Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cream Cheese Brownie Bites

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Deuteronomy 31:8

Father's Day is still painful for me.  My father disowned me in a Christmas card in 1986, the Christmas my oldest son was one.  In a nutshell it said that I was a disappointment as a daughter and he would no longer communicate with me...and he never did.  After receiving that card, I continued to send him birthday cards, Father's Day cards, holiday cards, and even a birth announcement in 1989 when my son Nathaniel was born the day before his birthday (I was sure he would want to meet his grandson).  I wanted to do all I could from my end to keep in contact with him, so I would have no regrets.  Then a card I sent my father was returned, so I knew he had moved. At that point I lost contact with him. At the end of October 2005 my father died of a heart attack.  His wife called one of my siblings (I don't remember which one) and let us know our father died.  She was sure we would want to come to the funeral. Since my father had disowned each of us one at a time in different ways, none (2 sons and 2 daughters) of us had had any contact with him for years.  My sister and I decided to go to the funeral in north Alabama.  I needed closure.  The minister talked about what a wonderful family man my father was...how painful to hear.  He had a wife, step children, and a grandchild there mourning for him.  They were the ones he had communicated with the last 20 years and the ones who received his inheritance.  It was odd; that was MY father.  I looked at him in the casket and asked, "Why?"  I will never know the answer to that question.

Now you may be surprised at what type of a man my father was before he disowned his children.  I was raised in a Christian home.  In fact, I went to church the first week that I was born.  My parents were always active in our church.  We had devotions together in the front room and said prayers every night.  My father was the song leader in our little church in Moss Point, MS for years.  He was a deacon in the church as well as a Royal Ranger leader.  If there was a church service, our whole family attended.  That may not sound like a "big deal", but there were many week-long revivals when I was growing up...we went every night!  When my Gromma Brown (my father's mom) had a stroke, she had to stay in a nursing home.  My father left my mother for one of the nurses there and our family was never the same after that...

Life continues, however.  Though my earthly father cast me aside, I cling tenaciously to the verse at the top.  I know that my Heavenly Father will never leave me nor forsake me.  Even if I am a disappointment to Him, He won't disown me.  So when others enjoy the love of an earthly father, I won't despair; I will enjoy the love of my Heavenly Father and find contentment.

For now I am still having health issues; I can't wait until the day I don't have to say that.  They've gotten even worse since June 5th and I have been in such pain that it was often close to unbearable.  Nonetheless, I wanted to do something special for my hubby yesterday.  I knew going to a restaurant or cooking a full meal was not possible, so I opted to make him a dessert--his choice.  I had such pain in my back and leg I would do a little, sit down awhile, and then continue...I DID finish making him that special dessert...finally!!  And, yes, it was made with lots of love.  Here is the recipe and some step by step pictures:

Cream Cheese Brownies
(Makes 2 dozen cupcake-sized brownies or 4 dozen mini cupcake-sized brownie bites or 1 dozen cupcake-sized brownies and 2 dozen mini cupcake-sized brownie bites)

Brownie Ingredients


4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups baking cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP of instant coffee dissolved in 2 TBSP of water
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup melted margarine
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Cheesecake Filling Ingredients


16 oz cream cheese, softened
6 TBSP granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cupcake pans with spray Canola Oil. Be sure to grease the bottoms and sides of each cupcake well.

Brownie Batter
Whisk eggs,
cocoa,

salt, baking powder, dissolved coffee, and vanilla until well combined.

 
Stir in sugar and melted margarine.  Using a rubber spatula, stir in flour. 




Cheesecake Filling Batter


With an electric mixer beat egg yolks, softened cream cheese, and sugar until smooth.



Spoon brownie batter in bottom half of cupcake wells. Add a dollop of cheesecake filling on top of the brownie batter. Then top off each with a small dollop of brownie batter.


For the mini cupcake-sized brownie bites bake about 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


For the cupcake-sized brownies bake about 16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.



Cool at least 10 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack before removing brownies.  Allow them to finish cooling on a cooling rack or enjoy them warm.

