Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Raspberry BROWNIES. Bumped Up a Notch.


Chocolate Chunk Raspberry Brownies.  

Chocolate and Raspberry - Possibly one of the best of the chocolate combinations ever.

As I mentioned in a previous brownie post,  Praline Frosted Brownies,  I'm a big fan of taking regular ole boxed brownie mix and bumping em up a notch.

This recipe is bumping up Boxed Brownies several notches on the boxed-brownie-bump-up-scale.

Oh you didn't know?

Yes, there is a "Boxed Brownie Bump Up Scale".

My favorite boxed brownies are Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate, but by all means, use whatever boxed brownie mix you have in your pantry.

For the Brownies

1 boxed brownie mix 
1/4 c. Seedless Raspberry Jam
1/2 c. chocolate chunks
3 eggs
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil


1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (not shown in photo above)
1/4 c. seedless raspberry jam
1/3 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With a wooden spoon, mix together the brownie mix, eggs, oil and seedless raspberry jam.  

Once combined, add 1/2 cup chocolate chunks.

I bought the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chunks

Nice big chocolaty chunks.

Several recipes I have call for only a portion of a bag of chocolate chips.

Instead of having opened, half-used bags of chocolate morsels hanging out in the cabinet, I like to keep my extra chips in miscellaneous sized Mason Jars. 

One glance at my handy dandy jars, and I can tell if they are the Mini chips, or the Chunks, or the regular sized chips. 

Ok, add your 1/2 cup of chocolate chunks to the batter.  Gently combine.

Pour the batter into a well sprayed 9x9 pan.

I find the size 9x9 works best for boxed brownie recipes.

The 8x8 is too thick, and sometimes the center doesn't get fully finished, and the 9x13 is too large.

Bake until toothpick inserted in the middle is just about clear.  A teensy bit of goo is not a bad thing.

Let brownies sit and rest while you make the yummy chocolate raspberry frosting.

Yes, you heard me.

Chocolate Raspberry Frosting.

In a small saucepan on medium heat, add a bag of regular sized semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam and 1/3 cup of milk.

Keep any eye on your frosting.  Keep stirring and stirring until all gets melted and incorporated.

Once chocolate mixture is fully melted, spread on the warm brownies.

Let brownies sit, so the chocolate frosting can set.  

If you want, you can pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes so the frosting sets a bit.

That should do the trick.

Chocolaty chocolate brownies with a delicate raspberry flavor perfectly exploding on those taste buds of yours.

Holy Mother of Boxed Brownies!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mini Crockpot Appetizer. 1-2-3 DIP. A No-Brainer

Over the past several years, I've somehow obsessively obtained three of these little 1.5 quart mini crockpots.

My recent purchase is this one by Proctor Silex.  
They come in some really snazzy colors as you can see.  I got the Lime Green one, but they also have bright orange, yellow and red.

They're incredibly handy because they are specifically made for get-togethers.  Easy to transport and small 1.5 quart which makes them utterly perfect for warm dips.

I loved my little lime green friend even more, when I opened the box and found it came with one of those handy white stretchy things.

You know.  The big white rubber band that keeps the lid from flopping off when your husband takes a turn too fast on your way to Jan & Bob's because you're running late.

These little guys are ideal when you're hosting a get-together and you have a couple different types of warm dips you wish to serve your guests.

They take up very little space and this way you can offer your guests a variety of warm appetizers, without the GIANT crockpots taking up huge amounts of counter or table space. 

One placed in the kitchen......and perhaps one placed in the main area where the party is being held.....Leads to........ "no crowds at the dip line".

Here is one of my favorite warm dips that can be served perfectly in your Mini 1.5 Quart crockpot.

Plus the name totally gives away the recipe.

One-two-three's a No-Brainer.

1 Roll Jimmy Dean Sausage (Regular Flavor)
2 Cans Rotel, Drained
3 Cubes Cream Cheese 

Get it?
One-Two-Three Dip.

Brown the sausage on the stove in a large-ish pot.  You can use Hamburger if you wish, instead of the Jimmy Dean Sausage Roll.

Once the sausage (or hamburger) has completely browned, empty the two cans of Rotel in the pot.  Be sure to drain the Rotel.  Don't want your dip all watery.

Cut up your 3 cubes of cream cheese into quarters, and plop right in with the mixture.

