Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Brownie Sundaes with a Magic Shell

We had our good friends, Alan and Melissa Duke, over for dinner the other night and I decided to make these for dessert. The secret ingredient is Smuckers Magic Shell topping, which hardens on contact with ice cream.

Brownie Sundaes

1 box brownie mix
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
vanilla ice cream ( my favorite is Breyers Natural Vanilla)
Smuckers Magic Shell topping ( I like the fudge flavor)
fresh raspberries

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, and add chocolate morsels. I also add chopped pecans. Bake according to package directions in a glass pyrex dish or muffin tin. Adjust baking time accordingly. Cool. Place a brownie in an individual serving container. Top with a scoop of ice cream. Pour enough Magic Shell over the ice cream to cover it. Top with pecans and raspberries.

You can bake the brownies in individual servings, if desired. I used my new square muffin tin:
Place brownies in serving bowls. These are also great in sundae bowls.

The Magic Shell will harden immediately as you pour it on. It truly is magic.

Top with pecans and raspberries.

A very rich and easy dessert!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fresh Peach Muffins

There is nothing like the flavor of a fresh peach. They are also very nutritious. A medium peach contains 465 IU of vitamin A, along with B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin c, potassium, and fiber. All that for only 35 calories. A few days ago, some friends of ours were kind enough to bring us fresh peaches from Peach Park in Chilton County. We ate many of them plain and unadorned, but I was compelled to use a few in a batch of peach muffins.

Peach Muffins

1- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1-1/2 cups fresh peaches, chopped
sugar to sprinkle on top

Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine butter and sugar and beat until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in milk and sour cream. Combine with dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Fold in peaches. Spoon into a greased muffin tin and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Beat ingredients until smooth:

Gently fold in peaches:

I found this fun square muffin pan at Target and decided to try it for the muffins:

Fill to the top with the batter and sprinkle with sugar. I used turbinado sugar which is what I use to top creme bruleƩ.

These muffins have an intoxicating aroma while baking and have a wonderfully light texture.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Baby Gifts and Showers

Last year I posted a fun way to wrap a baby gift. This is basically the same concept, but with a purchased baby blanket. A thinner blanket will actually fold more neatly around your gift, and I am going to show the step-by step process I used to do it.

You obviously need to start with a small gift. I like to buy baby wipes and add a gift card on top. Gift cards are a real time-saver for the giver and nice for the recipient because they don't have to be returned or exchanged.

Lay the blanket in a diamond shape, and place the gift on top:

Then fold the front corner away from you and over the gift, as shown:

Neatly fold the sides along the gift. This will take 2 or three separate folds to fit snugly around the gift:

Bring the remaining corner over the top and fold. Secure with a diaper pin, a coordinating ribbon, or both.
Scrapbook implements are fun to use to make gift tags. I needed large, white tags, so I used a smaller one as a basic pattern, and cut them out of sturdy scrapbook paper. I punched a hole in them so I could tie them onto the gifts, and I used stickers to decorate them with:

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had a double baby shower at work. This is the gift I did for Leah, who is having a boy:

And this is the one I did for Dawn, who is having a girl:

Here are Dawn and Leah, who are very excited about their shower:

Pam, who is one of our nurses, did this very cute gift centerpiece for our table:

Here is a group picture of some of us who were there. It was a really nice shower.

Have fun with your gift-giving and always endeavor to make the recipient feel special.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Brownie Nuggets

This is a recipe that I have had for many years. It is from the Mrs. Fields' I Love Chocolate! cookbook. The brownie itself is incredibly rich and delicious, and has always turned out perfectly for me. Perfection was not so easily achieved for me with the white chocolate ganache that was in the original recipe, however. To solve this dilemma, I changed it to a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. I decided to make these for a baby shower at work, and they needed a chocolate dessert, so, this time, I made a semi-sweet chocolate cream cheese frosting. I will include the variations in the recipe.

