Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Paul's Pumpkin Bars


4 eggs
1 2/3 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly combined.
Spread the batter evenly into an ungreased 10x15 inch jellyroll pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in preheated oven. Cool before frosting.

To make the frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add confectioners' sugar a little at a time, beating until mixture is smooth. Spread evenly on top of the cooled bars. Cut into squares.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Homemade Granola

This is a slight variation on the recipe my mom use to make when we were growing up. It is quite simple and really delicious! I love it plain, with milk, or in yogurt.

5 c. oatmeal
1 1/2 c. coconut
1 c. sunflower seeds
1 1/4 c. chopped almonds or other nuts
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. water
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. molasses
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 c. Raisins or other fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 ° F. Mix oatmeal, coconut, sunflower seeds, and nuts together in large bowl. In a saucepan over low heat, combine sugar, water, oil, honey, molasses, salt, cinnamon, and extracts until sugar is dissolved. Do not boil. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and spread onto cookie sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes, turning or stirring half way through. Bake 15 minutes longer for crunchy granola, stirring occasionally. Mix in dried fruit after baking. Makes about 10 cups. Store in airtight container up to 6 months.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Recipe from A Treasury of Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur

The name of this soup may not sound appealing, but for some reason it was appealing enough for me to try it. Even looking at the ingredient list, I wasn't too optimistic, but I must say I LOVED this soup. My picky husband and 3-year old devoured it too! We will definitely be making it again.

4 c. chicken broth
3 c. broccoli, chopped (1 large bunch)
1/2 c. diced onion
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash ground pepper
1/4 c. flour
1/3 c. diced ham
1/2 c. heavy cream

Combine broth, broccoli, onion, bay leaf, salt, and pepper in saucepan over high heat. Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf, transfer half of mixture to a blender and blend until nearly a puree. Pour back into saucepan over medium low heat. Add flour and whisk until lumps are dissolved. Add diced ham and cream. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until soup reaches desired thickness.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as an entree.

Peanut Butter Popcorn

This popcorn has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. It is so soft and delicious, I prefer it to caramel corn any day!

1 c. kernels popped (2 3.3 oz bags microwave popcorn)
1/2 c. corn syrup
1/2 c. honey
1 c. white sugar
1c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. butter

Combine corn syrup, honey, and sugar in saucepan over medium high heat. Boil for one minute, remove from heat. Add peanut butter, vanilla, and butter to mixture. Stir over warm popcorn.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Broccoli Chicken Halloween Snake

(Recipe adapted from my friend, Amy's, Broccoli Chicken Braid; snake adapted from

2 C. cooked chicken, chopped (about 3 cooked chicken breasts)
1 C. broccoli, chopped
1/2 C. red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 C. Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 C. mayonnaise
1 tsp. dill weed
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt

1 recipe bread stick dough (or use 2 - 8 oz. pkg. refrigerated crescent rolls)

2-3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
food coloring
2 pimento-stuffed green olives or green pepper

Prepare bread dough. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease cookie sheet.

While dough is rising, mix chicken, broccoli, red bell pepper, garlic, cheese, mayonnaise, and seasonings in a bowl. Use part of the red pepper to make a snake tongue.

Roll out dough into 24" X 6" rectangle (about 1/4" thick). Spread filling evenly over middle of dough, leaving 1-2" on each side. Fold both sides of the dough over the filling lengthwise. Press all sides to seal. Roll over so seam is on bottom and carefully transfer to pan, forming desired snake shape.

Mix egg yolks with desired food coloring; use pastry brush to paint and decorate the snake. Add green olives or cut green pepper for eyes and red pepper tongue to dough snake.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hostess Cupcakes

I've been meaning to try these for a year, but have been putting it off, thinking they'd disappoint. I do like the hostess version, but the last time I had them, they weren't as good as I remembered. On top of that, I'm not much of a cake person. However, these were really good! I really liked even just the cupcakes by themselves.

They do taste like the real thing, but better quality- except the frosting is a little bit more adult- a little richer than the store bought version. Maybe next time I'll try milk chocolate for the frosting, instead of semi sweet and see where that gets me.

All in all, I really like these and will make them again.

Makes 30

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups applesauce
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt
1 1/4 cups marshmallow spread

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine oil and sugar; mix well. Stir in the apple sauce and vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Slowly pour in the water, mixing on low until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just mixed. Slowly add the milk and beat on low until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and mix for another 15-20 seconds.

Fill each cupcake liner with 2 tablespoons of batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a crumb or 2 clinging to it. Allow to cool completely before filling or frosting.

To make the filling:
In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the vanilla and pinch of salt. Mix in the marshmallow spread and whisk until light and fluffy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

To make the frosting:
In a small bowl set over an inch or two of lightly simmering water, melt the butter, chips, and corn syrup until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Or in a medium, microwave-safe bowl, heat at 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until completely melted and glossy. Stir in the vanilla. Cover and chill for 20-30 minutes until thickened slightly.

click the link at the top if you want detailed instructions on how to fill and frost.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Avalanche Bars & Chocolate Blizzard Bars

These have to be the easiest recipes I have ever made. They're basically the same thing, just a white choc and reg choc version. I tried these out recently and gave some away and had requests for the recipe.

from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

12 ounces white chocolate chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups Rice Krispies
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Lightly grease a 9×9 pan (or 8×8 if you prefer thicker bars) and set aside.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chips for one minute. Stir. Then continue to microwave in 30 second increments until the chips are completely melted.

Add the peanut butter to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Add the Rice Krispies. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes, stirring now and again. Add the marshmallows and the mini chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly, pressing lightly with the back of a spoon, taking care not to press too hard or they will be overly compact and it will make the bars dry and tough. Garnish with additional mini chocolate chips, if desired. Let the bars cool completely before serving.

Chocolate Blizzard Bars
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

*Makes an 8X8- or 9X9-inch pan of bars

12 ounces chocolate chips, semisweet, bittersweet or milk chocolate (I used a combo of milk and semi sweet)
1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
3 cups crisp rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chocolate chips or M&M's (I skipped this, I don't think they're needed- especially the extra chocolate!)

Garnish: mini marshmallows and additional M&M's
Lightly grease an 8X8- or 9X9-inch baking pan and set aside.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips for one minute. Stir. Then continue to microwave in 30 second increments until the chips are completely melted. Stir in the peanut butter until combined. Let the mixture cool slightly, about five minutes. Add the rice cereal, marshmallows and chocolate chips and/or M&M's. Fold together with a rubber spatula until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Press additional marshmallows and M&M's into the top of the bars, if desired. Let the bars cool and set for 5-6 hours until they are firm and no longer gooey and melty. Once the bars are firm and set, cut into squares and serve.