3/30/16

Blueberry Muffins

This blueberry muffin recipe is probably the simplest one I make. The ingredient list is only standard items, so there's nothing extra to buy. The only problem I've had with them is that they disappear soon after they're baked.





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Blueberry Muffins

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups blueberries
Sparkling sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare muffin pans with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract, beat until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to the butter mixture; beat just until blended. Stir in blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Makes 18 muffins.










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3/16/16

Magic Cookie Bars

This recipe became popular a long time ago, and I think it was in the '60's or '70's. I've seen different variations of the same recipe, and I suspect any version is hard to resist. This is a dessert even a beginner can make with success. Why not put on your bell-bottomed pants and bake up some of these goodies for someone who remembers the originals.






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Magic Cookie Bars

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips (or use 2 cups chocolate chips and omit butterscotch chips)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan by lining with aluminum foil. Leave foil large enough to hang over sides of pan. Coat foil with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine crumbs and butter. Press crumb mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Spread chips, pecans, and coconut in even layers over crust. Pour sweetened condensed milk over all. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Lift from pan by foil edges. Cut into squares.





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3/11/16

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

My mother once told me that Pineapple Upside Down Cake was the first cake she learned to bake after her marriage. She baked hers as a one layer cake in an iron skillet, and it was one of my dad's favorite cakes. I thought of my parents when I came across a picture of a Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake on Pinterest. After trying out the recipe and making some minor adjustments, I have become a fan of this updated version of a classic. Baking the cake in a Bundt pan vs. a skillet makes the cake taller, and in my opinion, more appealing.








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Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 (15.25 ounce) can pineapple slices in pineapple juice, drained with juice reserved
About 16 marachino cherries
1 (15.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup liquid (reserved pineapple juice + milk)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare Bundt pan by greasing or with cooking spray. Pour melted butter into bottom of Bundt pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter. Cut pineapple slices in half and arrange in bottom of pan, rounded side down. Place a cherry between each pineapple slice.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Add enough milk to the reserved pineapple juice to make 1 cup of liquid. Add pineapple juice mixture, oil, and eggs to cake mix. Beat at medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Pour batter over pineapple slices. Bake for 50 minutes, shielding cake with foil the last 20 minutes of baking time to prevent over browning. Test cake for doneness with wooden pick. Cool cake on rack for 15 minutes before inverting to remove from pan.






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3/1/16

Irish Breads for March

One way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day any day of the month is to bake up some Irish-themed bread. Any one of these three flavorful quick bread recipes is worthy to be served at an Irish banquet.





















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2/21/16

One Potato, Two Potato

Potatoes are a vegetable that can be prepared in multiple ways for a variety of delicious side dishes. In addition to the classics such as baked or mashed, my family enjoys potatoes in almost any form. A few of our potato favorites include these easy recipes:




1. Roasted Rosemary Potatoes






2. Baked Potato Salad





































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2/14/16

Tunnel of Love (Fudge) Cake

According to recent statistics, the average person celebrating Valentine's Day in 2016 will spend almost $150 to show their affection. Of course, some will spend considerably more if they opt for the whole sweetheart package. The New York Post says the five items most purchased for a significant other are: a box of chocolates, diamond earrings, a dozen roses, dinner for two, and a bottle of champagne. Those five items can add up to over $500, all in the name of love.

I'm sure your sweetheart is worth the cost, nevertheless, not everyone wants to spend such an exorbitant amount of money. Perhaps a home baked cake would be sufficient to communicate your fondness for that special someone.

The cake I baked is a long-ago Pillsbury Bake Off winner. It is my understanding that the creator of this recipe passed away in 2015 at the age of 98. She called her cake the Tunnel of Fudge cake, but I have dubbed it the Tunnel of Love cake in honor of Valentine's Day. The delicious feature of this Bundt cake is that it makes a fudgy tunnel though the middle while baking.






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Tunnel of Love (Fudge) Cake

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups butter
6 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups chopped walnuts

Glaze

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 - 6 teaspoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beat well after each addition. Gradually blend in powdered sugar. Stirring in by hand, add flour, then cocoa. Blend in walnuts. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes until top is set and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 1/2 hours. Invert cake onto serving plate. Cool for at least 2 hours.
Glaze: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, cocoa, and milk. Mix until well blended. Spoon over top of cooled cake. Store tightly covered.







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1/21/16

Kid Stuff for Bored Children

Kids can get so bored indoors during the winter. A nice snow may generate a sledding outing, but when fingers and toes begin to freeze it's time to come inside.

So many youngsters have electronic devices to entertain themselves, and I know some kids want to play on those all the time. They're fun, but it's not a good idea to allow a child to entertain himself for hours on end that way.

Our local schools have been closed for the past two days and will most likely remain closed tomorrow. We didn't even get snow, so there's no sledding. We got a layer of ice, making it dangerous for school buses to transport children.

I've been thinking about all those kids cooped up inside. Caretakers can make the days inside easier and more enjoyable for everyone with a little planning.

Of course, the electronic devices are here to stay, and they can be a part of a child's day. Having a variety of books available for the kids is a good idea for any day, especially bleak winter ones. Board games and puzzles will never go out of style. Cooking and crafting activities are also some things to do on a bad weather day. Most children are interested in learning something new and are eager to get in the kitchen or try a craft.

I've made a list of some of my posts with activities kids might enjoy doing when they're stuck indoors. Younger children can "help"a grown-up, while older children may be able to do many of these with some supervision from an adult. Put these in your bag of tricks and pull one out when a child complains of boredom.



1. Let them be creative -- Best Ever Play Dough




2. Cooking is always fun -- Pepperoni and Cheese Crescents














6. Kids love to bake Chocolate Chip Cookies






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