Brownie Nuggets

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels (as always, I recommend Ghirardelli)

1 stick butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Beat eggs and sugar. Add vanilla and then combine all ingredients. Spoon to the top of 24 mini muffin tin liners. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool and frost.


12 oz white chocolate or semi-sweet morsels
1/2 stick butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 box confectioners sugar
2-3 tbsp 1/2 & 1/2
Melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Add vanilla and cream cheese. Add sugar and 1/2 & 1/2 and beat until creamy. Add additional 1/2 & 1/2 if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Fill the muffin cups to the top with the batter:

Bake 15 minutes. They will look cracked on the top, like this:

After baking, cool and frost. I like to use a decorating bag and tip to frost them, but it isn't essential.
This was a double baby shower for a baby girl and boy, so I used pink and blue to decorate with. These safety pin decorations are by Wilton and I got them at Michael's. I found this cupcake carrier at Target ($6.99). The panel will flip over to accommodate 12 regular-sized cupcakes or muffins, also.

These are very delectable treats. Don't wait for a baby shower to make them.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Uncommon Prizes

As a child, I never liked it when my mom and dad went out of town. To ease the pain for my brother and me, my mom would leave us a tiny daily gift, or prize. We had one to open on each day they were gone. It gave us something to look forward to opening, as well as something to play with.

As a mom, I realized that I didn't like leaving my children anymore than I liked being left when I was little. So, when we would have to leave them to go on a trip, I would provide daily prizes for them to open. When they were small, they usually got a toy or candy. The prizes evolved over the years to coincide with their ages and interests. They really loved it and it has been a tradition that I have maintained. Amby liked it so much that she now leaves prizes for Nathan, too.

Well, Zac still lives at home, so I left him prizes to open while we were in Mexico. Yes, he is 22. But it's tradition. And if Amby still lived here, I would have left her prizes, also. Actually, technically, I think she owes me about 2 years of prizes. hmmm....

A 22-year old needs grown-up, sophisticated prizes, such as Twizzlers, M&M's, and jumbo bubble gum. Also, Take 5 candy bars are awesome. I was eating one a while back, and Zac made fun of me and said it was "old people candy". I let him have a bite and now it is his all-time favorite. Ha.

I also got him a few gift cards:

I love to make the packaging fun. I have been using Printmaster, which is very useful computer graphics software, for several years. I have used it for countless projects, such as cards, gift tags, invitations, personalized stationery, etc. I highly recommend it. Platinum Version 17 is now available. For the tags, I imported some of my favorite pictures of Zac, and printed a day of the week on each one. I am a font fiend, and a great place to download amazing fonts is dafont.com.
I used heavy card stock for the tags. The pictures appear more vivid if you use white. This is how it looked on my computer the week before IT FRIED LIKE AN EGG.

I bought these gift bags at Michael's. I tied the tags on with a thin rope, so it would be manly:

I encourage you to do this for your kids. They are your very best investment. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want. Use your imagination! I promise that it will be as much fun for you as it is for them, and it will build wonderful memories.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Temporary Downtime

While I was in Mexico, my computer was apparently hit by lightning and fried. I have been shopping for a new one this week and I am taking advantage of the opportunity to update to a Mac. I will not post about my trip until I get a new computer. In the meantime, however, I will be using Gil's laptop to post some simple recipes and ideas. I should be back on track soon!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Easy Fudge Pie

This recipe was given to me about 30 years ago by my friend, Dawn. It originally came from Ireland's Restaurant, which was one of my favorites as a teenager. I had ordered it for dessert there many times, and I was thrilled to get the recipe. This pie is not only delicious, it is also made from ingredients that you basically always have on hand. I added semi-sweet morsels and pecans to the original recipe, but it is still fabulous without them. It is great to throw together for last-minute company.

Killarney Fudge Pie

6 tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients. Pour into greased pyrex pie dish and bake at 325 for 30 minutes.

Combine ingredients. I add lots of of pecans:

Pour into a greased pyrex baking dish:
Bake for 30 minutes. It is wonderful served warm with ice cream: