Friday, May 23, 2014

Caramel, Coconut, Chocolate, and Pecans—Oh My, What a Brownie!

I like to take a standard brownie mix and jazz it up and make it my own. The recipe that follows is one of my best!

Caramel, Coconut, Chocolate, and Pecans
Oh My, What a Brownie!


1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon coconut flavoring
1 box Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
25 Rolo Minis chocolate covered caramels
25 pecan halves


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9” baking pan with baking spray.

Whisk together egg, water, oil, and coconut flavoring. Add brownie mix and stir until well blended. Add chopped pecans, coconut and chocolate chips and stir until mixed in with brownie batter. Pour into baking pan and spread evenly. Bake 39-43 minutes. Do not over-bake.

Turn oven off. Place Rolo Minis upside-down in a 5 x 5 grid pattern over the baked brownies, pressing each one about half way into the brownie. Return to oven for about 3 minutes to allow caramel to melt. Remove from oven and place a pecan half on top of each Rolo.

Makes 25 scrumptious brownies!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy Easter!

Wesolego Alleluja! is Happy Easter in Polish.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars with White Chocolate Chips

On Sunday I prepared Brunch at St. John the Apostle MCC in Ft. Myers. I served an assortment of breakfast egg casseroles based on my previous post (Made four pans of the sausage version, three of the corned beef, and one vegetarian). I also served Raspberry Cheesecake Bars from a recipe that appears on the Krusteaz Raspberry Bar Mix. I  modified it by adding almond flavoring and white chocolate chips. It turned out great!

The dining room was decorated with dark green and light green tablecloths and tulips on both the buffet table and the individual round dining tables. I enjoy creating an atmosphere that feels special and inviting.

These tulips were on the Buffet Table at Brunch. I had individual yellow tulips in bud vases on the dining tables. 
Raspberry Cheesecake Bars with White Chocolate Chips

I couldn't find real white mini-chocolate chips so had to use regular size baking chips. I think the white chocolate would be better, but they are hard to find for my Raspberry Cheesecake Bars.

1 package Krusteaz Raspberry Bar Mix (1 pouch each crust mix and raspberry filling)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
16 oz (2 cups) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond flavoring
2/3 cup mini white chocolate chips, divided


Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 13x9x2-inch pan.

For Crust: Place crust mix and melted butter in medium bowl. Stir with a fork until mixture is crumbly. Press crust mixture firmly into bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Set aside.

For Filling: Place cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix on low speed until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla or almond flavoring. Continue to mix on low speed until smooth. Stir in 1/3 cup mini white vanilla chips.

Spoon cream cheese mixture evenly over baked crust. Cut corner of raspberry filling pouch. 
I poured the raspberry filling in to rows the long way, and then used a toothpick to draw lines crosswise.

Randomly squeeze raspberry filling over cream cheese mixture. Swirl with knife for marbled effect. Bake 28-32 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely and cut into squares. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tater Tots and Corned Beef? Possible?

I've been thinking about this recipe for weeks now. I've been scouring the Internet and have been trying to come up with a recipe that includes both Tater Tots and corned beef. I am doing Sunday Brunch at church this weekend and am working with a St. Patrick's Day theme--table covers, napkins and flower arrangements all in an assortment of greens. I've settled on a Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Gorgonzola crumbles and toasted pecans lightly dressed with a honey balsamic vinagrette, but am still stumbling with the main dish. My intention is to use this recipe, which I've cobbled together from a number of recipes, and substitute diced corned beef in a couple of the casseroles (I am making 8--3 corned beef, 3 sausage, and 2 vegetarian).

If you've ever made this type of casserole and used corned beef I would love to hear from you!

Note from Sunday Brunch: Although I liked the corned beef version, the pork sausage recipe is much tastier!

Overnight Breakfast Tater Tot Casserole

1 pound bulk pork sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
8 eggs
2 cups half and half
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 32 ounce package tater tots
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Baking spray

Brown sausage in olive oil until no longer pink. Add onion and green pepper and sauté until vegetables are wilted. Drain off extra oil.

Spray 9 x 13 casserole pan with olive oil baking spray. Spread sausage mixture in bottom of pan. Allow to cool.

Sprinkle with 1 cup cheddar cheese. Spread tater tots over sausage and cheese and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese.

Combine eggs, half and half, mustard and salt in blender. Blend until smooth about 1-2 minutes. 
Pour egg mixture over tater tots.*

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until eggs are set and tater tots have browned.

*If you are making this dish overnight, you may  cover the sausage, cheese and tater tot mixture with tin foil and store in the refrigerator overnight. Make the egg and milk mixture in the morning and pour over the casserole and bake as directed.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chicken Crescent Rolls with Cheddar Cheese Sauce

“Getting old is not for sissies,” my partner, John, says, when the aches and pains of aging take their toll.  I recently stumbled on a comment by “Pastor Ryan” (Detzel), senior pastor at Vineyard Westside Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. On getting older he says:  "I don’t get it…when people struggle with getting older. This is a moment for us to be a little more experienced, a little more connected to what’s really going on, a little more thankful for what you’ve learned, and a little more excited about what you’ll do tomorrow."

Pastor Ryan is a young man, a fellow foodie, a photographer, a handsome man with a lot of tattoos, a spiritual man sharing God’s love. Nice. I stumbled upon him in my search for a recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara. I like his recipes and I like the bits of writing he has posted on the Internet. I wish there was more.  His busy physical life has supplanted his previously active “virtual” life.

What struck me, however, is how excited I am about where I am in my life today. For a long time I struggled with life. God was absent. It was all about me. And it wasn’t enough. Today, I am comfortable with myself, and I am comfortable with the idea of having a Higher Power, who I choose to call God, guiding me and loving me no matter what. It’s a nice feeling to have!

I look forward to the future. It’s a gift that I have only just begun to unwrap.

Today’s recipe is one I served at Second Sunday Brunch at St. John the Apostle, MCC, Church  in January, 2014. It’s very easy to prepare and looks very elegant if you are having company.

We did a taste test before I made the recipe for Second Sunday Brunch. 

Chicken Crescent Rolls with Cheddar Cheese Sauce

1 can Grands® Big and Flaky Crescent Rolls (8 crescent rolls)
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup half and half

4 ounces cream cheese (very soft)
4 tablespoons butter (very soft but not melted)
1/2 teaspoon Montreal Chicken spice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked chicken breasts; finely chopped (I use rotisserie chicken from the Deli)
3/4 cup finely grated Italian blend cheese or cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Set oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl whisk together the cream of chicken soup and the half and half till smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, butter, and mayonnaise until very smooth.  Add in the chopped chicken, onion, cheddar cheese, Montreal Chicken spice, and garlic power. Mix well.  Season with additional salt or black pepper to taste.

Unroll the crescent rolls.

Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the chicken mixture (or a little more) on top of each crescent triangle, then roll up starting at the thicker end. Be sure to seal the filling inside the dough.

Spray a 9x13 baking pan with butter flavored spray. Drizzle a small amount of soup mixture on the bottom. Place the crescent rolls seam-side down in the casserole.

Lightly brush tops with melted butter.

Drizzle the remaining sauce on top and around crescent rolls.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese.

Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

This dish just needs a simple salad to make a complete meal. For Second Sunday Brunch I combined apples, mandarin oranges, and broccoli florets with a dressing made from Marie’s Coleslaw dressing, mayonnaise, and a touch of curry powder and a sprinkling of toasted almonds.