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Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Friend Writes...

Oh, fudge!

News of Velveeta Fudge was shocking to me. And sounded all too delicious. Do continue on, gentle readers.

"I am a child of the easy-preparation meal generation. Yeah, that one, where Swanson TV dinners came in to providence. However, I also am a Midwesterner, where we call our casseroles “hot dishes” and most of those revolved around easy-to-procure processed products from the inner aisles of the grocery. The tuna hot dish had a layer of crushed ruffled potato chips as a crust. Sloppy Joes started with a can or two of Manwich sauce. Bisquick founds its way into a mix of leftover chicken, as in chicken & dumplings. And there was always a brick of Velveeta cheese in the back of the fridge, which could take you from mac & cheese to a Frito chip dip made with RO*TEL tomatoes to classic grilled cheese sammies (sometimes with deli ham slices for a more hearty meal). And Velveeta even made it into dessert. Velveeta fudge. My aunt Carole likes to make this recipe around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once you get past the fact that there’s a whole lot of yellow-orange processed cheese in this beast, you’ll really like the texture and moistness of this. Most of my extended family loathes walnuts, which is a perfectly good nut, but we prefer pecans. I’ve also made this fudge with chopped honey-roasted peanuts, which adds a salty-sweet profile to the fudge."

Thanks Thom! Check out his website here.

Velveeta Fudge
3/4 lb. (12 oz.) Velveeta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
6 squares Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 pkg. (16 oz. each) powdered sugar (about 8 cups)
1-1/2 cups chopped PLANTERS Pecans
1 tsp. vanilla

Put Velveeta, butter, chocolate and corn syrup in large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 2 min.; stir. Microwave an additional minute; stir until well blended. Add chocolate mixture, in batches, to sugar in large bowl, beating with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Pour into greased 13x9-inch pan. Smooth top with spatula; cover. Refrigerate several hours or until firm before cutting into 1-inch squares to serve. For longer storage, wrap tightly and freeze up to 2 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight before serving.

Thanks to for the photo.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To BBQ Or Not To BBQ

I say do!

Whenever I can't sleep, I don't just lie in bed and stare at the ceiling. I get up and set to work. Indeed many of my posts here at Evenings With Peter have been written by the hands of my insomnia. And yes, I nod to the irony. Recently, I was wide awake around 2 a.m. and decided to make a host of barbecue sauces. The latest Saveur had newly arrived in my mailbox and the entire issue is almost entirely dedicated to the stuff.

Now, this was premeditated--I'd ordered the ingredients from Fresh Direct (an incredibly handy online service that delivers food right to your doorstep if available in your area) two days prior with plans on making my 'cue; I just didn't know I would be doing it in the middle of the night. The good thing is you don't need to get too many ingredients as the foundation of most of the recipes are the same: ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, onions and garlic. Much of the rest of it is probably to be found already in your kitchen, such as dry mustard, chili sauce or powder, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and bourbon! Should you find yourself without all the goods, a little improvisation is a wondrous thing.

After making the sauces, I put them in plastic bags and stored them in the freezer to keep us up to our knees in barbecue all summer!

Here are the links to the four sauces I toiled over and suggestions for what to do with them:

Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce
Yep, that's what I said, bub. Dr. Pepper. Marvelous for baked beans.

Peach-Chipotle Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Karmel from Hill Country Barbecue Market in Manhattan, to be slathered over smoked prime rib. Sounds good to me!

Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Try it with pork as Saveur suggests--why not go whole hog and make pulled pork? I ran out of Heinz chile sauce and Worcestershire for this one so I subbed Sriracha and shoyu, naturally brewed soy sauce, to lend some Asian flair.

Coffee Barbecue Sauce
From New York chef David Burke, this didn't yield nearly as much sauce as it was supposed to. Tasted good though. I don't know what I did wrong, but next time what I would do is skip the coffee beans and just throw in a cup of strong, full-bodied coffee as you simmer. Add this to your next chicken dish.

