Old-Fashioned Bake Sale ~ Brownie Squares

Friday, July 29, 2011

Do you know Brown Eyed Baker? I love her blog and boy is she an inspirational baker. A few months ago I baked her Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake as a gift for a friend's son (who LOVES cheesecake -- ME TOO!!). The brownie recipe used for the brownie mosaic squares makes way more than you need for the cheesecake. I froze the excess. It didn't take my teens long to find them hiding in the freezer. They used them as ice cream toppings and raved about what great brownies they are (since I had a taste while constructing the cheesecake, I KNEW they were right). Flash forward to now -- I have company coming from out-of-town next weekend -- including 2 of the cutest kiddos. We will be grilling and I want a dessert that will be fun, kid-friendly and low-fuss. I figured I would make some homemade vanilla bean ice cream and bake some of my Monsterously Wonderful Cookies that I have stashed in the freezer for make-your-own ice cream sandwiches but wanted something more to offer both the kids and adults -- then I remembered those brownie squares and thought *what a great idea* since I'll already have ice cream made, we can also do make-your-own (see a trend here?) brownie sundaes. So yesterday I baked these and hopefully hid them well in the chest freezer under some frozen veggies -- shhhh, don't tell my kids or they will disappear before next weekend :)

Brownie Squares
(Printable Version)

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1-3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles. Cool brownies, then cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares.

Radish Revolution

Thursday, July 28, 2011
Am I the very last person on the face of earth to know that radishes, sweet creamery butter (unsalted) and sea salt is the GREATEST food combo there is?
Sadly, radishes have a history of languishing in my house. I have great intentions when I plant them (or buy them), but they have gone underused.
THAT was then........this is NOW!!!
In case you're concerned that I am eating too much butter (is there really such a thing -- said in my best Paula Deen accent, lol), I just had my cholesterol checked as part of my annual physical and since my number is under 150 (well, just under, total cholesterol was 148 -- pretty good for this low-carb eating old gal), I'll indulge in this sinful snack occasionally without guilt -- besides, the health benefits from radishes include cholesterol reduction (doesn't that counter the butter, lol), stablizing blood pressure, support of liver and digestive health and cancer prevention -- YAY RADISHES (with sweet creamery butter and sea salt, lol)!

Pretty Random!

Monday, July 25, 2011
"Hey Mom, I am wanting to do something pretty random...will you go with me?"

That was what I heard as I answered my phone while grocery shopping on Saturday morning. Now my daughter loves to follow her heart and so *random* never surprises me with her. Then she explained that she wanted to follow MY lead and do something that I had done way back in January.........
Lop off her locks for Locks of Love!

Isn't she lovely?!!!

Sharing at Met Monday.

From The Hymnal ~ Near To The Heart of God

Saturday, July 23, 2011

He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. Isaiah 40:11

The chorus of this hymn is one I sing often in my private praise and worship time with the Lord.

Near To The Heart of God

There is a place of quiet rest,
near to the heart of God;
a place where sin cannot molest,

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
sent from the heart of God,
hold us who wait before thee
near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,
near to the heart of God;
a place where we our Savior meet,
near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
sent from the heart of God,
hold us who wait before thee
near to the heart of God.

There is place a place of full release,
near to the heart of God;
a place where all is joy and peace,
near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
sent from the heart of God,
hold us who wait before thee
near to the heart of God.

Old-Fashioned Bake Sale ~ Key Lime Bars

Friday, July 22, 2011
Isn't citrus so cooling and refreshing? -- especially lime. Seems I only make these wonderful bars in the summer months. They always make a splash and are perfect for toting to a picnic or cookout.

Key Lime Bars
(Printable Version)

2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
5 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (use Key Limes if you can get them)
powdered sugar or coconut for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2 inch baking dish. In a medium bown, combine 2 cups flour, confectioners' sugar and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar, juice, 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Pour over hot crust. Bake 22-25 mintues or until lightly browned. If desired, spinkle top with powdered sugar or coconut. Makes about 2 dozen bars.

Detasseling Season

Thursday, July 21, 2011
I live in Nebraska -- that is a different statement from *I am FROM Nebraska*. I am a transplant -- I've lived here since 2006. I love my adopted state -- I cheer for the Huskers and bleed RED like most native Nebraskans with one HUGE difference. I have never detasseled. The seasons here are autumn, winter, spring, summer AND detasseling!!

Those of you who do not live in the corn belt are asking, *what is detasseling?* According to Wikipedia, Detasseling corn is removing the pollen-producing flowers, the tassel, from the tops of corn plants and placing them on the ground. It is a form of pollination control, employed to cross-breed, or hybridize, two varieties of corn.

