Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us."

-Hal Borland


"People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas."

-Author Unknown

So with those thoughts in mind, eat and be merry! Happy New Year to everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Peppermint Patties



I have been terribly neglectful about writing on my blog. Every time I went to post, there was another interuption. Such are the holidays! As I am making my way through baking this year, I noticed that no matter what else I make, these Peppermint Patties always top the list of favorites with everyone. I almost always end up baking a batch at the beginning of my baking run and one at the end because all the orginial ones are gone by then. So I thought it might be worth reposting the recipe for anyone who missed them the first time around. These are very easy too make and the only time consuming part is dipping them in chocolate. Other than that, you can whip these up in no time and they are impressive enough to take to parties or just enjoy with guests. I bet they don't last long in your house either!


Peppermint Patties

2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. softened butter
2 tsp. peppermint extract
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. cream
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/3 cup)
1 tbsp. vegetable shortening

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. In a medium bowl, blend together sugar, butter, extracts, and cream on low speed. After blended, increase mixer speed to medium high and beat an additional 2 minutes or until mixture is creamy.

Using about a teaspoon size, roll candy into small balls and place on wax paper. Using your thumb, press top of ball down but do not flatten all the way. When completed, place cookie sheet into refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes (I have found that freezing them makes it very easy and much neater when you dip them in the chocolate).

Meanwhile, melt chocolate and shortening in microwave (on 50% power) or over a double boiler until melted.

Using dipping tools or two forks, dip the candy into the chocolate one at a time. Remove excess chocolate by scraping bottom of candy on the side of the bowl. Place back on cookie sheet and refridgerate to harden chocolate. Store patties in the refrigerator.

Make about 36. Recipe is easily doubled.

"There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries."-W.J. Cameron

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eggnog Spice Bundt Cake

I have made Thanksgiving dinner each year over the past several years. It just worked out that way because both moms are getting up in years and don't get around so well and my sister is a nurse and therefore either sleeping off a shift or working one. I didn't mind because the house always smelled so good and I love the holidays! But this year, my brother is home after 20 years of missed Thanksgivings. He wants to make up for being away so he has been planning Thanksgiving since he was stationed in Cuba almost two years ago. When I offered to help make something, he suggested desserts. Right up my ally! Instead of my usual Pecan pie, this year I can afford to be a bit more creative. I found a recipe in the newspaper for Eggnog Spice Bundt Cake. This cake is easy to make and smells divine. Along with the pumpkin pie and chocolate pie, I think the desserts are covered!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Eggnog Spice Bundt Cake

1 (181/4-ounce) boxed spice cake mix
1 (4-serving) instant vanilla or cheesecake pudding and pie filling mix
1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup light eggnog
1 egg
3 egg whites
1 1/3 cups toasted chopped pecans
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, yogurt, oil, eggnog, egg and egg whites in a large bowl. Mix until creamy.

3. Stir in pecans. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. When cool, dust with powdered sugar.


"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?"
-Erma Bombeck

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie




For those of you that requested a simple sweet potato pie recipe (ahem...you know who you are, Debi and Beth), here is my favorite. It comes from an Old Virginia Receipts recipe I have framed on my kitchen wall. I've tried to make other recipes, but this is the one I always come back to. I'm making it again this year for Thanksgiving. I wrote it out as it is written exactly in the recipe. I really don't talk like that, honestly!



Tidewater's Own Sweet Potato Pie

1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust
1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon peel
1 cup light cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, brown sugar, spices and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix well! Fold in lemon juice and peel. Slowly, you hear, add butter, vanilla, eggs and cream. Make it smooth. Spoon into pie shell. Bake 45 or 50 minutes. Poke a straw in center....clean? Done!


"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence." -Erma Bombeck

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action."
-W.J. Cameron

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Baked Apple Pies

On a recent trip to Virginia (I just can't stay away!) we picked up some apples from the farm market. Along with the apple cider, the apples there are some of the best I have ever tasted. So much so that I try to make at least one trip around fall each year just to get some. Inevitably, I buy too much and my apple saturated family won't eat any more. So to avoid waste, I make something with the rest. This year, I found a recipe for individual apple pies. They can be baked or fried, but I like baked the best. They are sweet, tart, delicious and portable!

Baked Apple Pies


1 tablespoon butter
4 or 5 medium to large apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 (8-piece) container refrigerated flaky biscuit dough
1 tablespoon water
Powdered sugar

Add the butter to a large pan and melt. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until the apples are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

When the filling is cool, roll the biscuits out on a lightly floured surface so that each biscuit forms a 7 to 8-inch circle. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the filling on each biscuit circle. Brush the edges of the circle with water. Fold the circle over the filling to make a half-moon shape. Seal by pressing the edges with the tines of a fork.

If you are baking these, pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place pies on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is browned. Remove and cool.

If you are frying the pies, preheat deep-fryer with oil to 350 degrees.

Carefully add the pies to the oil, 1 at a time, and fry until golden brown, turning the pies as necessary for even browning, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar immediately.

Adapted from Paula Deen's Fried Apple Pies

"We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Victoria Sponge Cake

This recipe is for a quick and easy cake that is popular in the UK. Who knew that such a simple cake with so few ingredients could be so good? This cake is perfect for a light after dinner treat or it could be served at a party for an elegant yet simple dessert. It is not overly sweet, so the texture of the cake, the fruit and cream really come through. You can use raspberries as I did or the more common strawberries and cream. Dust with a light coating of confectioner's sugar and you are done!



