Snicker Bite Brownies

Several years ago I incorporated my love for brownies, snickers and dark chocolate into a recipe and the outcome was a phenomenal batch of brownies that no one could stay away from. In my book a good brownie is crusty on the outside and perfectly moist and sticky on the inside. We Americans love a good brownie recipe since we frequently make them. I mean what kind of person does not like brownies? I always place some water in a small ovenproof dish and pop on the lower rack when I am backing these so that I get that extra added moisture. I have also found that allowing my eggs to come to room temperature before using makes all the difference.

3/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 snicker bars, chopped into chunks
1 large dark chocolate bar, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl add sugar and eggs. With a hand mixer beat until fluffy. Add vanilla, salt, cocoa and butter. Then carefully add flour a small amount at a time.

2. Gently fold on snickers and dark chocolate pieces.

3. Butter a rectangle 11x7x3 inch baking pan. Pour mix into pan. Bake 30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Yields: 18 brownies

 *updated post from 4/05/09

Homemade Pancake Syrup

I was reading the homemade cookbook that my mammaw made me and came across a recipe for homemade pancake syrup and I just knew I had to try it. I am not sure where the article came from because everything has been clipped and glued, but our favorite recipes were always from Southern Living so that’s a possibility. On Friday mornings we always have a big pancake breakfast in our house and I could not wait to try this out so the night before I made a batch of it. I was really happy to find it because have you ever read the back on a syrup bottle?

Reading ingredients is just something new I have been doing this past year. I am not sure why I never bothered with it before? But after hearing so many studies on the news how can you help it? I was watching a study about how fructose syrup is extremely bad for us and one of the cases was memory loss. Sadly this is in almost everything we buy now days and in pancake syrup. I have been trying to avoid those foods and make homemade when I can for a somewhat healthier life.

This syrup was so easy to make and unbelievably good, much better than the store bought stuff. It has a much lighter taste and an almost caramel color and flavor. You can use it on any breakfast foods or desserts alike. You can store it in an airtight jar and place it in the cabinet or in the refrigerator and warm when needed or use at room temperature. You will be tempted to use smaller pot but trust me on this one and use your huge pot because the soda will make it rise and if you do not listen you will have a big mess. I made some french toast with my Amish bread recipe in the above picture.

3/4 cup buttermilk (I used laban)
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a 5-quart pot on high heat add buttermilk, sugar, butter, golden syrup and baking soda. Stir continually until boiling then reduce heat to low.

2. Continue stirring for 9 minutes (I sit my timer). Your mixture will be golden at this point, remove from heat and add vanilla.

3. Allow to cool a bit and pour into container.

Yields: 2 cups

Leftover Coffee Ideas

When I first bought my French Press last month I would always end up with about one or two inches of leftover coffee. At first I just threw it out but then I thought why I am wasting this really good coffee. I grabbed a large jar with a lid from the cabinet and every day I would pour my leftover coffee in the jar and then refrigerate it. I also poured some in my ice cubes so that I can make some awesome cold coffee; I always hate how watery real ice makes your cold coffee.

Every time I go to any coffee house in the Summer I order an espresso shaker. Just espresso, milk and some ice is the way I like it. Now at home when I am in the mood for one of my favorite chill out drinks I just go to the fridge and take out my coffee jar, add some milk and sugar and shake like crazy. I pop some of my coffee cubes in a cup and pour my drink over the top. It’s fast, easy and delicious and I do it all with the little bit of coffee leftover daily.

What are some of your favorite summer time coffee recipes and tricks?

Chocolate Popsicles

It’s officially Summer time and you will be finding plenty of fresh frozen treats around here in the upcoming months here and elsewhere (I will tell you all about that soon). I always have remembered making homemade Popsicles at home with my mammaw and I just thought it was the most awesome thing ever. Now as a mother I wanted to share that same experience with my son and let me tell you he loves it just as much as I did. I let him help me create the perfect recipe from start to finish. With this chocolate treat we decided to make our favorite winter time cocoa and freeze it so we could have the taste we love all year around.

