Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Perfect Brownie Pan" Brownie...and a Giveaway!

In all my years of baking brownies, I have never come across a brownie bake set called, Perfect Brownie Pan. It's a
bake, slice, and serve pan, with a cooling rack, that is included with it. Just to prove how easy it is, I put my 5 year old granddaughter Mattia to the test...but first check out this gadget!

Hi friends-here's the link to Wal-Mart for the Perfect Brownie Pan Set

I'm linking this to: Full Plate Thursday, 6-2-11 @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
I did not purchase this brownie pan...my friend Barbara gave this to me as a gift. They sell it at Wal-Mart and she said it literally flies off the shelves. She should know, because she works there. Now, if you take a good look, the way the slice that I featured on the first photo...is a "fluke"...really, it turned out that way because I decided to take the cutter insert out of the pan before I baked it, and then put the divider back into the brownie pan, so when the brownie was done, some of the slices came out with little borders around them that was kind of cute!
Actually, the brownies turned out extremely yummy...recipe book that was included with the brownie pan has a nice selection of brownie and other sheet cake recipes.

Traditional Homemade Brownies
adapted from Perfect Brownie Pan recipe book

2 1/3 cup butter (1 1/2 stick)
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup all purpose. flour

Preheat  oven to 350 degree F. Melt butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a saucepan, or in a microwave proof dish in the microwave. Whisk eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Add the flour, and stir until smooth, as in the photo on the right. Stir in most of the chocolate chips, and leave a few for the top, just before baking, scatter some on the top of the batter.

Granddaughter Mattia  volunteered to be my helper...standing on her little stool.

Add the melted chocolate, cocoa, and butter mixture, and the vanilla. Whisk until smooth without any lumps.
Spray brownie pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, for fudgy brownies, or 30-35 minutes for more firm.

You can of course bake this in a regular brownie square pan, or a rectangular pan, but if you can get a brownie bake pan like this it's really easy, and fun. The bottom of the pan is removable for easy handling.

This is a classic photo...while 5yr old Mattia was taking the photo of her "work well done"...I clicked my own photo, as well. At any rate, the brownie was a winner:D
I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day...we had a very nice relaxing day, with mostly sunny skies, and a delicious cookout. My son is a very neat grill cook. He has to have everything neatly set up, The flank steak marinated, the asparagus already marinated as in my previous post for the indoor pan grilling, salmon burgers as well.
 A beautiful combination of potatoes being roasted...by d-in-law Cara!
Have you ever seen a more perfect, tender and juicy flank steak?...perfectly grille by my son!
Thai, the 13 yr. old Black Lab mix, was keeping my son company at the grill...we came inside to eat, because it was quite hot outside...even at 5:PM...She darted right to the back patio door.

She was patiently waiting at the door to be let inside...She is such a sweetheart, so sweet, loyal, at the ripe old age of 13, still going strong and is quite healthy and happy:D

Now...about my Giveaway!

It's another great cookbook (a thrift find)...which in this case is a rarity...autographed by the author, brand new book, 2007 edition. You don't have to do a thing, just let me know if you are following me on Twitter, on my blog, or on Foodbuzz. That's all! You can enter as many as 3 or 4 entries if you like...entries will close Fri. June 4th, 2011 and I will announce the winner on Saturday morning, June 5th. Winner will be chosen by Random.org generated number. It's really a great book, so don't miss it!

