new year’s beef stew

All growing up, a good friend of ours used to host a party at her house on the afternoon of New Year’s Day.  It was so nice to gather after the rush of Christmas and the craziness of New Year’s Eve, and just chat, put together puzzles, watch football, whatever.  It was such a relaxing way to celebrate the end of the holidays.

It was potluck, but she would always make this amazing pot of stew.  My stew is not the same as hers, but I have tried to carry on her tradition with my own recipe.

candy cane fudge

I can never find enough uses for condensed milk.  My favorite part of baking with it is eating whatever doesn’t slide out of the can.

Last year I made white hot chocolate with candy cane stirrers for my friends.  It was a hit, so I thought it might be fun to adapt a fudge recipe to the flavors of white chocolate and peppermint, thus utilizing another can of pure heaven.

chocolate-dipped macadamia nut shortbread

When my husband and I were married a little over a year, we moved to the Big Island of Hawaii.   For the first month, we didn’t have a car, and had to walk everywhere in the June sun with a little pale, blond baby.  The one redeeming thing on our walks was the Big Island Candies store.  It was air conditioned, and had the most amazing shortbread cookies.  For mail order, you have to order the cookies in these nice boxes, but if you went to the actual store, you could buy them by the bag.  And eating through a bag of them in one sitting was not difficult.

When I saw I had some macadamia nuts in the freezer, I thought it would be fun to recreate them.

chocolate meringue kisses

I want to announce that I just got back from the women’s shelter after delivering a huge trunkful of toys.  Thank you so much to everyone who donated, and thank you to everyone who participated in your own communities.

I’m surprised I didn’t think of doing an online auction of the cookies.  That would have been a whole lot easier.  Next year, maybe.

I discovered the limitless possibilities of meringues when I was a kid and my friend came to school with one filled with M&M’s.  I loved how the crispy cookie was chewy on the inside, and filled with something you couldn’t see from the outside.  I wanted these to look really pretty for Christmas, so I filled them with something small and fine enough that could be piped through a large star tip.  (Wilton 1M).  If you want to fill them with something larger, just spoon them out onto the parchment paper instead of using a pastry bag.