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Friday, November 14, 2008

Mary Helen’s Brownies

One of my coworkers, Mary Helen, makes THE BEST BROWNIES EVER. Mine never come out as perfect as hers, but they're still really yummy and chewy. They're quick and easy to make. We just won't talk about how healthy they are(n't).

1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
1 tsp + vanilla
4 Tbsp corn syrup (Karo)
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
Dash salt
4 rounded Tbsp cocoa
1 c. toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 325°. Mix above ingredients together. Line a 9 1/2" x 13" pan with foil (I uses Reynolds Release) or parchment, then sprinkle with white sugar. Bake approximately 35 minutes. Brownies will not be firm when done, but a toothpick should come out fairly clean.
Cool completely, then remove from pan with foil lining. Cut into 1" squares with a plastic knife (a trick I learned from Meredith at Like Merchant Ships). Enjoy...and share!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fudgy Oreo Ice Cream Cake

My friends Kato & Kim are serving as missionaries to Native Americans in Arizona. Kim has a recipe corner in their newsletter, and she shared this recipe, which I've adapted here. I've served this on 2 separate occasions. It's easy to put together and fun to serve and eat. It'd be a refreshing treat on a hot summer day, and even a fun birthday cake. I'm a dork, so I never think of taking step-by-step photos, or even a good finished product photo, but here's a half-gone photo for you:
Still looks delicious!

Fudgy Oreo Ice Cream Cake
1/2 cup fudge ice cream topping, warmed
1 large tub (16 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed
1 pkg. (4 serving size) chocolate instant pudding & pie filling
8 Oreo chocolate sandwich cookies
16 vanilla ice cream sandwiches

Pour warmed fudge topping into medium bowl. Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip until blended. Add dry pudding mix. If too thick to spread, stir in a little bit of milk. Chop Oreo cookies into chunks, stir into pudding mixture. Arrange 6 ice cream sandwiches side by side in bottom of large loaf pan (I used a disposable loaf pan) or on a large piece of foil. Top with half of the pudding mixture. Repeat layers, adding extra ice cream sandwiches, if needed. End with a third layer of ice cream sandwiches on top layer. Frost top (and sides, if you didn't use the pan) with remaining Cool Whip. Cover loosely with foil and freeze at least 4 hours. Let stand at room temperature to soften slightly before serving, or slice with knife dipped in hot water. Makes 16+ servings.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Nancy's Pumpkin Bread

vintage pumpkin patch Originally uploaded by thingspondered

This is The. Best. Pumpkin. Bread. Ever!

A former coworker shared this recipe with me. She used to bring it to our office in the fall.

Nancy's Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 c sugar
  • 1 c Crisco oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1-lb can pumpkin
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 1/2 c flour
  • 2/3 c water
  • 1 c raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pans. Combine sugar & oil. Add beaten eggs & pumpkin. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture with water. Add raisins. Pour into greased pans & bake for about 1 hour, until done. Use either 2 5x9 loaf pans or 5 mini loaf pans.

Now, I am not a big fan of raisins, but they are perfect in this. You could also add toasted walnuts or pecans. Or leave them all out...if you want to be boring about it. Just make the bread. You'll thank me for it! And since it's so easy that you'll want to make extras, your neighbors will thank me for it, too!

Jennifer's Pumpkin Layer Cake

Here is a delish fall layer cake. A former church member, Jennifer, brought this cake to a luncheon at our church office during October Clergy Appreciation Month a few years ago. It was so delicious that we were all begging for the recipe. It is a very rich cake - the kind you want to save for special occasions, because you'll want to eat the whole thing yourself! I would take pictures of it, but I can't allow myself to make it until Thanksgiving!

Jennifer's Pumpkin Layer Cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

Mix dry ingredients, then add eggs, pumpkin, & oil. Mix well, then blend in nuts. Grease and flour two 9" cake pans. Divide batter between the two pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp milk

Blend until smooth, add the milk until frosting reaches a "spreadable" consistency. Spread some on top of the bottom layer of cake. Add the top layer, then frost the cake competely. You may wish to garnish with toasted chopped nuts or mellowcreme pumpkins.

