September 22, 2012

Blue Ribbon Brownies

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Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


Since September is prime time for state and county fairs, I thought I'd stick with the fair theme and share a blue ribbon brownie recipe.  I won a blue ribbon at a fair in the mid 1990's with a batch of Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies.  Thirteen years later, my son won a blue ribbon at a fair using the same recipe!

I think brownies are the most versatile cookie ever invented.  There are cookbooks devoted solely to brownie recipes!  Brownies can be fudgy, cake-like, frosted or plain.  Brownies can also be doctored up by simply adding additional ingredients to the batter.

Chopped nuts are probably the most common addition to brownies.  Candy -- chopped candy bars, crushed peppermints, M&M's, peppermint patties, caramels -- are also common additions.  So are chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, mint chips and white chocolate chips.  Food isn't the only way to add flavor.  Powders, such as Espresso or instant coffee, can be added, as can liquids, such as flavored liqueurs.

The recipe I'm sharing today uses two other popular brownie additions: cream cheese and peanut butter.  

Combine the brownie ingredients and remove 1 cup of batter.


Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


Spread the remaining batter into a greased baking pan.


Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


Combine the filling ingredients.


Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


Spread the filling over the batter in the pan.  An easy way to do this is with an offset spatula.


Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


Drop the reserved batter by teaspoonfuls over the filling.


Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


Use a knife to gently swirl the batter for a marbled effect.


Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


Bake the brownies and let the pan cool on a wire rack. 


Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


When the brownies are completely cool, cut into the desired size. Whenever I bake bar cookies, I remove the crusty edges with a knife before cutting the cookies.  I think this makes the cookies look nicer when they're cut.


Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


Cut the brownies into the desired size.  I use a square cookie cutter; I think it's easier and faster than cutting them with a knife.  It also produces identical size cookies.


Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies


You'll need two other things to go with these brownies:  glasses of milk and the recipe.  Why the recipe?  Everyone will ask for a copy! 


Peanut Butter Brownies
12 to 36 Servings (depending on the size)

Brownies:

1 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Filling:

2 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk

Prepare filling by combining all ingredients in a small mixing bowl; beat until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.

Stir together melted butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs; beat well.  Add cocoa; beat until well blended.  Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well.  Stir in chips.  Remove 1 cup batter.  Spread remaining batter into a greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.  Spread filling over surface.  Drop reserved batter by teaspoonfuls over filling.  Using a knife, gently swirl for marbled effect.  Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean.


© Margaret's Morsels




  




September 14, 2012

Fair Food

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Margaret's Morsels | Corn Dog Casserole


Where can you eat nachos, caramel apples, cotton candy, grilled corn-on-the-cob, funnel cakes, corn dogs and something deep fried on a stick and wash it all down with freshly squeezed lemonade?  The fair!  For many people, this yearly event is more about the food being sold than which items won ribbons in various competitions.  If there's not a fair being held nearby, you can fix corn dogs at home, but without the stick.

Corn Dog Casserole is a tasty alternative to traditional corn dogs.  Hot dogs are combined with a batter made from eggs, milk, pepper and corn muffin mix.  Instead of being fried, these corn dogs are baked in the oven.

For the 15 years I've been making this casserole, I've always baked it in a 3-quart baking dish.  Not too long ago, my 14 year old son asked me why I didn't use a muffin pan instead.  I'd never thought about using one before so I decided to perform the experiment.  Not only does a muffin pan work great, it makes the perfect size after school snack.

The casserole is easy to assemble, but requires some prep work on the front end.

Halve each hot dog lengthwise.


Margaret's Morsels | Corn Dog Casserole


Halve each hot dog again for a total of four pieces.


Margaret's Morsels | Corn Dog Casserole


Cut the pieces into thirds (you'll have a total of 12 pieces per hot dog).


Margaret's Morsels | Corn Dog Casserole


Saute the hot dogs with some margarine in a skillet.  This lightly browns the hot dogs but, more importantly, intensifies the flavor.  Food doesn't brown good when it's overcrowded so I saute the hot dogs in two batches, adding additional margarine if necessary.