Victoria Sponge Cake

1 cup butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
4 medium eggs (I used large)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self raising flour

milk, to loosen


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Grease and line 7in cake pans or 1 larger baking pan (10 inch) with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper.

Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and stir in the vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little extra milk if necessary, to create a batter with a soft dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture between the cake pans and gently spread out with a spatula.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Place onto a wire rack.

(If you made one large cake, use a serrated knife and cut the layer in half. Proceed below)

Sandwich the cakes together with jam, lemon curd or whipped cream and berries or just enjoy on its own.

Adapted from the BBC Food Recipes

"The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”
-Walter Bagehot quotes (British political Analyst, Economist and Editor, one of the most influential journalists of the mid-Victorian period.1826-1877)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Favorite Sugar Cookies

The kids finally started school. I was beginning to think it would be Christmas before they got to go back. Our district's high school was being renovated over the past year and after much chaos, rumors and other fun, my two youngest went to school yesterday. My oldest, who starts high school this year, goes back on Monday. Keeping with tradition (even if that tradition is two weeks late this year!), I made a treat for the kids for after school on their first day. They all suggest different desserts (my son, who is 7, wanted Jello) but after much debate, I decided to try a new recipe. I've made plenty of sugar cookies before, but the addition of lemon to the mix was new to me. But the difference it makes in the taste and texture is out of this world. So I named these Favorite Sugar Cookies because from now on, they are our favorite!

Favorite Sugar Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar (I used 1 1/4 cup which worked fine)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract (I didn't have lemon extract on hand so I used regular lemon juice. You can add more if you like your cookies more lemony!)
1 tablespoon lemon peel
1/2 cup sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and very fluffy.
Beat in egg, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon peel.
Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar. Place on lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.
Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Adapted from Bunny's Warm Oven Blog


"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap." -Barbara Jordan

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Devilishly Good Chocolate Cake



When you are craving chocolate, this is the perfect cake. It's moist, full of chocolaty goodness, and most of all, easy. I've made it twice already (my daughter asks for it all of the time) and each time, it suprised me with the depth of the chocolate flavor. I've made this with Chocolate Pan frosting but you can also make it with Old Fashioned Cola Frosting as well (instructions included). This cake would go great with, well, anything! You can also make it in a 9 x 13 pan or a bundt pan (which I prefer). This recipe comes from The Cake Mix Doctor.


Devilishly Good Chocolate Cake

1 square (1 oz.) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
1 pkg. plain devil's food cake mix
1 pkg. chocolate instant pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract


Chocolate Pan Frosting
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter
4 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole milk (for Cola frosting, subsitute 1/3 cup cola for milk)
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.

Place the chocolate and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Cool, stirring, until the chocolate is melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.

Place the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the melted chocolate. Blend with mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 to 3 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto another rack to cool completely, 20 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting:

Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over low heat, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cocoa powder and milk. Let the mixture come just to a boil, stirring, and then remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the powdered sugar until the frosting is thickened and smooth. Pour the warm frosting over the top of a cooled cake, spreading it with a spatula so that it reaches all sides of the cake. Work quickly because this frosting goes on best while still warm.

Transfer the cake to a serving platter and spread the warm frosting over the cake. Let the frosting set for 20 minutes, then slice and serve.


"Coffee makes it possible to get out of bed. Chocolate makes it worthwhile."
-Author Unknown

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Pull Aparts



My husband's second job is teaching. He is a professor at two colleges, one a community college and the other a university. He teaches nights and weekends, in his spare time ;) His last Saturday morning class was this weekend and he asked me if I would fix a simple snack for the class. I decided on these pull aparts. Pretty much everyone loves cinnamon and sugar with bread so I thought it might appeal to everyone. It did and they loved them. These would be a great addition to a buffet breakfast or a tasty late night snack.


Cinnamon Sugar Pull Aparts

1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsps. cinnamon
1/3 cup melted butter
1 can (12 oz) refrigerated buttermilk flaky biscuits

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease or spray a square glass baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar and blend well.

Separate dough into 10 buscuits and cut each into quarters. Dip each quarter into the melted butter then dip into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Arrange in the baking pan so they are touching.

Bake for 19 to 27 minutes. When done, let cool. Remove the pull aparts from the pan and serve on a plate.

Makes about 10 servings.



"Cinnamon bites and kisses simultaneously."
-Vanna Bonta

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nutella Brownies


I thought I was all done with the Nutella recipes for a while when I spotted this one as I was just browsing on the internet. Really, who could pass up something that looks like this?! Icing on top of rich, chocolaty Nutella? Not me, no way. As a coincidence, the same kids I made the Nutella Bites for were over visiting my kids again. So I made these brownies for them. They must think all we eat is Nutella in this family. They loved these so much one of them insisted on the recipe. I sent some of the brownies home with them along with the recipe and a jar of Nutella, partly just to save myself from making more of brownies (and eating them).

Nutella Brownies

1 cup butter (2 sticks), melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup peanut butter

In a medium bowl combine all-purpose flour, cocoa (sift this in to get rid of lumps), baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Over low heat, melt butter and stir in sugar and vanilla extract until well combined.

To the butter-sugar mixture add eggs, one at a time. Beat until blended. Add cocoa mixture and mix on slow speed, just until blended.

Heat Nutella and peanut butter in the microwave in 20 second intervals until it reaches a runny consistency. Stir this mixture into the batter.

Pour the batter into a glass 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Cool completely before cutting.

Icing- Mix just enough milk and 1 cup of confectioner's sugar until smooth but not runny, drizzling it over the brownies, then with chocolate chips, if desired.


"Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods."
- Artistotle

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Peach Pie



When my husband was in Virginia recently, he was kind enough to stop by the Virginia Farm Market in Winchester and pick me up some fresh peaches. I love peaches, but I can't eat a 1/2 a peck before they go bad. So my oldest daughter and I decided to make a peach pie. I found a great recipe in Southern Living magazine that sounded different than the usual. Brown sugar and peaches together? Yum. And it was good. I used a frozen crust instead of the homemade one the recipe suggests, but I included the ingredients anyway for anyone who is more ambitious than I am!


Brown Sugar Cinnamon Peach Pie

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups cold butter
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice-cold water

8 large fresh, firm, ripe peaches (about 4 lb.)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Cut 1 1/3 cups butter into small cubes, and chill 15 minutes. Stir together 4 cups flour and 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup ice water with a fork, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened and dough begins to form a ball and leaves sides of bowl, adding more ice water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, if necessary. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap; press and shape dough into 2 flat disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill 30 minutes to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 425ยบ. Place 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface; sprinkle dough lightly with flour. Roll dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Starting at 1 edge of dough, wrap dough around a rolling pin. Place rolling pin over a 9-inch pie plate, and unroll dough over pie plate. Press dough into pie plate.

Roll remaining dough disk to about 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.

Peel peaches, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; cut slices in half. Stir together brown sugar, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1/4 cup flour in a bowl; add peaches, stirring to coat. Immediately spoon peach mixture into piecrust in pie plate, and dot with 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter. (Do not make mixture ahead or it will become too juicy.)

Carefully place remaining piecrust over filling; press edges of crusts together to seal. Cut off excess crust, and reserve. Crimp edges of pie. If desired, reroll excess crust to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch leaves using a knife. Brush top of pie with beaten egg; top with leaves. Brush leaves with egg; sprinkle with 1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar. Cut 4 to 5 slits in top of pie for steam to escape.

Freeze pie 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a jelly-roll pan in oven 10 minutes. Place pie on hot jelly-roll pan.

Bake at 425° on lower oven rack 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°; bake 40 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning, and bake 25 more minutes or until juices are thick and bubbly (juices will bubble through top). Transfer to a wire rack; cool 2 hours before serving.

“A Georgia peach, a real Georgia peach, a backyard great-grandmother's orchard peach, is as thickly furred as a sweater, and so fluent and sweet that once you bite through the flannel, it brings tears to your eyes.”
-Melissa Fay Greene, ‘Praying for Sheetrock’

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mini Nutella Bites


Here in Pittsburgh we have a part of town that is called "The Strip". Now, I know what you are thinking, but it's not really like that. It's a strip of road that runs from downtown to one of the local communities. It has wholesale produce vendors, Italian goods, a seafood market, a Chinese grocery store and many other fascinating places. One of my favorite is Mon Ami, which is a chocolate/candy store with exotic chocolates from around the world. When my brother was home in June, we took him there. As the kids were ordering gelato, I started a conversation with the owner. She mentioned a recent trip to Florida and a lovely dessert she had called Nutella bites. Well, you know me and chocolate, I had to ask for the recipe! Wouldn't you know that nice lady emailed me the recipe right the next day? She kept telling me how good they are. And she could not be more right. I made a double batch and they were literally gone within 30 minutes. These are super easy. Just be sure you make enough!

Mini Nutella Bites

Ingredients
1/2 cup Nutella spread
1 large egg
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ounce chopped chocolate or chopped nuts to put on top before baking

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line or grease mini cupcake/muffin pan
(12). Put the nutella and egg in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and well blended. Add the flour and whisk until blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins (about 3/4 full ) and sprinkle with the chocolate or nuts. Bake for about 10 minutes.

You can also serve with some fruit and whipped topping for company
dessert.

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."


-John Wooden

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!



To all those who serve or have served to give us freedom and independence, thank you! Happy 4th everyone.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wilmington Island Marsh Mud Cake


Ever since the kids got out of school a week and a half ago (Could it be just a week and a half? It feels like last year!), we have all been running. My brother visited with his kids starting the afternoon the kids got out of school. And it's been crazy ever since. But fun. Lots of fun. While we had everyone here, Jim cooked as usual. I handled dessert. But what to make with 5 kids and 4 adults for dinner? It had to appeal to everyone. Well, Paula Deen came up with the answer for me, with a little spin. This is from her The Lady Just Desserts cookbook. This recipe was easy and everyone enjoyed it. It was gone within a day. Can't have a better endorsement than that!



Wilmington Island Marsh Mud Cake

Cake:
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted, plus extra butter for greasing pan
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Frosting:
1 (16-ounce) box light brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup milk, scalded
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (10.5 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan with butter.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cocoa and the melted butter. Add the eggs, flour, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat well with a hand-held electric mixer. Add nuts, stirring with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes.

While cake is baking, prepare the frosting. Beat the brown sugar and butter. Add the cocoa and beat. Stir in the scalded milk and vanilla together in a mixing bowl and beat with the hand-held mixer until smooth. Set aside.

Remove the cake from the oven, and pour the marshmallows over the cake while it is still hot. Pour the frosting over the marshmallows. Let cool slightly before cutting into pieces.



"A happy family is but an earlier heaven."

