Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Never make brownies from a mix again!

I have to share this recipe with you. It is super quick, super delicious, and super easy! I have been making these brownies for years, and they have never let me down. (I can whip these up in less time than it takes my oven to preheat!)

Fudge Brownies
(aka "Never buy a brownie mix again" Brownie Recipe)

Mix together in mixing bowl:
1-1/3 cup flour
2 cups sugar
3/4- 1 cup cocoa powder (I am usually pretty generous with the cocoa!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add desired Mix-ins (optional).

Optional Mix-ins:
1 cup chopped nuts
or 1 cup chocolate chips
or 1 cup M & Ms
or 1/2 cup pecans~ Then drizzle melted chocolate over baked brownies and sprinkle with coconut and more pecans.
or 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts~ Then drizzle melted caramel sauce over baked brownies and sprinkle on more peanuts.
Basically, you are only limited by your imagination!

Using two-cup measuring cup, mix together:
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 t. vanilla & 1 t. almond~ yum!)

Add to dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Spread into 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until center starts to look crinkled... Just be careful not to overbake!

I would love to hear what your favorite combination is...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

RED flowers!

My garden is sighing with relief as the temps have gone from brutal to beautiful! I love how the flowers kick back in at this time of year, and thought you might enjoy seeing them too!

Do you have fun fall flowers you look forward to seeing every year? I would love to hear about what you have in your flower bed!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Food Memory Maker~ literally!

Sixteen years ago, just days after our honeymoon, I was able to convince my BHE (Best Husband Ever) that it would be well worth it to use some of our wedding gift money to purchase a Kitchen Aid mixer. Skeptical, he agreed, I am sure just to please his pleading bride. Promising to love and cherish my new mixer, we spent the money and brought home my new treasure... And have never looked back.

This mixer has been witness to almost 6,000 days of our lives, and been included in the making of most of them, in one way or another. From beating up pizza dough to whipping mashed potatoes, folding in egg whites to "hooking" the bread, this sweet little machine has working its magic in all of my kitchens. Hardly a day goes by that I am not plugging in this wonder tool to assist me in my cooking creations. Just today, we made a chocolate cake and a cinnamon roll cake together, and there is still frosting to look forward to whipping up!

So does my BHE regret the purchase? Sometimes... when he is helping out with dishes and has to wash that silver bowl and then wash it again... and again. Sigh~ that's love, huh?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Food Memory Day~ Paulsen Pizza

One favorite wedding present we received 16 years ago appeared to be a very simple gift. Along with a brown paper bag, there were two round pizza pans, a pizza cutter, a bag of "Pizza Seasoning," and a card on which was written the recipe for Paulsen Pizza.

This gift has brought us years of delicious memories... We have made it a practice to have homemade pizza every weekend. We have shared our love of homemade pizza with many. Our kiddos now beg to make "individual pizzas," and this is great food for a gathering with lots of people, as everyone likes what they put on their own pizza.

What started this lovely journey? Growing up, I would be invited out to play with Kris and Kelly at the Paulsen home. Mrs. Paulsen always made bread on Saturdays, and she would make enough extra dough to use as pizza crust. This meant that supper would be pizza! Spending delightful hours inhaling that amazing aroma of baking bread, chased by the tantilizing tastes of pizza made for Food Memory Days. Always served simply on a paper bag, that pizza consumed around the round kitchen table was more than just a meal. It really was a memory of love.

And that is why that simple wedding present has been so precious to us for so many years. We were given a gift of love, and we have been able to pass it on to so many...

Enjoy with those you love!

Paulsen Pizza

Dissolve together in mixing bowl:
2 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water
Once yeast is bubbly, stir in:
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. oil
Mix well. Knead. Cover and let rise until doubled. (I usually stick the dough in the microwave, as it proves a good proofing box... just don't turn it on!)

1- 8 oz can tomato sauce
1- small can tomato paste
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp. oregano
dash cayenne
1 T. oil

Top with desired toppings and cheese. Bake in preheated 450-475 degree oven- 10-12 minutes trade from bottom to middle rack halfway.

Makes 2 round pizza, serves 4-6.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sometimes being resourceful doesn't work out so well...

So I have this cookbook, The New York Times Cook Book, published in 1990. I realized the other day that I really haven't used it much. There is no particular reason for this. I love New York. And just look at the cover, the gold label glistening in the fading light of another busy day. It is a beacon, calling to me to make use of its tempting treasures within... Yes! I resolve to answer the call and make this my new "go-to" cookbook.

