Thursday, December 8, 2016

My Three Layer Peppermint Fudge

This fudge is so pretty and festive for the holidays. It's always my go to when I want to make a special gift from the heart for friends, family and neighbors.  It takes a few steps, but it is so simple and so fast and so pretty to give away. And it is heavenly!  A layer of rich chocolate fudge covered by a layer of peppermint fudge and topped with a layer of white chocolate fudge!  Then it’s all covered with that familiar peppermint candy crunch.  This fudge is so creamy and so decadent!  Each layer has a distinct flavor of its own and when you bite into it, it melts in your mouth! This is a keeper my friends! 

  My Three Layer Peppermint Fudge

   3 (14 ounce) cans of sweetened condensed milk
   3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
   6 cups chopped white chocolate melting wafers or white chocolate chips
   1 teaspoon peppermint extract
   3 drops red food coloring
   Crushed peppermint candy for topping 

Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with on stick spray and then line it  with parchment paper. Then spray the paper.  I like to let the excess paper hang over the sides to use later as handles to lift out the fudge.

 In a medium non-stick sauce pan, pour in the first can of sweetened condensed milk and set heat too low. Add the semisweet chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour this bottom layer into the prepared dish and smooth out flat with spatula.

Clean that saucepan to use it again.  Pour the second can of sweetened condensed milk in the saucepan and place it over low heat again.  This time, add your white melting wafers or white chocolate chips and stir until white chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Mix in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, 3 drops of red food coloring. Mixture should be pink.  Pour this on top of the bottom layer in your dish and smooth out to the edges with and off-set spatula.

 Clean the same saucepan a final time to use again.  Pour the last can of sweetened condensed milk in the saucepan and place it over low heat again. This time, add you’re the remaining 3 white melting wafers or white chocolate chips and stir until white chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Pour this on top of the peppermint fudge and smooth out to the edges with an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle your crushed peppermint candy all over the top.  I like to cover completely but you can use as much as you’d like.

Place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for about 2 hours. Lift the fudge out by the parchment paper and cut into squares or smaller pieces.

NOTE:  Clean your knife in between cuttings to make sure you don’t get chocolate on your white or pink layers. Store in air tight container or in refrigerator.

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First of all, I want to let you know that I do not get paid by these big manufacturers when I post something about a product like this one I'm about to tell you about. If I like something a lot...I enjoy sharing it with you. Simple as that. And I like this one so much that I just have to tell you about it.

Last year I wanted to roast my turkey the old fashioned way using my Mom's old traditional recipe that I grew up knowing so well. The kind of turkey that you roast slowly in the oven and baste in it's own juices. The problem was I needed my oven for all the other dishes I was making. How could I possibly bake my mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, roasted Brussel Sprouts, and all those other dishes with a big bird in my oven all day?

I found myself wishing I had another oven instead of the one that came with my stove. Don't get me wrong, I have a big oven in the LG range and even a small oven at the bottom. But I was wishing I had another separate oven to make my Hams and Roast Beef and Crown Pork Roast and especially my Turkey every year. I certainly didn't have room to add another oven to the kitchen, nor the money. So I set out to find a solution. And I found one! And I love it! And I was so impressed by it that I want to share it with you! I am in awe of this thing and it cost me less than $50! And it freed up my entire oven for the day.

It's called the Oster 22-Qt Roaster Oven and it will roasts up to a 26-lb Turkey. It is really pretty too.... with it's clean and shiny stainless steel finish. It has a removable enamel-on-steel roasting pan for fast, even heat distribution and easy clean-up; plus a steel roasting rack to raise your turkey above the juices. I love this thing!

First, I set it for 450 degrees to get it really hot. Then I put the turkey down in this deep roaster and covered it with the lid. After about 15 minutes I turned it down to 350, anticipating that my 16 pound turkey would get done in the 3 1/2 hours it said on the Butterball label. I set it and then I just walked away to prepare my Thanksgiving meal. I didn't even have to baste it because it has a self basting lid!

After about 2 hours I just had to look under that lid to see how things were going. I opened the lid and just stared in amazement! I was so shocked at what I saw that I was speechless. There was the most beautiful golden brown picture perfect turkey I had ever seen in my life! How did that happen? How did this turkey get so beautiful in an electric roaster? I still have no idea!

I decided to take it's temperature, even though according to Butterball my turkey would need 3 1/2 hours to cook. I inserted the probe from my reliable instant read thermometer from ThermoWorks into the thickest part of the breast and it showed my turkey was perfectly cooked at 165 degrees! How could that be? This big beautifully browned 16 pound turkey had cooked in only 2 hours!

