More Cookin’ Going on Here!

21 01 2012

Normally, I really enjoy cooking…well, if I’m honest, I actually enjoy baking more than cooking.

And when you’re cooking for one, at the end of the work day, it can be a bit exhausting.  So I admit that the last year or so, I’ve been doing more of what’s easy than what’s good for me.  But I’m working on that this year (though so far, a little less successfully than I’d like!).  At any rate, this week I’ve made two new dishes – on Thursday, when it was finally warm enough to be downstairs to cook, I made my first whole chicken!

I cheated a little, because I got one of those roasters that is pre-seasoned.  And I made Stove Top.  But I did make mashed potatoes from scratch, and used my handy dandy meat thermometer to make sure the chicken was fully cooked to 180 degrees.  And it came out great!

However, I’m not sure if any of you have this problem – but I find when I spend a while cooking something, by the time it comes to eat it, I don’t feel like eating.  Which sort of defeats the purpose of all that work! Does anyone else find that?

I may have found the perfect solution to that problem though – the slow cooker! Because then, I can do the work of preparing the meal much earlier in the day, set it up in the slow cooker, and walk away for 5-8 hours. Then, I’m hungry when the food is ready! I was excited to break out the slow cooker for the first time this week, and my first meal was beef stroganoff. I was worried that the recipe I’d found for the slow cooker wouldn’t be as good as my dad’s recipe for making it, but it actually turned out really well. I set the meat, mushroom soup, Worcestershire sauce, and water on to cook (for five hours because I had to defrost the meat) and then as it came closer to eat, I threw some noodles on the stove to accompany it and put in the last ingredient – cream cheese.  Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, and the best part was that the dishes were almost all done by the time dinner was ready! And the pieces to the slow cooker go right in the dish washer.

Yum!

The only thing I would change would be to have the meat defrosted the night before, so that it can cook for eight hours on low – the meat was good, but a bit tough, so I think if it cooked for longer on a lower setting, it would be more fork tender. But the taste was pretty good! The next recipe I’m going to attempt in the slow cooker is a chicken tikka masala recipe I found – we’ll see how that goes! Do you have any slow cooker recipe favorites to share?

The other thing I found out that I like is omelettes. I’ve never been an overly big fan of eggs, and I’m still not totally crazy about them, but when I was in DC on business recently, checking out one of the tours for a group I’m bringing there in a couple of months, the local planners and I did a little cooking lesson – making omelettes. I learned how to make them the proper French way – which is not for breakfast, but heartier, for lunch or dinner. That’s an easy dish to make for one, so I’ve done those for dinner a few times lately too (with gruyere cheese in them – yummy! Though, it’s not particularly easy to find a good gruyere cheese down here at the shore).

So I’ve realized that there are a few things that I need in a meal – it’s got to be something easy and quick. I like the process of cooking, but I have trouble coming up with what I’d really like, and so I wait to eat…and then I’m starving, so I just go for something easy, which generally isn’t healthy.  And I need the ideas,  and to remind myself that it’s better when I come up with them in advance and have a plan – when I don’t have a plan, I get easily overwhelmed (I’m not a clear thinker when I’m hungry) and then not-so-great decisions get made.

Now that I’ve figured out those things about myself, I need to work on coming up with the ideas and doing the right shopping. I’ll get there.  The next step is figuring out what to do about lunch – it’s the meal I hate the most. I like sandwiches, but never for lunch for some reason, and that’s when I’m guiltiest of grabbing something less than healthy…or maybe eating a yogurt, and then two cupcakes.  It definitely saps my energy and when I’m tired, I’m less likely to have the energy to make something good for dinner. Even something as simple as pasta!

What struggles do you face with cooking and coming up with ideas? I’m also the queen of picky eating (after my sister, of course :)), so that adds to my difficulties!

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Small, But Nagging, House Projects

2 08 2011

I am the queen of believing things will take longer than they do.  That’s why I always put off filling the Brita until there is absolutely no water left – even though I timed myself one morning and was able to fill it before the timer went off for my oatmeal.  Less than one minute.

So there were a few jobs around the house that I’d been putting off. They were small, but I just needed to stop procrastinating and do them.  It turned out that the electrical ones did take a lot longer than I anticipated, but there is something so fulfilling about getting things knocked off your to do list!

Curtain Tie-Back

In my upstairs bathroom, I added a single curtain across the window to add some privacy (it also makes the bathroom look very fancy, incidentally).  This is a great idea, but unfortunately, I have an air-conditioning/heating vent just under the window, so the curtain also blocked that. My mom had suggested getting some hardware to tie it back during the day – that would still leave me with privacy, but also free up the vent.

Not a major project, but I still dragged my feet on doing it! Finally, I found a piece of hardware I liked at Lowes and installed it.  I went from this:

To this:

Simple, nice – nothing major, but just enough to allow for more air flow.  And guess what? It’s helped my house be cooler upstairs.  Don’t know why I put it off for so long!

Electrical

I was also still in the process of replacing all of the outlets in my house (and some switches too).  There are still a couple left to do – those that major appliances are plugged into – but I finally pushed myself to get the rest done.  I went through all the outlets in the guest room to remove the extra tab, which tied them back into the light switch by the door again – I can’t tell you how much that had been bugging me!

I also went through all the outlets in the office and replaced those, as well as the switch plates – much nicer.

And then I needed to motivate myself to replace the GFCIs downstairs.  I needed to replace the one in the downstairs bathroom (the upstairs bath had been done by the previous owner), and the three in my kitchen.  Installing a GFCI is slightly different, because if you wire it incorrectly, it may not be a ground fault interruptor as it’s set up to be.

If you’re not sure what the difference is between a GFCI and a regular outlet – GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor and they’re used in locations that are close to water.  Water is a great conductor of electricity (did you know that you’re not even supposed to be using water from a tap while there’s lightning because you could be electrocuted? I just found that out recently) so you don’t want to have just a regular old outlet there.

Yes, even if you want to save some money, like one homeowner I just saw on Holmes Inspection. Spring for the GFCI, it’s not that much more expensive and it could save your life.

The GFCI is designed to trip whenever it detects the slightest variation in the electrical current – like if there’s water involved.  So when you’re installing it, you have to make sure that it is set correctly so that it will trip if and when you need it to.

I installed the outlets based on the wiring instructions included in the box (if you’d like me to go into more detail on that, just let me know and I’d be happy to do a separate post!) and reset the outlet to make sure it was wired correctly.  It was set perfectly! So I replaced all of the outlets, and even replaced the switch next to the sink in the kitchen – that, combined with a new lightbulb over the sink means I fixed the outlet/switch that I thought I was going to have to call an electrician for – man, was I tickled about that!

Ugly

Pretty

Fixed!

And I was also pretty pleased that I finally replaced the knob fan switch with a new one:

Before

After!

Shed Door Knob

Not long after I moved in, I picked up a new door knob and lock for my shed – my neighbor (yes the creepy one) had mentioned that he would have mowed my lawn while I was away one time, save for my shed being locked. It wasn’t, but the door often stuck.  But it clued me in to the fact that anyone could get in there.  It’s not connected to my house, so it wasn’t a safety issue from that perspective, but it was in terms of someone hiding out in there.

But my dad pointed out to me that I’d need to chisel the door to get the plate flush, and he knew I’d never used a chisel before.  I finally got comfortable using one on my interior upstairs doors, so I thought I’d give it a go.  What a nice difference.

Here’s the finished product!

Now I just have to remember to take a key whenever I’m working on something outside!

“Bush”

I use the term “bush” in quotes because these things growing next to my deck are HUGE.  The previous homeowner had never trimmed them (there are three, two unknown types and one holly) and they’d obviously been planted back in 1984 when the place was built.  They’d gotten to be almost as tall as the house, and my neighbor has been commented to me for pretty much the entire time that I’ve lived there that I need to get it trimmed.

I almost paid someone to do it last year, but he wanted $200.  So no.

But it was too big a project to tackle alone. My parents said they would help me out with it this year, so on a crazy humid morning after I’d already trimmed the part I could reach, my dad and mom came by with their truck, mini chainsaw and a ladder and we went to it – or rather, my dad went to it, and my mom and I piled up branches and tried to avoid falling debris.

