Quick and Easy Homemade Fudge

Fudge 2I recently made a combo of these two recipes with my Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge, but I made them on a larger scale for a holiday party, and was getting tons of questions about the recipes individually. So, without further ado, here are the recipes for Dark Chocolate Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge. These are the basic recipes, but make them with your favorites and add chopped nuts, sprinkles, marshmallows, coconut, or swirl them together for my favorite combo!

 

 

Making fudge traditionally can be a bit of a daunting task, involving precise temperatures, candy thermometers, and a bit of culinary finesse. These recipes are only a few ingredients and can be prepped in less than 5 minutes (plus time to set). It’s no wonder why these easy recipes are my go-to for quick and easy desserts and holiday gifts!

Dark Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 oz. can condensed milk
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients:
12 oz. white chocolate chips
14 oz. can condensed milk
⅔ cup peanut butter
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Fudge 1For both recipes, place ingredients except for vanilla in microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20 second increments, until chips are melted and no lumps remain, stirring in between each heating. Stir in vanilla and spread into cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Add toppings and let set in refrigerator, about one hour for dark chocolate fudge, a bit longer for fudge made with white chocolate. Once set, cut into squares and store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Wu Chow

Wu ChowWu Chow opened a few weeks ago, backed by the same group that runs Swift’s Attic, and is the answer to Austin’s almost nonexistent Chinese food.  With their sophisticated space, creative cocktail menu, and authentic dishes, Wu Chow is quickly becoming a top restaurant in Austin.

For me, Asian food usually pairs with white wine, and there are few good options in the sub $50 range, which is most welcomed!  The descriptions of the dishes on the menu are a little lacking, so be sure to ask some questions.  I got the sense the servers were still learning some of the menu items as well, but they helped us pick some great dishes.

 

Wu Chow Soup Dumpling 2

 

The Shanghai Soup Dumplings are not to be missed!  You eat them by picking them up from the top, as to not burst the soupy dumpling bottom, place in soup spoon, top with red wine vinegar and ginger, and then slurp away! These are the best dumplings I’ve ever had. We were told there is one person that makes about 4,000 a week.  They put a limit on how many you can order, they are that good.

 

 

 

Wu Chow Honey Pecan Gulf PrawnsHoney Pecan Prawns are lightly fried, and glazed with a sweet honey sauce.  They are large, tender, and a more generous portion than expected.  Wu Chow Special Fried Rice is also very good, a large portion of fried rice with three of four different proteins.  Most of the dishes came with white rice, so we had quite a few bowls of rice on our table, much more than we could finish.

Dry Fried Green Beans are crunchy, a bit spicy, and flavorful with garlic and some sort of fermented veggies.  We also enjoyed the Scallions Hugging Beef, very tender in a salty oniony sauce.

 

 

Two-Faced Crispy Noodles and Tangerine Peel Beef

I love the texture of the Two-Faced Crispy Noodles.  With chicken, beef, and a ton of vegetables, these crispy noodles are gently softened by flavorful broth to give them a nice chewy quality.

We enjoyed everything we tasted, and will definitely be back to try some of their dim sum for Sunday brunch.  I could see stopping in for happy hour regularly to slurp up those delicious soup dumplings!  (Seriously, get the soup dumplings.)

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark 4There are fewer treats that taste more like Christmas than peppermint bark! Dark chocolate is layered with peppermint-spiked white chocolate and topped with crunchy candy canes. The best holiday gifts are made of chocolate and this is no exception. The best part – it’s so easy! The chocolate can be melted using a double boiler on the stove top, but I like to pop it right in the microwave. The key to melting chocolate in the microwave is to use medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between to make sure it doesn’t get overheated.

 

Peppermint Bark 3This recipe takes all of 10 minutes (plus time for the chocolate to set) and is a majorly impressive holiday dessert. Williams-Sonoma sells this stuff for $28.95/lb., but you don’t have to tell anyone you didn’t spend that much!

Ingredients:
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. canola oil
12 oz. good white chocolate
1 tsp. peppermint extract
4 candy canes, crushed

Peppermint Bark 1Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a microwave safe bowl, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and canola oil for 30 second intervals until smooth. Using a spatula, spread melted chocolate in an even layer on lined cookie sheet. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to partially set while prepping the white chocolate. Melt white chocolate in microwave, also stirring every 30 seconds. When smooth, stir in peppermint extract and pour in an even layer, carefully smoothing white chocolate to edges of dark layer. Top with crushed candy cane pieces and let set in refrigerator until completely hardened, approximately 1-2 hours.

Peppermint Bark 5Break into pieces and enjoy!

Sous Vide Pork Loin

It’s not a big secret that I love my Sous Vide Supreme. It makes a killer flank steak and is even perfect for making fried chicken! I like pork loin, but it can be notoriously dry if baked in the oven, especially if it is over cooked. Enter the Sous Vide method of cooking. Sous Vide style of cooking includes a water bath being set to the temperature that is desired for the internal temperature of what is being cooked, so impossible to overcook and make dry. Not long ago, the safe temperature for pork was thought to be 160 degrees, but was recently lowered to 145 degrees. Pork tends to be a little dry at 160 degrees, so I aim for 150-155 degrees for tender, juicy pork. This recipe has a spicy, flavorful rub and is finished under the broiler with a sweet duck sauce, to make it perfectly caramelized.

