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.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Coffee Klatch - Promise to A Virgin Pastry Board

Yesterday I watched the Julie & Julia movie....again.  I love that movie.  I like to watch it on my laptop while I'm paying bills.  It has a calming effect.  I've always wanted to cook my way through a cookbook, so I'm going to give it a try.  My choice is "Baking With Julia," which was based on the PBS series.  I've watched every episode that I could and now I record this series so I can enjoy them over and over.  There was one show that stands out in particular.  I can't remember who the guest chef was or which recipe was being made, but Julia Child actually cried when she tried the guest chef stood next to her with an astonished look on her face.

So, to begin, I bought a new pastry board. I'd like to make it a promise. 

Message to My Pastry Board:  Welcome to our home little wooden board.  You have been untouched by meat, vegetables, fruit, play dough, and other non-pastry ingredients.  I promise to take good care of you and to never let anything touch you except pastry dough, pie dough, bread dough, savory and sweet dough.  Never will meat drain its bloody juices on you.  Never will you smell like garlic or onions.  I will not let you swim in water causing you to warp and dry out.  Together, we will make beautiful pastries, breads, and pies.  When I am no longer able to roll or knead dough, I will make sure you are given to someone who can carry on our mission. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Caramel Corn

Happy official fourth of July!  Okay, it's the fifth of July, but this is the official celebration.  I know that because I am off of work. 

I always miss my parents on the fourth of July--both of them passed on three years ago.  Both of my parents were veterans of World War II and great patriots and I miss them most of all on this holiday.  Our family would always visit them and go to the neighborhood parade and to the neighborhood park for festivities.  Yesterday, I asked my 16-year-old daughter if we can go to a parade and she can chase tootsie rolls.  She declined.   Rats. 

Of course, one of the traditions was eating boxes of Cracker Jack.  I hate to tell the makers of Cracker Jack, but I have a better recipe.  You can add peanuts and a surprise if you'd like, but this is a really tasty caramel corn recipe.

4 quarts popped corn

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place popped corn in large roasting pan or in two 9x13' baking pans.

In 8-cup microwave bowl, mix brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt. Microwave on 100% power for 1 to 2 minutes, or until mixture bubbles. Stir with wooden spoon. Microwave 3 minutes more at 100% power, stirring after each 1-minute interval. Add baking soda and vanilla; stir well as mixture foams up.

Pour syrup over popped corn in roasting pan. Stir and mix well. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to coat kernels evenly. Pour out onto two 15 x 12 inch cookie sheets. Let cool 45 minutes. Store in an airtight container. Makes 4 quarts.

Mom and Dad:  My flag is flying for you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Coffee Klatch - Dog Wars

We have many non-human members in our family.  Altogether we've had:
  • 3 dogs
  • 4 cats
  • 1 horse
  • 2 hermit crabs
  • 2 guinea pigs
  • 4 hamsters
Our newest member, a German Shepherd/Husky puppy named Nikita joined the family last Friday.  Our current Alpha, a three-year-old American Eskimo named Vail was really pissed less than enthused.  I've been watching Dog Whisperer all week and have determined that Vail is suffering from an anxiety disorder and we have done a very poor job being the pack leader in our menagerie.  Armed with all kinds of great tidbits from Cesar Millan, we have been working on changing Vail's status to bottom of the pack heap.  You know what?  He likes it there.  Thank you Cesar! 
Vail in Snowmass, Colorado.

My daughter and I are in training wars to see which of our dogs will be the smartest, cleverest, most well-behaved canine.  I showed her this video sent to me by my alert brother.  This will be Vail and me within 6 months.

Laurel's Coconut Oatmeal Crisps

These cookies are the reason I blog--to resurrect recipes that I've disregarded for a long time.  I have had this recipe forever.  It was one that I received from a friend.  They are truly amazing and I haven't made them for years.  What was I thinking?  Generally, cookies with oatmeal are dense and chewy.  These are as light as a feather and crispy and delicious.  (Family members:  These are in the family cookbook.  They were called Yummy Cookies.  I changed the name...)

1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg (beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup nuts (finely chopped) - I used toasted pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Mix butter, vegetable oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla together.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to mixture. Mix well. Stir in corn flakes, oatmeal, nuts, and coconut.