Mrs. Norvell's Fresh Apple Cake

fresh apple cake
We had a birthday celebration at our office today. One of the birthday girls loves apples, so I took advantage of a great opportunity to pull out this wonderful recipe:

Mrs. Norvell’s Fresh Apple Cake

(From My Kitchen by Barbara Richardson McClellan)
2 c. sugar1 c. oil2 eggs2 ½ c. flour1 ¼ tsp. baking soda½ tsp. salt3 medium apples, peeled & chopped1 c. chopped nuts¾ c. raisins (if desired)
Preheat oven to 350°. Flour or sugar a 9x13 pan, or line with foil. Mix oil and sugar, then add eggs. Mix dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture. Add apples, nuts, and raisins. Mix well and bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool and frost with the following:
Frosting:2 c. brown sugar½ c. evaporated milk1 stick butter¼ tsp. salt1 tsp. vanilla
Mix first four ingredients in saucepan and stir over low heat until blended. Bring to boil over high heat. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and beat until cool and of spreading consistency. Add vanilla. You may wish to garnish with extra nuts. If it's very humid, you may need to add some powdered sugar to the frosting to get it to a spreadable consistency.

Mocha Punch

This is a delicious Mocha Punch recipe. We served it for Bosses' Day. It tastes very much like a Starbucks Mocha Frappucino, but you get a lot more "bang for your buck", as this serves 20 or more. You should be able to buy all the ingredients for under $12. Here is the link to the original recipe.

1- 1 1/2 quarts Water
1/2 cup Instant chocolate drink mix
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Instant coffee granules
1/2 Gallon vanilla ice cream
1/2 Gallon chocolate ice cream
1 cup Whipped cream, whipped
Chocolate curls, optional

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add drink mix, sugar and coffee; stir until dissolved. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. About 30 minutes before serving, pour into a punch bowl. Add ice cream by scoopfuls; stir until partially melted. Garnish with dollops of whipped cream and chocolate curls if desired.

Oreo Kisses

OK, it's a little late for this year's Valentine's goodies, but in the interest of all things chocolate, please head over to Bakerella's for her delightful kissy-twist on the Oreo Truffles Recipe I posted about at Christmas (scroll to the bottom of this post). And while you're there, take a look at some of the other beauties she's created. Like these and these and these. YUM.

Oreo Truffles

This deliciously easy recipe was shared by a church friend, who for some inexplicable reason, calls them Pelican Balls. I prefer the more elegant title of Oreo Truffles! You must try these for yourself. But I warn you, you may only make them at Christmas. Oh, and maybe Valentine's. And your birthday. But that's all. If you make them any other time, you'll hate yourself for it. Because you will eat.the.whole.batch!

oreo truffles

Oreo Truffles

1 pkg of regular Oreo cookies
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 pkg chocolate melting bark - I use Ghirardelli when I can find it.

Set out the cream cheese to soften. Crush the Oreo cookies to coffee ground consistency ( I usually crush them in the food processor, several at a time). Place the crushed Oreos in a bowl and add cream cheese. Use your hands to mix the Oreos and cream cheese until it is one large ball. Then shape into smaller balls of desired size (about 1"). Place them in the refrigerator until ready to coat with chocolate. Melt the chocolate bark as pkg directions suggest. Dip the Oreo balls into melted chocolate until coated then set on wax paper until hardened. Refrigerate.

Yummmmmmy. Hope you enjoy them.

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

These little beauties are White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread (click for a free downloadable copy of this recipe). The dough is absolutely DELICIOUS (and no raw eggs, so safe to eat!). It took all my will-power not to eat the whole bowl of dough! I will say that these were the most labor-intensive of the 3 recipes, but they're so yummy, it was worth it! They were a big hit at the cookie exchange, too. Try 'em, you'll like 'em!

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Prep: 40 min. Bake: 10 min. per batch
1/2 c. maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. cold butter
4 oz. white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter, finely chopped
8 oz. white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter (for melting)
1/2 tsp. almond extract (I used vanilla)
2 drops red food coloring (optional)
2 tsp. shortening (see notes at end of recipe)

Directions: Preheat oven to 325°. Spread cherries on paper towels to drain well, then chop finely. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 oz (2/3 c.) of the chopped white chocolate. Stir in almond extract (or vanilla) and, if desired, food coloring. Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball. Shape dough into 3/4” balls. Place balls 2” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1 1/2” rounds. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. In a small saucepan, combine remaining 8 oz white chocolate and shortening.* Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. If desired, roll dipped edge in nonpareils, sugar, or crushed candy canes. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set. Makes about 60.