Place the heat on Medium High and keep stirring regularly until cream cheese melts.  Be sure to stir frequently, you don't want stuff to stick.

Once cream cheese is all melted, transfer into your mini crock pot.

Now if you are a really good at time management, then by all means, fry up the sausage, and then place the cubes of cream cheese and Rotel in the crockpot, add the cooked sausage, and then let the crockpot do it's "slow cooker thing".

But if you're like me, and running around like a maniac before a party, then you might want to get everything all melted real quick-like on the stove first.

One-Two-Three you're done.

Serve with Tortilla Chips.

Thank you Jeri A. for this recipe! 

I'll never forget the day you brought this into work.  I think I shoveled half of it in my mouth as fast as you can say one-two-three.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Double Adverb BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA. Don't Judge.

I'm probably going to be judged, and judged severely on a couple things you're about to see.

But I'll take the judging and hold my head high, because hubby totally gave me the "double adverb" approval.  

My husband is a man of few words, so when he actually doubles up on words to describe how much he likes something, then you know you've done something right.

So if you start to judge me, just think about the whole, glass-house-stone thing.

Cause when people taste this, you're gonna get the ole' double adverb from people, and you will be glad you didn't rush to judgement.

2 small grilled chicken breasts
2 to 4 individual sized ready-made pizza crust or 1 regular size
4 to 8 slices fully-cooked Microwave bacon
Your favorite BBQ sauce (one with a bit sweeter taste works the best)
Mozzarella Cheese
Ranch Dressing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

I mention the "individual sized" ready-made pizza crust because inevitably, someone in the household does not like BBQ chicken pizza.  So by using the individual sizes, everyone can have the type of pizza they want.

As for the BBQ sauce, I believe a slightly sweeter sauce works the best for this recipe.  The saltiness of the bacon, and the grilled chicken pairs really well with a subtle sweet flavor.

Pour the sauce onto the prepared pizza crust and spread around with the back of a spoon.

One of my very favorite BBQ sauces is Lil Smokers, made right here in Kansas City.  Their Sweet N Sassy flavor is pretty much one of my all-time favorites. The name sums it up. It's sweet but has a sassy bold flavor so the sweet doesn't overwhelm the taste.

Here's their link in case you're in the market for a really great BBQ sauce.  Or if you're local to KC, it can be found around town in most grocery stores

JUDGEMENT Time Number 1:

Ok, here is where some will judge.

I'm just gonna come right out and say it.

When I make BBQ Chicken Pizza..........I walk right up to the counter in the grocery store where they have the Gi-Normous bowls of pre-made potato salad, egg salad, broccoli salad, and baked beans and stuff.

You know the area.

Where the lady behind the counter, scoops you up a half pound of this or a quarter pound of that.

Well, located in that same area, most grocery stores carry already grilled chicken breasts.

Please try not to judge.

Listen, when you're in the mood for BBQ Chicken Pizza, do you really want to go outside and grill a bunch of chicken breasts first?

Unfortunately, we didn't have any left-over grilled chicken, and honestly, I didn't feel like pulling apart one of those Rotisserie chickens.

So one day I was being lazy, and I tried one of know....pre-made grilled chicken breasts.

And honestly, since I got the "double adverb" review from hubby, why change a good thing.

Dice up your chicken breast (however you chose to acquire it) into chunks and place on top of the BBQ sauce.


Again with the judging.

Yes, I bought Fully Cooked Microwave Bacon.

Again, in the case of making this recipe, Microwave bacon is perfectly fine.

Keep remembering the double adverbs that will be coming your way.

Microwave the bacon slices per package directions.  Use 2 slices per individual pizza crusts.  If you are not using the individual crusts, use 4 to 5 slices for the regular size crust.

Sprinkle microwaved bacon on top of chicken.

 Sprinkle some finely shredded Mozzarella on top of your chicken and bacon.

Place your pizza, directly onto your oven rack.  No need for using a cookie sheet.

Tip when taking out of oven: Since the pizza is baked directly on the oven rack, taking it out can be a bit tricky.  I like to hold a cookie sheet directly up to and even with the oven rack, and then I use my pizza cutter to slide the hot baked pizza right onto the cookie sheet.  Once the pizza is on the cookie sheet, I slice with my pizza cutter.

Cook until cheese is melted and bubbly.

 Now is the time where you are either going to judge me once again or thank me.

