Friday, January 29, 2016

GUILT-FREE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE WALNUT BROWNIES

I needed something that was going to be quick and easy to make to take to Hillcrest Thrift Shop last Tuesday morning, and this recipe I found in Desserts Every Night! cookbook sounded just perfect.

Jo Anna M. Lund uses substitutions that are fat-free and sugar-free to lower the calories in this cookbook. Sometimes these substitutions do not produce a tasty result. These Double Chocolate Walnut Brownies are not very sweet tasting and I wasn't sure that the volunteers would enjoy them. Well, I was wrong. Everyone made a point of telling me how good they were. I didn't even get one to eat. (I kept a couple at home for my husband and me to enjoy .... so I didn't totally get left out.) 

If you don't care for reduced calorie treats or have all of the fat-free or sugar-free substitutions, feel free to use the fat and sugar products.

Did I mention how moist these brownies are? That is the one comment everyone had.

I renamed these brownies....



QUILT-FREE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE WALNUT BROWNIES

1-1/2        cups flour
3/4          cup stevia or Splenda
1/4           cup unsweetened cocoa
1               teaspoon baking powder
1/2           teaspoon baking soda
1/2           cup chopped walnuts
1/4           cup mini chocolate chips
1/2           cup plain fat-free yogurt (I used Greek plain fat-free yogurt)
1/3           cup fat-free mayonnaise (I had reduced fat mayo that I used.)
1               teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4          cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 - inch bake pan with cooking spray.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar substitute, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda.

Stir in walnuts and chips.


In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, mayo, vanilla, and water. Mix well with a wire whisk until blended.



Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture. Mix gently just to combine.


Spread batter evenly in pan. (It won't be very thick. You might want to drop the batter by spoonfuls around the bottom and then spread the blobs together.)


Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place pan on a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Cover with a lid when completely cooled if you plan to serve them later or the next day as I did.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

STEAK SOUP

There is nothing better on a cold winter day than a bowl of soup! We had an unusually warm day in the 60s and my husband decided to grill some steaks. He grilled more than we could eat that night, but we knew we would enjoy them on another night.

Instead though, I decided to make a big pot of Steak Soup. I don't really have a recipe when I make soup, but I did try to take notes so I could pass this recipe along to you. You could use any meat if you didn't have the steak. This recipe will look like one my mother would have.


STEAK (MEAT) SOUP

Meat of some sort. Any amount will work. I probably had about 2 cups
2      cups diced potatoes
1       cup diced carrots
1/2   cup chopped celery
1       cup whole kernel corn
1       cup green beans
1       can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
2      teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1-2   teaspoons Norton's Nature's Seasons Seasoning Blend
1-2   teaspoons salt
water

I chopped the potatoes, carrots, and celery and covered them with water in a big pot over medium heat, covered.

After about 20 minutes, I added the rest of the ingredients. After the mixture came to a boil, I reduced the temperature to simmer and continued to cook until we were ready to eat. (Sorry. It was at least 30 minutes.) I did have to add some additional water to keep everything covered and to have enough liquid to make a soup.


You could also add a little diced onion if you liked. If you had any leftover vegetables in the refrigerator, you could add those. Sometimes I add macaroni. You might want to cook it for just a little bit so that it won't sink to the bottom and stick to the pot. Just stir it often especially at first if you do add some pasta.

Making soup should be one of those recipes that you don't have to have a recipe to make. Add whatever seasoning you like for that special flavor. Sometimes I add Italian seasoning, some parsley, etc. I hope you get the idea.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CAKE

I have switched my shift at Hillcrest Thrift Shop from the middle to the first shift. I actually like having my afternoon free instead of breaking up my day. The only disadvantage is that means I have to make my dessert on Monday because I don't have enough time to make it Tuesday morning before going down.

Last Monday I looked for something special but easy that I could take the next morning. I found a recipe that called for a yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding, and butterscotch chips. The problem was I didn't have a yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding, or as many butterscotch chips as the recipe called for. The cake was called a Hornest's Nest Cake.