Form 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 7 minutes. Makes approximately 8 dozen.

Optional: Sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spinach Cheese Bread

My, my.  What a busy weekend this has been.  We've added a new puppy to our family.  She will be my daughter's dog.  She is a German Shepherd/Husky mix.  Do you know they call these "designer dogs" now?  Sounds so much better than "mutt."  She is 10 weeks old and is very sweet.  Our 3-year-old Eskie wants to eat her.  I've been working hard this weekend to make sure she didn't appear on my "Appetizers/Snacks" list.  This morning we had success.  I carried the puppy into the kitchen and our Eskie was relaxed and didn't go after her.  It takes the patience of Job sometimes.  I predict "total acceptance" will have occurred within one week. 

Yesterday, I made Spinach Cheese Bread.  This is an appetizer that I saw in a Bon Appetit magazine many many years ago.  This is a great snack; a great appetizer, and a great go-with for a main-course soup or salad.

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 large egg, beaten to blend
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
1 11-ounce tube refrigerated Crusty French Bread dough

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a heavy large baking sheet.

Mix spinach, beaten egg, milk, mustard and garlic salt in medium bowl. Mix in mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, and fresh white breadcrumbs.

Unroll dough on lightly-floured work surface. Roll out dough to a 13-inch square. Cut dough in half, forming two 13 x 6 1/2-inch rectangles.

Spoon half of filling in narrow strip lengthwise down center of each rectangle, leaving about 1/2-inch border on short sides. Fold 1 long side of each rectangle over filling; fold over second long side of each rectangle, enclosing filling completely and overlapping first side slightly. Seal seam of each loaf. Seal short ends. Arrange loaves, seam side down, on prepared sheet. Using a small sharp knife, cut crosswise slits at one-inch intervals through the top of the dough.

Bake loaves until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Run a metal spatula under loaves to loosen. Transfer loaves to rack. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Banana Pecan Pancakes

This recipe is from Southern Living Homestyle Cookbook.  This is a cookbook that I really love and use often.  My son is a pancakeaholic and adding fruits, nuts, chocolate chips is always a hit.  Happy Fathers' Day!

1 1/2 cups Pancake Mix (see below)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped banana
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans

Combine Pancake Mix and sugar in a medium bowl.

Whisk together 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, egg, and oil; add to dry ingredients, whisking just until lumps disappear. Stir in chopped banana and pecans.

Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or large nonstick skillet. Cook 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges begin to look cooked; turn and cook 2 more minutes or until done.

Pancake Mix:

6 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt

Stir together all ingredients in a large bowl; store in a zip-top plastic bag up to 6 weeks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Margarita Slush

My brother and sister-in-law gave me this recipe last year.  It is so refreshing on a warm summer day!  My husband and I turned our deck into a biergarten after a European trip a few years ago.  One of the "take aways" from visiting Europe was how great it is to eat and drink outside.  Our European friends are on to something (and always have been).  We don't drink beer, but we drink pretty much anything else.  This is one to sip in our "biergarten."  I hope that you take the time to make your own outdoor space a special part of your home.

5 cups water
1/2 cup sugar

Mix water and sugar in saucepan and boil on stove for about 10 minutes to dissolve sugar. Let cool.

12 ounces orange juice concentrate
12 ounces limeade concentrate
1 cup tequila
1 cup triple sec
Graf’s 50/50 soda

Mix all together with cooled water and sugar. Freeze in 1/2 gallon container.

When you want a cool drink on a warm night, mix one half slush to one half 50/50 soda. Stir. Really, really good!

This was in Riquewihr, France.

This was my lunch on that day--quiche.

Cowboy Caviar

  The first time I tried cowboy caviar, I was on a boat at a friend's house.  I could have eaten the whole bowl!  I googled for the recipe and was directed to a festival in Montana, where cowboy caviar is served.  However, it had nothing to do with these ingredients and the main ingredient of THEIR recipe was chopped off of male animals.  Yuk.  Some people will eat anything.  This has become a popular recipe and I can buy it pre-made in the deli at our local Piggly Wiggly.  It tastes best being homemade though.

1 can (14 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed well
1 can (14 ounces) black-eyed peas, rinsed well
1 to 2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 can (11 ounces) white shoe peg corn, drained
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

Place beans, peas, celery, red onion, pepper and corn in plastic resealable bowl.

