Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Favorite Brownies

These are heavenly...they are cake-y, but have a bit of that fudgy center that everyone loves.  Add whatever chips you want...even throw a few mini-marshmellows in for the perfect treat!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Nestle Toll House baking cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (10 ounce) package Nestle milk chocolate and caramel swirled morsels (if you cannot find these wonderful chips... use a combination of your favorite ones.  I like Butterscotch and White Chocolate!)
1 cup pecans, chopped, optional

1. PREHEAT oven to 350.  Grease 13 x 9 pan.

2. COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat sugar, butter and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts (if desired). (Note: this WILL be thick - this is not for the faint-of-heart mixer!)  Spread into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle remaining morsels and remaining nuts over top.

3. BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted 2 inches from outer edge comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  In order to cut better, chill in refrigerator.

4. Suggested Serving:  Top with ice cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.  Or...have some fresh strawberries left over from Strawberry Shortcake?  Ice cream on top of warm brownies, with a healthy spoon of Sugared Strawberries...make sure there is extra sauce to soak up into the Brownie!

Servings: 20
Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

Nothing says 'Wonderful Weather' like Fresh Strawberries!  Here in England, we get delightful Strawberries from Spain, so the perfect afternoon treat is Strawberry Shortcake.

PREHEAT oven to 450F.

First, mix washed, hulled, and chopped strawberries with granulated sugar.  For an extra special treat, add a little Grand Marnier!  Stir them well and refrigerate while the oven is heating and you are mixing the dough.

Shortcake Dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup margarine or butter, cold and diced
1 egg, slightly beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
Demerra sugar, for topping (aka sugar in the raw)

1.  Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.

2.  Rub diced margarine/butter in with your fingers. (Since living in England, this is the preferred way to 'cut' fat into biscuits... works so much better than using a pastry blender, and it's fun to play with your food!)

3.  Mix wet ingredients together, then stir them into the dry ingredients.  If the dough is too dry, add a little more milk.  If too moist, add a little more flour.  The dough should be stiff, but moist.

4.  Drop onto greased baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

5.  Slice biscuits horizontally.  (For a little added decadence, put a little butter/margarine on each half.) Suggested Serving: Spoon a portion of strawberries onto bottom half, top with a little whipped cream, put the top on and put a few more strawberries on top. 

How you build it is up to you.  Also, with the strawberries and sugar, the recipe that I used suggested 1/4 cup sugar to 6 cups sliced strawberries.  I use this as a guideline, not an actual recipe.  It truly depends on the strawberries, and how much 'sauce' you want.  If you can mix up the strawberries and sugar about an hour beforehand, place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to see how the 'syrup' is coming along... if you would like more syrup, add a little more sugar and stir, place back in the refrigerator.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

I adapted this recipe from one I found in a Thanksgiving Cookbook some years ago.  The original recipe called for Pumpkin Pie spices.  With Black Beans being a key ingredient, I went SouthWest instead.  Top this with Sour Cream, Avocado Slices and Shredded Cheese, and you have a very hearty soup for dinner!

This thick, rich soup is delicious on a chilly fall day or a perfect accompaniment to your holiday turkey – especially if you or someone you love is a vegetarian.

3 cans (43.5 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbs olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Baked pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)

1. Place oil, shallot or red onion, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, cinnamon and allspice into a large pot and cook on low-medium heat until the shallot or red onion and garlic begin to brown.

2. Using a food processor, puree the beans and tomatoes with half of the vegetable broth. Add the pureed beans, tomatoes, pumpkin and the rest of the broth to the pot.

3. Simmer the mixture uncovered until thick, about 40-45 minutes. Before serving, stir in the balsamic vinegar. Garnish with baked pumpkin seeds.  Personally, I throw in a little Sour Cream, maybe shredded cheese and a big hunk of bread on the side!

Servings: 6

Tip: You can add less vegetable broth to create a thicker soup and substitute 1/2 stick of margarine for oil, if preferred.

