Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

I go to lunch monthly with a great group of ladies. We laugh, eat, and laugh some more. We joke that we are eating our way thru Utah County! We don't often get dessert--so I happily bring it. I need to try recipes for my blog and I love to share. It is also difficult having a pan of goodies staring at me all day.
I made these Peanut Butter Cup Blondies because I had a bag of Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the pantry. I knew if I didn't use them soon I would eat them straight out of the bag. Do you ever do this--please say yes?
The recipe was simple to put together which was a good thing because time was short. I cooked the blondies and then put them outside in 30 degrees to cool. It wasn't long and they were packaged and ready to go. The blondies looked like little presents. Who doesn't want a goodie wrapped and ribboned (I made that word up)!
This recipe comes from Alida's Kitchen

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/ 3 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips--I used Hershey's Mini Kisses
4 ounces Mini Peanut Butter Cups, cut in half
 In a large bowl mix together flour, sugars, salt and baking powder. In a small bowl mix together melted butter, peanut butter, eggs, milk and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Put in a 9x9 square pan that has been sprayed with Pam, lined with parchment and sprayed again. Pat batter into pan. Sprinkle Peanut Butter Cups over top and press down lightly. 
Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes or until a few crumbs remain on a toothpick. Cool and cut into bars.

Two years ago.....Toasted Almond Scones.
Four years ago......Surprise Cookies

Happy Birthday Scott

Our oldest son Scott has a birthday today--here are a few things I don't want to forget about Scott:
  • The big blue sign Greg painted that hung above our driveway. In big blue bold letters it said:
  • It's A Boy. Everyone that drove into Cedar Hills knew that the Harris Family had a new baby boy.
  • I don't want to forget how cute Scott was. He had plenty of dark hair that had a mind of it's own. I may or may not have used a little gel on Scott's hair to keep it in place.
  • When Scott was about 2 years old he was so ornery and clingy for a couple of weeks. I finally took him to the doctor. I knew he must have strep or an ear infection. Dr. Bachelor gave him a thorough check up and said, he's fine--you just have one ornery boy on your hands!
  • Scott wanted to be just like his dad. Greg had a t shirt with the number 88 on it. Scott insisted he needed one just like it. So I went to the place in the mall where they made shirts and had 2 more 88 shirts made, one for Scott and one for baby brother Paul. They wore them for years.
  • Greg was so excited to take his young 3 year old on a manly outing. They decided to go pheasant hunting. After a couple of hours of chasing the dog and a 3 year old Greg decided maybe he wasn't quite old enough to hunt! I told Greg it was 8 when my brothers were young. He agreed!
  • But seeing the wonder and fascination in Scott's eyes as he got older and saw the ducks, pheasants and deer Greg brought home. We knew that hunting would certainly be a part of Scott's future--and it was.
  • Greg and I tried to go on a Friday night date. We hired capable sitters that enjoyed our children. I felt they were very safe. For some reason Scott didn't feel the same way. He was 4 or 5 and as soon as we left Scott would curl up in a corner of the front room and take a nap. He awoke when we got home. Just his way of coping I guess.
  • Scott was generous, he had a full time summer job when he was 15 working at Professional Heating. Wow, so much money. He wasn't big on saving but he bought all his own clothes, he paid his school fees, bought some hunting gear etc. But the thing that impressed me the most was his generous nature. He paid for all of Paul's burgers, fries, Big Chill's and "bin" food. He would pick groceries up for me and never ask for money. Scott was a fun teenager. We enjoyed his friends, 'the fellas', put up with Mid Night Foot Ball Games. And somehow against our better judgement he went on a 10 day senior trip to California.
  • Scott served an honorable mission to  Sao Paulo, Brazil. He married the beautiful Chersten Wilkes, a neighbor and friend. They have 3 beautiful daughters and one sweet son. My favorite thing is to watch Scott be a Dad--he reminds me of Greg.
  •  Scott works hard for his family. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese and English. He worked for the Border Patrol for several year and achieved the honor of being a member of the BorStar. He has a degree in Criminal Justice, he is trained in all kinds of rescue techniques and he is a Paramedic. He now works for the Federal Government as a DEA Agent.

