Wednesday, December 31, 2014

JIM'S BROWNIES

We first experienced these brownies at the Kansas City Symphony's Holiday Notes of Homes Tours. We love going every year to see homes decorated for the holidays and always hope to see some ideas we can bring back and incorporate in our home decorations. At the Holiday Boutique, there is always a table selling the A Taste of Kansas City I and II Menus and More Cookbooks and best of all, offering some samples of goodies from the cookbook. The cookbook is a collection of recipes from the Friends of the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired in Kansas City. 

Janice and I have never bought either of the cookbooks, but Friend Marilyn did buy one this year and she said she would share a recipe or two from it with me. 

A couple of weeks later when Janice and I were at an estate sale and, you guessed it, I was checking out the cookbooks, I found a copy of II for sale. This recipe, Jim's Brownies, is a recipe of Jim Pittman of Black Tie Desserts. I decided it would be a perfect gift for a friend for Christmas. I'm looking forward to trying some more of the recipes in the cookbook in 2015.



JIM'S BROWNIES

1/2       cup butter or margarine, melted (1 stick)
1           cup of sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar/stevia blend)
1           teaspoon vanilla
2          eggs
1/2       cup flour
1/4       teaspoon baking powder
1/3       cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2       cup (generous) white chocolate chips
1/2       cup (generous) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2       cup (generous) walnut pieces (optional)

Powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 9 - inch square pan by lightly spraying pan with nonstick cooking spray. 

Mix together the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.

Add the eggs and stir.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and cocoa and then add to the butter mixture.

Fold in chips and nuts, if using them.

Spread in pan.

Bake 24 minutes. Do not overbake.

Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
















Tuesday, December 30, 2014

PRETZEL SANDWICH BITES

Many of you may be ringing in the new year with friends and families tomorrow night. I made these cute Pretzel Sandwich Bites for a gathering of friends a while back, but never got around to sharing them with you. The other night I remembered that fact and decided now would be a good time to tell you about them. Much to my dismay though, I couldn't find the pictures I had taken. And I took a lot of pictures. Don't remember deleting them, but I must have since they aren't on my phone anymore.

Two really neat things about these little bites is that you can use whatever you want to and you won't have all those toothpicks to clean up. The one I made for this post (to have a picture) I used the pepperjack cheese slices, ham slices, sweet red pepper, and colby & jack cheese. Before I used a pickle slice in place of the pepper and I topped one end off with a grape tomato.

And even if you aren't needing them right now, they would be a fun lunch for kids instead of a boring sandwich. 



PRETZEL SANDWICH BITES

straight pretzel sticks
cheese
pepperoni
bell or sweet pepper
ham
turkey
tomato
pickle slices

To assemble, use an ice pick to make a hole 


and then one section at a time, insert the pretzel through the hole.

Monday, December 29, 2014

BASIL PORK CHOPS

This time of the year it seems that people naturally start thinking about changes they are going to make in the new year. I know I have. We even talked about New Year Resolutions in Sunday school yesterday.

One change I want to make is to start back with my menu planning. Starting next week my husband will begin prep work for preparing taxes for service men and women and retirees at Fort Leavenworth. He did this last year and really enjoyed the experience. The interesting thing for me was noticing how our lives changed. Because he participated almost daily (weekdays, that is) from January thru April, it was like he wasn't retired anymore but I still was. One of the good things about it was I made "goodies" three days a week for him to take to share with the other volunteers which provided me with plenty of recipes to share here on my blog.

So I got to thinking, now would be a good time for me to start back planning the dinners I would be cooking. That means I will be searching for main courses in addition to all the goodies I usually am looking for.

Since I said I have been thinking about this the past week, when I saw this recipe for Basil Pork Chops (Flavors of the southwest) from the Taste of Home's 2007 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes cookbook, I decided it would be one I would try. I also recently saw my George Foreman Grill stored in the garage on a shelf and remembered it when I saw the recipe. There was a time when I used it a lot, but haven't probably in more than a year. It worked perfectly though for this recipe. Because it worked so well, I will probably be using the grill  with more recipes in the future that I think will adapt to it. 

The recipe makes enough for 4 pork loin chops but I only made two. In the parenthesis, I have given directions for making only 2 and specifics for the way I made them.


BASIL PORK CHOPS

1/4       cup packed brown sugar (2 tablespoons)
1-1/2    teaspoon dried basil (3/4 teaspoon)
1/2       teaspoon salt (1/4 teaspoon)
1/2       teaspoon chili powder (1/4 teaspoon)
2          tablespoons oil, divided (1/2 tablespoon)
4          boneless pork loin chops (2 chops)


In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, basil, salt, and chili powder. 

Gradually stir in 1 tablespoon (1/2 tablespoon) oil until crumbly.


Rub over both sides of the pork chops.