*Notes: I substituted vanilla for almond extract. I melted my chocolate in the microwave (according to the package instructions), and found that the shortening made it a little too runny. I would probably omit the shortening in the future.

This recipe came from Better Homes & Gardens' 100 Days of Holidays email series. Incidentally, if you haven't already signed up for this email series, you should. They put it out every year and it includes tips for Halloween - New Years. They have recipes, decorations, gifts, etc. Really a great resource.

Cappuccino Love Bites

These are called Love Bites because they have Hershey's kisses, or hugs, on top. They're called Cappuccino Love Bites because they have instant coffee crystals in them. These are yummy, but if you don't like coffee, you won't like these. They have a fairly strong coffee taste...and they might keep you up all night!

Cappuccino Love Bites

Prep: 25 min. Chill: 1 hr.
• 1 c. butter-flavor shortening
• 1 1/2 c. sugar
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1 egg
• 1 Tbsp. coffee-flavor liqueur or milk
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
• 2 Tbsp. instant coffee crystals
• 48 milk chocolate kisses with stripes or almonds

Directions: Beat shortening in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1 c. of the sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until mixture is combined, scraping side of the bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, liqueur, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. If necessary, cover and chill dough in the refrigerator about 1 hour or until easy to handle. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease cookie sheets; set aside. Shape dough into 1” balls. Combine remaining 1/2 c. sugar and coffee crystals. Roll dough balls in sugar mixture. Place balls 2” apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven about 10 minutes, or until tops are cracked and sides are set; do not let edges brown. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. If desired, while chocolate is still warm, swirl it gently using your finger or a knife. Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Makes 48 cookies.

For a free downloadable copy of this recipe, click here: Cappuccino Love Bites.

This recipe came from Better Homes & Gardens' 100 Days of Holidays email series. Incidentally, if you haven't already signed up for this email series, you should. They put it out every year and it includes tips for Halloween - New Years. They have recipes, decorations, gifts, etc. Really a great resource.

Salted Nut Roll Bars

Salted Nut Roll Bars (original recipe found here)
DSC06529 nut roll the photo above shows them at appx. 1" x 2.5", but really, they're quite rich, and 1" squares are just about perfect. I just got in a hurry Sunday night and hacked them into big chunks!

It's delicious, except it's made with peanuts, which I may or may not be allergic to, but which make me sick to my stomach, so I'm thinking I'm allergic, but everyone else loves them...oh, excuse me, I do tend to run on, don't I? Well, they're so yummy, I'm sure you'll forgive me. And if you, like me, have trouble with peanuts, then you'll love me for this variation on the original recipe:

Salted Pecan Log
pecan log
For this version, I use the same instructions as above, but I substitute a bag of white chocolate chips for the peanut butter chips, and I substitute 16 oz. +/- of shopped pecans for the peanuts. The pecans will be tastier if you toast them first, and I prefer to salt them lightly before toasting. You can also toast them unsalted...but then it won't be a Salted Pecan Log! (I'm such a legalist!)

Yum. No really, YUM. I mean it...YUMMMMM! Please go try them, ok?

You. Must. Make. This. Sugar Cookie Cake

I'm sorry, but you simply must make this! Who doesn't like sugar cookies? And cake? Honey, please! I found this recipe on Simple Folk, via Kelli at There is No Place Like Home (both worth a visit). I made it for company last week, then shared the leftovers at church. Everyone loves it, and it couldn't be simpler. I had leftover icing (from these cupcakes), which I put on top, and that was yummy, but honestly? I think I'd prefer it plain. You could also put coolwhip or cream cheese on it and then top it with strawberries and blueberries for a patriotic dessert, along these lines.

Sugar Cookie Cake

3/4 c. cold butter
3 c. flour
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda

Mix butter, sugar, and flour into crumbs. Reserving 1 cup of crumbs. To the rest of the crumbs, add the buttermilk to which the 1 tsp. of baking soda has been added. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Top with the 1 cup reserved crumbs. Bake in a greased 9x13" pan at 350 for 30-35 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).