Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chewy Cocoa Brownies

I've made uncountable trips to the grocery store this past month. Today's challenge is to make supper and dessert without going ONCE again to the store! So, at the request of Riley, we are having brownies for dessert. However, I am out of unsweetened chocolate squares, my usual "go to" for brownies. This recipe promises chewy brownies made from cocoa (which I have 3 cans of!). They are in the oven as I write this, but I am confident that they will be wonderful (at least by a 10 yr old's standards). Put this recipe in a safe place for one of these days when you just can't make one more trip to the grocery store!!! Warm with ice cream.... what else could you ask for? UH OH.... I'm out of ice cream, too!

Chewy Cocoa Brownies
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

PREHEAT oven to 350ยบ F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

COMBINE granulated sugar, butter and water in large bowl. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; stir into sugar mixture. Stir in nuts. Spread into prepared baking pan.

BAKE for 18 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into bars.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Homemade Pizza

Our 10 yr old granson,Riley, and our friends' grandson, Wyatt, (see photo.. Riley in front) visit the mountains at the same time each summer. They have become inseparable friends and look forward to several weeks together each year. They learned to make pizza from scratch this year! So, when I say it's an EASY, failproof recipe, believe me! They have both declared commercial pizza (Pizza Hut, etc.) terribly inferior to their culinary creations! I love it! Get yourself in the kitchen and try this.. don't let the boys outdo you!!!

Homemade Pizza Crust
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water (I use tap water, as hot as it runs). Cover with a dish towel and let stand in a warm place until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Stir in oil, flour and salt. Beat with mixer (I use dough hook) until smooth. You can do this by hand, if you have lots of strength!
Cover with dish towel, let stand in a warm place to rest for 10 minutes.
Turn dough onto floured surface and roll into a circle (or whatever shape you like!)
This makes 1 large or 2 medium pizzas. Cut the dough in half and roll each separately as the boys did to make personal pizzas.
Transfer to a lightly greased pizza pan (or baking sheet). Spread with toppings and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness of crust.

Helen's Notes: Typical Italian pizza has a very mild tomato sauce. I use plain canned tomato sauce with a teaspoon of sugar added. The boys made "Meat Lover's" with all meat toppings. The key to great pizza, they found, was lots of cheese!

Have fun!!

Red White and Blue Pizza

July 4th is a great time to bring out the berries. They are all-American, healthy and just the right color! Try this fruit pizza with either raspberries or strawberries and blueberries. Its sure to be a favorite!

Red White and Blue Fruit Pizza

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
¼ cup apple jelly, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray. Cut cookie dough into 1/4-inch slices; place in pan. With floured fingers, press evenly over bottom to form crust. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon peel until fluffy. Spread over baked crust. Arrange raspberries in large star shape in center. Arrange blueberries around raspberries. Drizzle or brush with melted jelly. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Store in refrigerator.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

Remember that wonderful cookbook my daughter, Kelley, gave me for my birthday? Well... time for more yummy dishes from it! This salad can be a meal! What wonderful fresh flavors of summer and pretty, too! Make your own pita and serve with it or toast and break it up in the salad. Either way, it is sure to become a favorite.

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad
2010, Barefoot Contessa "How Easy Is That"

10 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced (I use Vidalia onions when in season)
1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded, cored, and 1/2-inch-diced (or grape tomatoes, halved)
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and 1/2-inch-diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
8 ounces good feta cheese, 1/2-inch-diced
Toasted pita bread, for serving

Place the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint, and basil in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing gently to coat all the vegetables. Add the feta, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently. Serve the salad with the toasted pita bread.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

This just might be the best strawberry ice cream recipe EVER! The recipe came with the new 1/2-gallon tabletop freezer Bill bought for us. He was just not happy to share his ice cream, so he bought a bigger freezer in order to always have some leftovers! Always thinking.... always eating....never gaining an ounce.... UGH!

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream
3 cups ripe fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
2 3/4 cups cream (or 1/2 & 1/2)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine sliced (or chopped) strawberries, lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Set aside for 2 hrs. Strain the berries and reserve the juice. Mash or puree 1/2 the berries. Set remainder aside.

Combine milk and sugar in small mixing bowl. Mix with electric mixer until sugar is dissolved - 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cream, strawberry juice, mashed berries and vanilla. Pour into tabletop 1/2 gallon ice cream machine and turn on. Run until mixture is soft frozen, about 25 minutes. Five minutes before mixing is complete, add remaining berries. Transfer to freezer container and place in freezer to firm up and ripen for about 2 hrs.