 We love you Scott--keep doing great things!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Pistachio, White Chocolate, Cherry Cookies SRC

SRC is a wonderful place to meet new bloggers. You are assigned a blog each month--you then have the fun of 'stalking' said blog. I love to spend time at my new friends home. This month I was assigned the blog Food Baby Life. It is written by the delightful Susan from Australia. She has two darling boys. Susan has been a member of the Tuesdays With Dorie and Baking with Julia so I was familiar with many of the delicious recipes on her blog.  I could have easily remade World Peace Cookies and been happy. But Susan has many recipes on her blog that beg baking!
I found myself in the cookie section of her blog--surprise, surprise! Cookies are my weakness (actually one of many). I found myself returning often to a Christmas Cookie--now I know it's not Christmas but we have had so much snow lately it feels like it!  I chose her Pistachio, White Chocolate, Cherry Cookies. These were a party in my mouth! So many flavors and textures; sweet white chocolate, tart dried cherries and the crunch of pistachios. These cookies do have red and green in them but I will be making them year round. Thanks Susan for a new addition to my cookie list!
I made the cookies as per Susan's recipe. I did use dried cherry's instead of dried cranberries--that is what I had. I also got to change my scale to grams and had to research Celsius/Fahrenheit conversions. It was all part of the fun!

Pistachio, White Chocolate, Cherry Cookies 
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
120 g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Carefully mix in the dry ingredients then fold  in the oats, pistachios, cherries, and white chocolate.

Roll the dough into balls and place on baking sheet.  Flatten the top of each cookie with your fingers, then bake approximately 10 minutes or until slightly golden on top.  Allow to cool 4 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Crock Pot Mashed Potato Soup

When my children were young there was one dish that I knew would always please all 8 of us. Mashed potatoes was always a hit. When the now grown kids come home for a visit mashed potatoes are usually on the menu. Mashed potatoes are such a comfort food, they just say love and home.
So when I saw a recipe for Mashed Potato Soup in the Crock Pot I was intrigued. I'm happy to say this soup is delicious, it just screams comfort. Comfort is good.

Crock Pot Mashed Potato Soup
8 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2 inch cubes
4 ounces extra sharp cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Cook diced bacon in skillet until brown and crisp, remove bacon. Using 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease cook onion and garlic for about 8 minutes until slightly brown. Sprinkle with flour and stir for a minute. Slowly add one cup of the chicken broth whisking to remove brown bits from bottom of the pan. Stir until thick, add salt and pepper. Transfer to Crock Pot.
Stir in the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth and the diced potatoes. Cook on low for about 4 hour or until potatoes are fork tender. Now comes the fun part. Using your immersion blender blend the potatoes as much as you want! This can be a very creamy soup or you can leave some chunks of potato. I like some texture to my soup. If you don't have an immersion blender ask for one for Mother's Day, or just buy one--you will thank me. You can just mash the desired amount of potatoes. Stir soup and slowly add the cheese stirring to melt. Add cream and sour cream. Stir. Serve topped with scallions and reserved bacon.
This recipe was inspired by a recipe on Tracey's Culinary Adventures.

You might like to try:
1 year ago-----Orange Date Muffins
2 years ago----Crunchy Granola
3 years ago----Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake
4 years ago----Strawberry Spinach Salad

Thursday, February 21, 2013

We Have a Winner

Thanks to all those who commented and checked out Shannon's Blog. Do Over is a book worth reading--even if you didn't win it!
Our winner is #10 Sarah! I'll e-mail Sarah and let her know it is her lucky day!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Do Over by Shannon Guymon--Blog Tour & Giveaway (ends Wed Feb.20th)

I was so excited to read Shannon Guymon's new book Do Over. Shannon was my neighbor for a short time. I knew her as an amazing mother and neighbor, Shannon does hard things with class. I've enjoyed following her blog so I know she is a great writer.

What is Do Over??

  • It is the book you want to take on vacation.
  • It includes a 'jilted bride'.
  • It takes place in Alpine Utah.
  • It mentions Kohlers, Park City, The Loop etc.
  • It is fun to read a book that takes place in ones back yard!
  • The hero is tall, handsome and has also been jilted.
  • It has a snarky, rude sister-in-law.
  • It has parents that are overprotective and controlling.
  • It has parents that are kind, loving and helpful.
  • It has a construction worker that keeps you laughing.
  • It has a group of girl friends--friends that stand up for each other but are not afraid to do what's right.

Do Over was a delightful read. As a parent with grown children I found myself hoping I was the kind, loving, helpful type of parent--not the overprotective, controlling parent. Do Over is full of people with strong personalities. It takes a strong person to admit when they are wrong.
You can relax, read Do Over, and simply enjoy a fun romance. (And there is nothing wrong with that!)  It is fun and very well written. Or, you can read a little deeper and look at the personalities of each character. How do they handle disappointment, how do they handle success? How do I handle disappointments, success and stress? Shannon has taken a fun romance to the next level. Thank you Shannon for Do Over, I can see it being an excellent book club read. There is so much to discuss.

