Melinda’s Favorite Holiday Candies – Day 5 Aunt Meme’s Peanut Butter Fudge

pb fudgeIn the spirit of the holidays, we are sharing Melinda’s 5 Favorite Holiday Candies. Each day this week, we will include a Melinda family recipe and a short story about each one. Join us in the reminiscing and share with us your holiday favorites.

Written by Melinda Johnson, Marketing Director

The last recipe in my favorite list is peanut butter fudge. OMG! Yes I just said that. This is my recipe that I found after going to the Memphis Flea Market one Saturday afternoon about 8 years ago. I tasted this delightful fudge from one of the vendors there. It’s by far my favorite fudge and I immediately scoured the internet for the recipe.

My husband and I love to make candies for the holidays so we decided to try our hands at fudge. This one took a little time to find just the right variation, but ever since we get special requests form people for my peanut butter fudge.

It’s my nephew Chase’s favorite and I’ve even made him a huge batch one year for Christmas as Aunt Meme’s (that’s me) present to him. He and his brother Colten ate it all and no one else got any. I know what I’m getting them this year for Christmas now.

Aunt Meme’s Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk (or evaporated milk)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring milk and sugar to a boil. Cook until syrup forms a soft ball (238 degrees F on a candy thermometer) in cold water in saucer. Remove from heat.

Add vanilla and peanut butter. Beat well and pour into buttered pan. Let cool and then cut into pieces.

A candy thermometer is recommended for best results!

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s trip down memory lane and I hope you try one of my favorite candy recipes.

 

Melinda’s Favorite Holiday Candies – Day 4 Aunt Dawnie’s Peppermint Bark

In the spirit of the holidays, we are sharing Melinda’s 5 Favorite Holiday Candies. Each day this week, we will include a Melinda family recipe and a short story about each one. Join us in the reminiscing and share with us your holiday favorites.

Written by Melinda Johnson, Marketing Director

This delightful yet yummy holiday candy for day 4 is so easy I’m not even sure I should write down the recipe, but I will. There are a few tricks to make this recipe smooth like clockwork. Believe it or not, even though it’s so simple, I have messed this one up. Once I cooked the chocolate a little too long and burnt it.

I got this recipe from my neighbor and really, really good friend Dawn (aka Aunt Dawnie in our house). I met Dawn when I started dating my husband. Her husband Jeff and my husband Tommy were best friends and so was Dawn. When we lived in Memphis, they lived behind us for over 10 years. Both of my kiddos love their Aunt Dawnie and no wonder because she’s as sweet as this recipe.

Aunt Dawnie’s Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:PeppermintBark

  • 1 package of white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup of peppermint candies

Instructions:

  1. Crush peppermint candies in zip lock bag.
  2. Follow package directions for melting chocolate chips.
  3. Once melted, mix together crushed peppermint.
  4. Layout wax paper and spread mixture across.
  5. Once cool and hardened, break into 1-2 inch pieces.

Melinda’s Favorite Holiday Candies – Day 3 Aunt Bertie’s Spicy Pecans

In the spirit of the holidays, we are sharing Melinda’s 5 Favorite Holiday Candies. Each day this week, we will include a Melinda family recipe and a short story about each one. Join us in the reminiscing and share with us your holiday favorites.

Written by Melinda Johnson, Marketing Director

Thinking about today’s holiday recipe reminded me of why I began collecting Santa Clauses. I have over 100 Santa Clauses that I decorate my book case every Christmas. I already have them up (I did wait until after Thanksgiving though). My Aunt Bertie first gave me two Santa Clauses for Christmas when I was 17-years-old. It was also that same Christmas that she introdued us to the delight of spicy pecans. Technically this is probably not a “candy,” but it fits the bill in a whole lot of ways. First, despite the name “spicy,” it’s actually pretty sweet. Secondly, you just can’t eat one. They just fall into your mouth one right after the other. In my book that’s the definition of candy. Ever since Aunt Bertie first introduced us, it’s become a staple in our house for the holidays. I also love to make this recipe for friends and co-workers. Giving them a yummy dish of spicy pecans is just part of my holiday celebrations. They are always raved over and I print this recipe in masses.