Mini Cupcake-Sized Cream Cheese Brownie Bites


Cupcake-Sized Cream Cheese Brownies


**I made 1 dozen cupcake-sized brownies and 2 dozen mini cupcake-sized brownie bites.**

Cream Cheese Brownies
(Makes 2 dozen cupcake-sized brownies or 4 dozen mini cupcake-sized brownie bites or 1 dozen cupcake-sized brownies and 2 dozen mini cupcake-sized brownie bites)
Brownie Ingredients
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups baking cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP of instant coffee dissolved in 2 TBSP of water
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup melted margarine
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Cheesecake Filling Ingredients
16 oz cream cheese, softened
6 TBSP granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cupcake pans with spray Canola Oil. Be sure to grease the bottoms and sides of each cupcake well.
Brownie Batter
Whisk eggs, cocoa, salt, baking powder, dissolved coffee, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in sugar and melted margarine. Using a rubber spatula, stir in flour.
Cheesecake Filling Batter
With an electric mixer beat egg yolks, softened cream cheese, and sugar until smooth.
Spoon brownie batter in bottom half of cupcake wells. Add a dollop of cheesecake filling on top of the brownie batter. Then top off each with a small dollop of brownie batter.
For the mini cupcake-sized brownie bites bake about 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the cupcake-sized brownies bake about 16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool at least 10 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack before removing brownies. Allow them to finish cooling on a cooling rack or enjoy them warm.





Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brownie Pops

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Romans 12:9-11

Last Friday marked six weeks since I had to give up my teaching position in hopes of getting well...well enough to resume a reasonable quality of life.  I looked at my records yesterday and it was exactly 3 months before that I had my first Dr.'s appointment to try to resolve this health issue.  Though the medical community has found many problems in that time, I was told yesterday that none found so far could completely account for the pain and subsequent numbness and now the return of feeling and pain in my back and left leg.  They want to try yet another procedure that may take away the pain for weeks, months, and at times years...or if they are guessing wrong will have no effect and they will try different tests. But for that procedureI have to wait another 17 days, though. I know so many others have gone through much worse health issues than I am experiencing that I am not complaining; I am simply hoping to get well and go back to a better quality of life.  Both Timothy and Nathaniel are planning visits here soon and it would please me greatly to have enjoyable visits with them that included the ability to walk around some New Mexico venues and cook/bake for them during each visit. 

In the meantime, I want to learn any spiritual and/or lessons I should learn in this situation.  I had the privilege of going to a darling program that the Elementary School Fine Arts Camp from my school produced last Friday night.  The administrator and elementary school principal hosted/organized/planned/chaperoned/coordinated the entire camp for the kiddos and I saw that several of my favorite students were coaching at the camp that week from pictures posted on Facebook.  Though a very small token, I wanted to do something loving for all of them to show that I noticed what a fine job they were doing at that camp during their summertime.  Thus, the idea of brownie pops`a version of the latest cupcake pop fad~was formed.

Here is what I did.  Maybe you would like to try it to show love and appreciation to someone you value, too.

I gathered the ingredients for brownies from a mix, since this was just an experiment. 


Betty Crocker fudge brownies are my favorite brownies from a mix. 

I used directions for the cakelike brownies, since I wanted the consistency of a cupcake pop.



I baked the brownies in a 13" x 9" pan and let them cool completely.



Separately I mixed a basic buttercream frosting using 1 stick of margarine, 4 cups of confectioner's sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla, and enough evaporated milk to make the desired frosting consistency.




Then I broke up the pan of cooled brownies in the frosting until it was the consistency of play dough.




I then covered a baking sheet with parchment paper and placed 2 tsp-sized balls of the brownie/frosting mix on it.


 


I placed them in the freezer 10 minutes.  At the end of the 10 minutes, I gathered lollipop sticks and melted some chocolate in the microwave (60 second intervals on 1/2 power until it is melted).


Then I dipped the ends of the lollipop sticks in melted chocolate and  stuck them in the cold brownie/frosting balls. 

I placed those in the refrigerator and dipped the tops in melted chocolate.  That way they looked like a frosted cupcake to me with the frosting on the top and the cakelike brownie showing at the bottom. 


I put waxed paper over a piece of styrofoam to catch any drips.  I returned the brownie pops to the refrigerator until ready to serve.



To me, the brownie pops were very sweet.  Since this was an experiment, to the other half of the brownie/frosting dough I added 3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter for a salty balance to that sweetness. This time I only made the balls in a 1 tsp size. I used a cup that was deeper than wide for melting the chocolate, so I could dip the brownie balls completely. It made them look more like individual chocolates.


I also melted some extra semi-sweet chocolate chips with a couple TBSP of margarine and a bit of evaporated milk as dipping  chocolate as well.


I also let these harden in the refrigerator and then placed them in mini cupcake papers, so they looked like individual chocolates.  I loved these!  They lasted several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  I highly recommend these!  They would be easy to use in the color theme of a shower or party.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies for Nathaniel

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  James 1:17
 
 
 My Nathaniel turns 23 on Friday, June 8th.  It is the first birthday I have not shared with him (sniff! sniff!).  When he was in 2nd grade and introduced himself as Nathaniel his teacher said, "Oh! Like Nate the Great~"  Ever since then most of his friends call him Nate...but he will always be Nathaniel to me.  After all I named him Nathaniel because it means "gift of God" and it says of Nathaniel that "in him there is no guile".  Nathaniel has always been a consistent source of joy for me.  In fact, right after his birth when the doctor held him up for me to see, he smiled at me.  No one can convince me otherwise...and in turn he has brought me innumerable smiles in the years since.
 