Do enjoy!

Photo credit: Todd Coleman

Monday, June 13, 2011

Being Slim & Scrumptious with Joy Bauer

Who doesn't want to be slim and scrumptious? Joy Bauer, resident nutritionist on the Today Show, tells you how to get there in her health conscious guide to eating, Slim & Scrumptious. The New York Times best selling author's tome is filled with tips on budgeting (waistline as well as money), properly stocking your kitchen, essential kitchen tools such as sharpened knives (I couldn't agree more), flexible cutting boards (ditto) and the importance of having numerous measuring cups on hand.

The bulk of the book is cleanly divided into nine sections, including chapters on Breakfast & Brunch, Poultry Entrees, and Veggie Sides. Naturally, each recipe features nutrition information. I wish there were more pictures of each beautiful dish!

I set to work on a dinner for a few friends highlighting the aforementioned sections, after setting an appropriately spring table.

For an appetizer, I thought to make the Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts for everyone to grab around the coffee table. Sort of like classic old-school rumaki, but smoky turkey bacon is in charge here and although the wrapping process is slightly arduous and time consuming, it was well worth it. The leftover bacon was tossed about the plate and it all went very quickly!

We convened at the dinner table for a cleverly devised version of Chicken Cordon Bleu, which in this instance is not fried. Reduced fat Swiss cheese and lean Canadian Bacon played their part, wrapped in skinless, boneless chicken breasts and a touch of rosemary to simmer in low sodium chicken broth.

Crispy Kale was a delicious delight to make and not only was it so easy, kale is the healthiest vegetable you can possibly eat. Here the lightly salted kale was crisped in a 400 degree oven and served alongside our entree to much applause.

Even though the Strawberry Shortcakes with sweetened ricotta were listed in the Breakfast & Brunch, I wondered why we shouldn't have them for dessert? The shortcakes are really sumptuous pancakes made with whole wheat flour and topped with a mixture of part-skim ricotta and powdered sugar, and ripe strawberries.

Et voila! A Slim & Scrumptious meal without guilt. Joy to the world!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Duncan Hines Challenge

This is not your typical bake sale. Bakers nationwide are sifting flour and cracking eggs to participate in the Duncan Hines 1 MILLION Cupcake Challenge in an effort to raise some dough for Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale and help put an end to childhood hunger.

Put on your best apron, make cupcakes or other Duncan Hines desserts and get a shot at prizes that include trips for two to Los Angeles to take a seat on the Red Carpet at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. Also on a weekly basis, the sweetest fundraisers who roll out the most cash from their sales will have the opportunity to garner a matching donation from Duncan Hines.

For information on how to have your own bake sale and entry details, go to and follow the few basic steps. The 1 MILLION Cupcake Challenge ends July 24th.

Go to for recipes such as the Lemon Chocolate Cupcakes shown. We like our own version of this Orange Banana Cake:

Grab a box of Duncan Hines Classic Yellow cake mix and follow the directions on the back of it, incorporating eggs, water and vegetable oil (canola oil works as well). Zest an orange into the batter and add a packet of Jell-O Banana Cream instant pudding. After your cake has cooked in a 350 degree oven, remove it and let cool. Make a glaze with confectioner’s sugar and a little room temperature milk or more, to define the consistency, and drizzle it over the top of your cake. Do enjoy while doing your part to end childhood hunger!

First published in part for Next magazine.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Amazing Glaze

A glaze is made with confectioners sugar, but is different from icing or frosting by the nature of its gently silken fluid quality. The simple recipe I've included here is for a glaze that my Nana used to make. The measurements are perfection and serve as a great base for whatever glaze you wish to make to outfit your cake, whether it be bundt or not. Try substituting lemon juice and lemon zest for the orange listed here and add a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract--or whatever suits you. The possibilities merely await in your kitchen!

Nana's Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp orange juice
3/4 tsp grated orange peel
Mix all ingredients until smooth.

Thanks to for the photo.