Fudgy skillet brownies

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I’ve been craving sweets a lot lately (probably because I can’t drink alcohol for a few more months), but starting two weeks ago I am really trying to reduce the amount of sugar I am eating. I’ve been told my fair-freckly skin puts me at higher risk for gestational diabetes. Something I don’t want to experience for several reasons….Anyways the fudgy skillet brownies looked too good to pass up!

This was a simple brownie recipe with the average brownie ingredients, which are staple in most pantries. Unfortunately, I found out the evening I was going to make the brownies that the bittersweet chocolate wasn’t a staple in my pantry anymore. So, I strayed from the recipe a little bit. I used semi-sweet chocolate and removed the ¼ cup of sugar. Other than that I stuck to the recipe, baked the brownies for about 45 minutes and let them sit for about 15 before I dug in.

The warm fudgy skillet brownies were a hit! P and I had them warm that evening and they were delicious. They came out of the cast iron skillet like perfect pie wedges and completely satisfied my sweet craving. The brownies sweetened perfectly, so using the semi-sweet chocolate and removing the sugar, worked out just fine.

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Later that night I cut the rest of the brownies into ‘squares’, to store them in an airtight container. The brownies didn’t come out of the skillet quite as nicely as they did earlier. Maybe these brownies are made to be ate in one sitting by a group of people!

The next day I couldn’t wait to get home and have a brownie for my afternoon snack before I walked the dog. The snack may have turned into two brownies (I have no self-control when it comes to food). The fudgy texture was very apparent the following day. I hadn’t noticed the dense texture the night before. The day old brownies had something new to bring to the table. Nothing beats a warm brownie, but a cold fudgy brownie comes pretty close.

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Scones: One of the best sweets ever!

Scones are one of my favorite things to make, and I love trying new recipes. I do have my favorite scone recipe but it changes every so often. My number one scone recipe has held its rank almost a year now. Before that, my number one held its title for three years. Will the Everyday Food, March 2009, currant scone recipe claim the number one spot?!

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For this recipe, I used powdered buttermilk (it doesn’t go bad), and I chose to use dried cherries instead of currants. The recipe was very easy to follow and they took no time at all to make. I think that’s another reason I like making scones: Simple Goodness.

Several years ago my mom bought me a scone pan for Christmas. Best pan ever. Worth every cent. Before the scone pan was a part of my kitchen, I had a hard time baking the scones evenly. The specialized pan has 8 metal wedges so each scone bakes evenly. You also don’t have to worry about shaping your scones. Just divide the dough into 8 relatively even balls and then squish them into one of the spaces in the pan. I would highly recommend the scone pan if you make scones frequently.

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I baked the scones for 15 minutes, and put them on a cooling rack as soon as they were cool enough to get out of the pan. If you leave the scones in the pan to cool, they get a bit soggy. I saved four scones for P and me, and gave the other four to our friends. Spread the sugar wealth! The cherries were an excellent choice! Blueberries are usually my scone add-in, but I am glad I tried something new. The buttermilk added a nice flavor that is lacking in scones with just milk or heavy cream. I must admit it is a pretty good scone recipe. Our friends even asked for the recipe.

The million dollar question is: Did this scone recipe become my Number 1?!……I don’t think so. However, the recipe has secured a spot in my Top 3!

Baking Sunday morning before any coffee…Recipe for disaster??

Lemon-lime Tea Cakes, January/February 2010, pg. 98

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The lemon-lime tea cakes was the last recipe on my list to bake for EF’s 69th issue.  I woke up bright and early (7 am) Sunday morning ready to bake! Got the coffee brewing and then started mixing the ingredients for the tea cakes.

Using my lovely Kitchen Aid, I combined all the ingredients, put the batter into 20 mini-muffin reservoirs, and popped them in the oven.  Poured myself a cup of coffee, took a sip, and started gathering my thoughts for the lemon syrup I was about to make.  Dang…I completely forgot to put the salt in the tea cakes.  I probably should have waited to start baking after I had some coffee, to let my brain wake up.  Oh well, the damage has already been done…Back to making the lemon syrup and finishing my cup of coffee.

The syrup took less than 15 minutes to make, so it was perfect timing.  I was able to pour the hot syrup over the hot tea cakes.  The smaller tea cakes soaked up the syrup better, because the syrup that didn’t soak into the toothpick holes, seeped between the cake and pan.

