Great Aunt Corrine’s Fudge

Fudge

I used to love eating this as a kid. I took it to school as birthday treats instead of cupcakes many times. It’s not as soft as traditional fudge, but so delicious! As my mom says, it’s a tricky recipe, but so worth it. I had to call mom part of the way through to make sure I was doing it right. It turned out almost like I remember. I poured it too late (disaster photo at the bottom), which created some texture challenges, but it still tasted great.

This was also my first time using the candy thermometer I purchased from Pampered Chef. I’m really happy with my purchase!

Ingredients

2 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup milk
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla.

Instructions 

Mix sugar, cocoa, and milk over medium heat until blended and sugar is dissolved. Add butter.

Heat and stir until candy thermometer reads 236. This will take a while and it’ll be bubbling.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool slightly while beating with a spoon until fudge begins to lose its gloss. (These were her instructions, but I waited too long to pour mine and it didn’t spread like it should have. I thought I should’ve poured it a few times, but waited because it still had all of its gloss. Oops! I’ll have to watch it closer next time and see if I can find a better indicator than “begins to lose its gloss.”)

Pour immediately onto a buttered platter and spread it out. (Note: I poured mine onto a platter with parchment and it worked well.) Cut into pieces when cooled.

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What happened because I poured it too late. I was still able to salvage most of it into actual rectangular pieces, somehow! 

Ma’s Ham & Bean Soup

I posted my mother in law’s ham recipe the other day, and I recommended saving the unused sauce, the leftover ham, and pan juices for later. This is why! You can make this on the stovetop in a large pot of dutch oven, or in an extra large crock pot.

I’ll admit we’ve sometimes had the craving for this soup and made a ham just for this purpose. If you do that, you’ll want to set aside meat from at least half of the ham for eating since this recipe is meant to be made from leftovers.

Ingredients

Leftover ham (on and off the bone), pan juices, and any unused sauce (from Ma’s ham recipe)
1 bag great northern beans
1 x 28ox can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

Prepare beans using instructions on the bag for the “quick soak” method. Do not drain the water from the pot when finished. (This takes about an hour)

Place ham (bone with meat, and any additional meat off the bone) into an extra large pot or dutch oven. Add beans and the water from soaking. Add the diced tomatoes (do not drain), pan juices, ham sauce, onion, and garlic.

Cook on low, pretty much all day. Stir occasionally and add some water if it begins to get too thick.

Ma’s Ham

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe. I’m really not a big ham eater, but I really, really like this ham. Make sure you save the leftovers (including the leftover sauce, drippings, and carcass) to make ham and bean soup! I’ll be posting the ham and bean soup recipe separately.

Ingredients

1 whole ham
Whole cloves (optional – I’ve made it without)
1 can crushed pineapple
1 ¼ cups brown sugar (should be about half of the bag)
¼ tsp cloves
¼ cup honey
¼ cup yellow mustard

Instructions (Sauce)

You can make the sauce ahead of time, or while the ham is cooking. I usually make it a day ahead if I have a lot of other things to do while the ham is cooking.

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until it starts bubbling. Once it bubbles, turn the heat to the to lowest setting and cook until the brown sugar dissolves. Set aside until needed for the ham.

Instructions (Ham)

Preheat oven to 325°.

Put ham in roasting pan with fat side up, and score it into a lattice pattern. The lattice pattern will create squares. If using whole cloves, push one clove into each square.

Pour some water into bottom of roasting pan (basically cover the bottom of the pan enough to wet whatever falls into the bottom of the pan and keep it from burning). Cover the ham tightly with aluminum foil.

Follow the instructions on the label for the cooking time. If the label calls for a higher temperature, you can cook it on a higher temperature or lengthen the cooking time and cook it at 325°.

At last hour before the ham is done, remove the foil and spoon the sauce onto ham. Re-cover the ham and finish cooking. You may not need all of the sauce depending on the size of your ham. Save the leftover juices you don’t use if you plan to make soup with the leftover ham.

Nana’s Carrot Cake

nanas

I can’t take credit for this gorgeous carrot cake that occasionally appears on my header image. My wife made that using her grandmother’s recipe. This recipe is on the thinnest piece of paper ever. It was clearly typed on a typewriter, but I have no idea how the paper didn’t disintegrate when moving through the typewriter! I always handle it like I’m handling something from a museum archive. I have no idea why I’ve never imported it into Paprika.

You can do this recipe in a tube pan or two 9-inch rounds. We do the rounds.

Ingredients (Cake)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)
  • 4 eggs

Ingredients (Frosting)

  • 2½ sticks butter*
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese*
  • 1 box powdered sugar (if you make your own like I do, use 16 oz by weight or about 3½ cups measured)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

* The wife and I are having a debate on these two ingredients. It doesn’t say softened on Nana’s typed recipe, and my wife says don’t soften it because the recipe doesn’t say so. I say that won’t work and you need to soften it. Use my wife’s approach at your own risk.

Instructions (Cake)

Preheat oven to 350° if using a tube pan or 325° if using rounds.

Grate carrots, and let them drain.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. (You can sift directly into your mixer bowl) Set aside.

Combine oil and sugar. Add to the flour mixture and mix well. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each addition.

Add the carrots and nuts.

Pour batter into greased pans. Nana’s tip: Don’t grease the sides! How would you like to climb a greased pole?

Bake for 55-60 minutes (tube pan) or 40 minutes (9-inch rounds).

Instructions (Frosting)

Combine butter and cream cheese. Beat until light and fluffy.

Gradually add the powdered sugar while beating.

Add vanilla and the nuts. Nana’s recipe says to add the nuts into the frosting, but we prefer to cover the icing with the nuts.

Baking 101: Let the cake cool before you frost it, or your frosting will melt and you’ll be sad!

Frost the cake and sprinkle the reserved nuts on top.

Nana’s tip: Use a wet knife to cut a fresh cake.

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Mom’s Fruitcake Cookies

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We used to make fruitcake cookies every Christmas when I was little. My mom has come to visit the last several years for Christmas, and we’ve made them again every time. They’re just so good! If you hate fruitcake, don’t assume you’ll hate these. They really don’t taste like an actual fruitcake. The main similarity with actual fruitcake is the candied fruit. And I have no idea how the front and center one in the photo ended up with so much less fruit than the others. It must’ve come from the last bit of dough. Oh well!

As you’ll see below, the recipe calls for various candied fruits. I highly recommend buying the individual packages of each one and cutting them yourself instead of getting the one with chopped mixed fruit. There is usually too much citron in the mixed container. We made that mistake one year and it completely ruined the taste. If you want some citrus, add a small amount of citron or some lemon zest.

I think this recipe yields about 5 dozen, but give me a margin of error of +/- 2 dozen. Next time I make them I’ll update.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 package chopped dates (or you can get whole ones and chop them)
  • 1 package candied pineapple
  • 1 package candied red cherries
  • 1 package candied green cherries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional, I don’t usually add them)

Instructions 

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cut candied cherries into quarters. (If you’re feeling lazy like I am sometimes, a rough chop is ok. Just make sure the pieces are 1/4 size or smaller.) If the pineapple pieces are larger than the quartered cherry pieces, chop into pieces similar in size to the chopped cherries. If your dates aren’t chopped, give them a rough chop. I like the dates a smaller than the cherry pieces, but that’s personal preference.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon and set aside.

Cream butter. Add sugar gradually and beat well until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

Gradually add flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Make sure the flour from each addition is incorporated before adding the next.

Stir in fruit and optional nuts.

Drop dough by the teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. (Or use a cookie scoop. I seriously love this thing.)

Bake for about 12-14 minutes until lightly browned.