Margaret's Morsels | Corn Dog Casserole
  Sauteing half the hot dogs

Combine the hot dogs with the batter ingredients.


Margaret's Morsels | Corn Dog Casserole


Bake in a greased 3-quart baking dish


Margaret's Morsels | Corn Dog Casserole


or 24 greased muffin cups.


Margaret's Morsels | Corn Dog Casserole


The baking time is 15 to 30 minutes, depending on which pan you use. Unlike the casserole which is ready to serve when it comes out of the oven, the muffin pan needs to cool 10 minutes before the contents are removed.  If you try to remove them earlier, they'll crumble.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge of each muffin and lift each one out of the pan.

Add some catsup and mustard and you've got a fair favorite that can be made at home year round.


Corn Dog Casserole
8 Servings

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine (plus more if needed)
2 (16 oz.) pkg. hot dogs
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 (8 1/2 oz.) pkg. corn muffin mix

Quarter each hot dog lengthwise; cut into thirds (there will be 12 pieces per hot dog).  Working in batches, saute the hot dogs in butter or margarine for 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk and pepper; stir in the hot dogs.  Add the corn muffin mixes and stir to combine the ingredients. Spread the mixture in a greased 3-quart baking dish.  Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

To bake in muffin cups, divide batter among 24 greased muffin cups.  Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of each muffin before removing from the pan.


© Margaret's Morsels



September 10, 2012

Just Like Mom Used to Make

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Margaret's Morsels | Pickled Beets


When my husband, son and I go out of town, we like to eat at restaurants that can only be found in the area we're visiting.  This gives us a chance to sample local specialties plus, unlike chain restaurants, these establishments tend to offer a large variety of vegetables.

Last summer on a road trip to Chicago, we stopped at a family owned restaurant in Missouri.  There was an extensive vegetable selection so I ordered a vegetable plate with two of my favorites -- cooked cabbage and lima beans -- plus something I hardly ever see on a restaurant menu: pickled beets.

The last time I'd seen and ordered pickled beets in a restaurant, I didn't care for what I received.  I expected the beets to be cold, but they were served warm with bits of chopped onion.  To ensure I didn't have a similar experience, I asked our server if the beets were served hot or cold.  When she said cold, I decided to order them as my third vegetable.

When our food arrived, I took one bite of beets and it was as though I was sitting around the oval dining room table in my childhood home.  The beets looked and tasted just like what my mom used to serve with beans, corn and cornbread.  As we left the restaurant, I told my husband I was going to find a recipe for pickled beets so I could make them at home.  Fortunately, the search was quick and easy.

Over the years, I've collected enough recipes to fill almost four recipe boxes.  These untried recipes are ones that sound good, but I haven't actually gotten around to trying yet.  


Margaret's Morsels | Pickled Beets


Filed under "Beets" was a pickled beets recipe I'd found years earlier.  The recipe only uses three ingredients and, since it starts with a can of sliced beets, you don't have to cook or peel the beets.

Drain a can of sliced beets, reserving 1/4 cup liquid.


Margaret's Morsels | Pickled Beets


Put equal parts sugar and apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan.


Margaret's Morsels | Pickled Beets


Heat over low heat until the sugar dissolves.


Margaret's Morsels | Pickled Beets


Put the beets and reserved liquid in a glass bowl.  Beets are notorious for staining so you might not want to use a plastic bowl.


Margaret's Morsels | Pickled Beets


Add the vinegar mixture and gently stir to combine the ingredients.


Margaret's Morsels | Pickled Beets


Cover the bowl and refrigerate.  The beets need to be refrigerated at least 4 hours before serving, but I think they're better served the next day after the flavors have blended.

My husband and son don't share my enthusiasm for pickled beets, but that's ok.  I don't mind eating the leftovers, especially since they taste just like mom used to make!


Pickled Beets
4 Servings

1 (15 oz.) can sliced beets
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Drain beets, reserving 1/4 cup liquid.  Put sugar and vinegar in a saucepan; heat on low until sugar dissolves.  Place reserved beet liquid and beets in a glass bowl.  Pour the vinegar mixture over the beets; stir gently to combine.  Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.


© Margaret's Morsels