I am what many would call a "Foodie" - amateurs who simply love food and/or drink for consumption, study, preparation and news.
Now the statement above should make it clear that I do not have any formal training when it comes to food preparation. I have, however, been told that I am a pretty good cook and I hope you enjoy reading this column as much as I enjoy writing it.
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Ree Drummond is fast becoming one of my favorite Food Network stars. Her recipes are generally pretty basic, taste great, and usually are great for a budget. These next two recipes (yes two) can be made with ingredients you may already have on hand. They are also pretty timely with the upcoming holidays as they can easily be pulled out for those expected friends or family dropping in. Word of warning, while both recipes are easy to make, you will need to plan ahead as cooking and set times can take up to two hours. For a step by step video, visit foodnetwork.com and search Ree Drummond recipes.
1 sleeve country club-style crackers
cup grated Parmesan (for savory), or bacon (for sweet)
1 pound thinly sliced bacon, slices cut in half
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Lay the crackers face up on a large wire baking rack over a foil-lined (for easier clean-up) baking sheet. A broiler pan will also work. Scoop about 1 teaspoon of the grated Parmesan onto each cracker and carefully wrap the cheese covered crackers with one slice of bacon (remember the bacon slices should be cut in half) completely covering the crackers. The bacon should fit snugly around the cracker, but not be pulled too tightly because the bacon will shrink while cooking.
Place the bacon-wrapped crackers back onto the rack and (patience now), bake for about 2 hours. Serve immediately or at room temperature. May be frozen and reheated; just five minutes at 375 F.
Quick and easy peppermint fudge
Cooking spray, for foil
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Peppermint hard candies, crushed, but not pulverized, for topping (a great use for extra candy canes)
Line an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray.
In a double boiler over low heat, combine the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk and stir until melted and smooth. Here is where Ree (we’re on a first name basis don’t you know) and I differ. Once the chocolate has melted she pours the chocolate into the prepared pan, spreading it out to the edges then sprinkles the crushed candy over the top before refrigerating for two hours. I mix the peppermint pieces into the fudge before spreading it out and refrigerating. I also sprinkle the pieces over the top, but adding it to the mixture ensures that there is a peppermint bit in every bite.
Once the fudge is done, just lift the foil out of the pan, peel off the fudge and cut into small squares.
For the appetizer, Ree suggests trying brown sugar or blue cheese instead of Parmesan. While I thought the brown sugar wrap would be the favorite at home, the Parmesan was the clear winner.
For the fudge, try substituting some nuts, marshmallows or your favorite flavor extract for variety.