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P and I snacked on the lemon-lime tea cakes while watching ‘Meet the Press’ and drinking coffee.  The tea cakes were amazing!  They were like baby pound cakes with a nice burst of citrus flavor.  We didn’t miss the salt one bit!

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I would definitely make these again and would love to try orange peel and juice.  Although the lemon-lime tea cakes will be hard to beat!

Baking Sunday morning before drinking coffee was NOT a disaster!

Sunday dinner for four.

Dinner!

Dinner!

Dessert!

Dessert!

Beet and Carrot Slaw, January/February 2010, pg. 21

Our Sunday night dinner this past week included a beef roast grilled at a low temperature on our charcoal grill, mashed potatoes, beet and carrot slaw, and black forest upside-down cakes.

Dinner was delicious, especially the beet and carrot slaw.  I love raw carrots.  On average I eat them 6 days a week: on salad or just plain carrots (Bugs Bunny style).  I love the sweetness of them and crunch.  I also really like roasted beets.  They are sweet and have a very unique color and taste!  I had never had raw beets or beet greens before so I was looking forward to this colorfully sweet slaw.

The slaw was very simple to make, although a little dangerous and it turned my hands pink!  I must admit I was pretty nervous grating the beets, picturing myself loosing pieces of fingers, every time I pushed the beet down the grater.  Next time I won’t cut both ends off the beets, so I will have a little more to hold onto while grating.  Washing the grated beets took a lot more water than I expected.  They WOULD NOT stop bleeding pink!  I finally got relatively clear water and called it quits.  The slaw dressing was very good.  The sweetness from the orange juice and tangy taste of the mustard and vinegar complemented the vegetables well.

The beet and carrot slaw was a hit!  Everyone went back for seconds, but we still had one serving of slaw leftover.  P brought it for lunch a few days later and said it still tasted great, however, everything had a pink tint.  Definitely a recipe to eat the day you make it, if you want three distinct colors!  I will be making this slaw again.

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Black Forest Upside-down Cakes, January/February 2010, pg. 51

The black forest upside-down cakes tasted good but the baking process was not positive.  As I made the batter, I was convinced the cakes were going to be a disaster.

My parents had dinner with us, so I doubled the recipe.  I was not a fan of the recipes directions.  The recipe tells you to stir room temperature butter (it’s January, so room temperature is 65⁰F) and sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.  Are you joking me?!  That was NOT going to be possible, so I got out my electric hand-beater.  The butter and sugar never got light and fluffy, it didn’t seem like there was enough butter to get the fluffy texture you usually get after beating the two ingredients.  (Since I doubled the recipe, so I checked my math and I did put the correct amount of each ingredient in the batter.)  Then I stirred in the rest of the ingredients and the batter was not what I was expecting.  It reminded me of an extremely thick brownie batter.  The batter was so thick, it stuck to my wooden spoon as I was putting it into my cherry lined pans.  I pulled up a few of the cherries as I was trying to evenly spread the batter in the pans.  At this point, I was positive, we wouldn’t be having dessert…

I ended up baking the two cakes for about 45 minutes.  This was probably because of my pan choice.  I didn’t have ramekins, but I did have two 5” springform cake pans.  While I let the cakes cool for twenty minutes, I made the whipped cream.  I left out the rum, because I’m not consuming alcohol anymore, and followed my grandmother’s advice for homemade whipped cream.

Put a glass bowl and the metal beaters in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before making the whipped cream.  (Yes, specifically a glass bowl.  I’ve gotten scolded for using a metal bowl, I honestly don’t know the reasoning behind the glass bowl but that’s how grandma does it.)  The cream whips much faster if all the utensils are colder than the cream.  Add a teaspoon or two of white sugar and then whip together until you get the consistency you want.  Back to the cakes…

The springform pans worked really well!  The cakes looked perfect.  Although, I think the batter was a little thicker and I probably should have used a third pan or pans that had a larger diameter.  This would have made the cherry to batter ratio more equal.

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Everyone really liked the rich tasting cakes.  One small piece for each person was more than enough.  I had never had sour cherries before and they were very good and went well with the chocolate.  But, honestly what doesn’t go well with chocolate?  I also liked the portion size of the cake.  In hindsight I didn’t even have to double the recipe.  The four of us ate one of the two cakes that night.  Personally, the cake was a little too dense for me.  I am going to blame the density on the very thick batter.  At this point, the black forest upside-down cakes, are a one-time experience for me.

Sandwich cookies.