Sous Vide Pork Loin 1Ingredients:
2 lb. pork loin roast
½ tsp. chipotle powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or any other sweet glaze or sauce that would pair well with the spice of chipotle.

Set Sous Vide to 153 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together chipotle powder, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Rub spice mixture on the outside of pork loin, place in a vacuum seal bag, seal and cook in Sous Vide for approximately 4-6 hours. Once cooked, remove from pouch, coat outside in duck sauce. Broil on high for approximately 5 minutes until outside has some nice charring. Pork will be spicy, sweet, juicy and delicious!

Sous Vide Pork Loin 2Enjoy!

Tzatziki

TzatzikiTzatziki is a wonderfully creamy yogurt sauce made primarily from Greek yogurt, cucumber and fresh dill. Normally white, creamy foods are full of empty calories (think ranch dressing, sour cream, etc.) but since the main ingredient in tzatziki is Greek yogurt, it is lower calorie, lower fat and packs in protein. Coupled with the fact that tzatziki is a great sauce for roasted chicken, dip for veggies and pita, and even makes a great dressing for a Greek salad, it’s guilt free and completely delicious!

 

I use an English cucumber in this recipe because they aren’t very seedy. The seedy part of a cucumber has a lot of water in it, which can make tzatziki runny. If you use a seeded variety, hollow out the core before grating.

Ingredients:
1 cup Greek yogurt
½ English cucumber, grated
Zest of and juice of ½ lemon
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. olive oil, optional

Tzatziki 2Using the small side of a cheese grater, grate cucumber into a bowl. Gently press to release liquids, discarding any residual liquid. Zest ½ lemon and 1 clove garlic into the cucumber. Combine yogurt, lemon juice, chopped dill, sea salt and pepper into the cucumber mixture. The tzatziki can be served immediately, but will be even better if you pop it in the refrigerator for an hour to let all the flavors meld together. Drizzle a little olive oil on top before serving as a dip for veggies to give a little richness and depth to the flavors.

Enjoy!

Juniper

Juniper PappardelleJuniper is a new restaurant that opened on the east side a little over a month ago, specializing in small plates with a Northern Italian flair. This special occasion spot is perfect for a small group, so you can share more of their delicious offerings.

One of the early favorites were the Puffy Potatoes, like a cheesy adult tater tot with fresh herbs, served alongside a spicy whipped Dijon. The Cannellini bean salad was unique and bright with the addition of fresh grapefruit to sweet potato and red onion.

They have an interesting selection of fresh made pasta. The Shaped Pasta was similar in size and shape to orecchiette, cooked very al dente and topped with broccoli and crispy pig ears. It was nothing like any other dish I’ve tried before, but quite tasty! The star of the pasta show was the Pappardelle, fresh pasta topped with an oxtail ragù and grated horseradish. The distinct flavor of the spicy horseradish paired really well with the tomato in the ragù.

Juniper Milk and HoneyThe Pork Belly was just perfect. It was smoky, perfectly rendered and slightly sweet from the fennel and onions. It’s not to be missed! You must also save room for the Milk and Honey dessert, a sweet ricotta panna cotta, topped with a tangy yogurt gelato, garnished with oats and honey.

The portions are on the smaller side, so plan on ordering two to three per person. If you want to order less and add on as you go, they were able to accommodate that pretty quickly also. Be sure to ask questions about each dish; the knowledgeable wait staff were able to paint each dish perfectly, but you might end up trying them all!

Sweet and Salty Pork in Sherry Garlic Sauce

Sweet and Salty Pork with Sherry Garlic SauceAfter a nice long weekend in Mexico, it’s time to get back to real life.  That means getting some snuggles from the pups, more yoga, and ditching the margaritas and enchiladas for some healthier fare.  These pork chops are braised in a salty, sweet, garlicky sauce, which makes them really tender and delicious. This has all the flavor profiles going for it, salty from the soy sauce, spice from the red pepper and garlic and sweet from the sherry and brown sugar. This dish goes really well with rice, noodles, or any green veggie you would like to sweep through this savory sauce.

Ingredients:
2 porterhouse or center cut pork chops
2 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tbsp. sherry
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. canola oil, divided
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

On medium-high heat, brown pork chops in 1 tbsp. oil in a heavy bottomed skillet for 3-5 minutes per side. Remove chops and reduce heat to medium-low.  Sauté garlic for 1 minute, until fragrant.  Wisk together brown sugar, sherry, soy sauce, water, flour, remaining oil and red pepper.  Return pork to skillet, pouring sauce on top evenly.  Cover and braise for 15 minutes.  Flip and cook covered for 8-10 minutes more, until internal temperature reads 145-155 degrees for medium to medium-well chops.  Sauce should have thickened during cooking.  Spoon some of that salty, sweet goodness on top of pork before serving.

Enjoy!