Celebrating his birthday last year~Nathaniel and me
Since Nathaniel is a huge fan of sweets, especially homemade happies, I made him some chocolate chip cookies for his birthday.  Fingers crossed that they will arrive in time!!!  I even put in a "Happy Birthday" napkin for a little piece of home.  All my fellas like my soft chocolate chip cookies, so I am sharing the how-to pictures here.  Another reason this recipe is very appropriate for Nathaniel's 23rd birthday is that I got this recipe when I was 23.  I remember because it was the first year I taught school.  Neat, huh??!!
 
 
 
Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
(This recipe makes about 7 dozen cookies and they stay soft.)


Gather the ingredients.  Put the margarine
in the bowl ahead of time to soften.
Ingredients
1 cup margarine
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4-serving size Jell-O instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)



Separately combine 1 cup margarine, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 4-serving size instant vanilla pudding, and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy.
Smooth and creamy

Beat in 2 eggs.

Batter will be frothy.

Mix 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour with 1 tsp baking soda.

 Gradually add flour mixture. Then stir in 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped pecans (optional). 

Finished dough is soft.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. 

Keep the dough about the same size
for even baking of the cookies.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. (Makes about 7 dozen)
Let them cool 2 minutes before removing from baking sheet.

Always add a generous helping of "love" for the best results!
 Here's the recipe: 
Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
Ingredients
1 cup margarine
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4-serving size Jell-O instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Mix 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour with 1 tsp baking soda separately as the flour mixture.

Separately combine 1 cup margarine, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 4-serving size instant vanilla pudding, and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy.

Beat in 2 eggs. Gradually add flour mixture. Then stir in 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped pecans (optional).

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. (Makes about 7 dozen)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Soft Pretzels for My Hubby


"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."  Ephesians 5:33

My hubby Robert is from Philadelphia...Philly.  He loves all the Philadelphia teams: Eagles, 76ers, Phillies, & Flyers.  Hope I didn't miss any~  Whenever he reminisces about some of his favorite Philly food memories-besides cheese steaks-, he always mentions soft pretzels.  I grew up in Southeast Mississippi, so I never really had a soft pretzel until late in life at the mall.  Since I dearly love my hubby, it is fun to try recipes that I think he will really enjoy.  So...I decided to try my hand at making soft pretzels.  I did notice that the recipe made 8 and were best eaten the day they were baked.  Oh, well, I hate to waste anything, so I thought I'd call some of our friends on the West Side to taste test them with us so none would be thrown away.  That didn't turn out to be a problem...can you figure out why?!

My hubby taste-testing the first pretzel~
 This recipe is more time-consuming than difficult.  In fact, the pretzels were fun to make. They would be fun to make at a teen sleepover or with a kiddo or two.  In fact, my son Timothy should be visiting this summer and I think we will make these together when he comes...we'll make pretzels and memories!!!

 



Soft Pretzels
(Makes 8 pretzels)


Dough Ingredients
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp Red Star active dry yeast
7/8 to 1 cup lukewarm water (depends on humidity in the kitchen)


Mix all dough ingredients with wooden spoon until somewhat combined.


Use wooden spoon to combine ingredients.
Use the dough hook on the mixer and knead on medium low for 5 minutes.

5 minutes or longer...until it's not sticky
Dough should feel soft and smooth, not sticky.

Lightly dust dough with flour and place in Zip Loc bag.

Set in a dark place to rise.
Let dough rise for 30 minutes.

It will be twice as big as it was 30 minutes ago!


Soda Wash Ingredients
1/2 cup warm water
1 TBSP baking soda

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Lightly grease a large baking sheet with spray canola oil.

Remove the dough from the bag and place on a lightly oiled countertop.

I just used spray canola oil.


Cut the dough into 8 pieces.  Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Cut dough in 8 pieces.

 In the meantime in a container big enough to hold a pretzel, stir the baking soda into the warm water.  It won't dissolve completely. 

I made the soda wash in a sauce pan.


Roll into  a long rope and shape into a pretzel.

I layed the ropes next to each other
to make them about the same size,
but they kept getting longer because of the yeast.  ;o)


Dip each pretzel into the soda wash and place onto the oiled baking sheet. 

Make pretzel knots.

Sprinkle each with coarse sea salt. 