George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lemonade Pie



Over the Memorial Day weekend, I went a little crazy making food for our family get together. Considering that we were only having two people over and there is five of us, I made enough to feed an Army! But it was fun. And, of course, I had to make dessert. Being that I was so tired from making all the salads, drinks, and other food for the party, the dessert had to be simple. Plus it was over 90 degrees here that day, so the dessert also had to be light and refreshing. This recipe was perfect. It was so simple and so good. It's great for a picnic or get together or just on a hot summer night.

Lemonade Pie

1 store bought graham cracker pie crust
1 14 oz size sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1 12 oz container Cool Whip, thawed
1 6 oz can frozen lemonade concentrate, still frozen

In a bowl, gently fold the condensed milk and the Cool Whip together until blended. Add the frozen lemonade concentrate and stir until mixed. Pour into the pie shell and freeze several hours or overnight.


"We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.”
-Alfred E. Neuman

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Devilishly Good Chocolate Cupcakes

After several weeks without having a chance to bake, I finally got back to it this week. It felt good to be at it again! I decided to start off slow and easy, especially since it was another busy week and because I will be making lots of desserts for our family get together this weekend. I've been saving this recipe for a while now. I have no idea why because it's so easy it's ridiculous. It only uses two ingredients and totals one Weight Watcher point, if you follow the diet. I added icing and chocolate chips just because I knew my kids would want something extra.



Devilishly Good Chocolate Cupcakes


1 box Devil's Food chocolate cake
15 oz pumpkin puree
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat cake mix and pumpkin together until blended. Add chocolate chips if desired. Batter will be thick.

Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Fill cups 3/4 full.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Makes about 24 cupcakes.


Icing:

6 tablespoons softened butter
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until blended. Add milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

"Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with cupcakes"
-unknown

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Welcome Home USS Kearsarge

After the stress of the adoption situation, our family was anxious to get out of town for a break. We had already planned to go to meet my brother this past weekend when his ship, the USS Kearsarge, came home to Norfolk Naval Base after 9 months on tour, including a stint as the flag ship in the Libya conflict. After many emails to the ship's Ombudsmen (contact personnel for military families) and much planning, we got to the Naval Base on Monday at 6:30 am.






The Ombudsmen, military and businesses around Norfolk set up a very nice area at the pier for the military families. We had chairs under a large tent, lots and lots of food, music and much hoopla to keep us entertained.





Around 9:00, everyone started moving towards the railings. Someone saw the ship come around the corner and cheers and screams went up! Flags were flying everywhere and everyone who had a sign held it high in the air. You could just about make out the sailors in their whites all standing at attention around the ship perimeter. It was a sight to behold. As the ship slowly made it's way around the pier, tug boats went out to greet it. They helped to pull the ship in and dock it, a long and slow process.






Finally, the ship was docked. After a bit more waiting the families were allowed on the pier. We waited anxiously for my brother, who had warned me that he might be one of the last off the ship. True to his word, he was. But I was so happy to see him I didn't care. He dropped his sea bags as soon as he saw me running towards him. We had a long hug then the kids joined in. My brother and husband even gave each other one of those manly hugs, the ones that end with pats on the back.


My brother was able to give us a tour of the ship. I have no idea how the Sailors and Marines handle being in such tight quarters for months at a time, but they should get special awards just for being able to handle that :) The ship was quite impressive and gives you a new appreciation for what the military does to protect us all.

After the tour, we gave my brother a ride home to Chesapeake and took him out to lunch. I asked him about his plans for the next few weeks, and he said all he wants to do is sleep.


Welcome Home, Jim! We are so proud of you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Not So Good News


Things did not turn out so well in the adoption situation. I had such hopes that I could finally, after three long years, have a child or children as part of our family. But it seems it isn't meant to be.

The situation I wrote about in my last post with the respite for the two children not only didn't work out, it ended up with my husband and I being called liars and everyone angry at us.

The initial meeting with these children was with me, the adoption counselor, the pre adoptive mom, and the kids. We met at my house, so the kids could meet me and my kids and get used to the surroundings. We met for over 3 hours. I was a little concerned when most of the meeting was about the pre adoptive mom and no one told me any information or was able to answer my questions, but I chalked it up to her bad situation. By the end of the meeting, the agreement was for us to take the kids starting Saturday until Tuesday. Then we would take them again for a longer periods of time until the pre adoptive mom had a chance to make up her mind about the adoption and we had a chance to get to know the kids.

Well, she dropped them off Saturday without car seats, medical cards or even so much as telling us their last names. We coped the best we could, going out and buying all the supplies they needed ourselves. We tried to keep them busy all weekend running in the yard, going to McDonald's, and having as much fun as we could fit in.

Then, come Sunday night, the pre adoptive mom calls and tells us she is not coming back to get the kids. We were floored. We called the adoption counselor and explained what had happened. We were told, "Well, aren't you were interested in adopting?" After a series of phone calls and emails, it was decided that the pre adoptive mom would come back as planned on Tuesday. On Tuesday she did show up but she was very angry. She came, grabbed the kids and left.

I contacted the adoption counselor and asked what was happening. She explained that the pre adoptive mom could never have abandoned the kids like we told her and that we were wrong by not taking the kids on permanently. I explained that a day and a half was not long enough to decide if we were a good fit (the agency promotes a good fit ad nauseum in their trainings), and she kept implying we were wrong not to take the kids. I also asked why we didn't get any support with this situation and she again said we were wrong and that she did support us.

My husband was pretty upset by this whole conversation and decided to contact the director of the agency. She listened to him, had me send all the relevant emails between us and the counselor, then never contacted us again. My husband emailed her yesterday after waiting a week and she told him that we were liars (it was all "miscommunication") and that the counselor did everything right. She refused to allow us to change counselors, saying this counselor is the only one who does matching (we know there are two) and basically blew us off. So much for being the best adoption agency in Pittsburgh.

