Quick Fix Brownies



We spent a beautiful day in Chicago on my brother’s boat yesterday. I volunteered to bring along some munchies so I turned to my favorite brownie recipe to add to the collection of appetizers and desserts.  These brownies hold up well when traveling and they slice into dense dark chocolatey squares, perfect for a family outing.  A regular cake mix is used for the brownie base.  This is a quick and easy recipe that is sure to please all of the chocolate lovers in your life!

Quick Fix Brownies

1 (18 1/4 oz) devil’s food or dark chocolate cake mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar 

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Set the oven rack to the second-lowest position.  Spray with cooking spray a 13×9″ baking pan.  In a large bowl mix all ingredients except chocolate chips (and walnuts) until smooth.  The batter will be quite thick.  Add chocolate chips and walnuts, if desired; mix to combine. Spread batter evenly into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes (do not over bake).   Cool completely before frosting with a frosting of your choice.

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Triple Berry and Oat Muffins

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Lately, I have been sending quite a few care packages to the Purdue University campus as my three children have all decided to become Boilermakers while they work to complete their undergraduate degrees. I have been dehydrating fresh fruit and baking up a storm to send cookies, muffins, and snacks by way of UPS.
Last week, I sent these muffins to my daughters (my son is not a fan). I received rave reviews from both.
The muffins are filled with triple berry goodness. The oat topping makes for a moist and tasty center with a sweet and crunchy finish. …Absolutely delicious!

Triple Berry and Oat Muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 pounds fresh berries, sliced (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)

Topping
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line with paper liners, two muffin pans. Mix flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs, milk, and extract; stir into flour mixture until just moistened. Carefully fold in berries. Scoop into prepared muffin pans. Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle over the muffins.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Simply Made Veggie-Style California Roll

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Our local grocer has a wonderful sushi station set up in the produce section of the store. Each time I visit the store, I load up my cart with a few packages of veggie style California Roll. M loves to take it to school in her bento box. She eats it for lunch or saves it for her after-school snack, just before track practice. Lately, my long work hours have kept me from visiting the market during the sushi making hours. It seems the hours for the station are limited and once the station is closed, the remaining sushi is often removed from the refrigerator case well before I arrive.
M and I were out shopping yesterday, and once again, the sushi station was closed. As M passed by the station with a disappointed look on her face, she spied a display that included all of the supplies needed to make our own California Roll recipe. We quickly gathered up all the supplies and headed home to begin our sushi making project. On a recent visit to Disney, we had purchased a bamboo sushi rolling sheet so we were excited to finally put it to use. We carefully read the directions for making the rice, although, we eliminated the addiction of sugar and salt. We then proceeded to assemble the California roll. Wow, what a simple project…and so delicious! I hope you have a chance to try the recipe on your own. Add any combination of fresh veggies you prefer…cucumber or jicama might be nice. This is really a fun family cooking project.

Simply Made Veggie California Roll

2 cups Premium Grade Nishiki Sushi Rice, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
5 sheets nori (dry seaweed)
1 avocado, sliced thinly,
3 stalked celery, cut julianne style, about the length of the nori sheet
3 carrots, peeled and cut julianne style, about the length of the nori sheet

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Transfer cooked rice to a bowl and carefully cut in rice vinegar using a rice paddle or wooden spoon. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Place a sheet of nori, on the rolling mat.

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Place 2 to 3 pieces of each of the avocado slices, celery, and carrots on top of the nori in one layer.

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Using the mat as a guide, carefully roll the California roll into a tight log. Remove the rolling mat.

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With a sharp wet knife, cut roll into 6 even pieces. Repeat with remaining sheets of nori and filling. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

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Cindy’s Sweet Potato Morning Glory Muffins

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This past weekend, as I sat on the bleachers watching the boy’s sectional swim meet, my dear friend, Cindy asked if I had taken the time to make her Sweet Potato Morning Glory Muffins. I thought about it for a minute and said I wasn’t even sure that she gave me the recipe. She said that I had “liked” it on her Facebook page so I must have seen the recipe. Well, shortly after I arrived home, I asked M if she might be interested in making the muffins for her lunchbox this week. She agreed that the recipe sounded great. Last night, after her distance track practice, M threw together the ingredients for these delicious muffins. Wow, they are incredibly delicious! We packed them in an air-tight container so that, hopefully, she will have them for the rest of the school week. Thanks, Cindy, for a fabulous recipe! It’s a keeper!

Cindy’s Sweet Potato Morning Glory Muffins

3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup shredded carrot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine almond flour, cinnamon, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix just until thoroughly blended.
Coat muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray (or use paper liners) and divide batter among 18 mini muffin cups.
Bake for 11- 13 minutes or until muffins are cooked all the way through.
Allow to cool before serving.

Everyday Granola Bars

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During the course of a week, I make several batches of granola bars for my family. There are a few recipes that I use quite frequently and for varying purpose. Take for instance, the Grunt Bars I make when I am looking to boost protein levels, I make Curley Power Bars when I am wanting to provide a recovery bar after a long meet or practice. This recipe for Everyday Granola Bars is one that I usually pack into lunch boxes or have waiting on the counter when kids arrive home from school hungry and looking for something to eat.
I’m a firm believer that providing the family with healthy choices will encourage children to make better food choices for life. I try to stock the fridge and pantry with lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and yogurt so that when kids come home famished, they can quickly grab something healthy to tide them over until supper time.
This recipe is easy to adapt to satisfy your family’s preference. Add dried cranberries or raisins, almonds, pecans or sunflower seeds. We just adore dried apricots in this recipe as well. Change things up as you like. Enjoy!

Everyday Granola Bars

3 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coat an 11X7″ baking pan with cooking spray, set aside. Place oats, almonds and dates in a medium bowl; mix thoroughly, set aside. In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, warm honey and peanut butter; stir until smooth, creamy and pourable. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over oats, dates, and nuts, stir to coat completely.
Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Evenly pat down mixture to completely fill the pan. Cover and let stand until set; about 30 minutes. Cut into bars. For added freshness, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and store in air-tight container.

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Unbelievably Moist Banana Snack Cake

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Well, the weather outside has quickly turned from a mild Autumn of wind and rain to a wintery mix of cold and snow…I fear that our Midwest winter weather is here to stay for a while.
This recipe is perfect for a cold and dreary day indoors while the snow falls outside. I love to brew a cup of English tea and slice up this moist and flavorful cake. I am always amazed that mixing this simple list of ingredients together can produce such a delicious treat. By the way, this is a another great cake to pack in the lunchbox.

Unbelievably Moist Banana Snack Cake

1 2/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, combine flour and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk brown sugar, water, banana, oil, and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients, just until moistened. Transfer to greased 8″ square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Raisin Bread

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A few weeks ago, as I was looking through my old recipe notes, I came across a recipe that I haven’t made for some time. Lately, my bread machine has been working double time to provide lots of loaves for school lunches. In the last two weeks, I’ve probably made this recipe 3 or 4 times. It makes a sweet, light, loaf that slices easily for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or for a hearty slice of toast. By the end of the week, when the loaf is nearly finished, I cube the end of the bread up to be used in a Saturday morning cinnamon toast casserole so that nothing is wasted.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Raisin Bread

1 cup water
2 tablespoons Butter or Margarine, softened
3 cups Bread Flour
3 tablespoons Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons Bread Machine Yeast
1/2 cup Raisins

Place all ingredients, except raisins, in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. For best results, raisins can be added during the first kneading cycle so that the become well incorporated in the dough. This should be about half-way through the cycle.
Select Basic/Light cycle on the bread machine. When finished baking, remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

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