In saucepan, bring olive oil, vegetable oil, cider vinegar and sugar to boil, then cool. Pour over vegetables and marinade in refrigerator 24 hours. Stir occasionally during marinating. Drain and serve with tortilla chips. Makes about 6 cups.

Marshmallow Whip Cheesecake

This recipe was one my mother used to make.  It is light, sweet, and refreshing.

Graham Cracker Crust:
40 squares of graham crackers (crushed)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine (melted)

Mix above ingredients. Press into top and sides of 9 x 13' greased pan. Reserve 1/2 cup for top.

10 1/2 oz. large marshmallows (40 marshmallows)
3/4 cup milk
2 - 8-oz. packages of cream cheese
12-oz. Container of fat-free Cool Whip

Melt marshmallows and milk over low heat. Beat cream cheese; add marshmallow mixture. Cool. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread into crust and sprinkle with remaining graham cracker crust. Refrigerate until set.

Chicken Stroganoff

My family created a "family cookbook" in 1993.  I know this because at the same time I was proofreading recipes, I was baking a baby.  The recipe book has a pictures of my grandparent's wedding in it.  (My grandmother was 15 years old.  Gracious.)  This recipe is a nice change from beef stroganoff and was contributed by my cousin, Patty.  My family has enjoyed this recipe many times.

1 medium onion
1/2 pound small mushrooms
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound egg noodles
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup plain yogurt, room temperature

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the onion into wedges. Halve the mushrooms. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. In a plastic or paper bag, combine the flour, salt, and pepper and shake to mix. Add the chicken and shake to coat lightly. Remove the chicken and reserve the excess seasoned flour.

In a large skillet, preferably non-stick, warm 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Remove the onion and mushrooms to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the chicken and stir fry until light golden but not completely cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover loosely to keep warm.

Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes, or according to package directions.

Meanwhile, add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter to the skillet and stir in the reserved seasoned flour. Cook, stirring, until the butter and flour are blended, about 1 minute. Stir the mustard and paprika into the skillet. Stir in the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Return the chicken, onion, and mushrooms to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and yogurt and continue cooking until the mixture is heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve stroganoff on top of cooked noodles. Serves 4.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Isn't it great when you walk into the door at the end of the day and your house smells like soup?  I love my slow cooker.  This recipe takes about 15 minutes to assemble in the morning and then you can walk out the door and enjoy your day.  When you come home, you're meal is ready.  This soup is just a little spicy and full of wonderful flavors.  I promised my brother-in-law that I would use recipes that take less than 20 minutes to prepare.  So, here ya go.
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans, with liquid
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, with liquid
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 cups water
2 (14.5 ounce) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chili peppers
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix

In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat. Drain, and set aside.

Place the ground beef, onion, chili beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes, green chili peppers and taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker. Mix to blend, and cook on low setting for 8 hours.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Puffed Potato Balls

Company's coming!  This is a very nice recipe to use when you want to dress up plain mashed potatoes.  We had some very good friends visit us after the holidays and I made these puffed potato balls.  I said to my friend, "Do you know how nice it is to have a light meal after eating rich holiday foods?"  My friend, Cindy, nodded and totally agreed.  I said, "This isn't going to be that meal."  Steak, puffed potato balls, beans, sauted mushroom, and shaum torte with ice cream and strawberries.  It is tradition to slow down AFTER New Year's Eve.

3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 envelope instant onion soup mix (2 1/2 teaspoons)
Dash of pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups corn flakes, coarsely crushed

In a saucepan, cook the potatoes in boiling unsalted water for about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, butter, green onion, parsley, onion soup mix, and pepper. Mix well. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk if mixture is dry. Shape into 8 balls. Dip in beaten egg; roll in corn flakes. Place on greased baking sheet.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until hot and crisp. Makes 4-8 servings.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Duck Fart

Whew.  It took me a little while to be able to layer these three ingredients to get that nice "layered drink" look, and I think I need a little help drinking my mistakes, but here it is.  Beverage number 1.  A Duck Fart.  Ingredients:

