Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Are the Brownies Done?

Now that I am back living in the land of cheap ($.99) brownie mixes (on sale, anyway), being able to tell when the brownies are done properly has become a rather important skill. Really!

The first batches of brownies I made were...really pretty raw. I'd leave them out on the counter to dry them out before finishing them. They lasted forever.

Then there was the batch I overcooked. What a sad way to DESTROY chocolate!

Mixes say to not over bake!!! To check the appearance of the top of the brownie. But, I FINALLY found a mix that lets me use...


to determine doneness. This is WONDERFUL for me!

The mix said that when the toothpick comes back mostly clean when stuck in two inches away from the edge, the brownies are done. AND THEY ARE! Perfectly! Yeah Betty Crocker!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Peanut Butter Frosting - Broiled

It was Ryu's birthday Monday and I overheard him talking with Jun about what they both liked. He loves peanuts and said he also liked peanut butter. I had no idea! So, as we were going out for dinner to a Christmas party, I decided to make up the brownie mix I had in the cupboard and find a new frosting to celebrate at snack time. This is in Betty Crocker's Cookbook from 1978. Can that really be 32 years AGO? Anyway, another great NO POWDERED SUGAR recipe!

Broiled Peanut Butter Frosting

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter - softened
1/4 cup peanut butter (chunky or creamy is fine)
3 Tbsp. milk
1 cup finely chopped peanuts

Mix brown sugar, butter, peanut butter and milk. stir in peanuts. Spread frosting over warm 13 X 9 inch cake. Set oven control to broil and/or 550F. Broil cake about 5 inches from heat until frosting bubbles and browns slightly, about 3 minutes. (Watch carefully - frosting burns easily.)

I kept the oven door open to keep an eye on things and set the timer. This frosting on brownies (with a few handfuls of chocolate chips thrown into a box mix) was too perfect. The saltiness and the crunchiness of the peanuts was a good contrast to the moist sweetness of the brownie. Mmmmm!

I'm going to make this for my Mom's birthday today!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fudge - Five Minute!

I have wanted to make fudge for years and years and years. But, I was too cheap to buy sweetened condensed milk in Japan and had no idea where to find marshmallow fluff. And I certainly do NOT put REAL fudge in the "Kantan" (easy) category.

Then, a few weeks ago our neighbor had a box of canned things they didn't need and asked if we could use. Yep! There were a few cans of evaporated milk (non-sweetened). Now my mother and grandmother always use/d this, but I rarely if ever buy it. But, for some wonderful reason I looked at the label. There was this 5 Minute Fudge recipe that DIDN'T call for sweetened condensed milk nor marshmallow fluff! If I'd have had this recipe in Japan...I just might have made it - I wonder if you can use milk for the condensed milk? Hmmm.

Five Minute Fudge

2 Tbsp. butter
2/3 cups undiluted Evaporated Milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine above ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to a full boil. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in the following ingredients:

2 cups (4 oz) miniature marshmallows (or cut up a bunch of bigger ones?)
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts.

Stir vigorously for 1 minute (until marshmallows melt and blend). Pour into a buttered 8-inch square pan. Cool and cut into squares.

It was simply heavenly!

Note: I tried to make vanilla fudge for Ryu using this recipe and substituting vanilla white chocolate chips. Hmmm. I don't like white chocolate, but even so, it turned out quite a bit softer than the "real" chocolate fudge.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Egg Nog

In my attempt to do some pre-Christmassy things this year, I decided to start with the ABC's. The letter "E" became "Make Egg Nog" day. Ryu doesn't care for really thick or sweet egg nog. We are tea totalers (sp?), so were looking for a non-alcoholic drink. We also have lived in Japan where raw eggs are OFTEN mixed with soy sauce and poured over hot rice in the morning for breakfast. So, when I found this recipe on About.com, it seemed to be right up our alley. I am typing it out with my notes as well as putting a link to it as sometimes...links - and thus recipes - disappear!

Easy Egg Nog

2 eggs beaten well (Why couldn't you use an egg product that is...pasteurized? if you were worried?)
3 Tbs. sugar (I wouldn't have minded a full 1/4 cup = 4 Tbs.)
1 tsp. vanilla (We could have upped this too. Yum!)
1/8 tsp. nutmeg, ground
2 1/3 cups milk

We washed the eggs before we broke them, and then whisked them well before gradually adding each ingredient. The three of us drank the whole batch for lunch today. Yum!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Easy Chocolate Cake

After failing to make "Never Fail Chocolate Cake" in Jr. High, making cake from "scratch" was never appealing. So, while living in Japan, I only made "that kind" of cake when I had shelled out $5 for a cake mix or brought one home from the US. Even then, I got out my kitchen scale (oh how I wish I had brought THAT with me here!) and halved the cake mix so I could make two desserts with it. Sometimes a single layer cake and sometimes a batch of cookies. YUM.