The publisher is offering one of my readers a copy of Do OverCheck out Shannon's Blog; take a look at what she is up to, and what else she has written.  Then come back and leave me a comment.  Which book do you want to read when you finish Do Over? Contest ends Wednesday February 20th.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pico de Gallo Pilaf

I have been looking for a yummy rice dish to serve with Mexican meals. Lime Cilantro Rice is good but I wanted something with a little more flavor. I have found it! Thanks to Rachel Ray I have found the rice!! This rice gets its flavor from the addition of some Pico de Gallo - a pretty simple fix. I made double the amount of Pico so we could have some for dipping. Texture and flavor was also boosted with the addition of orzo pasta. It's delicious!!

Pico de Gallo Pilaf
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 cup white rice
2 cups chicken broth
8 plum tomatoes, halved, seeded and finely chopped
1 medium onion, red or white, finely chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
A large handful cilantro leaves, finely chopped 
2 limes, zested and juiced

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat. Add the orzo and toast until deep golden. Stir in the rice and broth and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 17 to 18 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime zest and juice. Season with salt, to taste.

When rice is cooked, fluff with fork and stir in the 1/2 of the salsa. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
Pour the other half of the salsa in a serving bowl and serve with fish tacos or chips.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Ultimate Fish Taco

I've decided I like the word Ultimate--maybe this year's quest will be to find the Ultimate_____fill in the blank. Can we talk about Fish Tacos for a minute? Hubby spent a week in Alaska having the fishing trip of a lifetime with my brothers. It really is a win/win trip, he has fun and brings me home a big cooler full of very fresh shrimp, salmon and halibut. I have salmon figured out  but seem to struggle with the perfect halibut/shrimp taco.
Now I have made some excellent delicious attempts but something was missing. Enter Rachel Ray and her famous 30 Minute Meals. I happened upon a Light and Latin segment, she was making fish tacos etc. Well, I watched the show and tried the recipes out immediately. 30 minutes--no--but delicious--yes!!
The halibut had a yummy rub and was quickly broiled and flaked. The Tomatillo Sauce really made the taco. The meal was finished off by an amazing Mexican Rice. Rice is important to me in Mexican cooking because I don't love beans. Rice is my filler of choice.
So today I will share the Halibut and Tomatillo Sauce. Tomorrow we will chat about Mexican Rice. These components along with some angel shredded cabbage and corn tortillas will provide The Ultimate Fish Taco!

Grilled Halibut
1 lime zest and juice
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 (6 to 8 ounce) Halibut fillets
In a small bowl mix together the lime zest and juice, oil, Old Bay and chili powder. Rub it on both sides of the halibut. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Grill or broil halibut for 3-4 minutes per side until it easily flakes with a fork. Flake fish with a fork and set aside.

Tomatillo Sauce
1 tablespoon oil
small red onion diced
1 jalapeno chopped
2 cloves garlic--pressed
8-10 peeled, rinsed, coarsely chopped tomatillos
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 heaping tablespoon honey
1 small ripe avocado
Heat oil in a pan on medium high heat, add onion, jalapeno and garlic. Saute 3-4 minutes until just beginning to soften. Add tomitillos, salt and pepper and cumin. Cool for 6-7 minutes until soft. Carefully add hot ingredients to a food processor--I'm sure an immersion blender would work too. Add lemon zest, juice, honey and avocado. Process till smooth. Reserve. It is delicious on fish and shrimp tacos and it works well with chips too. It is just yummy.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Ultimate Brownies

This delicious brownie recipe came from a friend of a friend of a friend. She claims it came from a bakery. But it matters not where it came from the important thing is that now I have it!
 This is one amazing brownie, I served it at Mom's 85th birthday party and it was an instant hit. It makes plenty so it is the perfect party food.

The Ultimate Brownies
1 C. butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
Melt butter and chocolate together in a small pan.

Then add:
2 cups sugar
4 eggs beating well after each addition
1 tablespoon vanilla

Gently add:
2 C. flour
2 T. baking powder
1 C. lightly chopped pecans

Spread into greased pan. The pan is a Wilton 11x15x2 inch pan. It can be purchased at Wal-Mart for about $12.00. The deep pan is important because it is a tall brownie.