In a large skillet, (George Foreman Grill preheated for 5 minutes) cook chops in remaining oil over medium heat for 7 - 8 minutes (6 - 8 minutes total) on each side or until juices run clear. The brown sugar does want to "burn" if it is on thick. I took any of the mixture that had fallen off the chops while they were on the plate waiting for the grill to preheat and placed it back on the chop before cooking them on the grill. Next time I won't do this as that is what "burned". As long as you rub or press the mixture into the chop, it will flavor it when it cooks.

TIP! 

The grill is easy to clean up with just a paper towel. If you have allowed the grill to cool (while you ate), just plug it back in. Immediately start rubbing the grill down with a couple of thicknesses of paper towel. The grill will clean right up and ready to use another day.

Friday, December 26, 2014

MEATBALL SOUP

The good thing about soup is with a general basic recipe, you can add any vegetables (fresh, frozen, or canned) and seasonings you have on hand and come up with your own unique soup mixture. This recipe didn't call for onions (which was just fine with me), but I know that most people would probably like to have them included. If my pictures look a little foggy, that's just the steam coming from the hot pot of soup.

And the great thing about soup....it tastes great warmed up, too.




MEATBALL SOUP

2 - 3          15 - oz cans of mixed vegetables OR
2 - 3          16 - oz bags of frozen mixed vegetables
1                 14.5 - oz can chicken broth
1                 teaspoon dried oregano
1                 teaspoon dried basil
1                 teaspoon minced garlic
1                 14.5 - oz can diced tomatoes
Fully cooked meatballs (I used 16 homemade meatballs)
Any extra vegetables you wish to add.

In a large saucepan or pot, combine the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or more. Make sure meatballs and vegetables are heated through.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CREAM CHEESE COOKIES

The other day we had planned to play canasta, but the weather had a different idea.  That was the day we ended up getting out first real snow for the season.....4 inches. It was beautiful and the roads were actually not that bad. But the group decided not to meet to be safe. 

Well, Janice decided she didn't want to not play canasta. So right after lunch, she called and invited us (my husband and me) to play that evening. It was a fun evening....meeting at Jason's Deli for dinner and then going over to their house for cards and these delicious cookies. (Janice and I also won which made it even more fun.


CREAM CHEESE COOKIES

1/4      cup butter or margarine, softened
1          pkg (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1          egg
1/4      teaspoon vanilla
1          package yellow or devils food cake mix (Janice used a sugar free yellow cake mix
Frosting of your choice (Janice used canned lemon frosting)


Cream butter and cheese.

Blend in egg and vanilla.

Add dry cake mix, 1/3 at a time, mixing well after each addition. (If using a mixer,m add last third of cake mix by hand.)

Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Drop by scant teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown.

Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

If you like, frost with your favorite frosting when completely cooled. Janice left a few unfrosted.



Monday, December 22, 2014

CRACKER CRUNCH

My husband Wayne says these "goodies" could easily become addicted. I saw this recipe in Company's Coming Gifts from the Kitchen and thought it looked interesting. Unlike most new recipes I try, I made this one two days in a row. 

The first time I made it was for our couple's bridge group. As you can sorta see in the feature picture and then farther down in the post, I followed the recipe except I decided to use a variety of chips to sprinkle on top. I also used half chocolate graham crackers and half honey graham crackers. I thought I would really provide choices for everyone.

One of the reasons I decided to make the recipe again the next day was to make it using a smaller pan. To me the 10 x 15 - inch cookie sheet was too big for the amount of "caramel sauce" the recipe made. I have a cookie sheet that measures 9 x 13 - inches that I used.  If you don't have a cookie sheet that size, it would probably work in a 9 x 13 - inch baking pan.


CRACKER CRUNCH

1 pkg.        whole graham crackers (chocolate ones work great)
2 sticks    butter (not margarine)
1 cup        brown sugar, packed
1 cup        finely chopped pecans
sprinkle    ground cinnamon
3/4 cup   chocolate chips or butterscotch chips or your favorite chip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet, 9 x 13 - inches.

Line cookie sheet with graham crackers, trimmed to fit. (I ran out of the chocolate graham crackers.)

Combine butter and brown sugar in medium saucepan. 
Heat and stir until mixture starts to boil.

Boil for 3 minutes, without stirring.

Pour evenly over graham crackers - spreading with wooden spoon as necessary. (This picture was from the first batch I made using a bigger pan. You can see how thin the mixture is over the honey graham crackers on the left side.)

Sprinkle with nuts and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes until bubbly.

Sprinkle with chips. 

Cool.

Cut into pieces.

I do like using different chips as I did with the first batch. I sprinkled one third of the surface with Andes baking chips, another third with vanilla flavored red and green colored chips, and the last third with butterscotch chips. I liked the Andes baking chips the best, but my husband and Ed liked the butterscotch chips the best.  That's why I decided to use butterscotch chips for the second batch that I took to Hillcrest Thrift Shop.