Let rest 10 minutes.

Bake 9 minutes or until golden brown.

Mine were browned in 7 1/2 minutes,
so keep an eye on them.
Melt 4 TBSP of margarine just before removing pretzels from the oven.

It's quick to melt in the microwave.

Immediately brush warm pretzels with melted margarine, as soon as they are removed from the oven. 
A warm, buttery pretzel

Enjoy the pretzels warm.  These soft pretzels taste best the day they are baked.

Soft Pretzels
Dough Ingredients
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp Red Star active dry yeast
7/8 to 1 cup lukewarm water (depends on humidity in the kitchen)
Mix all dough ingredients with wooden spoon until somewhat combined.
Use the dough hook on the mixer and knead on medium low for 5 minutes. Dough should feel soft and smooth, not sticky.
Lightly dust dough with flour and place in Zip Loc bag.
Let dough rise for 30 minutes.
Soda Wash Ingredients
1/2 cup warm water
1 TBSP baking soda
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Lightly grease a large baking sheet with spray canola oil.
Remove the dough from the bag and place on a lightly oiled countertop. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
In the meantime in a container big enough to hold a pretzel, stir the baking soda into the warm water. It won't dissolve completely.
Roll into a long rope and shape into a pretzel.
Dip each pretzel into the soda wash and place onto the oiled baking sheet.
Sprinkle each with coarse sea salt. Let rest 10 minutes.
Bake 9 minutes or until golden brown.
Immediately brush warm pretzels with melted margarine, as soon as they are removed from the oven. Enjoy the pretzels warm. These soft pretzels taste best the day they are baked.






Friday, June 1, 2012

Sausage Pinwheels for Brunch

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." Psalm 127:3


Some of my favorite family memories with our sons were leisurely weekend brunches when we all shared details about the events of the week before and what was coming up in the next week while enjoying a meal together.  Inevitably (if you know my husband and sons, you understand why I say  "inevitably"), there was also a lot of laughter. I love to hear my fellas laugh!  

If you enjoy the bonding time of family brunch on the weekends or on summer weekdays when the kiddos are sleeping in, here is a recipe that works perfectly. I found a recipe similar to this one on Pinterest recently, modified it for the Burns Bunch, and thought I'd share it just in time for your own tasty weekend brunch.

Be sure to start this in plenty of time for the filled crescent rolls to refrigerate 20 minutes before slicing in pinwheels to bake.


Sausage Pinwheels
(This will make 2 dozen.)

Ingredients


Gather the ingredients.


16 oz. breakfast sausage
1 1/2 tubes of crescent rolls
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 green onions, sliced (bottoms and middles)
dash of garlic salt

Directions
Slice onions and set aside.

Use the bottoms and middles of 4 green onions.
Brown and drain the sausage.

Drain thoroughly after browning sausage.
Soften the cream cheese in a microwavable bowl about 25 seconds.

Mix the drained sausage, softened cream cheese, dash of garlic salt, and sliced green onions thoroughly in a bowl.

Mix filling ingredients with a spoon.
Place the crescent rolls in the shape of a rectangle.  Seal perforations to make a solid rectangle.

I made the rectangle on the plastic wrap so it could
be easily wrapped for refrigeration.
Spread an even layer of the sausage filling on the crescent rolls. 

Spread filling to all edges.
Roll crescent rolls lengthwise like a jelly roll.

Keep pinching the dough together as it's rolled.
That way the filling doesn't squeeze out.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 20 minutes.

Place filled roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut in sections between 1/4" to 1/2" thick on a large baking sheet.

There are 18 pinwheels on this small baking sheet, but 
24 pinwheels can fit on a large baking sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees 15 to 18 minutes or until crescent rolls are golden brown.

Bake to a golden bown.
Enjoy the Sausage Pinwheels with Cheesy Scrambled Eggs.

Here's the recipe without pictures: 

 Sausage Pinwheels
(This will make 2 dozen.)
Ingredients
16 oz. breakfast sausage
1 1/2 tubes of crescent rolls
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 green onions, sliced (bottoms and middles)
dash of garlic salt
Directions
Slice onions and set aside.
Brown and drain the sausage.
Soften the cream cheese in a microwavable bowl about 25 seconds.
Mix the drained sausage, softened cream cheese, dash of garlic salt, and sliced green onions thoroughly in a bowl.
Place the crescent rolls in the shape of a rectangle. Seal perforations to make a solid rectangle.
Spread an even layer of the sausage filling on the crescent rolls. Roll crescent rolls lengthwise like a jelly roll.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut in sections between 1/4" to 1/2" thick on a large baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 15 to 18 minutes or until crescent rolls are golden brown.