That would be the technical answer -- the simple answer is detasseling is a rite-of-passage for young teens in this part of the county....the first job of most. The school buses pick the kids up early and their LONG day begins.

In our area, the detasseling process starts with a machine that uses rollers to roll off the corn tops. Then the detasselers go through the fields and manually take off the portion of tassel that the machine didn't get. Sometimes this is done by walking through the field and in some operations, or when the corn is too tall the detasselers ride through the corn field on a detasseler carrier.

My little friend Meg, age 13, started her first detasseling season this week. Up early, 10-12 hours days in the 100°F heat (humidity driving the heat index to 110°F) trudging thru the mud and *corn rash* a probability -- she says it's worth it -- she has visions of a new trick bike and name-brand clothes -- good luck Meg -- make sure you drink enough water!!

Quite different from my first job -- babysitting for 50 cents an hour!

Faith with FEET!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Romans 10:15

I want to tell you a bit about my sweet youngest daughter. First I want to say how BLESSED I am to be the Mom to 4 WONDERFUL (grown or mostly grown) children. I am proud of each of them -- they are remarkable people and I am always in awe that God trusted me with raising them!

Youngest daughter reminds me a lot of myself at her age (17) -- she is very passionate -- and loyal and so ready to push her sleeves up when she is needed. She has been a stanch pro-life advocate since she was old enough to understand what that was and all about. This was a position that really was tested for her last fall when a dear person in her life decided to take his own life. Recently, she befriended a young woman that she works with. This young woman, B., was expecting a baby and had made the very brave but heart wrenching decision to give her baby up for adoption. Daughter decided that she needed to be there for B. and she was and still is. B.'s baby girl was born last week. When there was no one else to be in L&D with B., daughter was. When baby spent the night in a room at the hospital with her adoptive parents, daughter stayed all night with B. She has made sure that any physical need B. had this last week was met and has spent many hours visiting with her. This afternoon I mentioned to daughter how proud I was of her -- she just brushed me off and said, *Mom, it is important that my FAITH HAS FEET*!! I LOVE THAT GIRL!! Mental note to self -- give your faith feet as often as possible!

Old-Fashioned Bake Sale ~ MONSTEROUSLY Wonderful Cookies

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I know the heat is on and no one wants to crank up the oven and heat up the house BUT these cookies are so worth it. This recipe makes a super ginormous batch on purpose. I bake off a few and scoop the rest up and freeze (once frozen, transfer to a zippered bag for freezer storage) for cookies later. It is so worth the extra effort -- best part, these cookies are PERFECT for making homemade ice cream sandwiches.

What you got baking?

Monsterously Wonderful Cookies
(Printable Version)

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
1-1/2 pounds peanut butter (about 3 cups)
6 eggs
2-1/4 cups brown sugar
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp vanilla
2 tsp corn syrup
4 tsp baking soda
9 cups oatmeal
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups M&M candies

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter, peanut butter, eggs, sugars, vanilla, and corn syrup until light and fluffy. Add the oatmeal, a cup at a time, mixing well after each cup, adding the soda along with the oatmeal. Stir in the chocolate chips and M & M's candies. Scoop 1/4-cup size balls onto parchment-lined baking sheets; 8 to a sheet to allow for spreading. With dampened hands, flatten each ball slightly.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are browned on the edges and fully set in the center, careful to not overbake. Remove from the oven, let sit on the baking sheet one minute, then transfer to cooling racks. Store cookies in an airtight container. Makes 7 dozen cookies.

The Herb Garden ~ OREGANO & Greek Salad

My oregano us going nuts!! That means ONE thing -- Greek salad for lunch (and supper, lol). This salad simply tastes like summer!!

Greek Salad
(Printable Version)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 large clove garlic (or 2 small)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2-3 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
1-2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, deseeded and chopped
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
crumbled Feta cheese
half lemon (to squeeze on top of salad)
Additional chopped oregano(optional)

In a mason jar combine the red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Place lid on and shake. Set aside. Store in refrigerator for up to a week. Assemble salad with Romaine, cucumber, red onion, crumbled feta, and Kalamata olives. Squeeze half of a lemon over the salad. Add dressing to taste. Toss and serve immediately. Serve as a side salad or topped grilled chicken as a main course.

From The Hymnal ~ Our Great Savior

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Everytime I think I have run out of ideas for this feature or think that I'll end it, I get some encouragement to keep it going. This hymn is truly a favorite of mine....I'm blessed by it each time I sing or hear it and I hope it blesses you today too.

Our Great Savior

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.


Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.


Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.


Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.


Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.


To listen to the video, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn the blog music off.