So, I turned the dial to "Keep Warm" and the roaster then became a slow cooker. By the time my dinner was ready 90 minutes later, I had a turkey unlike any that I had ever cooked before. It was fall off the bone tender. It was so easy to carve. And the turkey was so moist you couldn't believe it. I now know that as a self-contained roaster, it uses the steam from cooking to lock in juices. The self basting lid and the steam browns the skin as if you roasted in a hot oven. All I can say....and with no reservations.... this was the best turkey I have ever made in my life! And my guests could not get over how good it was.

I can say that this Oster Turkey Roaster is way up on the list of one of the best investments I have ever made. Get yours on sale today at Amazon with the Welcome Home code....just in time for your next holiday meal. I plan to make my Christmas Ham and Prime Rib Roast in this for Christmas!

Order it with the embedded Welcome Home code in the following link and not only will you get the sale price, you will be helping me save the lives of dogs and cats who are killed in shelters while waiting for a new home.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The first time I ever ate at PF Changs, my friends told me the chicken lettuce wraps were a must.  I noticed everyone around me was ordering them and so I thought why not?  Oh my gosh! They were so good that I ended up ordering them for my appetizer AND my dinner.  I couldn’t get enough of them that night.  I decided to make them at home and so I went online to find a copycat recipe. I added a few of my own things to make them even better.  Now I make them all the time!  I even grow my own Butter Lettuce so I can have them as often as I want! They are so good and so easy to make, I eat them a couple times a week all summer long!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

1 head butter lettuce (also called Boston Bib)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste
1 (8-ounce) can whole water chestnuts, drained and diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add ground chicken and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the chicken as it cooks; drain excess fat.

Stir in garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha until onions have become translucent, about 1-2 minutes. 

Stir in chestnuts and green onions until tender, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf, taco-style. Delicious! 

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Beans and Rice with Smokey Kielbasa

I love one pot meals.  You know ...those recipes where  you throw all the right ingredients into one skillet or pot and leave it to become delicious all by itself.  This one is the perfect example of what a one pot meal should be. It's a perfect blend of rice and beans with the right seasonings and then I added some smoky kielbasa to the mix.  Oh My Goodness what a quick and easy one skillet meal that will become a family favorite.  And here's a bonus:  It only gets better each day!

Beans and Rice with Smokey Kielbasa

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 package (14 ounce) polish kielbasa, sliced into rounds
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white rice
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 can (14 ounce) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
 1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil and butter together in a large skillet until melted.  Add the sliced kielbasa and fry until lightly browned and caramelized. 

 Add the onion and saute until just soft and tender. Add in the minced garlic and stir for about a minute until golden. Stir in the rice and chicken broth.  Add the beans along with the oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. 

Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.  Cover the skillet and simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender.  Fluff up the rice and stir to make sure all is mixed well.  Season as needed with salt and pepper.

I love to serve cornbread with this meal! What could be better?   Sprinkle with parsley and serve!   YUM!

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Mom's Green Beans and Potatoes

She called them a “big ol’ mess a’ beans.”  My Mom would get up in the morning and go out to her garden and ‘pick a big ol’ mess a beans’ for supper that night.  We would come back from the garden and sit on the back porch with our aprons on and a big bowl in our lap. And we would and talk and laugh and snap those beans.  She would put on some ham hocks or shanks and cook those beans all day and then call us all for the best country supper of green beans, potatoes and onions with ham.  Those were the days in my life was simple and all was good in our little world.   Here is my Mom’s short recipe for her Green beans and potatoes.  These are exactly as I remember.

Mom’s Green Beans and Potatoes 

2-3 pounds fresh green beans
8 slices bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces and fried
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes (or any potato except Russet) 
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Wash and trim beans and break them into 2-inch pieces; set aside.

In a large skillet, fry the bacon pieces until crisp. Transfer bacon to plate when done but do not drain the fat from skillet.

Add onion and green beans to the bacon fat and saute just until onion is tender and translucent. Remove skillet from heat and set aside. Once again, do not drain the fat.

In a large Dutch oven or pot, add chicken broth, butter, salt, pepper and stir. Cut potatoes into large cubes or chunks and add to the liquid. I use Yukon Gold but you can use any potato you like other than baking potatoes.  Russets get too mushy when you boil them.  

Add the green beans and onions, including the bacon drippings to the pot and bring to a full boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until potatoes are fork tender…..about 30 minutes.  Don’t overcook or potatoes will get mushy. Serve in bowls and top with crumbled fried bacon pieces.  OH YUM!

NOTE:  You can also make this recipe in a slow cooker.  Just follow the same exact recipe but cook on high for about 4 hours or until potatoes are fork tender.

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