Following thus stated resolution, I probed the pages of my pristine cook book this afternoon, seeking inspiration for a quick and easy supper. Just needing a soup recipe to go with the fresh bread I baked. Oh, and it is Wednesday... In our house, Wednesday Night is Soup Night.

Okay. Easy, quick, and using what I have on hand. Guess that will eliminate 95% of the recipes-- (Note to self: Go grocery shopping!)

But wait! Page 64 offers a feasible solution! Quick Cold Beet Soup. (Well, it was hot here in TN today.) Pantry Check~ Beets: yes. Onion: yes. Salt, pepper, lemon juice: yes, yes, yes. Mashed potatoes: yes --leftover from the Baconfest, needing to get used up! Chicken stock , sour cream, ice cubes? Yes, yes, yes. I have it all!

Happily I follow the easy directions, and process everything in my food processor. Oops, that went a bit above the liquid line. I guess that line is there for a reason... Well, it is a pretty shade of... PINK. Uh-oh.

Those who know me realize that this may present a small problem in my male dominated household. Little Miss doesn't even care too much for pink, and it has never been my favorite color (with the exception being outside in my front flower bed, of course!).

Wow, that isn't just pink. It is PeptoBismol pink. This may be one of those times when being resourceful is going to result in... a simple bread and butter supper. Hmm. Bread: yes. Butter: yes. It's all good.

We learn from the things that don't always turn out as planned, right? Any lessons you want to share?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Perfect Red Bed... or not!

My favorite color is red.

When planning the front bed of our home, I decided I wanted to have a classic red bed, with red Double Knock Out rose bushes. My sweet children and BHE gave me five of them for Mother's Day. I went ahead and filled in with barn red day lilies, deep purple cone flowers for contrast, and red verbenum. These would all surround a beautiful white Natchez crepe myrtle tree, and be softened by a row of boxwood behind. Doesn't that look beautiful in your mind?

Hmmm, funny how with gardening, things don't always go as planned.

The red roses bloomed... a deep hot pink. "That is not red," I thought, "But I guess it is okay. They are really pretty and profuse with blossoms. I can work with those..." The cone flowers, while more of a pale purple-pink, had a nice reddish center. "Different than I expected, but definitely doable." The verbenum just kept blooming and blooming little red flowers, but a true red, so they didn't clash with the hot pink roses. "Huh, think this might all be okay!"

Ha, ha~Foolish me!

Because then the day lilies bloomed. Barn. Red. Oh, no.

I can live with some things, but I was just not able to look past that garish red flower with the bright yellow center against the hot pink. I just couldn't do it.

Oh, I tried! I waited a year, and then another. I left some of the day lilies there~ moved some to the backyard ("Red Bed," take two!). I planted some pink fountain gaura, and some Autumn Joy sedum, along with some red and pink bee balm, and red and pink Oriental lilies...
And then one day, I couldn't take it anymore. I went out with my gardening shears, and I cut off every single barn red blossom on those day lilies. The greens left behind now provide a pretty filler in amongst the pinks. And all those day lilies? They made a lovely bouquet in my home.

This fall, I plan on transplanting the rest of those pretty barn red day lilies out by the new pavilion at church... where they will be able to bloom in all their magnificent barn red glory!

Anyone else have garden growing stories they'd like to share? I'd love to hear how you have grown with your garden!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A 10th Birthday Baconfest!

Son Three has always been an adventuresome eater... He loves to try new things, but has definite favorites, too. For example, every year for his birthday meal, he requests Glazed Meatloaf, Mama's Mashed Potatoes, and broccoli. (Yep, every year since he has been old enough to make a request!)
This year, being his 10th birthday, he decided to branch out and try something new.
Oh, he still requested Glazed Meatloaf, Mama's Mashed Potatoes, and broccoli, but for this celebration, he also proposed that everything made for his birthday include BACON.
Not one to turn down a challenge, I accepted.

10th Birthday Baconfest Menu:

~Buttermilk & Bacon Pancake Sticks~

~Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf ~
~Mama's Supreme Mashed Potatoes with Bacon~
~Broccoli with Bacon~
~Garden Tomatoes with Bacon & Basil~
~Bacon-Garlic-Rosemary Bread~
and the piece de resistance? (You knew this was coming, right?)

~Bacon-Laced Chocolate Cake~

(Recipe conveniently provided by Vosges Haut-Chocolat's Katrina Markoff
in the September 2011 issue of Better Homes & Gardens~ Thanks, Katrina!)

Do you have special traditions/meals you do for birthday celebrations in your home? I would love to hear about them!