Sunday, August 8, 2010

Peanut Butter Mississippi Mud Bars

It's so good to be back home.  My family was on vacation in the great northern woods of Wisconsin.  Sadly, we've dubbed it the second worst vacation we've ever taken.  Don't you just love it when you get sick when you are leaving for vacation?  Three out of six vacationers ill and one bathroom.  Ahh well.  It was a good place to recoup.  I'm happy to be home.  Happy to be to my laptop, the Internet, and my favorite blogs.

One of my favorite dessert cookbooks is Debbi Fields' Great American Desserts.  This recipe is her Peanut Butter Mississippi Mud Bars.  I can't believe how much chocolate when into an 8" x 8" pan!  Bless her! 

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
8 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped and divided into two 4-ounce portions
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped and divided into two 4-ounce portions
1 cup coarsely- chopped pecans, toasted and divided into two ½-cup portions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter the baking pan, line it with aluminum foil, and butter the foil.

Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and blend until smooth using an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in the peanut butter until smooth.

Stir the egg and vanilla together in a bowl and add to the peanut butter mixture until combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and combine well.

Stir in 1 portion each of the white and semisweet chocolates and combine. Add 1 portion of the pecans and mix until combined.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the center is soft but no longer runny. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle the remaining white and semisweet chocolates over the top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and set aside to let the chocolates melt.

When melted, swirl the chocolates together with the tip of a sharp knife to make a marbleized effect. Sprinkle the remaining pecans over the top. Let the bars cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

To serve, cut into 2-inch squares and arrange on a serving plate.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spicy Bran Scones

This is an old recipe and I can't tell you where I got it.  These are lovely with the jam or jelly of your choice!

1 cup whole bran cereal
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 egg (beaten)
1 egg white
3 tablespoons butter or margarine (melted)
3 cups packaged biscuit mix (Bisquick)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cereal and buttermilk or sour milk. Let stand for a few minutes. Stir in egg, egg white, and butter or margarine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together biscuit mix, the 1/3 cup sugar, and the 1 teaspoon apple pie spice. Make a well in the center. Add bran-egg mixture. Mix just until dough clings together. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently for 10-15 strokes or until smooth.

Divide dough in half. On a large ungreased baking sheet with lightly floured fingers, pat each half of the dough into a 6 1/2' circle. Stir together egg yolk and milk. Brush over tops of circles. Combine the 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice. Sprinkle over circles. Cut each circle into eight wedges (a pizza cutter works well for this). With a spatula, pull each wedge out 1/4'. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 16 scones.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Brunch Egg Bake

I am on vacation this week!  It was so fun to have friends over for brunch today.  I made this egg dish, which is wonderful for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  See the beatiful roses in the background?  A gift from our friend, Laura. 

3 cups (12-ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 jar (4.5 ounces) sliced mushrooms (I used fresh)
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/3 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups diced fully cooked ham
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
8 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine the cheeses; place 3 cups in an ungreased 13-inch x 9-inch x 2-inch glass baking dish and set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms, red pepper and onions in butter until tender; drain. Spoon them into the baking dish. Sprinkle with ham and remaining cheeses.

In a large bowl, whisk flour and milk until smooth; stir in the eggs, parsley, salt, basil, and pepper until blended. Slowly pour over cheeses. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. 12 servings.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Coffee Klatch - The Last Lecture

I was having a discussion with my son a few weeks ago and he said that books will primarily bought using digital media in the not too distant future.  No!!!!  Now, I personally wouldn't mind a Kindle for reading the newspaper or fun novels, but there is something very satisfying about holding the actual book in your hands.  (Unless of course, you are reading a book the size of "War and Peace" while laying in bed and your hands are cramping up from trying to hold the book open.) 

I've been an avid reader all of my life, but one of my new hobbies is to collect great books in hardcover format.  What makes a book "great?"  Personally, I think if it is thought provoking, you learn something along the way, and it changes your world view, it is a great book.  I also think it is an individual thing.  My list of great books will be different than your list of great books. 

A book that I just finished and will be adding to my "library" project is "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch.  He was a professsor from Carnegie Mellon University, who presented truly a "last lecture," because he had terminal cancer at the time he delivered it. He had an opportunity to look back at his life and figure out the lessons that he learned along the way.  One of my favorites was Chapter 16 - Romancing the Brick Wall.  He talks about brick walls being "there to stop people who don't want it badly enough."  It gave me time to think about the times I was "stopped" and the times I crashed the wall. 

This is a quick and delightful read.  It is in no way morose.  Randy Pausch has a wonderful sense of humor and sense of fun.  I'm happy to put this humble little book in my library.

If you don't like to read and would like to see the "last lecture" he delivered at Carnegie Mellon University, here it is:

Warning:  It is one hour and 16 minutes long, but worth it.