Monday, June 1, 2020

Best Brownies


 Today I've made  Best Brownies, which I have been making since the 1970's, but have never shared the recipe on my blog before now.   We can sit in front of my little waterfall, and enjoy some peace. 


 My neighbor gifted me with this  stack-able tea for one set several years ago.  Isn't it sweet?

 This is one of my birdhouses that I have in my backyard. 

 I guess I have a thing for birdhouses!

 My son, Mike, painted this picture and gave it to me for my February birthday.  It has all the birds that visit my backyard, and represent family members.  My granddaughter, Ella, asked Mike, "Where's Nana?"  Mike said that I wasn't in it, and she thoughtfully said, "Oh... Nana is the branch".  Wasn't that the sweetest?

 I have the painting hanging in my living room, and I love it!




Yield: 16
Author:
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Best Brownies

Best Brownies

These truly are wonderful brownies, and are made with common pantry ingredients. I adapted the recipe to make in just one bowl, for easier cleanup.

Ingredients:

  • For the Brownies:
  • 1/2 cup oil or melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional), but I like to put them on top of the frosting
  • For the Frosting (if using)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Instructions:

  1. For the Brownies:  Blend oil (or melted butter), sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.  Add eggs, and beat well with a spoon.  Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and mix until well blended.  Stir in nuts, if using (or save for topping).
  2. Spread in a greased 9" square pan (an 8" pan works, too).  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Cool in pan.  Frost if desired.
  3. For the Frosting:  Cream butter, cocoa powder, corn syrup and vanilla in small mixing bowl.  Add powdered sugar and milk; beat to spreading consistency.  About 1 cup of frosting.
  4. Top with chopped nuts, if desired.
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Monday, May 25, 2020

Cake Balls

 My granddaughter spent the night with me, and we made some patriotic cake ball treats to have with a cup of tea, to have for Memorial Day.   The lavender topiary was a Mother's Day gift from my daughter.

A friend mailed this Poppy teacup to me after my beloved husband passed away back in 2013.  Isn't it beautiful, and such a loving remembrance of loved ones and perfect for Memorial Day.  

 Cissy loves having breakfast in bed at Nana's house.  She has her tea for one set filled with her favorite Vanilla Chai tea.  Of course, she likes to top it with whipped cream.




Yield: 3-4 dozen
Author:

Cake Balls

Cake Balls

These are fun little treats and are varied by flavor of cake choice and sprinkles used.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of cake mix (we used red velvet) + ingredients to make the cake
  • 1 cup of prepared frosting (we used vanilla, but cream cheese would be good)
  • Almond Bark (we used vanilla)
  • Sprinkles of your choice

Instructions:

  1. Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, but using a 9 x 13" pan.
  2. Let the cake cool on a cooling rack.
  3. After the cake is cool, crumble it up into a large bowl.
  4. Add the 1 cup of prepared frosting and mix well.  Refrigerate the mixture for about 30 minutes to make it easier to form the balls.
  5. Form the balls and place on parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheets.  At this point you could freeze the balls and dip them later, if you  wish.
  6. Melt the Almond Bark according to package directions. 
  7. Dip the balls into the melted almond bark.  We found that using a fork worked well.  Place the cake balls onto the sheets, and immediately sprinkle with your choice of sprinkles. 
  8. Let the cake balls harden, and then refrigerate them.  I even freeze them for longer storage. 
  9. Enjoy!
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Monday, May 18, 2020

Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Crust


 How about taking a little vacation by eating some Key Lime Pie?  This one is a little different because of the pretzel crust, which complements the sweet/tart flavor of the filling. My little frog planter has been with me since 1985, when neighbors gave it to me when we left Ohio.  My shamrock plant survived being outside for over a year. 

 This pretty teacup was another one of my beloved Mom's.  The saucer has the same pretty bouquet underneath the cup.  


This teacup is Cissy's favorite, and was a gifted to me in a teacup exchange.  One day, Cissy will be gifted it.

You only need a small slice of this pie to satsify your sweet tooth.


My grandson, Caiden, celebrated his 15th birthday this week.  He's taller than my daughter and I now!

Just look at this cake that Riley, Cissy, and my daughter, Molly, made for him!!  Isn't it clever with the candy pouring down on top of the cake?  Caiden LOVES candy!  When he cut into it, candy poured out of it! 


My granddaughter, Avery, turned 13, and I was able to pick her up for a birthday dinner date. We did takeout from Chick Fil A (her choice).   Avery loves cannolis, so I made her a cannoli cake.

Here we are with her little sister, Ella, who joined us.





Yield: Depends on how big the slices are cut
Author:

Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Crust

Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Crust

This pretzel crust goes perfect with the sweet/tart flavor of the filling.