So ends our adoption attempts. My husband keeps saying we should try again with another agency, but that means starting all over from the beginning with trainings, CPR certifications, clearances, letters of reference, home inspections and all the stacks of forms you have to fill out. I just can't bring myself to go through it all again, just to sit and hope. It's time to count my blessings and move on. It breaks my heart and I can't stop crying about it, but sometimes you just have to know when it's over. And it's over.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Good News



Sometimes, in those rare moments, the sun seems to be shining right on you. That is how I've felt the past few weeks. It so rarely happens so all this good news has me on cloud nine.

A week before Easter we took the family on a long awaited vacation. We hadn't gone for over a year and a half, partly because of the economy and partly because it was just too hard to get away. So to make up for it, we took a long vacation. First stop was Danville, Va, my home town. There are no words to describe how much I had missed it. I think it was even a surprise to me how much. I finally got to take my kids to Skatetown USA where I skated every week growing up. We ate at Pete's Pizza, who has the best pizza ever (at least in my limited experience!). For only being there a day and a half, we fit a lot in.



Then it was off to Outer Banks for a week. We hadn't been there for over 6 years so my youngest, who is 7, didn't remember it. The look on his face when he saw the ocean was priceless and worth all the effort getting there.


On the way back, we stopped in Winchester, VA. Not as southern as it used to be but still nice. You may think we are strange, but we love the Mt. Hebron Cemetary. The history is unbelievable. And the Virginia Farm market is a definite each time we are there.

Overall, we drove over 600 miles. We even fit in a half hour stop in Williamsburg, which had the only down point of the trip. We saw they are tearing down part of the pottery. Very sad. I grew up going to the pottery every year on my family vacation. We decided that next vacation, we are going back to visit Willamsburg.



While we were on vacation, I got an email from our adoption counselor. They have two kids, ages 3 (girl) and 4 (boy), they want us to take as a respite situation, until their pre adoptive mom can decide if she can adopt them or not. She may not be able to adopt them because of a changed family situation. It's hard to balance my joy of finally having kids in our home with her loss. She is one brave lady to put the kids first and to try to decide if she can let them go. But while she decides, we can care for them and pray for the best decision for everyone.

And last but not least, it looks like my brother may be on schedule to come home from his deployment next month. Yippeeee! He is thrilled to be finally done (and safe). They have a virus going around the ship which he caught so I haven't been able to talk too much to him lately, but I was able to email him about us being there to meet his ship next month. All the arrangements still need to be made (special passes to get on base, hotels, etc) but if it all goes well, we will get to see him come off the ship.


I am so glad to be able to share all the good news, for a change. Although I know things will calm down soon, just to finally have good things happen feels so wonderful.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cherry Fluff

Yes, I am a little nuts about the fluff these past two weeks! But I just feel the need to have something light and airy after the long winter. Plus, it's so easy to make and to eat. This is a great dessert just to have around or to take to some of those first picnics of the season.



Cherry Fluff

21 ounces cherry pie filling
8 ounces Cool Whip
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup of chopped pecans, if desired

Mix all ingredients together and refridgerate for at least two hours. Serve.


"Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms."
-Ikkyu Sojun

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fluffy Key Lime Pie


With the weather up and down all the time now, it's hard to know if I need a sweater or a short sleeve top each day! But I know it's getting warmer when I get the urge to make light desserts. And warm weather always makes me think of fluff. I'm not sure if that is the formal name for these types of desserts, but to me fluff is anything made out of whipped cream, jello or pudding mix and some type of citrus flavor. Since I bought key limes last week, this pie was the natural choice. It's light, sweet and tangy. Perfect for those warm nights.


Fluffy Key Lime Pie

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 pkg.(8 oz) Lime Flavored jello

2 tsp. grated lime zest

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (use bottled if needed)

1 large container whipped cream, thawed to room temp.

1 Graham Pie Crust


In a bowl, pour 1 cup of the boiling water over the jello. Stir until dissolved. Add an additional 1/2 cup of ice. Let melt, stirring as needed. Stir in the zest and key lime juice. Add the whipped cream, folding until completely mixed. Pour into crust. Cover lightly and place in freezer for 1/2 to 1 hour or until firm. Serve. Keep cold.
"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." -Sam Keen

Thursday, April 7, 2011

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Sometimes, I just get the most awful cravings for oatmeal. I'll eat it straight, meaning as a cereal. McCain's makes a wonderful Irish oatmeal that is very good. But more often than not, I like my oatmeal in something sweet along with chocolate, butter and lots of sugar! I love the chewy texture it gives cookies, cakes and bars. This recipe makes very chewy oatmeal bars. And it's no bake which I like. Easy and quick and it really satisfies that craving.

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

1 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter


Grease a 9x9 inch square pan. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended. Press half of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Reserve the other half for topping. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon. Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.

"Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy." -Lao Tzu

Friday, April 1, 2011

Homemade Georgia Peach Ice Cream

An update on my brother in the Navy: I've heard from my brother several times through email since I last posted. Whew! I was very relieved. Apparently, the Navy has sent a ship to relieve the Kearsarge (I learned this from the news) so the Kearsarge may be heading back to port soon. The ship personnel is great about posting updates via Facebook and I've even had the chance to talk to one of the ombudsmen who help the families of those on board with information. It was good to talk to them. They were calm and reassuring.