About Impress for Less by Hope Fox

In Impress for Less!, Hope Fox takes recipes from 100 of the top restaurants in the nation, and re-creates them with ingredients that can be found in the grocery store. Impress for Less! already is resonating with celebrated chefs, authors and personalities, like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Bob Bowersox and Patti LaBelle. And, restaurants, retailers and cooking schools are lining up to sell it. Impress for Less! hits store shelves nationwide in early August 2007.
Ever since Hope was a little girl, she was taught to entertain with a full heart and cook with love. For more than 30 years, she has been entertaining with a generous yet simple approach and style. Hope makes every occasion – from birthdays to holidays to afternoon summer picnics – inviting and memorable. She makes the complicated look easy and takes the ordinary to extraordinary, whether it is planning for a fabulous dinner party or connecting with viewers on television.
For the past 10 years, Hope has regularly appeared on QVC, the world’s largest and most successful electronic retailer. Her keen sense of what women want has helped her capture their attention and sell some of the world’s most respected brands, like Conair, Farberware, Pollenex, Sabatier and Weight Watchers, to more than 90 million households.
Outside of television, Hope is a passionate cook, fervent entertainer and regular restaurant patron. She simply loves food, style and people. Hope has more than 200 cookbooks in her personal collection and frequently combs through them to share recipes with family and friends – and even strangers.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blueberry Marshmallow No-Bake Torte...Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and with all the BBQ's planned hopefully all of you will have a beautiful and sunny day as we always have, here in South Florida. With all the preparations going on for this event, why would you want to spend hours in the kitchen baking pies, and cakes, when you can just whip up an "easy-breezy" spring/summer dessert, that will chill in 2 hours, and ready to enjoy!
Now, unless it's your mother's treasured recipes that were marked down in a handwritten book as in Claudia's @What's Cookin' Italian Style Cuisine from her dear departed mom's... you have got to mention that it's your own creation, or adapted from some source. As for your own creation, that really means you have memorized a recipe and are putting together by your own creativity and jotting the the instructions, and the step-by-step method, just as I have done in my last post about the Roasted peppers, which is a tried and true method from all the other failed ones I have used.
As in my case, I must confess, I steal ideas from glancing at pictures of recipes...being in the culinary profession for so many years have thought me just that...especially with request from my Private Chef experience when I literally had to plan, shop, prep, and throw together a quick gourmet meal from soup to dessert, and presented beautifully to serve for 2-4 persons (hopefully the same main course)...so, when I see a pretty photo of a dessert, I may not follow which is in most cases, the same exact recipe and will also re-name it, and will add to the ingredients, as well. Also, I do feel that most recipes require to be adapted with different spices, or ingredients to make it your way, and you should mention that when you are posting a recipe, that is copied. Adapted-literally means that you have modified, changed, and altered it for new use.
Before I take you to the step-by-step method, and recipe, I must remember to mention, that my granddaughter Gabby, age 9...decorated the entire Torte top, with the fresh blueberries, and the freshly picked mints from their next door neighbor Dr. Eric's yard....notice the bougainvillea in the background at my daughter's house, and the cute decoration by Gabby...also the sweet mint flower, and a tiny sprig of rosemary which also had purple little flowers. The flower on the platter came from Eric's yard of 2 beautiful blooming trees. Happy, Memorial Day weekend, to all!....just don't leave yet!  ...more to come. Click on read more...

Blueberrry  Marshmallow No-Bake Torte
Totally adapted from another recipe called
Blueberry Squares by TASTEOFHOME.COM

2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (see photo on right)
5 Tablespoons (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 Tablespoon sugar

In a food processor, crush the vanilla wafers until they resemble fine crumbs. In a medium bowl, add the crumbs and melted butter, and sugar to incorporate using  a fork, until all the butter is mixed in. In a non-stick 9 inch spring form cake pan, press evenly on the bottom. It's not necessary to have it come up on the sides...just on the bottom.
In a preheated 325 degree F. oven, bake for 12-15 minutes. Set aside, and cool.

For the Blueberry Filling:

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 - 3/4 cup water (start with 1/2 cup first)
4 cups fresh blueberries, divided
(I used a big container from Costco)
grated lemon peel from 1 lemon
juice of the same lemon, after grating it

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually add water, stirring, or whisking it until smooth .(see photo on right)
Add the grated lemon peel, and lemon juice and stir to combine.

Stir in the divided half 2 cups of blueberries...bring to a boil, and stir until thickened, adding the extra 1/4 cup of water if it gets too thick. You can see the thickness of consistency by seeing how the sauce coats the wooden spoon...show in the photo on the right.

Now, you are ready to fold in the remaining 2 cups of blueberries, and give it a good careful stir, and set aside to cool completely, before layering it with the whipped cream and marshmallows.

This is the consistency of the sauce, that will thicken even more as it cools in the fridge, for about 45 minutes before filling, and layering with the marshmallow cream.