Aunt Bertie’s Spicy Pecans Recipe

Ingredients:spiced-pecans

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups unsalted pecan halves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add sugar, spices, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg white, vanilla and water together until frothy. Add the pecans and gently toss until the pecans are well coated. Add the sugar and spices mixture and toss until pecans are covered.
  4. Spread the pecans out in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes. Stir them once at 20 minutes. The sugar mixture will harden on the pecans.
  5. When completely cool, serve to family and friends.

Melinda’s Favorite Holiday Candies – Day 2 Aunt Lois’s Puppy Chow

In the spirit of the holidays, we are sharing Melinda’s 5 Favorite Holiday Candies. Each day this week, we will include a Melinda family recipe and a short story about each one. Join us in the reminiscing and share with us your holiday favorites.

Written by Melinda Johnson, Marketing Director

Although nontraditional, every Thanksgiving and Christmas when my family of 16 aunts and uncles, 18 cousins and of course grandma and grandpa got together, it was not complete without today’s candy recipe – Puppy Chow!

What you say? That’s not a holiday candy, but in my book puppy chow is one of the best crunchy holiday goodness around. My Aunt Lois first introduced us to puppy chow at one of the many Thanksgivings we had together. That was probably 27 years ago at least and every year since, someone (usually Aunt Lois) makes this concoction of yummy goodness at every Collier family gathering. It’s so easy to make and pretty much is eaten within a couple of days at my house.

Aunt Lois’s Puppy Chow Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 9 Cups Crispy Rice Cereal  Squares
  • 1/2 Cup of Peanut Butter
  • 1 Cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan, melt chocolate over low heat. Add peanut butter and mix until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat, add cereal and stir until all cereal is coated.
  3. Pour powdered sugar into large plastic bag, add coated cereal and shake until well coated. Store in container or ready to serve.

Melinda’s Favorite Holiday Candies – Part 1 Grandma Collier’s Peanut Brittle

In the spirit of the holidays, we are sharing Melinda’s 5 Favorite Holiday Candies. Each day this week, we will include a Melinda family recipe and a short story about each one. Join us in the reminiscing and share with us your holiday favorites.

Written by Melinda Johnson, Marketing Director.

Ever since I was a little girl, and I’m guessing even when my mom was little, the weeks leading up to Christmas were spent making a lot of yummy candies. No prepackaged candies filled our holiday candy dishes. Just the homemade variety.

First, you can’t have a holiday candy dish without filling it with my Grandma’s Peanut Brittle. I can never seem to get it just as good as she does, but man it’s still my favorite. Helping Grandma in the kitchen making all her candies was a highlight of my holidays. I had 18 cousins, but there were only two of us who spent most of our time helping Grandma prepare holiday candies and desserts. My cousin Karen and I are still close to this day and both of us cherish those holidays spend in Grandma’s kitchen.

Peanut Brittle Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup White Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 2 Cup Peanuts
  • 1 Tsp Butter
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
Instructions:
  1. Combine sugar, syrup and water in pan. Cook together until it forms a hard ball stage in cold water (or use a candy thermometer.) For more information on hard ball stage visit https://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar-stages.html.
  2. Thin by adding peanuts. Cook in syrup until brown and peanuts stop popping.
  3. Add vanilla and remove from heat.
  4. Add baking soda and mix well.
  5. Spread thinly into buttered pans. Break into pieces when cool.

 

 

Christmas Morning Muffins Recipe

Start your Christmas morning off with ease with this recipe. Enjoy the scent of delicious muffins filling your home as your family arrives and gets settled for the family festivities.

Christmas Morning Muffins (shared from http://www.ezrapoundcake.com/)

Recipe makes 12

  • 1 1/3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • Juice of 1 or 2 clementines or small oranges
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 ounces dried cranberries or 2 1/2 ounces dried cranberries plus 2 1/2 ounces chocolate chips

Topping:

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the over to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar, and add a generous amount of fresh nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. Take a liquid measuring cup, and measure 1/4 cup milk. Then add freshly squeezed orange juice to the milk until the liquid reaches the 2/3 cup mark. Add melted butter and the egg, and combine.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, and stir until the ingredients are just combined but lumpy.
  5. Fold in the cranberries and chocolate chips, if using.
  6. Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Tis’ the season for baking!