Old-Fashioned Bake Sale ~ Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I baked this yummy cake over the 4th of July week-end. I used blueberries I had bought on sale that week and froze for future use. I'll be baking this one again since my family had thumbs up all around!! What's baking at your house?

Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake
(Printable Version)

1/3 cup milk
6 large eggs
1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup freshly grated lemon zest
3 cups picked over blueberries, tossed with 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
In a small bowl whisk together the milk, the eggs, and the vanilla. Into a bowl sift together the flour, the baking powder, and the salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter with the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the zest until the mixture is light and fluffy, add the flour mixture alternately with the egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating the batter after each addition until it is just combined, and fold in 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries. Spoon one third of the batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (3-quart) bundt pan, spreading it evenly, and sprinkle 1/2 cup of the remaining blueberries over it. Spoon half the remaining batter into the pan, spreading it evenly, and sprinkle 1/2 cup of the remaining blueberries over it. Spoon the remaining batter into the pan, spreading it evenly, sprinkle the remaining blueberries over it, and bake the cake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until it is golden and a tester comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, poke the top immediately all over with a wooden skewer, and brush it with half the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, invert it onto the rack, and poke it all over with the skewer. Brush the cake with the remaining syrup.
While the cake is baking, in a small saucepan combine the lemon juice and the sugar, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and remove the pan from the heat.

Bountiful Basil

Monday, July 4, 2011
I have a challenge in my yard -- not enough sun. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all the shade and the trees that provide it, but it makes it hard to grow sun-loving vegetables, herbs and flowers. This summer I decided to plant many things in pots -- especially my herbs. Then I could move them as they needed more sun. They are all thriving -- especially the basil.

I've made pesto and have been making lots of other basil friendly dishes to use up the bounty. One of my favorites to make is Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Plate. I visited our Farmer's Market for fresh tomatoes (it will be awhile before mine are ready). This is perfect on the side of grilled meats or as a light supper all on it's on with some crusty bread.

Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Plate

2 balls (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella
2-4 large ripe tomato
1/2 cup fresh whole basil leaves
4-5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut an X at the blossom end of each tomato. Drop quickly into boiling water and then plunge into iced water. The peel will now slip right off. Peel each tomato using this method.

Chiffonade (this is generally accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine ribbons) the basil, reserving some large leaves for garnish.

Use a serrated knife to halve the ball of mozzarella and then slice into 1/4-inch thick half moons (the fresh cheese is much easier to slice if you place it into the freezer for 30-40 minutes before slicing to firm it up -- don't forget it though). Slice the top and bottom off of the tomato; chop these pieces into a fine dice and set aside. Slice the tomato in half down through the center and then cut each half into 1/4-inch thick half moons.

Working in a circle on a dinner plate-sized serving platter, overlap the slices of mozzarella and tomatoes. Sprinkle cut basil over entire plate. Arrange the reserved diced tomatoes in the center of the plate and garnish with another basil leaf or two. Drizzle the olive oil over everything; sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Serve with a nice crusty bread, preferably homemade. Makes 4-6 servings.

From The Hymnal ~ The National Hymn?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

As we're getting ready to celebrate Independence Day, I thought it fitting to share what is our National Hymn..then I found out it is God of our Fathers -- a hymn I love but decided to go with my original thought, The Star Spangled Banner. Please pay close attention to the words .... especially those in the fourth verse.....IN GOD IS OUR TRUST!! AMEN!!!

The Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Reminder: If you want to listen to the video, go to the bottom of the page and turn the blog music off. Enjoy!!

Old-Fashioned Bake Sale

Friday, July 1, 2011

Remember bake sales? As a teen, we did bake sales as fundraisers for all sorts of reasons. Bake sales seem to have all but disappeared in today's world. Kind of sad -- what a great way to support a cause and bring home some lovely baked goods to enjoy. Since I love to bake I thought I'd start a summer series for Fridays -- a way to encourage myself to bake for my family more AND find some fun recipes to share with my readers -- look for a new recipe each friday and I am putting together a giveaway to encourage the inner baker in us all!

Dark Chocolate & Ginger Muffins
(Printable Version)

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not extra-bitter), coarsely chopped
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp ground ginger
3 pieces preserved ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped plus 2 Tbsp syrup from jar

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Heat butter and half of chocolate in milk in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until just melted. Remove from heat. Cool 15 minutes. Add eggs and whisk until smooth.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground ginger in a medium bowl until combined well. Add chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in remaining chocolate and preserved ginger with reserved syrup.

Divide among 12 greased (1/2-cup) muffin cups. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 14 to 18 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 to 10 minutes. Yields 12 muffins.