Well, a year or so ago, some readers and I discussed the "perfect" cookie. In the midst of that discussion, I got some good cookie advice from a new friend AND a question about a recipe for a GOOD "from scratch" cake recipe. I ran from THAT question as fast as I could.

Then, a friend here let me taste her scratch cake recipe. She used it while she was a missionary in Mongolia! It was good. I wrote it down. I lost it. I looked for something kind of like it in an old "potluck" cookbook that my Grandma Esther gave me in 1992. And I found something that I had the ingredients for. Of course, I took SOME liberty and changed a few things, but...it was BETTER than the cake mixes I can now buy for under $1 each! Lots better! AND, I know what's in it! AND, it doesn't take 3 eggs like most cake mixes seem to these days. It actually doesn't take ANY eggs. So, here it is!

Easy Chocolate Cake

1 cup sugar
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup sifted flour (no, I don't have a sifter and didn't sift it!)
3 Tbsp. cocoa - I put in a 1/4 cup.

Mix all this up. The recipe says to do this in a square baking pan. But, I like to MIX, so did it in a bowl. Add:

6 Tbsp. oil - I just put in 1/3 cup
1 Tbsp. vinegar - scared Ryu to death
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cold water

Add and mix it all up.

I added 1/2 cup or more of chocolate chips.

I suggest greasing and flouring your 9X9 or deep round cake pan. I didn't and...things stuck to the bottom. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. Mine took about 27 minutes.

This recipe was found in "Potluck Potpourri sponsored by Coos County Extension Homemakers Council 1991-1992, and was contributed by Mary Lundy.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Healthy" Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have already published my "I LOVE YOU" Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I found it while living in Japan and it's small amount worked great for my small oven. But, then I moved back to the US. And all my favorite recipes written on paper...were in a box...somewhere. And the computer was off so it was a pain to find THE recipe. So, I turned to...the back of the chocolate chip bag. How's that for creative? Oh, and I have a full sized oven. Now if I just had another cookie sheet, think how FAST I could make LOTS of cookies!!!

I think that cookies are my favorite food in all the world. Not bar cookies. Individually baked ones. And I love to share them with other people. While I lived in Japan, the "other people" often preferred a less sweet version of whatever I was making and I am no longer a "pack down the brown sugar" gal. I also cheated on butter, I see now. Oh well. But, the audience I bring my cookie offerings to lately are folks who like a little health in their food, but don't want to leave the taste at home. And, it was for them (AND ME) that I was making these cookies.

So, I started with the recipe on the back of the bag, substituted whole wheat flour and...flax seed meal. I read on a blog once about putting flax seed or flax seed meal in chocolate cookies. I was appalled. Why would anyone mess with the Queen of Cookies (aka: Chocolate Chip)? With FLAX SEED? But, as I mentioned, the consumers for this batch of cookies liked some health, so I threw in some.

I would just like to say that I-HAVE-NEVER-TASTED-SUCH-A-GOOD-AND-UN COMPROMISED-CHOCOLATE-CHIP-COOKIE in all my life! Yep. All of it! BTW, the basic recipe is ALSO found on the back of the soda box. Different name, but...same old recipe!

"Healthy" Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup butter - I would just like to say, to my friends in Japan, I am consuming enough butter AND sour cream for myself and most of you! The scales support me in this. I'm about to check out the yogurt section of my supermarket.
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I NEVER used granulated in Japan - the wet white was fine.)
3/4 cup brown sugar (I never pack it in anymore.)
2 eggs

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal (I'm so sorry, I have no source for this in Japan!)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda

When mixed well, add:
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins

Chill the dough for an hour or two. Drop by rounded spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 9 minutes. So yummy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cream Cheese Frosting

My friend, Abigail, and I were always trying to find frosting recipes that didn't take powdered sugar, in Japan. Even after I learned "how" to make powdered sugar, I never wanted to use Ryu's coffee grinder that long to grind enough for frosting. So, I am not sure how great the home made would taste in big quantities.

Anyway, I have posted my Mom's Pour on Chocolate Frosting that doesn't require powdered sugar, but am ALWAYS on the look-out for other recipes. Even though both Abigail and I are now living in the USA, with pounds and bags of powdered sugar at our fingertips if we could just find the aisle they were sold on at the supermarket, I hope the following recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting without powdered sugar will help someone out!

Cream Cheese Frosting