Cream Cheese layer:
Mix together
1 C. sugar
12 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 C. butter—very soft
4 T. flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Spread on top of chocolate layer.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached. Brownies should also begin to pull away from the pan.
Spread 3/4 package mini marshmallows on top of brownies and put back in the
oven until puffed and just beginning to brown.
Melt together in a pan.
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup milk
4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate

Mix in with a hand mixer:
2 tsp. vanilla
4 oz softened cream cheese
7 cups powdered sugar

Mix until smooth.  Drop on warm brownies and using an offset spatula gently spread the frosting. It will mix with the marshmallow to make beautiful swirls. I used about 2/3 of the frosting. I don’t mind having some frosting in the fridge for a quick dessert.

Plan ahead--this desert is best made the day before you serve it. Store in the refrigerator. Well chilled it cuts beautifully. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

White Chocolate Browned Butter Blondie

We celebrated Mom's 85th birthday with a grand family party. I assigned myself desserts, because I was in charge of assigning! Candise and I tried a couple of new recipes--both winners. I saw this recipe on Studio 5, a local TV show. It proved to be a delicious. Everyone wanted the recipe. That's a good sign!

White Chocolate Browned Butter Blondie
¾ cup butter
1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar (7 ounces)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 bar white chocolate I used Lindt, I think it is about 3.5 ounces, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x9 inch pan, line with parchment paper, spray again.

In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Melt butter in medium pan. Simmer and stir butter until it starts to brown and foams. It will smell wonderful but be careful as it goes from brown to burnt quickly. Remove from heat and stir in sugars until smooth.  Cool slightly.

Whisk eggs in butter mixture one at a time, add vanilla and whisk till smooth. Fold in flour until just blended, don’t over mix. Fold in white chocolate and spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle nuts evenly over top and press lightly.

Bake for 28 to 35 minutes. I baked mine in a stoneware dish and it baked 35 minutes. Blondies will be golden brown and a toothpick will come out almost clean. Sprinkle with Sea Salt if desired. Cool completely before cutting in bars. This rich dessert is best served in small squares!

Recipe from Studio 5

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Happy Birthday Amber

Things I don't want to forget about Amber:

*As a two year old she would spend hours pulling out all the books on the bookshelf and quietly 'read each one'.

*Her first words--Read it

*She didn't seem to need as much sleep as her older sister but they shared a room so the girls went to bed at the same time. Amber would wait for Candise to fall asleep and then quietly sneak out of bed and say sweetly, 'Can I stay up a little longer if I help you fold clothes?' I was always folding clothes!
How does a parent refuse such a request?

*The day after Amber's 3rd birthday she woke and sadly stated, 'My birthday is over'.

*At about four if Amber would get mad at me she would hotly say, 'I'm not coming on your side of the bed tonight!' In her mind this was a cruel punishment.

*The year Amber turned 5 we had a grand party planned, her little pre-school group of about 6 children were invited. We planned and prepared, Amber was so excited. We woke on the morning of her birthday to two feet of fresh snow. Snow plows were slow coming that day. One by one all of the children called and said they couldn't come because of dangerous driving conditions. Amber was heartbroken. I called Greg at work--Super Dad to the rescue. Greg came home from work and picked up each child in his 4-wheel drive truck. The party was a success. Greg then delivered each child safely home. Amber was happy.

*Amber has always love flowers. She would often knock on my door with a bouquet of dandelions or a tulip from the neighbors yard. Amber's home always has fresh flowers when we visit. She often surprises me with a bouquet of flowers 'just because'.

*As a young teen Amber was tending Aunt Becky's kids. She decided the baby needed his first haircut and proceeded to give it to him. Aunt Becky tried unsuccessfully to hide her dismay. We had a nice chat about cutting kids hair when you babysit!

*In the spring Amber could always be found in the garden eating fresh peas.

*She is all grown up and now we are watching Amber be a kind, loving Mother.

Happy Birthday Amber--We love you. Have a wonderful day.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Honey Mustard Sauce

I do believe that the right sauce can make a meal. This Honey Mustard Sauce will make many meals delicious. It's easy to make and I'm pretty sure you have everything in the fridge/pantry to make it. It was the perfect dipping sauce for my Crispy Coconut Chicken Tenders. I also drizzled it on my Cheddar and Green Onion Biscuits with a slice of ham. What a perfect little brunch bite. I will make this sauce often.

Honey Mustard Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix ingredients and chill. It's a great marinade, dipping sauce or salad dressing.
Adapted from Life's Ambrosia

One Year Ago------Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie
Two Years Ago-----Amber's Asian Chicken Salad
Three Years Ago---TWD Cocoa-nana Bread