For the marshmallow cream filling, and topping:

2 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows (Kraft is the best)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar

In a medium bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken.
Add the confectioners' sugar, and beat until soft peaks form. (do not over beat, or you will end up with whipped butter...LOL)
Fold in marshmallows.

Spread half the amount of the cream with the folded marshmallows into the prepared crust.

Top with the entire prepared and cooled blueberry mixture. At this point, you can leave it with the blueberry topping to cool, an set completely in the fridge, or add the last layer of marshmallow cream for the last topping, chill for 2 hours either way, with the blueberry topping, or the final marshmallow cream topping, and decorate as you wish...or as Gabby decorated it.
note: if you don't use the last layer of marshmallow cream for the topping, and wish to leave the blueberry topping...you can use the marshmallow cream to spoon extra cream when you cut the slices.

At any rate, I want to share this with you to enjoy with your family, friends, and party guests as an easy, breezy special dessert!

A Day To Count Our Blessings picture

You Will Always Be Remembered picture
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Roasted Peppers, the Easy Way!

If I show you step-by-step how easy is to make the best roasted peppers in your own oven, I guarantee that you won't buy the jarred kind, which does not come remotely close to the homemade kind. I'm not going to convince you that it's cheap to buy red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, but if you can find a local produce market, chances are they always have bulk buys of whatever kind of vegetables that they have an abundance of, or they are getting a little too ripe, so they will put it on sale. Our local Cuban produce market has the freshest and such a variety of every kind of produce you can find.

I'm linking this to Full Plate 5-26-11 @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage

You don't want to miss out on this giveaway on Lora's blog @ Cake Duchess Honey Girl Organic Skincare products, from Hawaii. Be sure to check it out!

You can visit their website to learn more about their amazing products! There is even a video here on this page that shows how they get the honey from their own bees in Hawaii.


I was so thrilled when my daughter gave me 2 large bags of peppers, and zucchini, that she bought for $1.00 each bag from the produce market. That's what I call a real thrift buy and I am truly grateful for it.
If you love peppers as much as I do, follow me through all the steps and I will show you how easy it is to make roasted peppers.

This is where the easy part comes in. Cut the peppers in half, and clean the seeds out. Also, discard the core.
Depending how many peppers you have, Line one or two bake pans with aluminum foil.

Place the peppers facing down, and spray with cooking spray. You can also scatter some garlic cloves around them. Do not drizzle with oil, or it will get too wet. Peppers will release a lot of liquid during roasting time. You don't have to season peppers at this stage.

I would have preferred also some red and yellow, although there was one red pepper in the bunch. What can I say? This bunch cost $1.00. I am happy with this "loot." Set your oven at 425 degree F. Roast peppers for about 45 minutes, do not turn them...it's not necessary.
When they appear wilted, and wrinkled like in the photo, you can remove from the oven.

Have a large plastic baggie ready. With a tong, remove peppers to place into the bag and snap it closed.

Put all the peppers in the bag, and let it sit in the bag for about 20 minutes...by that time they will also cool down and it will be easier to peel the skin off.

Empty the peppers into a colander and place into a clean and empty sink.

Just look, how easy the skin comes off. Pile the peppers on a platter, and ready to prepare them.

These are the peeled peppers, ready to be sliced.

On a cutting board, with a small sharp knife, slice all the peppers, and line a platter decoratively.

Line a platter with the peppers, and in between the layers, drizzle a very nice extra virgin olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar.

This is the amazing White Balsamic Vinegar I used to drizzle on the peppers. Notice that it's fig infused which gave a slight sweetness. Just sprinkle with sea salt, a small amount of garlic powder, and freshly ground pepper, and you can also add a nice touch of sliced sun dried tomatoes in olive oil.

note: you can also add the roasted garlic pieces to the layered peppers. The reason I added garlic powder, because fresh garlic overpowers the sweet natural flavor of the peppers.

I like to make my own sun dried tomatoes, which I do quite often and keep in a jar, but I did find this beautiful California Sun Dried Julienne Cut tomatoes which I truly love to add to my recipes.

Just look at the beautiful vibrant colors...the sun dried tomatoes, and the roasted peppers. You can add them to sandwich, use as appetizer with crunchy pieces of bread, add them to pasta, or salad, and you can also add them to cooked vegetables...Enjoy!
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