1/2 cup cream
1 cup milk
50 grams chopped chocolate
1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan on medium heat add cream milk, chocolate, cocoa powder and vanilla, stirring frequently.  Once chocolate has melted, turn heat to low and continue stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and allow cooling to room temperature.

3. Carefully pour mixture into Popsicle molds, place in freezer and allow freezing overnight.

Yields: 6 (depending on your molds)

Amish White Bread

Over the years I have made this recipe for simple white bread many times and it has never let me down. Growing up in Tennessee with an Amish village not far away I was always intrigued by their recipes. My family would often visit and purchase fresh bread, jams and other tasty treats. The trick to good soft bread is placing a pan of water in the oven for extra moisture. Any type of oil or butter would work with this but I personally like sunflower because the taste is more neutral. Also make sure you allow your yeast to froth, this is a must when making all bread and as always find the warmest place you can in your home so the bread can rise. And of course the added pan of water always makes baked goods more moist.

By the way I enjoy eating like the French do for breakfast with a slice of this bread smothered in jam and a cup of black coffee on the side. 

1 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
3 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a small cup add 4 tablespoons of warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Allow to sit 5 minutes until top is frothy.

2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, oil and remaining sugar. Mix well until dough forms. If dough is to sticky gradually add more flour. If it is to dry gradually add more water. Knead for 5 minutes. Place dough into bowl making sure to cover top of dough with a little oil. Place a towel over bowl and sit in a warm place until doubled about 1 hour.

2. When dough has doubled carefully punch down with fist, allow to rest for 5 minutes. Place dough into a greased or non-stick loaf pan. Carefully cute 4 slits across top with a sharp knife.

3. In a 9 inch round baking pan or other small pan fill with water and sit on the lowest oven rack. Place bread on middle oven rack and allow to bake until golden, 30 minutes.

Yields: 1 loaf


Samboosas are a Saudi favorite that you will find on almost every table especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan. You can choose if you would like to use ground beef, lamb or chicken. Chicken and lamb are the preferred choice of Saudis and myself included. Another usual ingredient you will find in the mixture is chopped up boiled egg whites which you can choose to add if you wish. If you do not live in the Gulf then samboosa leaves are probably not available to you so a good alternative would be making the dough at home yourself. Samboosas are served as a pre-meal appetizer usually with soup.

1 pound ground lamb or chicken
1 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon cardamom, ground
1 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon dried mint
4 tablespoons pine nuts
1 package samboosa leaves
sunflower oil for frying

3 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of water

1. In a saute pan add ground beef and onion, cook on medium heat until no longer pink then drain grease. Add beef back into pan with coriander, cumin, cardamom, garlic, mint and pine nuts. Cook on medium heat for 4 minutes.

2. In a small bowl add 1 tablespoon flour and enough water to make a paste. Set aside this will be used to seal the samboosas.

3. In a small bowl make paste by mixing flour and water. Place a small amount meat at the bottom of the leave then fold side to side to get a triangle shape. Seal with paste tightly.

4. In a Saute pan with enough oil for frying on medium heat add samboosas, cook on each side until golden. Drain on a paper towel.

Apple Cobbler

Cobblers are probably the most traditional Southern dish we have back home and I equally love them all regardless if  it is blackberry, cherry, pear peach or apples. This recipe is a really quick and easy way to make one. You can leave the dough in clumps like I have or flatten a bit to spread, regardless of what you choose they both taste the same and amazing. You cannot beat a cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
6 cups sliced apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. For topping, in a medium bowl stir together flour, the 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.

2. In a 4-quart saucepan on high heat add apples, 1/3 cup sugar and lemon juice. Cook until boiling. Reduce heat to simmer and cover cooking for 5 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch stir until cook until thickened and bubbly.

3. In a small bowl stir together egg and milk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just to moisten. Transfer hot filling to a 2-quart square baking dish. Using a spoon, immediately drop topping into six mounds on top of filling.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is golden brown. If desired, serve warm with ice cream.