Heart Sandwich Cookies, January/February 2010, pg.124

heart sandwich cookies

I was more than happy to make another dessert/snack that required rolled oats!  (I’m almost down to one container.)  I also thought these cookies would be perfect to mail to my brother for his birthday.  He’s a very busy person who eats at least 3 forms of peanut butter and jelly everyday.  Since, his cabinets are full of different jellies, hazelnut spread, peanut butter, almond butter, etc., (If you are going to eat three PB&J’s a day, you need variety!) I left the sandwich filling up to him.

The heart sandwich cookies were very easy to make.  I did use dark brown sugar, because that’s what I had.  The dough was a little darker than those in the Everyday Food issue, but the taste probably didn’t change that much.  Holy Moly, was the dough hard after I took it out of the refrigerator!  I had to let it sit for over 30 minutes before I could roll it.  I decided not to use a heart cookie-cutter, since I would be sending the cookies to my brother.  I also had to bake the cookies longer than the recipe said.  I am to blame for that because I’m not good at rolling thin cookies.  My rolled out dough is always thicker, maybe I need to keep a ruler in the kitchen.

The final product was pretty good.  I had a plain cookie and decided it tasted a lot like shortbread.  Which makes sense since there is 1.5 sticks of butter and a decent amount of sugar in the cookies.  I did find that the cookies were a little salty.  I would recommend decreasing the amount of salt.  My husband made a grape jelly sandwich with the cookies.  He said it was good but the jelly was rather messy.  So I decided to dip the cookies in some melted semi-sweet chocolate and make some sandwiches with the melted chocolate.  The hardened chocolate went well with the cookies and prevented a gooey mess while eating the sandwich cookies.  Overall, the sandwich cookies were fine, nothing special.

If you don’t like these muffins, there must be something wrong with you…

Healthy Morning Muffins, Jan/Feb 2010, pg. 120-121

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This has been one of my ‘go-to’ recipes since 2010.  The healthy morning muffins are a great item to bring when you are spending the weekend with friends and/or family.  They travel well and they really are a healthy morning or afternoon snack.  My nieces (5 and 3 years old) love the muffins and I haven’t met an adult yet that hasn’t liked them.

Over the past four years I’ve experimented a bit with the muffin recipe (purposefully and by accident).  Once, I bought 1-minute oats. (I must have been in a rush at the grocery store.)  The muffins came out fine, a little drier than normal and less texture.  So, I would highly recommend rolled oats (what the recipe calls for), but if you make a mistake at the grocery store, it’s not a big deal.  I’ve also experimented with shredded zucchini.  Which is very good.  I substitute some of the carrots for the zucchini, but not all.  My carrot measurements are always different.  I always use 4 carrots; whether they are medium or large, it doesn’t matter to me.  The more carrot the better.  You just may need to cook the muffins longer if you put larger carrots in the batter.

The muffins are like carrot cake without the frosting.  They are very moist, and the flavors from the carrots, banana, and raisins complement the other perfectly.  The muffins are very sweet naturally and therefore a large amount of sugar isn’t required.

During the summer, my bananas go bad much faster than I can eat them.  I’ve made several double-batches of the muffins.  Leaving some for now and the rest I will wrap in aluminum foil, put that in a freezer Ziploc bag, and then into the freezer.  That works out perfect if I don’t have time to bake something when we go visiting, or if it’s too hot to bake.

Great recipe!  Highly recommend it!  The pages of my issue 69 are beginning to stick together, good thing my favorite recipes can all be found online too.

Deliciously cheap granola!

Maple-Nut Granola, Jan/Feb. 2010, pg. 60

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For some reason 2013 was the ‘Year of Oats’ for me.  I would go to the grocery store and think we needed oats, by October I had three large containers of Quaker Oats.  Needless to say I was pretty happy there are so many recipes in the January/February 2010 issue that need oats!

I’ve made this granola several times since I first received the issue in 2010.  Good granola is so expensive to buy at the store and so easy to make at home.  Granola is one of the main components of my breakfast, ‘yogurt slop’.  At first glance people usually say, “What are you eating?” with an awful expression on their face.  After I explain that it’s plain yogurt, fruit, and granola, the awful expression changes, “Oh.  I bet it’s pretty good!”…It is!

'Yogurt Slop'

‘Yogurt Slop’

The maple-nut granola is simple to make, delicious and very easy to make variations of the original recipe.  This time I made the granola with walnuts and blueberry infused dried cranberries, and of course some Lewis County, NY maple syrup.  I didn’t have pecans and almonds, and I had already new that the original variation was delicious.