I did have a chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, and peanut butter chips which was close. (ha) The result was a moist scrumptious dessert that everyone loved at Hillcrest. I decided to just call it ....


CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CAKE

1       chocolate cake (without the pudding)
1       (4-serving size) instant chocolate pudding + 2 cups milk
2      cups peanut butter chips (The bag now holds 1-3/4 cups chips. This would work out okay.)
1       cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 - inch pan. (I used my homemade Pan Grease.)

Make pudding according to box directions with 2 cups milk.

Add the dry cake mix.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan.

Sprinkle the chips on top.

Top with the chopped nuts.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool and serve.

Monday, January 25, 2016

SWEET POTATO BISCUITS

I love sweet potatoes and am always trying to find ways to use them in recipes. I found a recipe for sweet potato biscuits in the new Amish cookbook I got for Christmas but wasn't completely pleased with the results. 

When I made a big pot of Steak and Vegetable soup the other day, I decided to play around with Lorraine Brumbacher's recipe and came up with these delicious tasting biscuits. They were so good....I ate two of them. The recipe made 6 biscuits.



SWEET POTATO BISCUITS

1       cup flour
2      teaspoons baking powder
1       teaspoon salt
1/4   cup stevia (You could use sugar if you preferred.)
1/2   cup mashed sweet potatoes
3      tablespoons shortening
1/4   cup of milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. (I used a metal pie plate I have.)

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and stevia. Cut in the shortening (I just use my fingers.) Then add the sweet potatoes. 

Add enough milk to make a dough.

Kneed a couple of times on a floured board and flatten to desired thickness with your hands.

Cut biscuits with a glass or biscuit cutter.

Place on pan and 
bake for 15 minutes.

Pass the butter and serve warm.




They are great warmed up also. This is how I do it so they taste just like they did when I first baked them. I turn the oven on to 350 and place the cold biscuit in a pan and put in the oven. When the signal goes off indicating that the oven has reached the desired temperature, I remove the pan. The biscuit will be perfect!

Friday, January 22, 2016

BLACKBERRY PUDDING CAKE

My dil Sara gave me an Amish cookbook for Christmas, The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection by Wanda E. Brunsetter. I was so excited when I opened it. I always get a calendar for the year with pictures of their family that I love to have. I also usually get one other something. What a perfect gift for me!

I didn't wait long to find a recipe to try and test out on my friends at Hillcrest Thrift Shop. This one contributed by Mrs. Paul Schrock of Marion, MI was especially well received.


BLACKBERRY PUDDING CAKE

1/3       cup butter
2          cups sugar, divided (I used stevia)
2          cups flour
1           teaspoon salt
2          teaspoons baking powder
1           cup milk
2          cups fresh or frozen blackberries (I used a 12 - ounce bag of frozen blackberries. It was a little more than 2 cups.)
2          cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 - inch pan.

Cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar.

Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and milk. Mix well.

Spread into pan.

Pour (place) blackberries on top of batter.

Combine remaining 1 cup sugar (I used stevia) and the boiling water and
pour over the berries. (May add more blackberries or liquid according to taste.)

Bake for 50 minutes.



Best served warm.

Other fruit or berries may be substituted for the blackberries.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

HOW TO SOFTEN HARD MARSHMALLOWS

Last Friday night I really wanted to make the Smores in a Mug that I shared with you on Monday. I had the miniature marshmallows that I needed a few of and all of the other ingredients. I thought it would be the perfect ending to my meal and satisfy my desire for chocolate. 

Well, when I got down the ziplock bag that I had emptied the marshmallows in, I could feel that they were hard as rocks. Oh dear! What was I going to do? I really, really was already tasting the S'mores in a Mug. 

Not to be outdone, I decided to google it. Well, not surprising I found sites for it. The top one said to store them in the freezer and take them out whenever I needed them and let them thaw. Well, I didn't have time for that. The second one was a Q and A site on Taste of Home. After reading it, I decided this idea looked more promising.

Well, it was so simple and best of all, IT WORKED! I don't want to think about all of the marshmallows I have thrown away because they were HARD.

Here is what I did with my additions.



HOW TO SOFTEN HARD MARSHMALLOWS


Place desired marshmallows in a ziplock bag.

Fill a bowl or cup with hot water from the tap.

Place bag in the water and leave for 1 minute. (The marshmallows will want to float in the water. 
So I placed a spatula over the bag to help hold them in the water.)




Open the bag and the marshmallows are soft again.



You probably know that you want to make sure you don't get any water in the bag. 

The freezer thing might work, but I just put the bag of marshmallow back on the shelf in my pantry until I want to use them again.

Don't forget to check out my post for the S'mores in the Mug. I have been enjoying one each day since.



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

HONEY BUN CAKE

Okay, I confess. When I was ready to leave Hillcrest, there was still one piece of this Honey Bun Cake left in the pan and I took it back home with me. I couldn't help it. It is soooooo good.

I had shared another recipe for Honey Bun Cake from a different Amish cookbook with my friend Janice to make when our canasta group came over to her house. It was really good tasting, but she wouldn't let me take a picture of it. She had followed the recipe and the glaze was so thin she ended up adding a whole bunch more powdered sugar. Then she ended up making a cream cheese frosting to put on top to hide the holes she had made.

After I got home I found this other recipe in my The Farmhouse Kitchen cookbook from Justin & Naomi Miller. While similar, it was different. I decided to give it a try and take it to Hillcrest to share. I ended up giving her the piece I had brought home from Hillcrest and she liked it better.


HONEY BUN CAKE

CAKE:
1       yellow cake mix
3/4  cup oil
4      eggs
1       teaspoon vanilla
8      oz. sour cream


TOPPING:
1       cup brown sugar
1       tablespoon cinnamon

GLAZE:
2       cups powdered sugar
4       tablespoons milk
1        teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a jelly roll pan (10 x 15 - inches)

Mix together the ingredients for the cake.

Spread into the jelly roll pan. (I put spoonful around the pan and then spread them together. Always leave a little bit in the bowl to add where it is needed to fill in a hole.)

Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top of the cake batter.

Swirl with spatula or knife.

Bake for 40 - 50 minutes. (I used a stoneware jelly roll pan so my cake was done in 25 minutes. I would strongly suggest checking your cake after 20 - 25 minutes. Their cooking time seems too long for me.)

Prepare glaze and 
pour on cake as soon as you take it out of the oven.




Monday, January 18, 2016

S'MORES IN A MUG

You know those times when you just want a little "treat"? For me, that usually means "chocolate"! 

I recently saw several recipes from Betty Crocker for treats in a mug. I tried the Cinnamon-Banana-Nut Mug Muffin and it was very really good. I would definitely recommend it. I actually ate it for breakfast. The recipe makes two so my husband also was able to enjoy it.

The other one that really caught my eye was called S'mores in a Mug. It sounded even better than the banana one, but in a different way. This one sounded truly like dessert but in a smaller portion.

Well, I made it Friday night and immediately wanted to make another one. (This recipe only makes 1 serving.) BUT I stayed in control. I just fixed another one Saturday. 

I think this will be one of those "go - to" recipes when I don't have anything sweet in the house and want just a little treat. The recipe makes one serving.


S'MORES IN A MUG

1/3       cup dry fudge brownie mix
1           tablespoon fat-free liquid egg product
1           tablespoon oil
1           teaspoon water
2          tablespoons miniature marshmallow (It's hard to measure. I just took out a few.)
2          teaspoons crushed graham crackers
1           teaspoon miniature chocolate chips


Spray a mug (no more than 12 ounces) with cooking spray.


In a small bowl, stir the brownie mix, egg product, oil, and water til smooth.


Pour into mug and 
cook in the microwave on HIGH for about 45 seconds. You want the top to be set and a toothpick to come out almost clean when inserted in the center.


Immediately top with the chips, cracker crumbs, and marshmallows.

Let stand for 1 minute.


Eat immediately!


Trust me...it won't take you long to eat it all up.