My dad was concerned that I’d be left mostly with a bunch of sticks, since when you don’t prune a large bush like that, it only grows leaves on the outside.  I knew from watching an old episode of This Old House a few years ago that I was going to run into that, and I wasn’t as concerned with how it would look as I was with how overgrown it was.  So we chopped it way back and down, and although I’ve got less privacy on my deck now (not a big deal where it’s located), the bush is MUCH more under control.

I don’t have a before picture, and I’ll take an after picture at some point…but my plan now is (yes, I’ve always got new plans forming – for every project I do, there’s four more behind it!) to pull up the grass on that side of the fence (which is mostly weeds), put down some of the brick edging around the bushes and mulch in there, put some stone down for the rest of it to match the stone in my front yard, and then put down some more of those tire pieces to make a little path.  I’d also like to replace some of the front fencing with a gate so that I can actually get in and out of the backyard without having to hop a fence! So I’ll be working on that stuff at some point – the gate will probably wait until next year.

Apple Pie

And finally, just because I was happy about it – I used some fresh apples from the local farmer’s market (which I LOVE) to make an apple pie – it was fabulous:

Just about to go into the oven...

And just out of the oven....MMMMM!

 

 





My First Holiday at Home – Easter Dinner

26 04 2011

So as I mentioned last week, I hosted my first family holiday over the weekend, and I’m proud to say that not only did it go well, but I kept calm the entire time (and for a type-A perfectionist like myself, that’s a big deal!).

I decided to break up as much of the prep as I could by spacing out the cleaning over the week before.  That really helped, so that the only thing I had to do on Sunday was vacuum the house, steam clean the floors (always need to leave that to last minute because of a certain drooling basset), and wash the couch slip covers.

On Saturday, I decided I’d do the Bearnaise sauce, which I could then keep in the fridge and reheat for dinner.  It was a good thing I decided to do it on Saturday, since I realized I had the ingredients for Hollandaise, not Bearnaise sauce.  (Hollandaise is better for something like Eggs Benedict).  And since my grocery store was going to be closed on Sunday, I quick rushed over there and picked up what I needed.

I had a copy of Tyler Florence’s Bearnaise sauce, so I went with that recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used water – you can also use chicken stock, but I didn’t want to alter the flavor at all)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine the tarragon, shallots, vinegar and wine over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside. (The next time I do this, I would use less vinegar – I love vinegar, but it seemed a bit overpowering)

Place a stainless steel bowl in a saucepan containing simmering water, or use a double boiler. (I used a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan – my tips for this are to keep the water temperature in the saucepan low. Don’t let it boil, or you’re going to have scrambled eggs, instead of eggs doubled in volume.  Also, because you need egg yolks, I’d separate the eggs first and put the yolks in a bowl and once you’ve got all of them, put them into the stainless steel bowl – you need to be constantly stirring to keep the eggs from scrambling)

Whisk the egg yolks until doubled in volume. Slowly add the melted butter, continue beating until sauce is thickened. Stir in reserved shallot reduction. Season with salt and pepper, set aside wrapped in a warm spot.

The Bearnaise sauce did well in the fridge overnight, and then I reheated it on the stove in a small saucepan.

Bearnaise sauce!

For the starter, I went with my favorite pear, bleu cheese, and walnut salad.  I’d toasted the walnuts earlier in the day by putting them on the stove in a shallow pan and cooking them until I felt they were done – I like mine to be a bit on the well-done side.

Ingredients

  • 3 pears – I use whatever is in season, and I like red pears
  • 6 tablespoons of walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar – I used this because it was all I had on hand the first time I made the dish.  But the official recipe calls for pear nectar 
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard (optional) – but it’s really worth adding
  • Walnuts
  • Bleu cheese

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the walnut oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard and whisk until combined. Slice the pears into eighths and arrange on a plate.  Sprinkle the bleu cheese and walnuts over the pears (it’s a personal choice to add as many as you’d like) and then drizzle the dressing over it.

Pear salad - soo good

For the main course, I made my first ever roast beef.  Everything else I’d made before, including the side dish of potatoes au gratin, but the beef was the new thing for me.  And yes, I was nervous.
But it turned out to be very easy, because I read a LOT about the timing for cooking it, and bought a meat thermometer.  I ordered the roast through Peapod, and it arrived the Tuesday before. I wasn’t sure it would be okay in the fridge (my dad assures me it would have been), so I stuck it in the freezer.  I took it out to defrost on Friday and left it in the fridge, but by Saturday afternoon, it was still frozen. So I put it in a pot of cold water and by Saturday night, it was perfect.
I did my own little recipe for this, working backwards from a 6pm dinner time slot.  I decided to act as if I was going to be serving dinner at 5:30, in case the roast wasn’t ready in time (and good thing I did).
At 2:00, I took the roast out of the fridge and put it on the counter so that it could come to room temperature.  After an hour and a half, I rubbed the roast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I put it in the oven – first, at 500 degrees for fifteen minutes.  Then, I reduced the temperature to 375 degrees and set the timer for 62 minutes.  I’d read in one place that it should be 15 minutes per pound, and in another 20 minutes per pound, so I gave myself the time to do an hour and 15 minutes, but started with 62.
After the timer went, I checked it with the thermometer, but it was only at about 107 degrees – the meat should be at about 130 for medium.  I’m not sure what the final time ended up being, but I waited until the thermometer showed the meat at just over 130 degrees, and then I took it out.  That was just about 5:30, which gave me 30 minutes to let it rest – this is an important step so that the juices have a chance to settle into the meat and don’t leak out when you cut it.
It was a semi-boneless prime rib, so I let my dad do the cutting, and it came out great – moist, tender and very flavorful.  That gives me the confidence to try it again!
As I mentioned, I did potatoes au gratin as a side dish, and again, I mixed a couple of recipes here, but mostly working from Danny Boome’s.  Originally, I’d wanted to prepare the dish up to cooking the night before, but I read online that someone had a bad experience with this, so I left it until Sunday afternoon instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound baby new potatoes
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I added salt – it needed it)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (I’d made sure in advance that this worked with the temperature of the oven for when I was cooking the beef.

Place the baby new potatoes with skins on into a large saucepan of cold, salted water, place the saucepan onto a medium heat and bring the potatoes to boil (this takes a WHILE, so be prepared). Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes, until a knife can easily be inserted, but potatoes are not falling apart.

Drain potatoes and place them back into the pan. Using a fork roughly mash up leaving nice big potato chunks. Mix in the grated cheese, heavy cream, butter and black pepper (I saved some cheese in reserve to add to the top). Take a foil lined baking sheet and place 4 rings (2-inches wide) on top. Fill each ring with potato mixture and place in oven for 20 minutes until the top is nice and golden brown. (Instead of doing this, I used a small baking dish to cook the whole dish together.  I added the cheese on top and baked it for twenty minutes.  Then I kept it warm in a 200 degree oven, and just before serving, I put it under the broiler to crisp up the top – in future, I’d use a bit less cheese to make this happen).

Using a wide spatula, transfer the ring of potatoes to each plate. Holding the edge of the hot ring with a kitchen towel, cut around the potatoes to loosen them. Remove the ring and serve hot. (We used a serving spoon right from the dish)

Mmmm, potatoes.

My parents agreed that dinner was great – I served a sparkling red grape juice with dinner, which I thought would go well with the beef, and for dessert, my mom brought a chocolate cream pie.  Which she unfortunately left with me, so I’m forced to eat the rest.

How was everyone else’s Easter? I’m hoping this starts a new trend of hosting for me! Do you host holidays at your house, or go to relatives?





Pear Arugula Pizza

20 12 2010

Over the summer, I had an obsession with making my own pizza – probably five or six nights a week, I was taking a whole wheat crust, and adding fresh cherry tomatoes, basil from my garden, a little olive oil and garlic, and topping it with fresh mozzarella.

Delicious.

But while surfing on Facebook one night, I saw a recipe recommended by a friend for pear arugula pizza – and I love pears.

So I gave it a try – I didn’t make the flatbread myself (I used my handy fresh whole wheat pizza dough from the supermarket – easy to keep some frozen so you can have pizza whenever you want), but the rest of the recipe I stuck to closely.  I used Bosc pears because those are my favorites.

And this is how it turned out:

Yummy

It was easy AND delicious, so I highly recommend it!





A Major Baking Mishap…

23 12 2009

I love to try new recipes, particularly at the holidays, and over the past few years the cookie recipes that I’ve tried have come out pretty well.  So when I saw this recipe in Real Simple, I really wanted to try it – mostly for a silly reason though, really.  I had seen the same jars in Michaels a few weeks’ before, and thought I could package up these beautiful cookies in a fancy way and be all Martha-Stewart-like (though I don’t particularly like her).

See, aren't these lovely?

I got all the ingredients and settled down yesterday to bake the cookies…and they were a total disaster! The first batch weren’t even salvagable, and the second batch were only a little better.  I’ll recreate the recipe here, and maybe someone can help me figure out where I went wrong! (Though I’m totally mortified by how terrible these look)

First, I got out the ingredients:

I thought anything with butter, cream cheese and vanilla would be good!

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 8-ounce bar cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/2 cup seedless jam
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or coarse sanding sugar

First, I put the room temperature butter in my mixer

Then I added the cream cheese

Then, the sugar

This was to be beaten until fluffy, so that's what I did, scraping down the bowl a couple of times

Then I beat in the vanilla

Next I was supposed to reduce the mixer speed to low (which I did) and gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated - did that, even scraping down the bowl a couple of times again

This is what it looked like

And here's how the dough appeared right out of the mixer

Then, the recipe said to gently knead the dough on a floured surface two to three times, just to bring it together (okay) and form the dough into two 1-inch thick squares.

Here's a square. Then I was supposed to wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for one hour. Did that.

After an hour, I got one of the two squares out and on a lightly floured piece of parchment, I rolled it into a 9x12-inch rectangle - I even measured it.

I spread the jam over the dough - now here's where I may have run into trouble - I just eyeballed jam amounts, and this may have been more than 1/4 of a cup - but it appears to be a thin layer!

Then, I was supposed to cut the dough into three pieces (which I did), making three 9×4 inch rectangles.  And…oh no, I just realized my error – it says to start from the LONG side of each rectangle and roll it into logs.  Yup, you got it, I started with the shorter edge of each rectangle.  Darn!  Okay that explains the whole issue….

But anyway.  Once you roll each of those three pieces into a log, wrap it in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

Then, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the logs into 1-inch pieces and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.

Brush with the egg and sprikle with turbinado sugar (I couldn't find it, so I had to use regular sugar)

Bake them until golden, about 20-25 minutes. If you've messed up the recipe like me, lie down on the floor in despair and take pictures of the ceiling.

Cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely - store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. (Sorry this picture is blurry, I think it was my tears of disappointment clouding the lens...)

Okay, now that I’ve figured out what went wrong, I may or may not try to see if I have the ingredients to do it again tonight…we’ll see!

**Update: I did go ahead and remake half a batch of the cookies to see how they would come out, and it was SO much better than yesterday’s batch!

Mmm, fully cooked, kept their original shape, not too much leaking jelly!

And I finally got my pretty jar of cookies! If I weren't so tired, I'd add pretty ribbon to it too, like in the photo. For the other three jars I had, I put the pasta fagioli that I made for dinner tonight - yum!





Chocolate/Orange Truffles

22 12 2009

These truffles were by far my favorite – they taste the most decadent and fancy, though they were the hardest to manage (due to mushiness).  But so worth it!  This recipe is from the Food Network’s Ina Garten.

I started with the ingredients:

1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (recommended: Lindt – didn’t have any at my grocery store, so I went with Ghirardelli)
1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Ghirardelli)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons of orange flavored liqueur, optional (I substituted 2 tsp of orange extract)
1 tablespoon of prepared coffee
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar
Cocoa powder

First I chopped the chocolates finely with a sharp knife and put them in this heat proof mixing bowl:

Ah, lovely chopped chocolates!

Then, heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just boils - small bubbles will form at the edges when this happens.

Turn off the heat and allow the cream to sit for 20 seconds.  Pour the cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with the chocolate.

If you don't have a fine-meshed sieve, attempt to use a coffee filter and fail miserably.

With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. If this doesn't melt the chocolate completely, you can microwave it in 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted

Add in the orange extract or liqueur, depending on your preference

Then add the coffee

And the vanilla. Whisk all together and set aside at room temperature for an hour

Once you’re ready, the messy/hard part begins.  Since I needed two hands for this, I wasn’t able to photograph this part – with two teaspoons, spoon round balls of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment (or waxed) paper.  Roll each ball of chocolate in your hands roughly to make it round – be prepared, it’s very sticky and messy at this stage.   Roll in confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder or both – I chose cocoa powder.  These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve them at room temperature.

These taste gourmet!

I also made two other kinds of truffles this weekend, but since I made them on Sunday, I was too tired from shoveling to remember to take many pictures!  I did get this one when I was mixing peanut butter and chocolate for my peanut butter truffles…

Mmmm, I could have just licked the spoon!

And I ended up with these cookie dough truffles - delicious!

And these chocolate peanut butter truffles!





Marshmallow Truffles

22 12 2009

In the midst of my Cookies & Cream Truffles, I started to make another delicious recipe – these marshmallow truffles.  I tweaked this recipe a little too to suit what I like, but I’ll mention what the recipe actually calls for, in case you want to make it the same way.  I got this from Better Homes & Gardens.

First I made sure I had all the ingredients:

1 7-oz jar marshmallow creme
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla*
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar
Toasted whole almonds, toasted pecan halves, toasted macadamia nuts, toasted hazelnuts (filberts), quartered pitted dates, and/or dried cherries (I treated this as optional and didn’t use any – I don’t like centers in my truffles)
Powdered sugar
8 oz semisweet chocolates squares, chopped
1 tablespoon shortening
Finely chopped toasted nuts, toasted coconut, or candy sprinkles
White baking chocolate, melted

*Their test kitchen tip was to omit the extract and use 1 tablespoon of desired flavoured liqueur, such as raspberry or orange to the marshmallow mixture and increse the powdered sugar to 3 1/4 cups.  I prefer almond extract, so that’s what I used.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and butter the paper – I’m lazy, so I just sprayed it with Pam.  For the next step, I had to use my favorite kitchen appliance:

Ah, my lovely red Kitchen Aid mixer

In  the large mixer bowl….

...combine the marshmallow (yes, it's more than 7oz. That took some figuring),

butter, almond extract, and

salt.

Beat with the electric mixer until smooth

Get out your powdered sugar...

And gradually add the three cups to the marshmallow mixture

Beat until well mixed - it looks strange when it's mixed, so don't be alarmed

Cover it lightly and freeze for 20 minutes.  I just put this in the fridge too, and it worked out great.

Once the mixture is chilled sufficiently, they suggest you lightly dust your hands with powdered sugar (which I found wasn’t necessary).

It looks strange, but you can work with it no problem

Shape the marshmallow mixture into 1-inch balls, forming the mixture around the almonds, pecan halves, etc mentioned earlier unless you're omitting them. Place the balls on a covered baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, put your semisweet chocolate and shortening:

This just makes me happy

Heat and stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat

Line another large baking sheet with waxed paper.  If you are running out of baking sheets (like I was), use a wire rack with waxed paper.  Remove the marshmallow balls, a few at a time, from the freezer, and dip them into the chocolate.  Like the process I described in the Cookies & Cream recipe, roll them around with the wooden spoon, and then use a fork to lift them out of the chocolate, drawing the fork across the rim of the saucepan to remove excess chocolate.  Place the balls on the waxed-paper-lined baking sheet.

Immediately sprinkle tops with finely chopped nuts, toasted coconut or candy sprinkles (you can see what I used)

Let them stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes or until completely set.  If desired, drizzle truffles with melted white chocolate.  They recommend storing them between piece of waxed paper in an airtight container.  They can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or freezer for up to 3 months. 

Another lovely truffle!