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The walnut and blueberry infused dried cranberries was fantastic!  I also froze half of the granola and sent some to my brother.  Who works all of the time and eats healthy, but time is his limiting factor.  I hope he likes the granola as much as I do.

I would definitely recommend the granola.  Experiment with the add-ins.  It’s pretty difficult to make bad granola.

FYI.  It’s January 2014 and I’m down to 1.3 large containers of oats!

A nice Sunday dinner…

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Old-Bay Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Jan/Feb 2010, pg. 105

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Old-Bay is a great spice!  I had never heard of it until I lived on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and then it was in everything!  Now it’s a staple on our spice rack.

P and I don’t eat a lot of meat anymore so on Sunday’s we usually cook a larger cut of meat that will provide leftovers throughout the week.  This past Sunday we spatchcocked a chicken and grilled it.  For our sides we had steamed broccoli and old-bay roasted sweet potatoes.

A low stress, simple Sunday dinner.  Everything was delicious, especially the potatoes!  Sometimes old-bay can be overpowering, but the natural sweetness of the potatoes paired well with the amount of old-bay.  We had leftover chicken and potatoes, that we made into chicken salad for lunches and I used the potatoes in Monday’s dinner; black bean burgers.  I used the food processor to blend the black beans and potatoes, spices, and an egg.  The burgers were also delicious!

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The old-bay roasted sweet potatoes were great as a traditional side and an additional ingredient to black bean burgers.

Broiled Pineapple with Frozen Yogurt,  Jan/Feb. 2010, pg. 65

A lovely dessert!  It was simple and quick.  The broiled pineapple with frozen yogurt was a perfect last course to a Sunday dinner.  But nothing beats a fresh pineapple, no additions required for me to eat the whole thing in one day or one sitting.  It’s been known to happen.

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Apple doughnuts….Yum!

December 2011, pg. 123

Apple Fritter Done

Apple Fritter Rings recipe

The apple fritter rings were a hit!  I made them Sunday morning for my parents and P.  Everyone was excited about apple fritters, but I had a three sets of eyes staring at the apple rings.  “Don’t apple fritters have chopped apple in them?”  I must admit, I’ve never seen apple fritter rings before but, I was pretty excited to try them.  Yes, they were fried but the dough to fruit ratio was very favorable in my eyes.

I used an apple corer for the first time and it worked like a charm.  I also used powdered buttermilk and put a ¼ cup less of water than what the directions called for.  I finally learned my lesson with powdered buttermilk: You don’t need as much water as the directions call for.

Enlarged center holes on bottom.

Enlarged center holes on bottom.

I recruited P to fry the fritters for us.  Hot oil and I don’t get along.  In hind sight having two people make the fritters was much easier.  I peeled, cut, battered, and put the cinnamon and sugar on the fritters.  P fried the fritters.  We were an amazing apple fritter ring team!

Apple Fritter Frying

The fritters were delicious.  We each ate 2 or 3 warm fritters.  The apples were cooked perfectly inside.  We made the center hole larger after the first batch because, there was not a center hole in the apple fritters and the dough in the center wasn’t cooked.  The batter was nice and thin around the apples.  Again more fruit than batter per bite is better.

Apple Fritter Inside

We had leftover fritters and tried them cold, and rewarmed later that day.  I would highly recommend only making enough apple fritter rings that will be eaten in one sitting within 30 minutes of being fried.  The apple fritter rings are amazing fresh but do not make good leftovers.  They are a great addition to a brunch or weekend breakfast!

Not a cookie I would recommend…

December 2011, pg. 103

Stained-glass sugar cookies recipe

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My parents’ taught me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  So I will make this short and sweet.  In my world, hard candies and sugar cookies, DO NOT go together.  They are both great on their own, but you don’t want to bite into a sugar cookies with a hard candy center.  Hard candies are meant for sucking on.

I didn’t have any appropriate pretty cookie cutters so I used my doughnut cutter.  I know, BORING, but that’s all I had.  And it’s not all about how a cookie looks but how it tastes.  Or maybe in this case these cookies should have looked pretty if I was intending to use them as an ornament and not an edible snack.

I used 6.25 ounces of lifesaver hard candy.  I ran out of candy for the 4 dozen cookies I made.  That’s all I have to say about that.