple onions, squash, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cooked carrots, spinach, most shrimp etc. The few vegetables he does eat, he prefers cooked nearly to death, preferably with some form of pork for flavor.

My boys are excessively picky eaters who are genuinely flabbergasted that I will not alternate between chicken nuggets, pancakes and macaroni and cheese for every meal. What can I say? I am the meanest Mom ever.

I, on the other hand, am a stubborn-ass who continues to try and make well-balanced, diverse meals, with the theory that they don’t have to like it, but they dang sure better try it. (Except the squash…my husband put his foot down on that, and said he would not punish his children in such a cruel manner….*sigh*)

As such, at least one, if not all these guys are less than enthusiastic come dinner time. I’ve accepted this fact…in a grumbly, passive-aggressive, eye-rolling kind of way.

I did have one meal experiment this week that was a definite victory in the husband department. I made this recipe from this month’s Better Homes & Gardens:

It is Chicken Enchilada Pasta. The recipe looked a little weird, and of course I had to tweak it for Captain Picky, but it definitely impressed my husband. After all, it is a meal of chicken, beans, pasta, well-hidden vegetables and a liberal sprinkling of Doritos. What’s not to like? Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Enchilada Pasta


Ingredients

  • 1  12-oz. pkg.  dried jumbo shell macaroni
  • 3  large  green and/or red sweet peppers, chopped
  • 1-1/2  cups  chopped red onion (I used yellow onions)
  • 1    fresh jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2  Tbsp.  vegetable oil
  • 2  cups  chopped cooked chicken (I used the grilled chicken breasts strips from the deli…it was a weeknight after all)
  • 1  16-oz. can  refried beans
  • 1/2  of a 1.25 oz. envelope  taco seasoning mix (3 Tbsp.)
  • 2  10-oz. cans  enchilada sauce
  • 1  8-oz. pkg.  shredded Mexican-style four-cheese blend
  • 1  cup  sliced green onions (Obviously left these out)
  • 2  cups  nacho cheese-flavored tortilla chips, crushed (2 oz.) (I used Baked Doritos in an effort to convince myself it was more healthy)
  •     Avocado dip and/or sour cream

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse; drain and set aside.

2. In skillet cook sweet peppers, onion, jalapeño, and 1/4 tsp. salt in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, beans, taco seasoning mix, and 1/2 cup enchilada sauce. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup each of the cheese and green onions.

3. Divide filling among shells. Spread 1 cup of the remaining enchilada sauce in 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Arrange shells atop sauce. Drizzle with remaining enchilada sauce.

4. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chips and remaining green onions. Serve with avocado dip and/or sour cream. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

As I said, my husband loved this meal. As for my kids?

Well, I can’t win them all, I guess.