And if you're pushing for the double adverbs, then you'll thank me.

Plus, I don't know if I can take any more criticism today.

Pour about 1/4 cup of Ranch Dressing into a Ziploc baggie.

Be sure to try and pour the dressing directly into the corner of the baggie.

With a pair of scissors, snip a teeny tiny bit from the corner of the baggie.

Gently drizzle a thin amount of Ranch Dressing on top of the pizza.


Stand back and wait for all those "people of few words" to break out the double adverbs.

"This is really really good"

Definition and meaning of an Adverb:

An adverb is a word that adds information to a verb, an adjective or another adverb.

Example: "This BBQ chicken Pizza is really really good".

b, an adjective or an adverb.

Friday, October 7, 2011

STEAK Lime Tacos With Spicy Grilled Corn Salsa. Muy Caliente!

If spicy dishes are not in your recipe line-up, then I suggest you read no further.

I'm sure there are some people who might think Jalapenos are not that spicy.

And that can be some-what true depending on your tongue's Scoville Heat Unit.

Scoville is the meter on which Hot Peppers are measured.

Kind of like the Richter Scale in reference to measuring an Earthquake.

So if we take a look at the scale below, Jalapenos are really not THAT hot.
Jalapenos are listed at 5,000 heat units compared to the Habanero pepper at a whopping 350,000.

So if you're up for some "heat units" in your life, then I think you'll really like this.

Personally, I love the combination of the crisp cool texture of the grilled sweet corn, along with the spicy bits of Jalapeno, and the citrus taste of the Lime.

This dish has my name written all over it.

Hubby....not so crazy about it.

Me......LOVE IT.

2 lbs (give or take) of Flank Steak
Kosher Salt
Steak Seasoning of your choice
2 Limes (I know there are 3 in the photo.  I always over buy)
1 (16 ounce) bag of frozen sweet corn
1/2 small onion diced
1/4 c. of diced Jalapenos from a can
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil or regular Vegetable Oil
Flour Tortillas

Lay your Flank Steak on a foiled lined roasting pan and sprinkle it with Kosher Salt.  My grocery only had small cuts, so I had to buy two cuts of Flank Steak, each were at a little over a pound.

Now sprinkle the steak with some sort of steak seasoning.  I happened to have BEORKIN Seasoning in the cabinet so I used that.

Get it?  Beorkin.  Beef, Pork, Chicken.  Clever, very clever.

I'm sure any steak type seasoning will do.  Monteral Steak Seasoning is a really good one too.

I think they all pretty much have the same ingredients.

Sprinkle your flank steak with your steak seasoning and set aside.

These are about how big the pieces of Flank Steak I like to get.

While the steak rests with the seasonings, lets get the corn salsa ready.

Dice up 1/2 half of a small onion into small pieces.  Set aside.

Get out a pan, and on medium high heat, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Regular vegetable oil is ok too.  Let the oil heat up for about 2 minutes then carefully place your corn in the hot oil.

Be sure to use a big enough pan, so your corn isn't all crowded.

Keep tossing and turning the corn in the hot oil until it's all grilled looking, and a tad brownish.  This gets it all sweet and crunchy.

Once the corn is done, toss it into a large bowl.

Now in the same pan, add the onions, and cook until tender.  Adding a tad more oil if need be.

Once they are done, toss in with the corn.

Open your can of diced Jalapenos and add 1/4 cup into the corn onion mixture.

Toss together and now add the 2 Tbsp. of sour cream.

Combine all together and place the corn mixture in the refrigerator.

Ok, back to the steak.  Turn your oven broiler on and make sure your rack is sitting on the top position.

Once broiler is heated up and ready to go, place in your flank steak in the oven.

If you have the size flank steak that I've shown in the photos above, you're going to broil the steak for about 5 minutes on each side.

Attention Por Favor - Flank Steak needs to be cooked only until pink in the middle.  That's why 5 minutes on each side should be plenty enough cooking time.  Any longer will result in tough steak.

Broil the first 5 minutes, then carefully flip over for another five minutes.

They should pretty much look like this when finished.

Next step is Muy Importante.  That means "very important" in steak taco language.

Let the steak sit and don't touch them for about 10 minutes.

They need a little Siesta so-to-speak.

Let them rest, so all the juices fall into place.

While your steak is having a little nap, go ahead and get out your limes and cut them into wedges.

