Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Candy Bar Brownies

Summer is here and we've been busy.  My son is playing summer baseball, of course, so we're at the ball park all the time.  We have also had some out-of-town visitors for the past few weeks.  Not to mention doctor's appointments and such.  I really just need a day to sit around with my feet up.  I'm sure many of you can relate.

Father's day was this past Sunday and my hubby loves brownies with frosting.  They're his favorite dessert.  So, I made him a special batch with a little added love (aka candy bars).  Bonus: they start with a boxed mix!  So easy!




CANDY BAR BROWNIES

1 box brownie mix (9x13 pan size)
plus ingredients needed to make them
1/2 cup chopped candy bars
1 (12 oz) bag milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used salted peanuts)

Preheat oven to temperature called for on the box (they're all different so read the directions).

Follow the directions on the brownie mix to make batter.


Add 1/2 cup chopped candy bars.  I used Hershey Bars and Mr. Goodbars, but use whatever you like.




Stir to mix the candy bars evenly into the batter.

Grease a 9x13 baking dish.  TIP:  Use a stick of margarine for this.  I don't like to eat margarine but it's basically buttery flavored shortening.  It's cheap and works great for greasing baking dishes.



Spread the batter into the greased baking dish (it will be thick).



Read the box and however long it tells you to bake it, bake for 2 minutes less than that.  For example if it says 28-30 minutes, bake it for 26 minutes.  You don't want to over bake brownies!  You want them to be fudgy and yummy not hard and dry.


As soon as you remove the brownies from the oven, spread the chocolate chips on and return to the oven for 1 minutes only.  This helps to melt the chocolate chips.



They may not look melty but they are.  Gently spread with a rubber spatula (or a butter knife) to frost the brownies.



Finally, sprinkle with the chopped nuts.  TIP:  I use a pastry blender to chop nuts.  I just rock it back and forth to gently chop them.  Easier than using a knife.




Sprinkle the frosting with chopped nuts.



Now, let these cool!  (This is the hardest part of the recipe).  If you try to cut them now you will have a big old mess on your hands!  Let them cool completely before cutting.



These brownies are fudgy and sweet with nuggets of candy bars inside!  You can use Snickers, Twix, Reeses, Milky Way, any candy bar you like.  These are a real treat!  Perfect with a tall glass of milk.  My hubby loved them by the way.  I think you will too.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Mississippi Mud Pie

Mississippi Mud Pie is a recipe that originated in Mississippi (of course) a short time after WWII.  Some call it pie, some call it cake, some just say Mississippi Mud. I call it a "pie" because I make it in a pie plate.  Anyway you say it, this dessert usually contains a crust or crumb component, a chocolate pudding component, whipped cream, pecans and traditionally, mini marshmallows (at the time the recipe was invented mini marshmallows were a new novelty).  My recipe does not contain marshmallows but you can add them if you want.





MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE

1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 1/2 cups cold milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 TBS butter, softened
3/4 cup pecans
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip, thawed
splash of vanilla extract
a chocolate bar (Hershey miniature, etc) for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk the pudding mix and milk well.  Chill in the fridge.



In a food processor (you can mix it by hand but a processor makes it easier), pulse together flour, softened butter and pecans until well incorporated.


You'll see it come together and form a dough.


Press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate.




Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes then sit it on the counter to cool.


Meanwhile, add a splash of vanilla extract to the Cool Whip and gently stir it in.



In a large bowl, stir the softened cream cheese until smooth.




Add 1/2 the container of Cool Whip and the powdered sugar.  Stir until smooth.



Once the crust has cooled completely, spread the cream cheese mixture over crust.




Next, spread the chilled pudding on.


 
If you want to add mini marshmallows, this is the time.  Throw a few on top of the pudding.
  
Then, carefully top with the remaining Cool Whip.



Chill this for at least an hour to let it set up.

Before serving, use a grater to shave a chocolate bar on top for garnish.




In this pic you can see the nutty crust, the tangy cream cheese layer, the creamy pudding layer and the vanilla kissed cool whip topping.  Everything mingling together in your mouth is downright delightful!




You will most definitely want to give this one a try!  It's a southern favorite for a reason.  Mud never tasted so good!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Grits and Sausage Casserole

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted.  We have been very busy!  My son's school year came to end and so did my daughter's college program at Disney World.  We went to Orlando to help her move out of her apartment and bring her home!  Boy, have I missed my girl!  She had a once in a lifetime magical adventure but we are so happy to have her home.

Here is a pic of us with The Beast at Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom.  The Beast was very charming!  He helped me out of my mobility scooter and walked me over to take the pic then accompanied me back to my scooter.  Who says chivalry is dead?




We had an amazing vacation!  Now, back to cooking.

I grew up eating grits.  I never realized they were a southern thing until a friend from up north asked me what they were.  In case you don't know, grits are just a hot cereal, like oatmeal or cream of wheat, but they are made from hominy, which is a type of corn.  I always ate them plain, with butter and salt.  But, this recipe bumps up the flavor to turn plain old grits into something fantastic!





GRITS AND SAUSAGE CASSEROLE

1/2 cup quick cooking grits
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt (plus extra salt/pepper to season)
1/4 lb. breakfast sausage (Jimmy Dean)
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 TBS chopped bell pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring water to a boil.  Add salt and slowly whisk in grits.  Lower heat, cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Meanwhile, brown the sausage with onion and bell pepper in a cast iron skillet (any oven-proof skillet will work.  If you don't have an oven-proof skillet you can just transfer everything to a baking dish before baking).



Once browned, drain off any excess grease.


Stir in the cooked grits and 1/2 cup of the cheese.



Salt and pepper to taste.  (If you want it spicy, use Cajun Seasoning or add a little hot sauce).


Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.


Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese melts.



This casserole is so darn delicious!  I couldn't stop eating it.  It's hard to believe something so simple can be so good, but it is.  Creamy, savory with just a bit of spice (or more if you're heavy handed with the hot sauce).  Feel free to garnish with some sliced green onions (I was out so no garnish here, sorry).  But you know how Cajuns feel about food?  It doesn't have to be pretty, just delicious.  This recipe delivers on that!