Friday, December 19, 2014

BLUEBERRY CORN MUFFINS

For Christmas my dil Sara gave me four cookbooks. You can imagine how excited I was when I opened the package. So far I have had time to go through three of them. Instead of writing the title of recipes on a card and placing the card inside the cookbook, I have started putting a check mark by the title in the book's index. That way I don't have to be worry about keeping the card inside the book....I have lost a few of these cards.

One of the recipes that I marked in the Taste of Home's 2007 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes was this one for Blueberry Corn Muffins. When I don't want to make a full recipe of cornbread (The Best Cornbread in the World), I like to use a box of Jiffy cornbread mix. So when I saw this recipe, it immediately caught my eye. 

And am I glad it did.  I experimented last year by adding mashed sweet potatoes (Jiffy Sweet Potato Cornbread). I really liked the result of the cornbread muffins with the sweet potatoes. Likewise, the addition of the blueberries, created a unique tasting cornbread muffin.



BLUEBERRY CORN MUFFINS

1       package  (8.5 oz) corn bread muffin mix
1       tablespoon brown sugar
1       egg, beaten
1/3    cup milk
1/2    cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray or add a little oil in 8 muffin cups.

In a large bowl, combine the cornbread mix and the brown sugar.

Add the egg and milk to the mixture. Stir just til dry ingredients are moistened.

Fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly to make 8 muffins.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing them.







Thursday, December 18, 2014

CHOCOLATE MINT SUGAR COOKIES


I took one of those sugar cookie mixes that makes 3 dozen cookies (You know the one I'm talking about.) when we went to CO for our early Christmas with our older son and his family. I thought I might make some with my granddaughters but we didn't. (I do enjoy cooking with them.) 

Yesterday I decided I would mix them up but decided to do some experimenting with the mix.  The result was this delicious cookie I decided to call Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookie.  


CHOCOLATE MINT SUGAR COOKIES

1        pkg. (17.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
3        tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons softened margarine (10 seconds in the microwave)
1        large egg
2        tablespoons water
1        teaspoon mint extract
1/2 - 3/4 cup Andes mint chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or use an ungreased cookie sheet.

Mix the cookie mix, softened margarine, water, egg, and extract in a large bowl.  

Mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. (Batter is thick.)

Add the mint chips.

Using a cookie scoop, drop dough on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 9 - 10 minutes. (Cookies will be puffed up, but will flatten as they cool.)

Cool one minute on cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SKILLET CAKE (UPSIDE DOWN CAKE)

This is the third recipe I tried for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.  It is actually the first one I made, but remember I left out the milk? I decided to try it again when the Dinner Club met earlier this month.

This third one is the recipe my aunt Virginia showed me. She brought out this leatherback thin cookbook and told me it came with a woodburning stove she had. 
After she studied the picture, she said her stove had a warmer compartment that wasn't on the stove in the picture.

The cookbook contained a variety of recipes, but I told her I thought the desserts were more popular with her. Why did I think that? Here is the page with the recipe on it. The pages in the front of the cookbook were nice and clean.



SKILLET CAKE (UPSIDE DOWN CAKE)

1/4       cup butter
3/4      cup brown sugar
1          cup pecan meats (optional-I did leave these out)
8         canned pineapple slices ( only needed 4 in my 9 - inch skillet)


Melt butter in 9 - inch skillet (iron). Remove from the fire.


Sprinkle brown sugar and nutmeats over bottom.


Arrange fruit on sugar.



I added the maraschino cherries








Prepare following batter:

2       eggs
1/4    teaspoon salt
1       cup sugar
1/2    cup rich milk (I did use my skim milk)
1       tablespoon melted shortening (I used canola oil)
1       teaspoon vanilla
1       cup sifted cake flour
1       teaspoon baking powder.


Beat eggs until light.I


Add gradually, beating constantly, the salt and sugar. (I had my husband add about 1 tablespoon at a time while I continued to beat with the whisk.)


Heat milk to boiling point.(I heated it in the microwave using the beverage setting.) Add butter. (forgot to take a picture)


Beat into egg mixture. Add vanilla. Resift flour with baking powder, and add it to egg mixture. Beat quickly until blended.


Pour batter over fruit.


Bake cake in moderate oven for about 1/4 to 1/2 hour. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F and bake the cake for 30 minutes. (I did check the center with a toothpick.)


Turn out while warm. (I did run a knife around the edges to loosen them)





Serve upside down. (It's hard to see the pineapple slices but they are there.)





The cake was a big success with the Dinner Club especially the men.  I am so surprised at how many people's favorite cake is Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.


This experience with three different recipes for an old-time favorite has been really fun. Remember when I told you in an earlier post about forgetting the milk when I made this recipe the first time. This is what it looked like when I took it out of the 
oven.
This is what it looked like when I turned it upside down on the platter. It didn't look as badly on the other side. (My husband did end up eating the whole thing and said it didn't taste that bad.) I made sure when I made it the second time, that I didn't leave anything out.