Tip: Use an emersion blender to simplify the process. You can puree the ingredients together inside the pot you’re using to cook the soup, instead of using the food processor.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

As an unexpected treat, chocolate mini morsels are sprinkled on the crust before the pumpkin filling is poured in. More chocolate is swirled into the cheesecake to give it a marbled effect.



oven to 350º F. Grease 9-inch springform pan.

COMBINE graham cracker crumbs, butter and granulated sugar in medium bowl. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup morsels.

remaining morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 30 seconds; STIR. The morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted; cool to room temperature.

BEAT cream cheese, granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth; beat in pumpkin. Beat in eggs, evaporated milk, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Remove 3/4 cup pumpkin mixture; stir into melted chocolate. Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into crust. Spoon chocolate-pumpkin mixture over top; swirl.

BAKE for 60 to 65 minutes or until edge is set but center still moves slightly. Cool in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove side of springform pan.
Serves 16
This is one recipe that I have never tweaked!  Most recipes, I write all over them to make them better, IMHO, but this one is perfect as it is!  I received it several years ago in a little Nestle cookbook, and it has become a Tradition during the Holidays.  Thanksgiving because of the Pumpkin and Christmas, because ... well, just because!

Colcannon on Chicken and Apple Pie

We just tried this recipe in our house this past week, and it is wonderful.  Once again, I will give it to you as it is printed on the website, without my 'tweaks.'  The tweaked one will be in my cookbook.  
I wanted to cook something that seemed very 'British,' and this one seemed to add the best of the United Kingdom in it!

Colcannon and Chicken and Apple Pie

Colcannon is a simple, warming Irish potato dish, combining mashed potatoes with shredded cooked cabbage and chopped spring onions. Here it is used as a lovely pie topping for chicken cooked in cider with sliced apples and carrots. The pie is a well-balanced meal in itself, needing no accompaniments. 

1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
450 g (1 lb) skinless boneless chicken breasts (fillets), cut into chunks
3 carrots, thickly sliced
240 ml (8 fl oz) chicken stock
240 ml (8 fl oz) dry cider
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dried tarragon
2 Cox's apples, thickly sliced
1 tbsp cornflour
salt and pepper
Colcannon topping
700 g (1 lb 9 oz) floury potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
200 g (7 oz) Savoy cabbage, shredded
4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
25 g (scant 1 oz) butter
4 spring onions, finely chopped

Preparation method

Heat the oil in a large, deep, non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes or until softened.
Add the chicken to the pan and cook over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until it is no longer pink. Stir in the carrots.
Combine the stock, cider, mustard and tarragon, and pour into the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Stir in the apples and cook, covered, for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken and carrots are tender, and the apples have softened but are still holding their shape.
Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for about 15 minutes or until tender. Cook the cabbage in a separate pan of boiling water for 4–5 minutes or until just tender but not soft; drain well.
Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Add the milk and butter, and mash until smooth. Stir in the cabbage and spring onions, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.
Using a draining spoon, transfer the chicken, apples and vegetables to a 1.7 litre (3 pint) ovenproof dish. Set aside. Preheat the grill to high.
Mix the cornflour with 1 tbsp cold water, stir into the cooking liquid in the frying pan and bring to the boil, stirring until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour over the chicken mixture.
Pile the potato and cabbage topping over the chicken mixture, spreading it evenly to cover. Place under the grill and cook for 4–5 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Megan's Granola

WOW!  I am not much of a granola fan, but I do love this.  Once again, I went to to find a recipe.  We have made this a few times, and it just seems to get better.  Today, I made the sauce by 1.5 times, to have a little extra 'stick' to the granola.  Nuts are optional, I just added a little extra oats and sunflower seeds instead of the nuts in one batch.


  • 8 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 cups oat bran
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups raisins or sweetened dried cranberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
  2. Combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Cool, then stir in the raisins or cranberries before storing in an airtight container.