Thank you to all of you for your thoughts, prayers and very kind words of support this past week. You can't know how much it means to me to know that you all were thinking and praying for us. It was like getting a big hug every time I thought of you all, which was a lot.

On to the sweet stuff now! I know it's probably still cold where most of you live (it is here, it's snowing right now), but that little taste of summer we had last week up here had me thinking about all the great summertime recipes I want to make. I had some peaches from our tree last year that I froze in Fall on hand too. I usually love making peach cobbler, but I came across a recipe for peach ice cream that got rave reviews, so I changed plans and tried it. Yum! There is nothing like homemade!

Homemade Georgia Peach Ice Cream


2 1/2 pounds fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup white sugar
1 pint half-and-half cream

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk, or as needed


Puree peaches with the sugar and half-and-half in batches in a blender or food processor. In a gallon ice cream freezer container, mix together the peach mixture, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Pour in enough whole milk to fill the container to the fill line, about 2 cups. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to freeze the ice cream.


Tips- You can make this ice cream a little sweeter by adding up to 1/2 cup more sugar. Cooling the container first will help the ice cream harden faster



"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." -Albert Camus

Thursday, March 24, 2011

War and Kentucky Woodford Pudding


Last weekend I decided to try Southernlady's recipe for Kentucky Woodford Pudding. It just sounded so delicious I could not wait to taste it. The cake was easy to put together and as it baked, I made the sauce. Southernlady couldn't have been more right, that sauce was out of this world, slap yo momma twice good! I kept some for us and sent some to work with my husband who said it was a super big hit. Hop on over to Southernlady's blog and try it out. You will not be sorry.

By now you might be wondering why I don't have a recipe this week to share (besides that wonderful pudding!). Well, I was planning on baking this week but after learning that my brother, who is in the Navy, is in Libya, I didn't have the heart. My stomach has been in knots all week.
He is assigned to the USS Kearsarge (photo above) and was in Iraq. No shocker there. And up until last Thursday, we could email each other pretty regularly. But then the news of Libya started coming out and the Kearsarge was mentioned on MSN as being assigned to head over. I emailed by brother who said "so much for operational security" but yeah, it is true. We emailed a few more times, with reassurance from him that they were just chasing their own tails in the water and nothing more. Then the weekend strikes started. I emailed him again but with no response. I was pretty worried so I found the Facebook page for the Kearsarge and all the relatives were saying the same thing, no communication from their loved ones on the ship. So we all are watching the TV news closely and checking Facebook for any word. It is good and bad that they mention his ship a lot. I know what he is doing but I am almost afraid that if Libya strikes back, they will focus on the lead ship. So it's many prayers and hopes that this will end quickly and I can breathe again.

I will try to get back to some type of routine next week, if my nerves hold out, that is! Hopefully by then, I will have something delicious to share.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No Flour Chewy Chocolate Cookies


When my son had Autism, he was on the Gluten Free Casin Free (no flour, no dairy) diet. I searched high and low for recipes for sweets I could make him. Most of the recipes available subsituted real flour with rice flour. If you have ever used rice flour you know it is heavy and makes your baked goods flat. So we ate flat cookies and flat cake. Now, with Celiacs disease becoming more well known, the flour free recipes are pouring out. My son no longer is Autistic (thank the good Lord for that) but I still make the occasional flour free cookies. The recipes are so good nowadays, why not? These cookies are no exception. They remind me of brownies- chewy and chocolately. And very easy to make. You'll never miss the flour!

No Flour Chewy Chocolate Cookies

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsps. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted if desired

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Mix sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add egg whites and stir with a spoon until the mixture forms a dough. If the mixture is not thick enough to form into balls, add more powdered sugar and cocoa (I added about 3/4 cup more mixed). Add the nuts and mix well.

Form dough into tablespoon sized balls. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 16 to 19 minutes or until the cookies are glossy and crackled. Remove and cool. Makes about 15 cookies.
This recipe is easy to double.


"The path I travel is lit by those who came before me, and it will shine brighter for those who follow me"
-Autism quote, unknown author

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mud Hens

Mud what?! That is what my kids said when I mentioned what I made them for an after school snack. I explained that Mud Hens are a Southern dessert. They still think the name is odd, but they loved the bars! I got the recipe from Christy Jordan and her new book Southern Plate (there is a link to her blog in my favorite blog's list). These bars remind me of smore bars a bit with the chocolate, marshmallows and nuts. Yum! Very good, chewy and a bit crunchy. This recipe makes about 16 to 20 bars.

Mud Hens

1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 whole egg
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup nuts, chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup light brown sugar, packed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream shortening, butter, and sugar together. Beat in whole egg and two egg yolks.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together. combine flour mixture with creamed mixture, blending thoroughly. Spread batter in buttered 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan. Sprinkle nuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows over batter.

Beat the two egg whites stiff and fold in brown sugar. Spread over the top of the batter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool then cut into bars.


True Southerners know instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. (If the trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin'.) - from Georgia Girl

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Breakfast Cookies


Although I have been tempted many times, I've never had cookies for breakfast, until now. I was struck by how different this recipe is, at least in my limited and humble experience! The appeal of having something so easy to grab and eat, especially while running out the door (which I do most mornings!) is too much, so I had to make these. I was a bit overwhelmed by the ingredients at first, but once I got going it was easy. These are sweet, chewy and very versatile. Changing the ingredients to suit what you like is very easy. What's not to love?!