Ingredients:

  • Crust
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons  very finely ground salted pretzel crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons  sugar
  • 7 tablespoons  butter, melted
  • Filling
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • two 14-ounce cans sweetened
  • 3/4 cup Key Lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons  fresh-squeezed lime juice (from standard limes)
  • zest of 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons), optional

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" pie pan with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Crush the pretzels until very fine; processing in a food processor for about 30 seconds works well. 
  3. Add the sugar and melted butter, mixing to combine; you can do this right in the food processor. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; the crust won't change color much, but will firm up. Remove from the oven and make the filling.
  5. Whisk together the egg yolks and condensed milk.
  6. Add the lime juice (and zest, if you're using it). The mixture will thicken almost immediately.
  7. Pour into the crust and smooth with a spatula.
  8. Bake the pie for 28 to 32 minutes, until the filling is set, with a small spot in the middle still soft-looking. Cool for several hours (or overnight) before serving.
  9. To serve, top with slightly sweetened whipped cream and a garnish of crumbled pretzels.
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Monday, May 11, 2020

Instant Pot Cheesecake Bites

 Let's enjoy a mini treat today by the sound of my mini waterfall in my garden.  I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day!


 This pretty teacup was one of my mom's.  Isn't it beautiful?

 This one was one of my mom's, too, and was painted by my late Great Aunt Kitty's painting teacher. 

 My mom made me the necklace in this photo.  She loved making jewelry.  I miss talking to her everyday and we always laughed like crazy together, like only a mom and daughter can. 

 I wanted to show  you one of my containers that I have hanging on my fence.  Isn't it cheerful?

 My daughter gave me this azalea topiary for Mother's Day of 2019.  I kept it outside all year and it graced me with beautiful blossoms this spring.  The blooms are long gone now, but I hope it blooms again next year.

My oak leaf hydrangea is looking spectacular right now.   




Yield: 7
Author:

Instant Pot Cheesecake Bites

Instant Pot Cheesecake Bites

I needed to use up 4 ounces of cream cheese and made these delightful little morsels.

Ingredients:

  • Crust:
  • about 3 rectangle graham crackers (you need about 1/4 cup).  I used chocolate graham crackers
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Filling:
  • 4 ounces of room temperature cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • topping of your choice, or berries

Instructions:

  1. Make the crust: Place the graham crackers into a ziploc bag and mash them with a rolling pin until they are crumbs. This should be about 1/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl and then stir in the sugar and melted butter. Spray 1 silicone egg bite mold lightly with non stick cooking spray. Then press some of the crumbs into each of the molds. Mash the crumbs down with the back of the spoon.
  2. Make the filling: In a medium mixing bowl or in a stand mixer add the cream cheese. Beat it until it is smooth. Add in the sugar and the vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add in the egg yolk and beat until barely incorporated. Spoon the filling into each of the molds evenly.
  3. Cook the cheesecake bites: Add 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot liner. Lay a paper towel over the top of the eggs bites molds and then cover tightly with foil. Place one of the molds on top of the trivet.   Lower the trivet with the mold on top into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Cover the pot and secure the lid. Make sure valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 8 minutes. When the time is up let the pot sit for 10 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid. Carefully remove the foil and paper towels from the molds.
  4. Refrigerate: Cool the cheesecake bites on the counter for 30 minutes and then place in the refrigerator for another 2-8 hours to set completely.
  5. If you wish top the cheesecake bites with some preserves, jam, berries, or pie filling.
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Monday, May 4, 2020

Apple Enchiladas


How about making some easy Apple Enchiladas for Cinco de Mayo?  My friend, Bea, gave me this recipe several years ago, and I shared them before, but I thought they deserved to be shared again.  The teapot planter is one that I've had for probably ten years and I have some succulents planted in it.  Pull up a chair and we can have some dessert while you tell me what you've been doing.



 I have this cute teapot wind chime hanging on one of my trees, and also three asparagus ferns that I've kept out from last year. 


These are so good!  They reheat so well in the microwave, too!



Yield: 6-10 depending on size of tortillas
Author:

Apple Enchiladas

Apple Enchiladas

This is a wonderful dessert to have after a Mexican meal, and perfect for Cinco de Mayo!  If you have extras, just refrigerate.  They reheat  beautifully in the microwave. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 -21 ounce can apple pie filling (chop up any large pieces of apple)
  • 6- 8" flour tortillas or 10 - 6" ones
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I don't measure, I just sprinkle)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions:

  1. Spoon filling down the center of each tortilla; sprinkle evenly with cinnamon. Roll up and place seam side down in a lightly greased 2 qt. baking dish ( or use a 9x13" baking dish if making 10).
  2. Bring butter and next 3 ingredients to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring for 3 minutes. Pour over enchiladas and let stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or some whipped cream.
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Monday, April 27, 2020

Artisan Bread


 I've been baking a lot during this shelter in place from the pandemic.  This Artisan Bread was one that my beloved hubby enjoyed.  It's such an easy recipe and it makes four loaves that you can bake when needed, and the dough keeps in the fridge for two weeks. I shared the recipe for this bread when I first started blogging, but I thought I'd share it again. How about some homemade raspberry jam with your slice of bread?


