Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownies

I’m not a huge brownie fan unless they are chewy. I’m not much for the cakey kind of brownie (just ask my older sister Sue, she’ll tell you) unless it’s smothered with vanilla ice cream because the ice cream makes the brownie turn kind of chewy.

I’m also one to make things from scratch. However, Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie mix is so fabulous and easy to make, why would you want to make it from scratch?

You dump the mix in a bowl and add a melted stick of butter and maybe an egg, mix it up, put it in the pan and bake. The brownie is moist and chewy, but not so much so that someone who doesn’t like chewy would not like it. Add the ice cream and okay, I’m drooling.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Aunt Rosemary’s Shortbread Cookies

On Sibling Day (a day that my siblings and I spend together, just the four of us, no spouses or kids), we visited my aunt and uncle. My aunt and cousin were making cookies for a wedding—one being shortbread. I love shortbread and after I bit into it, I wanted the recipe.

Aunt Rosemary’s Shortbread Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
½ c. packed brown sugar
½ tsp apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice
1/8 tsp salt
2 ¼ c flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, spice, salt. Beat until combined. Beat in flour, stir in remainder. Shape into 1 inch balls.
Flatten with cookie stamp, or bottom of flour coated glass.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until light brown.
Makes 36 cookies.

I had a terracotta cookie stamp that my little sister Ruthie gave me. Now was my chance to use it and make my cookies a little fancy. My cousin told me they used a glass, but there was a pattern on the bottom of the glass and it looked cool having this imprint on the cookie. As you may see, my cookies were too small to catch the entire design of the stamp.

Since I had never used a cookie stamp before, I just pushed down on it. That didn’t work, all the dough stuck to it. I cleaned it all off and this time dipped it in flour first. It still stuck. I thought well maybe it’s supposed to be wet, so I ran the terracotta stamp under the water. Stamped the dough and it stuck again. I tried oiling it and although that worked a little better, it continued to stick. I couldn’t find much on the Internet other than using flour, so I floured heavily. That worked. But I had to do it each time I pressed the dough. My dough was soft, so it may have worked better with a harder type dough.

I smartened up and flattened the balls down first before I pressed it with the cookie stamp so I wouldn’t have to press as hard and that seemed to work better.

These cookies were tasty and easy to make, if you didn’t stamp them. I drizzled chocolate over some that I didn’t stamp, but I prefer mine plain.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Peach Crisp

I usually make apple crisp, but since I had a bunch of small peaches that weren’t all that great I decided to use the peaches instead. Otherwise I’m a fresh peach kind of person, no point in cooking those delicious juicy things.

This recipe comes from the old Betty Crocker Cookbook.

I had about 8-10 small peaches (they were pretty small), I peeled and sliced them and placed them in pan (8x8 or there abouts).

Mix the following ingredients until crumbly:

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup oats
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg (my version not Betty’s—her’s calls for ¾ tsp ground nutmeg). I find that the freshly ground nutmeg from the nut is stronger, needing less.
1/3 cup butter, softened

Sprinkle over peaches and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve warm or if desired, with ice cream.

Fresh ground nutmeg-I like how the inside of the nutmeg looks.

I forgot to take a picture after I baked it, but it sort of looks like this only a little more golden brown and of course cooked.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Banana Bread

Sometimes I just want simple—where you mix all the ingredients in a bowl and put it in the pan. That’s what this banana bread is about. It comes from Recipes from the Heart (Sacred Heart Parish—where I grew up and went to school). This particular recipe is from Mary Amelong, however, I modified it. Some of it intentionally and other parts not so.

Here’s the original recipe with my version in parentheses.
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (I used 5 whole bananas and not sure what that came out to be cup wise.)
3 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg (I used ½ teaspoon freshly ground from the nut.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup water or orange juice (I forgot this completely.)
1 cup pecans (I made candied pecans.)

Blend all ingredients. Pour in greased bundt pan. Bake at 375 for 1 hour.

So here’s what happened. I decided to make banana bread, went into the kitchen, gathered all the ingredients and boom, when it came time to get the eggs, I realized I didn’t have any. Okay, I did have some farm fresh ones from my friend Kim, but I refused to bake with them. One needs to eat farm fresh eggs straight up and not waste them in baking… unless of course you just have them coming out of the hens right and left and HAVE to bake with them. I find them precious and won’t bake with them.

I mashed my bananas and then added all the other ingredients on top of the bananas (except for the eggs) figuring it would keep the banana from turning brown and yucky while I ran out to the store.

After taking a look in the mirror, with sweat dripping from my forehead, I decided there was no time to doll myself up and went out—no make up, hair all kind of crazy, unpainted toenails, bleached stained shirt. I was sure I’d run into someone since that usually happens when you are looking your finest. I kept my sunglasses on, dashed in, grabbed two dozen eggs, snatched a loaf of bread off the shelf and some Tea Tree Oil for that fungus on my big toe. The lines were long. I acted casual as if I was dolled up, going out for tea. The lady in front of me picked up the chocolate covered almonds, looked them over and put them back. I dare not touch them because they’d end up in my gut and did I tell you I’m trying to lose a few pounds? Why am I making banana bread? Oh yeah, I have a husband with a sweet tooth.

By the time I made it back home, I thought I had everything in the bowl except the eggs, so I plopped them in, stirred up the mixture and put it in the pans. At this point, I’m still not remembering the water.

Backing up a little, before I left for the store I got on Katie’s blog for those candied pecans that she had in her banana bread. I read the recipe, but while cooking the pecans, it didn’t seem right, so I added another tablespoon butter. What could it hurt? Seeing that it wasn’t working, I then added more sugar. It seemed like there was enough cinnamon in there for seven Danish loafs, so I skipped adding more cinnamon. I threw in more pecans. After a good five minutes and realizing it wasn’t going to work, I dumped it in the bowl and started all over—following Katie’s directions exactly.

Here's the first batch of pecans:

Since I now had some extra pecans that turned into some concrete nightmare, I chopped them up in my little food processor.

I had more than enough batter to fill my Demarle bundt pan and put the rest in a loaf pan—you know the kind of pan that the bread should go in. I sprinkled the top with brown sugar (a trick I learned from another banana bread recipe) but this time I decided to add those chopped candied pecans.

Pecans. Pecans. Oh, I’ll make some Pecan Pie Muffins from Paula Deen’s cookbook. They are easy and I’ll be able to do something with these candied pecans. Paula’s recipe calls for plain ole pecans, but who knows, maybe I’ve created a masterpiece. I’ll save that for another blog.

All in all… the taste of the banana bread was good, but it was a bit chewy. But I like chewy. If you toast it and add some butter, well it’s even better. But what’s not to like adding butter?