Breakfast Cookies

2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of honey (I used 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup of butter (I used 1 Tblsp.)
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins (I used dried cherries)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (I didn't use)
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all purpose)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 and 1/2 cups Cheerios

Combine egg, honey, carrots and butter. Add raisins, walnuts and apricots.
Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl combine flour, oats, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Add this to wet mixture and stir until everything is wet. Fold in Cheerios.

Drop mixture onto cookie sheets about an inch apart and bake at 350 for 15 minuts or until cookie is firm.



“Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.”
-Oscar Wilde

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Butterscotch And Chocolate Chip Cake

I am a regular reader of SouthernLady's blog. I love the kinds of food she makes and she always mixes it up between sweets and savory so you have many different recipes to choose from. Although I usually want to make everything she posts, I really couldn't wait to try this cake recipe, especially when she mentioned it is a family favorite in her home. The ingredients are simple but the taste is out of this world. The mixture of butterscotch, chocolate and nutmeg is fantastic. The cake is both crunchy and soft with texture from the nuts and chips. I only changed a few things to suit me, but otherwise kept it the same. It is seriously hard to stay away from this cake! It's a new favorite in our home now too. Thank you, SouthernLady!

Butterscotch and Chocolate Chip Cake

1 Butter Pecan cake mix, moist
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted (I used 1/2 stick butter, 1/4 cup Smart Butter spread and 1/4 cup skim milk)
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup nuts, chopped small
2/3 cup butterscotch chips


In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding, eggs, butter, milk and water. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Spread into a 9x13 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle butterscotch chips over batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and let cool.


Frosting:

1 can rich and creamy vanilla frosting
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg (I used fresh grated)

Put frosting in a glass bowl. Add the vanilla flavoring and nutmeg. Microwave on high about 10 to 15 seconds. Remove and mix well with wire whisk. Pour over cake. Add more nuts on top if desired.


"He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise."
-Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chocolate Cake Cookies


Lately I have been trying to find recipes that are beyond simple. I don't have as much time as I used to but I still want to bake something for the kids for after school. The trick, I'm finding, is to have a recipe be so simple it is easy to remember, you always have the ingredients around the house and the kids (and I) will love it. This cookie recipe fits all the criteria. I adapted it from Paula Deen's recipe for Ooey, Gooey Chocolate Cookies. They are soft, chewy and addicting!

Chocolate Cake Cookies

1 box chocolate cake mix, any kind
1 8 oz cream cheese (I used low fat)
1 egg
1 stick of butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tblsp. vanilla extract
confectioner's sugar

Mix together the butter and the cream cheese until well blended. Add the vanilla. Beat in the egg then add the chocolate cake mix and chocolate chips. Do not over beat. Chill the mixture for about 2 hours or until the dough can be rolled into 1 tablespoon sized balls. Roll the balls in the confectioner's sugar. Place on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake at 350 degrees until the tops are cracked and the cookies are set (they will be soft). Let cool. Add more confectioner's sugar if desired.


"There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult."
-Warren Buffett

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nutella Bars


For the Super Bowl, we had a little family party. Along with the Shredded BBQ Chicken sandwiches, Veggies and other goodies, I made Nutella Bars. I found the recipe in the newspaper in an article for Super Bowl recipes. I usually don't make newspaper recipes, but this one was easy and I knew my kids would love it. I thought it might taste like Rice Crispy squares (yuck, I don't like those!) because the recipe is so similar, but the Nutella added a depth of chocolate flavor that made these irresistable! So even though our Steelers lost, we can console ourselves with these bars, until next year's Super Bowl :)

Nutella Bars

1 cup of light syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
6 cups crisp rice cereal (like Rice Crispies)

Lightly grease an 9 by 11 inch baking pan (I used cooking spray).
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the corn syrup, sugar and Nutella. Heat and stir often until the sugar is melted (be very careful. this gets hot). Remove from heat and add the cereal. Toss well, until all the cereal is coated. Transfer to the prepared pan and push down to form an even layer in the pan. Rinse hands in water to help with stickiness.
Let cool 30 minutes then using a knife run under water, cut into 20 squares.


"As a player, it says everything about you if you made the Hall of Fame. But, then again, boy... there's something about winning a Super Bowl."
-Terry Bradshaw

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fruit Pizza


With all the snow this winter, I was feeling the need for a little reminder of summer. Fruit seemed like a natural choice. I remember my mother making fruit pizza when I was a teenager and how hard it was to stop eating it, even right out of the refrigerator! At first, I wasn't sure my recipe was going to taste good. But I was very surprised when I took the first bite. The cookie provides crunch, the cream cheese a bit of tart, and the fruit was refreshing and sweet. This would be fantastic for a party or any get together.

Fruit Pizza

20 oz package refrigerated sugar cookie dough, softened
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Fresh fruit such as strawberries, kiwi, fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries, fresh or canned peaches. Slice or cut into bite sized pieces.
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 tblsp. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice cookie dough as directed on package. Arrange slices in the bottom of a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan. Using floured fingers, press the dough evenly into the pan. Bake about 16 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until blended. Add vanilla. Spread the mixture over the cookie to the edges. Arrange the fruit as desired over cream cheese.

In another small bowl, combine orange marmalade and water. Using a brush, spread over the fruit evenly. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Cut into slices. Serve. Keep remainder refrigerated.



"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. It's where all the fruit is."
-Shirley MacLaine

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolate Brownie Drops


Since Christmas, I have been trying to cut back on the amount of sweets I eat. I gained a few pounds at Christmas (always do) and since I have a metabolism as slow as a turtle, I need to cut way back for a while. But me without chocolate makes for one cranky person, so I had to make something. I found this recipe on my Sparkpeople site. I changed it a bit to make it even healthier (i.e. I could eat more) so I was surprised when my kids ate most of the cookies! You can add whatever you want to the batter or leave them plain. Since I still don't have any chocolate chips in the house (check out my willpower!), I couldn't add anything. But next time, I think mini chocolate chips would be a great choice.

