Betty Crocker Brownies

I wanted to bake brownies. I did not need to make brownies. I do not need to eat brownies. But I wanted to make brownies. I knew that the Betty Crocker’s Cookbook uses chocolate squares instead of cocoa, so I thought maybe these won’t turn out good (or should this be well?)and I wouldn’t feel compelled to eat them. Well…it is the rare brownie that cannot be eaten. And these are very edible!

Just uploading the photo made me go get a couple to nibble on.

So Hubby asked if I would put Walnuts in the brownies. Sure. While getting the ingredients together I found a bag of green and red M&Ms that I did not use for Christmas baking. I asked Hubby if he minded those in his brownies as well. So these brownies are loaded. I used the Fudgy Brownie variation, also on Page 271.

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour; you know, to be healthy.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms

Melt chocolate and butter together. Mix in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk this for a time, preferable 3 minutes, but I didn’t do that long. Supposedly that will help get the meringue crackly top surface. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread into prepared pan and bake.

Preheat the oven to 350 F prior to mixing the batter. This variation called for a 9×9 inch pan or 12×7.5 inch pan. Neither of which I have. My brain had a glitch and I used a 13×9 pan. I’m not sure why I thought that was a good idea but by the time I had sprayed it and lined in with foil and sprayed the foil again, it was too late to turn back. I have 8×8 and a 10×6 but my brain was not working on this one. I figured they would be very thin (there is no rising agent in fudgy brownies) and I would bake them for the least time. I baked them for about 19 minutes.

They did turn out thin. They did turn out fudgy. They did not have that shiny crackly top. Remember to remove them from the foil while still warm; I have brownie chunks along with my nicely squared brownies.

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Quinoa casserole: inspired by Betty

To be fair my 1978 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook has no mention of quinoa anywhere in it. Not that quinoa was not known but it was not the superfood in popular cooking at that time. We older people struggled to learn how to pronounce the word.

I was actually looking for a recipe for sausages and rice that did not have tomatoes. We had been eating out at an Italian restaurant weekly and I wanted something differently seasoned. I also wanted something with vegetables. The following meal is inspired by Betty’s Rice and Corn Bake, page 109. That recipe is basically rice, corn, cheese, eggs, and milk. Mine is a little different.

  • 2/3rd pound chicken sausage link cut into 1 inch pieces and sauted. The sausage I had was flavored with spinach.
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables; I thought about using only corn but I like color in my foods.
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa; I had thought about using brown rice; maybe next time.
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Cook the quinoa as directed by the package. I cooked what I thought was the amount for 4 servings: 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups of water. Cook the sausages in a bit of oil. Heat oven to 350 F.

Now combine. First mix the vegetables, quinoa, and sausages in greased 2 quart casserole or baking pan. Sprinkle cheese on top. Combine eggs, milk, and seasonings. Pour this over the food in the pan. Place slices of tomato on top. Now bake for 40-45 minutes.

This made for a tasty and filling dinner. Hubby and I like to have “dinner in a bowl”. I deliberately arranged the tomato slices to make four servings. This was a lot of food and I wanted to insure two meals.

After thoughts: This is a lot of quinoa. I should have cooked 1/2 the amount. Actually I think brown rice may be a better choice for more appealing texture.

2019 plans: also Coleslaw, Pumpkin Pie, and Hoppin’ John

Happy New Year to all. I hope to write more, play Solitaire less, Facebook even less, and maintain Faith, Hope, and Love for all.

My sister had an idea a few years ago to cook through a cookbook in a year. I never could choose which of my 50+ books to use, but this year I will use Betty Crocker as my go-to book. This does not mean I will cook each and every recipe, nor each recipe exactly, but will use this standard American Cookbook as the first source of inspiration. For example, if I want to make to make pork chops I will peruse this book’s recipes to determine how to fix them. So I did make a breaded pork chop and Betty instructed to bake them on a rack in the baking pan in the oven.  I did and they turned out nicely. I failed to take a picture so you must take my word for it.

Hubby was grilling ribs. Cole slaw is a nice side dish. I bought a package of broccoli slaw to use. I made a combination of Betty’s Coleslaw and her Old-Fashioned Cabbage Salad from page 138, plus ingredients from a variation.

  • 1/2 package broccoli slaw
  • 1 apple cored and diced
  • 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of celery salt
  • a few grinds of black peppercorns

My go-to pumpkin pie is Betty’s. I have made it before https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2017/03/14/pi-day/. The problem I had this time is that the crust did not seem to bake through on the bottom. The edges were beautiful. What did I do wrong? I have never pre-baked the crust for pumpkin pie.

Hoppin’ John is on page 226. I did not use this recipe because this traditional New Year’s Day meal is made of rice, black-eyed peas, and pork in many different proportions and variations. I used bacon and added onion and spinach. The sprinkling of red pepper flakes was the only real thing I took from Betty.

Homemade Mince Pie

Good morning readers. I just ate the most light and airy 210 calorie Brioche bun from a package from my Aldi grocery store. Heavenly! I have never made brioche. I do have a Fleischmann’s yeast recipe but why bake when one can buy the heavenly stuff? (Okay, there are plenty of reasons to do so if one is so inclined.) The Brioche bun goes very well with morning coffee.

Hubby wanted a mincemeat pie made with fruit and not meat. I’ve never had mincemeat made with meat. I’ve used jarred mincemeat for cookies before. I have made a plum based mincemeat before from a newspaper food column. I am not sure how long ago nor where the copy of that column is. So if Hubby is to have his pie, I needed to do research. I chose to look through my cookbooks instead of the web. I thought the older cookbooks would be the way to go but they had the meat in the mince. So this is based on the recipe from The Joy of Cooking 1997 edition. (So that is 20 years old but I have much older cookbooks (1940-1970) as well as some published in this century. It’s all perspective.

I made adjustments to the recipe so it is not Joy’s, it’s mine. And I had Hubby help since there was a lot of chopping involved and I had to figure proportions and get the ingredients together.

  • 3 cups roughly chopped dried fruit; we used raisins, cranberries, dates, cherries, and apricots; I know these are small but chop them some more anyway
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped fine
  • 2 largish pieces of crystallized ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoon) butter
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients. It’s mostly just chopping and then throwing everything into a pan. 

in the beginning

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will come together and the bottom of the pan will be almost dry when scraped. This smells wonderful. Let cool. 

after 20 minutes

Prepare pie crusts for a covered pie. This part is not homemade although I do know how to make and have one homemade pie dough disk in the freezer, but I needed two. So I have “emergency pie crusts” in the form of the “just roll and bake” type. I had rolled out the bottom crust into my favorite 9-inch pie pan and placed it in the fridge. I saw this, I think, on the GBBO or other baking show. This is supposed to help prevent soggy bottoms.  

Scrape the mince mixture into the bottom crust and spread evenly. Top with the  other crust any way you like. This could be lattice, solid, decorative. Cut vents or use a pie bird in a solid top crust. I thought I would be festive so got out the Christmas cookie cutters. Brush top with egg wash if desired: one egg or egg yolk with a splash of water. I also sprinkled the top with Demerara sugar.

In hind sight I would have cut the top crust differently but I am satisfied with the results. Paul and Pru would think it is a little sloppy, so no Star Baker for me!

should have put a star in the center

Bake the pie at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Then lower to 350 degrees F and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Cool on wire rack. (I think this is also to prevent soggy bottom.) Serve warm with ice cream.

“Butcher’s Wife’s Pork Chops”

This is my version of the titled recipe in my French Feasts cookbook. This is cooking without really measuring and just adding as one goes along. Here are the ingredients as best I can estimate.

  • 2 pork chops, end cut
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 2-3 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers, from a jar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach

Bread the pork chops while heating 1 Tab of olive oil in cast iron skillet. Salt and pepper them as well. Cook these until crispy brown about 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in another skillet and add the onion. Add some olive oil as needed. Toss in the garlic and cook this for at least 5 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Now add the carrots and red peppers. Add salt and pepper to taste, or just some pepper. The bacon may be salty enough. Cook this for another 5 minute so the vegetables have softened. Stir this a few times. When this has softened enough for your liking put the spinach on top. Cover this with a lid and cook another 5 minutes to wilt the spinach.

IMG_2120

I served this with plain quinoa. After plating our dinner it occurred to me that I should have spread the quinoa over the plate, added the pork chop, and placed the cooked vegetables on top. Oh well. It was a nice meal, so much so that we sat at the kitchen table to eat instead of on the couch in front of the television.

The vegetables and quinoa would make a nice vegetarian meal, just leave out the bacon. And the vegetable quantities could be increased very easily.

Enjoy!

One Pan Chicken Dinner

I don’t think the title is original. I have seen and read many postings for one pan dinners lately. This is my version. I have taken inspiration from various postings, too many to list, so if one of them is you, thank you! The primary inspiration is here.

I have a bunch of lemons leftover from the latest lemon meringue pie birthday. Hubby and I just went grocery shopping and he picked out some small red potatoes. I wanted to do something a little different than the lemon chicken recipes I usually make. So I add paprika. My Anheuser Busch cookbook has a nice crockpot Paprika Chicken recipe but I’m roasting this in the oven.

  • 4 small/medium sized chicken breasts
  • 8 medium sized red potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • scant 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic (from a jar)
  • dried thyme, a few shakes from a shaker jar
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste at serving

I mixed the juice, oil, and spices in a large bowl while Hubby chopped the vegetables. He cut the carrots into “pennies” which I thought would be too small but turned out perfectly. The other veggies were cut into one inch chunks. Put these into the bowl with the juice and mix to coat.

Oil the roasting pan and distribute the vegetables in it. Reserve the juice. Now put the chicken breasts in the juice to coat them. It will not be a thick coating as the juice mixture is very thin. Nestle the chicken in among the vegetables. Sprinkle with thyme and distribute the lemon slices on top. Hubby suggested pouring the juice on top of this before baking, so I did.

Here is the before baking/roasting picture and then the served dish.

I bake this at 350 degrees F for one hour. The chicken is done. I remove the chicken and Hubby helps pour the juice onto the chicken. I cover this to keep warm while I raise the oven temperature to 450 F and roast the vegetables for another 15-20 minutes.

This was a nice dinner. It had good flavor and not just lemon. The chicken was moist and not overcooked. I think using the juice in the first baking kept the chicken from drying out.

Orange Salad

We had a food function at work to say goodbye to a colleague. Someone brought a salad made of oranges, fennel, and green onions. Someone said it was a Sicilian Orange Salad. Whatever it was, it was tasty. And simple to make. In my version to try it out I used a can of mandarin oranges instead of fresh oranges. I made a citrus salad a few years ago and it did not keep well. Let’s see about this one.

Salads, like soup, do not require exact quantities. It is often about what is on hand and what the preferred taste is.

  • 1 15-ounce can mandarin orange, drained, and rinsed if in a syrup
  • 1/2 large fennel bulb, chopped
  • green onions, chopped into one inch pieces
  • splash of orange juice
  • hefty sprinkling of dried oregano
  • olive oil

The tops of my green onions were somewhat wilt-y so I have a bit more of the white part than I had planned. Because I used canned oranges instead of fresh, I splashed in a bit of OJ and I think I poured on a bit too much olive oil.

IMG_2100

I added a bit of the fennel fronds for interest. I liked it. Haven’t served it to Hubby yet. I’ve been able to take it in my lunch for several days.