 

Top 10 Thanksgiving To Do’s

  1. Wash your favorite sweatpants or stretchy pants early in the week. Turkey Day is not about looking good in those jeans. You want to be comfortable with room to grow as you fill your dinner plate with seconds and thirds.
  2. Decorate. Don’t let Thanksgiving get overshadowed by Christmas. You can have just as much fun decorating and hosting for Thanksgiving. Visit our Pinterest for ideas on our board “Thanksgiving Décor.” (http://www.pinterest.com/maryk44/thanksgiving-decor/)

    Use simple, cost effective pieces to create Thanksgiving centerpieces and decorations.

  3. Schedule pre-Thanksgiving dinner snacks. Don’t go hungry all day waiting for turkey and dressing. Schedule breakfast and snacks throughout the day so you won’t be starving and binge eat. Remember Thanksgiving eating is a marathon not a sprint.
  4. Bring your own Tupperware. Before you leave your family’s house, they always send you home with leftovers in their dishes. A year later, you still have not returned their items. Don’t continue to steal platters, containers and more. Bring Tupperware that allows for maximum capacity as leftovers are a post-Thanksgiving essential.
  5. Mark your seat at the dinner table early. Don’t want to be sitting next to Aunt Myrna or your cousin Jeffrey? Scout out the ideal seating arrangement. Place your coat or scarf on your chair to claim your ideal comfort zone early.
  6. Have a fire extinguisher on standby. Deep frying your turkey? Not a master chef? Cooking is the number one cause of house fires. Don’t let your turkey catch on fire. Safety first!
  7. Know who is carving the turkey. Don’t put someone on the spot to carve the turkey. There is no beautiful way to carve a turkey, especially with the entire family staring at you. Make sure the person is set up with an excellent carving knife and serving platter.
  8. Share what you are most thankful for with loved ones. Don’t let a day of food and family go by without sharing your blessings. If you want to start a new tradition, have each person at the dinner table share one thing they are most thankful.
  9. Never forget dessert.The marathon is never over until you cross the dessert line. If baking is not your forte, pre-order your dessert and place it onto a nice pie plate or cake stand. Fool your guests into believing it’s your own and claim it’s a secret family recipe. Everyone will leave happy and completely satisfied.

    Dinner's Ready delicious pecan pie. A true family recipe.

  10. Look up leftover recipes. Don’t be stuck eating just traditional holiday food for the entire week after Turkey Day. Turn your leftovers into creative recipes. What about turkey salad, turkey and cranberry panini, or many other casserole options? Visit our Pinterest for ideas on our board “Leftover Goodness.” (http://www.pinterest.com/maryk44/leftover-goodness/)

#Wedding Wednesday – Planning Help! How many guests do I order for?

We are frequently asked by couples how do you determine how many people to order for when you have sent out 200+ invitations. We strongly recommend that you use RSVPs to help you determine this number. But even then, there will be guests who RSVP and then don’t show or guests that don’t RSVP who will show up.

If you really have no idea how many guests will come to your wedding, we generally tell our couples to look at the guests list and split it into three categories: (1) those who will definitely come to the wedding; (2) those who most likely will not come but who you needed to send an invitation to; and (3) those who you’re not sure whether they will come or not come. Divide the unsures in half and add them to your definitely coming. This method generally provides a pretty good starting place for the number of guests who will come.

But be careful. At Dinner’s Ready we work very hard to keep our prices lower so that our brides can have the wedding of their dreams. For that reason, we do not bring extra food “just in case”. We bring food for the number of guests you ordered for, or in the quantities you ordered. The last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day is not having enough food to feed all of your guests.

 

#WeddingWednesday – Dispeling Wedding Catering Myths

Once a month as part of our #weddingwednesday blog, we will work to dispel any myths out there in regards to catering for your wedding. We hope this is informative and gives you an idea of what to expect when it comes to food for that all important day!

Myth 1:Finger foods and hors d’oeuvres are less expensive than other catered foods.