Yields: 6 servings 

adapted from Better Homes and Garden 

Homemade Sugar Cubes

Who ever knew making sugar cubes was so easy? If I did I would have been making these years ago. I have always found that serving sugar cubes instead of sugar with coffee or tea is so much more appealing. I have even loved buying cubes that are colored and shaped. Unfortunately sugar cubes are not cheap due to their pure elegance. You can really do so much when you make your own cubes at home. You can add a variety of pure extracts just think how tasty one with lemon extract or rose water would be in tea or cardamom infused for coffee. I bought natural food dye to use for my kitchen endeavors because I have a hard time eating food that I suspect has been dyed with unnatural products.
1 cup white sugar
2-3 drops natural food coloring ( I used yellow)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-3 teaspoons water

1. Line a cookie sheet with a non-stick baking mat, wax paper or parchment paper, sit aside.

2. In a medium sized mixing bowl add sugar, food coloring and vanilla. With a fork mix well until everything is evenly mixed. Add water a small amount at a time until mixture is damp; it should not be too wet.

3. Carefully dump sugar into a pile on cookie sheet. With damp hands form sugar into a rectangle making about 1/2 cm tall. With a sharp knife carefully line up and down making cubes easy to extract later.

4. Place cookie sheet in an unheated oven to store in overnight.

5. The next day take a sharp knife and carefully extract cubes and store in a covered container in a cool place or the refrigerator.

Yields: 2 cups sugar cubes

South of The Border Coffee

South of The Border Coffee is a great treat from your everyday regular coffee. I have used cane brown sugar but typically you should use piloncilla. This is also really great with some added whip cream and sprinkle of chocolate on the top. I have always loved the chocolate and cinnamon mixture that you find throughout Mexican recipes, they coordinate perfect.

2 cups strong coffee ( I used French Press coffee)
2 tablespoons cane brown sugar
1/4 cup baking chocolate, chopped
1 small cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan on medium heat add coffee, sugar and chocolate. Continually stir until chocolate has melted.

Add cinnamon, cloves and vanilla, stir well. Reduce heat to low and allow simmering for 5 minutes.

Pour mixture through a sieve and pour into coffee cups.

Yields: 2 cups

Authentic Mexican Tortillas

My grandparents own several properties in our small town back home in Tennessee and during the summers a lot of Mexican families would move in while they worked at the local Strawberry fields. I was probably about five or six and had made a great friend named Maria who was a few years older than I was. We had been playing all day and she said lets go to my house and I will make us some tortillas. I had no idea what they were but I was excited to try something different that my friend ate. We went into her house and she whipped up a stack of tortillas and we ate them all up.  I loved them and for years went on and on about them. Finally several years later a Mexican restaurant opened up and I was able to enjoy many more dishes that I loved. We have many Mexican Americans in America, were truly spoiled because they can throw in down in the kitchen.

Making flour tortillas at home is really simple and all you need is a few basic ingredients. The real Mexican tortillas are made with lard but most people use shortening. I am sure you could use oil if that is all you have but I have never tried it and it’s not authentic. Making tortillas is a lot like making Arabic Pita Bread, it’s actually identical in terms of how you shape but the tortillas are rolled very thin. Letting your dough rest after kneading is mandatory to keep the gluten in check also if you find your dough retracting it’s because you did not allow it to rest or you’re not using enough four on your rolling board. Make sure you use a cast iron skillet (a Southern and Mexican must) when cooking your bread. For storage use a plastic bag, it keeps them soft and bendable. 

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup hot water

1. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. With your hands cut in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly. If the mixture looks more floury than crumbly, be sure to add just one or two more tablespoons of shortening till it is crumbly. Add about 3/4 cup hot water to the mixture, or just enough to make the ingredients look moist.

2. With your hands knead the dough. In a plastic bowl add the dough into a ball and brush top with oil and cover with a dish towel. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.

3. Take the dough, and pull apart into 10-12 balls. Lightly flour your rolling area, and roll each ball with a rolling pin to about 1/8 inch thickness.

4. Place each tortilla on a medium hot cast iron skillet. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Yields: 1 dozen 

*recipe updated from 3/7/2009