 My sweet late mom always had me drink tea from this pretty teacup when I went to her house. Isn't it beautiful?  It's a Rosina teacup # 5005.  I love the pretty flowers covering it.  

Doesn't the teacup look pretty on my beautifully embroidered  luncheon cloth that my friend, Joy, gifted me?  

 These two little sweethearts came to spend the night!  On their way over to my house, Harper told her Dad, my youngest son, that she wanted to stay for two nights.  Kevin must've said that they'd have to check with me, and Harper said, "Oh Nana will let us because we are her two little angels".  That Harper knows me well, doesn't she?!

 

My son, Mike, and I walked them to an open park, and the girls set up a tea party right on the side walk.  They found lots of painted rocks that were hidden by the neighborhood  people. I said "hi" to one little boy that was riding his bike and he said, "I can't play because of the coronavirus". 




Yield: 4 loaves
Author:

Artisan Bread

Artisan Bread

This is such an easy bread and the dough keep in the fridge for two weeks. I hope you try it! You can even use the dough to make pizzas.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
  • Cornmeal

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into the lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
  2.  Bake at this point or refrigerate the rest of the dough, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece . Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on parchment paper that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Allow to rest for 40 minutes. Keep the rest of the dough in a covered container that is not airtight, in the fridge.
  3. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler pan on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
  4.  Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone by using a rimless cookie sheet (who needs a pizza peel??) parchment paper & all. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 35 minutes. Cool completely.
  5. Yield: 4 1-lb. loaves.
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Monday, April 20, 2020

Cinnamon Rolls

 Hello friends!  I've baked us some homemade cinnamon rolls to share with you.  i love baking, and baking while quarantined is especially rewarding, because I like to keep busy.  I've been wanting to try this recipe from King Arthur Flour and had even ordered their special dry milk and potato flour, and had planned to make them for my book study group of ladies at my church, but now we are having it through Zoom.  My teacups were in a set of five that my youngest son and DIL gave me several years ago.  The one on the right is English Chintz and the one on the left is Spring Meadow, both by Royal Albert.  My friends, Pat and Bobby brought me the beautiful bouquet of flowers as a gift for making masks for them.  Wasn't that so nice? 

I broke shelter in place on the night before Easter, as my one son and I were invited to go to my youngest son, and Dil's, and to be  with Harper and Hayden.  They have been working from home and the little ones haven't been anywhere.  It was so fun to be with them! 


 These yummy cinnamon rolls are light as a feather!  I shared this batch with my neighbors, and then made a second batch to share with family. 




Yield: 12 cinnamon rolls
Author:

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

I would encourage you to bake some cinnamon rolls to make your home smell wonderful and to share with others.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups   Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 3 tablespoons  sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt (I used 3/4 teaspoon because I used salted butter)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used salted butter)
  • 7/8 to 1 1/8 cups  lukewarm water* (I needed all the water)
  • *Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
  • Filling
  • 1/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons milk, to brush on dough
  • Glaze
  • 1 1/4 cups (confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons (57g to 71g) heavy cream or 2 to 3 tablespoons (28g to 43g) milk, enough to make a soft, spreadable icing

Instructions:

How to cook Cinnamon Rolls

  1. To make the dough: Combine the flour, dry milk, potato flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and lesser amount of water then mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—to form a smooth, elastic dough, adding more water if necessary. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 7 to 10 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, until it's nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours. Rising may take longer, especially if you've kneaded by hand or if your kitchen is cool. Give it enough time to become quite puffy.
  3. While the dough is rising, lightly grease a 9 x 13" pan, or 2 - 8" round pans. 
  4. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16"x12" rectangle. It's a nice, soft dough, and pats out easily.
  5. combine the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
  6. To assemble the rolls: Brush the dough lightly with milk. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, covering the entire surface
  7. Roll the dough into a log the long way; it'll stretch to about 20" long as you roll. Using a bench knife or a serrated knife, cut the log into 12 slices.
  8. Space 12 rolls into the prepared pan(s).  Cover the pan(s) and let the rolls rise until they're noticeably puffy, about 1 to 2 hours; they should spread out and start to crowd one another.
  9. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Bake the rolls until they're brown around the edges and beginning to turn golden brown across the center, about 20 minutes.
  11. Remove the rolls from the oven and place the pans on a rack. Wait 5 minutes, then transfer the rolls from the pans to a rack.
  12. To make the glaze: When you're ready to serve the rolls, combine the sugar, vanilla, and enough cream or milk to make a spreadable glaze.
  13. Spread the glaze on top of the warm rolls and serve immediately.
  14. Alternatively, cool the unglazed rolls and wrap them to enjoy later.  Reheat the rolls in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes before frosting. 
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