Bacon-Wrapped Filet Bites

While it is true that sometimes finger foods and hors d’oeuvres can be a less expensive way to cater a meal, sometimes individually prepared items that are made by hand by our chefs, such as Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms or Bacon-Wrapped Filet Bites, can be very time consuming, much more so than if they were simply making a pan of rice. Although there are less expensive alternatives in our finger food options, such as Finger Sandwiches or 8 Layer Mexican Dip, unique and individually prepared hor d’oeuvres are more labor intensive and, therefore, higher in price. Even if you are only providing finger foods at a reception, if it is held during a normal meal time your guests will eat as if it is a meal. For that reason, you will need to provide an ample amount of an interesting variety of different finger foods to satisfy your guests appetites.For a meal held during dinnertime, you will typically need to provide 10-15 “bites” per guest.

Showtime – Dinner’s Ready on TV

We’ve been stars of TV lately with two promotions for Civitan’s fundraiser on THV 11 and KATV Channel 7 as well as Salt Bowl pep rally breakfast on KATV Channel 7. We thought we’d spend this week’s blog on how we prepared for the events.

  1. Getting on TV – We have to say Ashley Copple with Civitan Services did much of the work to get us on TV for the Civitan Services event so getting on there was easy with her. We also have a great in at KATV (one of our staff’s husband is the new director) and were delighted to be asked to provide the breakfast for the Benton Panthers pep rally for the Salt Bowl. So the first step to getting on TV is asking and so since we were asked so we were lucky in that respect.
  2. Figuring out the Menu – Once we were asked, we started brainstorming what our menu was going to be like. For Good Morning Arkansas, they specifically wanted the chef to show the viewers how to put a meal together. This is always tricky because we don’t want to give out a recipe that we use very often (“Trade secrets and all”) but we want it to be something that reflects what we do and something that is also easy to do at home. We chose a simple refreshing pasta dish that we actually do offer in our Drop-Off Catering Specials. We also wanted to find a choice that reflected what we would be providing for the Civitan Services fundraiser Murder at the Masquerade so a pasta dish was a good choice. For the THV 11 segment, it was very, very early in the morning but we also had the same issues as above. We ended up not actually showing the viewers how to put the meal together so our Prime Rib ended up being a good choice. It’s very elegant menu item and one of our signature pieces.  For the pep rally, we knew we’d get mentioned but we were not sure they would see our food so we decided to have one of our chef’s there making food to order. It gave the kids and fans something fun and if we did get to be on air we could make it interesting!
  3. Practice Makes Perfect – The next thing we have to work on is practicing putting the food together in the time allowed. They only give you 5 minutes for everything including talking about the event as well as preparing the food.  So practicing and prepping in advance are key items.  Producers can be funny people to work with though and we’ve learned the hard way that what they tell you is not always what ends up happening, so one thing we prepare for is the unexpected.  Part of the practice makes perfect is also sitting down with the whole team (our marketing director –Melinda, our catering director –Mary, our chef – Serge and anyone else who is going on the segment with us –in this case – Ashley with Civitan Services). We discussed who was going to say what and how it was all going to work.  It’s also helpful to give pointers to the team – don’t look at the camera, be relaxed, pretend you are just talking to the reporter and don’t think about the many viewers who are watching. Things like that!
  4. Rolling with the punches – Remember earlier when I said you have to prepare for the unexpected. Prepare for them to tell you to get there early to prepare your food on site, find out you are not going on until 2 hours later and won’t have time to prepare the food.  Or you should prepare to find out they don’t have a kitchen for your chef to prepare food on the day before the segment. These are the unexpected that can and do happen. We’ve also been unexpectedly pulled out to talk in a segment when all we were to be were bystanders. You roll with the punches and make it work.

    Go to 3 minutes 23 seconds to see where Serge is pulled from the crowd!

  5. Lastly, have fun and it usually all works out in the long run.  We have three recent segments here that prove that. Maybe we were a little nervous, maybe we fidgeted, maybe the camera shot did not get a good angle on the food, but I bet you the viewer probably didn’t notice that much or at least you can pretend. When you are a caterer being on TV is not your calling but making good food is. We can’t all be Giada or Bobby Flay!