Now is the time to warm up your tortillas if you like them warm.

After the steak has rested, get out a nice serrated knife.

Slice your steak against the grain in thin strips.
Once sliced, lay steak pieces on a warm tortilla.  Top with the cooled spicy corn salsa.

Squeeze one lime slice over the top.

 Cool, crisp, sweet corn with 5,000 Scoville units of Zest.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The question of the day is this:  "Are you a double-booker?"

Is your calendar so overloaded, that you find yourself sometimes overbooking yourself?

I guess the answer to the question of the day is probably a resounding YES for most people.

I'm not from the South, and have not visited that region as often as I would like, but from what I hear, those people down there know exactly how to manage their time.

"Nice and slow"....."Take it easy"......"What's your hurry?"

Since I have no idea how to slow down, and would probably get kicked out of the South because I'm a hyper crazed over-booked lunatic, I love how this wonderfully easy, slow-southern-style brownie recipe, tastes like it took all day to make.

 And they LOOK like it took all day to make too.

1 box Duncan Hines milk chocolate brownie mix
Water, Eggs & Vegetable oil as called for on the brownie mix box
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Praline Frosting
1/2 c.whipping cream (in refrigeration section found next to the half & half)
6 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. chopped pecans
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Now don't turn your nose up at boxed brownies.  I have several WONDERFUL recipes, that turn regular boxed brownie mix, into a dessert that you'd be proud to serve or take anywhere.

And this recipe happens to be one of them.

But by all means.  If you are lucky enough to have a lot of extra, spare, unbooked time, then please, make a batch of home-made brownies.

Personally, my favorite boxed brownie mix is Duncan Hines.  I have tried them all, and I'm just partial to Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate Brownie Mix. But use whatever you happened to have on hand.

In a large bowl, combine the brownie mix, and use the appropriate ingredients for the "cake like brownie" recipe on the back of the box.

This brand calls for 1/2 c. vegetable oil, 1/4 cup water, and 3 large eggs.

Whichever brownie mix you use, I like to use the "cake like" brownie version on the box. 

Be sure to add the 1/2 cups chopped pecans to the brownie batter.

Pour batter into a greased 9x13 pan.

Bake as directed, and cool brownies for one hour.

After brownies have cooled, start to make the Praline Frosting.

In medium saucepan, add the whipping cream, butter and brown sugar.

Side Note:  I know most people are aware of what Whipping Cream is.  However, someone asked for my recipe and when making these brownies (I won't mention any names) she used Cool Whip because she thought that's what I meant by "whipping cream".

So, for those of you who "might" not know what whipping cream looks like, here's a quick picture.  It can be purchased in the dairy section, normally above the milk, next to the cartons of half & half.

Ok, no laughing allowed. 

Everyone had a "first time" when buying Whipping Cream, and this precious little person who borrowed my recipe, and used Cool Whip, happened to be a whipping cream virgin.

I'm sure we've all had hysterical recipe-errors in our lifetime.  So let's all be polite Southerners and be kind and not laugh at this little person's mis-hap (and sweet pea, if you happen to be reading day you will tell this story and laugh.  I promise).

Ok, now stir the brown sugar, butter and whipping cream over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a slight boil.  Continue cooking, and stir constantly for one minute while boiling.

Remove from heat, and stir in pecans, vanilla and powdered sugar.

Stir and stir and stir until all is combined, and there isn't any powdered sugar clumps.

Leave saucepan off heat, and let cool for about 6 minutes, stirring about once every minute during this 6 minute time frame.

Pour over cooled brownies, and pop your brownies into the refrigerator.

What's gonna happen during this time in the refrigerator, is the praline frosting is going to get all crackly and will harden up just slightly.

If I were from the South, I believe I'd have to go lay down on my fainting couch right about now.
After completely cooled, these pretties can be cut into nice little squares.  About the size of a "two-bite" square. 

After all, Southern women's mouths are very dainty, it's not polite to cut yourself a big ole hunkin' piece of brownie.

Besides, Praline is very scrumptious and very rich, and most people want a nice small piece. Kind of like fudge.

May be eaten straight from the refrigerator, or at room temp (I like it slightly chilled. Store in the fridge and let set out about 20 minutes before serving).

Take your time, enjoy your Praline Frosted Brownie, and by all means......don't OVERBOOK.