Chocolate Brownie Drops


2 cups flour (I used 1 cup regular flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
2 large eggs (I used 1/4 cup Egg Beaters (equals 1 egg) and 1 regular egg)
1 tsp vanilla

In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and cocoa powder.

Cream butter and both sugars with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix again.

Gradually add flour mixture and combine well. Add any extra ingredients like chocolate chips, dried cherries, walnuts, etc. Drop onto baking sheets using a cookie scoop.

Bake at 350 F for 13-15 minutes. When cookies seem soft yet hold their form, they are done. Do not overbake, which will make the cookies dry.



"Chocolate is the answer. Who cares what the question is."
-Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Butterscotch and Chocolate Brownie Bars


After Christmas, my pantry looks like a train wreck. I have half used bags of this kind of chips and half used of that. When I went to make something sweet the other night for the kids (really, just for the kids), I didn't have enough chips of any kind to make cookies. Since I did have 1 bag of butterscotch chips, I was able to scrounge up a recipe for Butterscotch brownies. I altered the recipe a bit to fit what I had left in the pantry, plus I added a bit of oatmeal just because I was craving some. They were so soft and chewy. Considering they are already gone, I think I'll be making these again!

Butterscotch and Chocolate Brownie Bars

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desires
1 cup each Butterscotch and Chocolate chips

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat. Mix in brown sugar, vanilla and egg; stir well. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in greased and floured 8x8x2 inch pan. Bake butterscotch brownies at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cut butterscotch brownies while warm.



"Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I knew There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too. And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses."

-Joni Mitchell

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Go Steelers!


Way to go Steelers!! On to the next playoff game. All the way to the Super Bowl!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Thursday Meme

Well, as much as I would love to be sharing a new recipe with you right now, I haven't had any time to bake. I thought it might slow down a bit after Christmas but for some reason, life has been put on high speed and we are just as busy as before. Plus my mother in law got sick and was in the hospital for a while. She is fine now, but we were so worried. Pittsburgh got itself a bit of a snowstorm this week and we spent most mornings running from radio to the computer trying to see if there was a school delay or if it was cancelled, like yesterday (only a delay today-whew!). But I am determined to bake something next week, even if it kills me so I hope to have a goodie to share with you then. In the meanwhile, I thought I'd steal Anita's Meme and give it a go:

Marched in a protest? No

Slept past 5 pm? No

Fallen asleep at work/school? Yes

Held a snake? Yes

Ran a red light? Yes

Been given detention in school? No

Totaled your car/motorbike in an accident? No

Been fired from a job? No

Eaten your kid's Halloween candy? YES!

Sang karaoke? No

Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? Yes

Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? Yes

Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes

Kissed in the rain? Yes

Cross dressed? No

Sang in the shower? Yes

Sat on a rooftop? No

Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on? No

Broken a bone? no

Shaved your head? No

Played a prank on someone? Yes

Felt like killing someone? Yes

Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry? Yes

Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? Yes

Been in a band? No

Shot a gun? Yes

Donated Blood? No

Eaten alligator meat? No

Eaten cheesecake? Yes

Worry about the future? Yes

Believe in love? Yes

Like to cuddle? Yes

Sleep on a certain side of the bed? Yes

Talk in your sleep? Yes

Daydream? Yes

Laughed until you peed your pants? Yes

Spend too much time on Facebook? No

Play a musical instrument? No

Been to Canada? No

Been to Mexico? No

Been to Europe? No

Been to China? No

Been skinny dipping? No

Gone sky diving? No

Killed an animal without hunting? Yes

Gone snowmobiling? No

Been on TV? No

Dated someone longer than you should have? Yes

Given the wrong person a second chance? Yes

Adopted a stray animal? Yes

Climbed a mountain? No

Taken to the hospital in an ambulance? Yes

Been bungee jumping? No

Knitted? Yes

Miss someone every day? Yes

Speak a second language? No

Passed out when not drinking? Yes

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Simple And Easy Chocolate Fudge


Right before Christmas I was listening to a local radio station called KDKA, (supposedly the first ever radio station in the U.S but that is up for debate) and they have a program on each weekend called the Kuhn's Cooking Hour. People around the area can call in and share recipes. One woman called with a recipe for fudge she said was so simple it was silly. And it was. I copied it down and added it to my Chrismas cookie baking blitz. I was very surprised at the results. I don't like fudge all that much but this stuff was good! I didn't even add anything to it like she suggested and I still liked it a lot. Now I can make it anytime for a quick treat or to give away as a thank you gift. Fudge in no time. Who can argue with that?
Simple and Easy Chocolate Fudge

3 cups semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
(you can also add 2 tablespoons of cream cheese for tartness if you like)

Place chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan with hot water on medium heat. Add condensed milk. Heat over water, stirring often until chocolate is melted. Take off the heat and add 1 tsp. of vanilla. You can also add anything you like such as chopped nuts, dried fruit, or other candies.
For thick fudge, pour fudge into an 8 inch pan. For thinner fudge, use a 9 inch pan. Cool, covered, in the refrigerator until set. Cut into small pieces. Serve.



'Twill make old women young and fresh,
Create new motions of the flesh.
And cause them long for you know what,
If they but taste of chocolate."

-James Wadworth

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Welcome 2011!