Irish Cream
Canadian Whiskey

Start by pouring the Kahlua in a shot glass. Then pour the Irish Cream over the bottom of a spoon slowly over the Kahlua. After the Irish Cream is in place, use the spoon again to pour Canadian Whiskey on top of the second layer. Salud!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ham and Cheese Rolls

This is a recipe that I received from the wife of one of our house builders.  Ham and cheese is so basic and so good, but add the butter, onion, poppy seed, and mustard and it is tangy and delicious.  The great thing about this recipe is that it freezes well.  You can make a whole bunch of these sandwiches, wrap them in foil, put them in a plastic freezer bag and pull them out as needed.  We've made a bunch of these and took them on ski vacations with us.  Then all you have to do is bake them in the oven, make a side salad, and pour a glass of wine.  Easy sneezy. 

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons poppy seed
2 tablespoons country Dijon mustard
8 hard roll
16 slices deli ham of your choice
8 slices Swiss cheese

Mix butter, minced onion, poppy seed, and mustard together. Spread on both sides of roll. Add two slices of ham and one slice of Swiss cheese. Wrap each sandwich in foil.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. These sandwiches can be frozen prior to baking. Makes 8 sandwiches.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ultimate Chocolate Brownie

I used to study ballet as a much younger woman.  After learning a new sequence of dance steps, my instructor used to say, "Okay that was the rehearsal.  Now let's see the performance."  In other words, it's time to do it better.

I started blogging earlier in the year with "the rehearsal" blog and now it's time for "the performance."  So, I'm starting from scratch--new blog, new name, new design.  I'm so glad to be back.  I love sitting in my kitchen in the morning, savoring my first cup of coffee and seeing what my favorite foodie friends have been up to.  These are my favorite blogs to follow so far:

Mennonite Girls Can Cook - They sure can!  They cook with love.

My Year On The Grill - Mr. Dave has a great sense of adventure and I think of him as "the kitchen alchemist."  I'm going to be sad when he leaves the Virgin Islands because it's nice to read about his adventures in a tropical paradise.  Although, I will gladly follow him back to Kansas City.

Noble Pig - This is one of the first blogs I started reading religiously.  Her recipes are family friendly and ones that my kids love.  If you'd like to laugh so hard tears run down your face, read some of her earlier posts.

One Perfect Bite - Mary is a very sweet lady and her recipes are healthy, beautiful, and inspirational!

For The Love of Cooking - Pam also has wonderful family-friendly recipes.  My son loves her Neapolitan Pancakes.  It has become a favorite.  (I actually do try recipes from other blogs and Pam's are great.)

Soup is Not a Finger Food - Meg is funny!  She has a way of taking mundane things and seeing the humor.  Reading her insights is a fun way to start the day.

Snooty Primadona's Sparkling Outlook on Life..Or Not... - Ms. Snooty.  What can I say.  I am always excited when she puts out a new post.  What wisdom will Snooty Primadona impart today?  She is funny, wise, and passionate.  I'd like her to be my neighbor. 

Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen - I want her kitchen.  It's beautiful.  But I really want to eat in her kitchen because if her food is as good as it looks, the yum factor is very high.

Let's Have a Cocktail - Jennymac makes my makeup slide down my face and onto my neck.  She is outrageously funny.  Everyone should read her blog.  It's therapeutic!

Cream Puffs in Paris - Just the name of the blog makes you want to be there.  Her recipes are to die for.

Alive in Wonderland - This is the most recent blog that I've added to my favorites.  It's like taking a vacation right from my kitchen.  Don't you love it when someone can transport you to a new place?

There are certain recipes that very definitely need to be shared and this brownie recipe is absolutely one of them.  I used it on my old blog and here it is again. 

3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup margarine, melted and divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease rectangular pan, 13 x 9 x 2-inch, or two square pans, 8 x 8 x 2-inch. In medium bowl, combine cocoa and baking soda. Blend in 1/3 cup melted margarine. Add boiling water and stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup melted margarine. Stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla, and salt. Blend completely. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan; 30 to 35 minutes for square pans or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan(s). Frost with One-Bowl Butter cream Frosting. Cut into squares. Yield: 36 squares.

One-Bowl Butter Cream Frosting:

6 tablespoons margarine, softened
1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In small mixer bowl, cream butter. Add cocoa and powdered sugar alternately with milk. Beat to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Blend in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups.