Well, I'm back to Texas after a too quick 5 days in Oklahoma. I had a fun-filled week and also did just a bit of cooking. My week was spent visiting the OKC zoo (a favorite OKC destination--they have a great zoo), eating Thanksgiving dinner at the family of a friend, doing a lot of cooking for my own family's Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, spending some quality time with my parents, spending more QT with a certain someone else, driving through my hometown's Festial of Lights, a beautiful display of over 3.5 million lights, and of course EATING!
I am thankful this year for my family, my grandparents (my grandpa was actually sober and civil at dinner--first time in years that I can remember him eating w/ us). He's about 83 or 84, my nephew who is living w/ my parents--he looks out for his Papa pretty well.
I'm thankful for what lies in the future. I'm excited about a new path before me and where it may lead. There's much more to share, but I'll save it for another time.
Following are some pictures and recipes from the week. Enjoy!
I didn't pick the best time to finally take pictures of Dakota's Garden, but here it is. Lots of memory inspiring things there, includng yellow mums that bloom beautifully come spring.
And here are some I took from my car at the Festival of Lights. Their website has better pictures--there is a bridge over the pond covered with lights that is very cool. I may try and get pictures of it when I am home over Christmas.
This is located in a park just blocks away from the first house I remember living in. It's a beautiful historic park that holds lots of memories for me--seeing the peacocks that used to be there, the first kiss w/ my HS sweetheart, picking up litter while in HS as a service project, a classmate swimming across the pond on a dare, taking my nephews there as a last visit before moving to FL way back when, Dakota's wonder at all the lights while driving through during his last Christmas season with us here on Earth, parking in HS (heehee).
The following are recipes I make for family every year. The toffee is a recent addition (2002) but is expected. I've been making fudge for as long as I can remember. I switched recipes in 1997 after the relatives preferreed my grad school neighbor's recipe over mine. He swore me to secrecy, but still shared his recipe. :)
MIXED-NUT SPICED TOFFEE
For a festive presentation, place the toffee in clear cellophane bags and tie with French silk ribbon.
Make sure you have a candy thermometer!
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon mild-flavored (light) molasses (I omit this most of the time--either don't have it or forget it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (I use more)
2 cups coarsely chopped toasted mixed nuts (such as cashews, almonds, and pistachios)
5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Butter small rimmed baking sheet. Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add next 6 ingredients; stir until sugars dissolve. Attach clip-on candy thermometer to pan. Increase heat to medium; boil until thermometer registers 290°F, stirring slowly but constantly and scraping bottom of pan with wooden spatula, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Mix in 1 1/2 cups nuts. Immediately pour candy onto sheet. Spread toffee to 1/4-inch thickness. Immediately sprinkle chocolate atop toffee. Let stand 1 minute. Using back of spoon, spread chocolate over toffee. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts. Chill 1 hour. Break toffee into pieces. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Chill in airtight container. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before serving.)
Makes about 2 pounds.
Extra Special Creamy Fudge
1 stick butter
4 1/2 cups sugar
12 ounces evaporated milk
18 oz. semisweet chocolate
14 ounces marshmallow cream (13 to 14)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 lb pecans, chopped
1. Bring sugar, milk, and butter to a boil and boil for exactly 7 minutes.
2. Remove from stove and stir in other ingredients
3. Place in greased 9X13 pan lined with waxed paper. Poor in and cool in fridge. Cut when set.
My dogs enjoyed the great outdoors of my parents' place in OK, but I think they were ready to get back home and used to the house-dog lifestyle again! :)
Check out Sweetnicks to see all the other cute dogs in this weeks' WDB!