Peanut Butter Brownies

Two great tastes that taste great together, peanut butter and chocolate. You can never wrong with this combination, at least not in my book. It was a special day at church today. We were having a baptism and a BBQ immediately following service today. So I wanted to make sure we had extra good goodies for the cart, and for dessert after. I made some chocolate peanut butter brownies as well as the lemon glazed cookies for the occasion. Lemon Glazed Cookies They were both a big hit, especially the brownies. They all disappeared very quickly.

Peanut Butter Brownies

For the brownies themselves, I used the Ghirardelli Brownie Mix and just followed the recipe on the box. They are already perfect, so why mess with perfection, right?! 🙂

The Peanut Butter Topping

3 TBSP melted butter

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all the ingredients together well and set aside until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 325* F or about 165* C.

Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Make the brownie mix according to the directions on the package and spread evenly in the prepared baking pan.

Add dollops of the peanut butter mixture all over the top of the brownie mix.

Gently drag a butter knife through the peanut butter mixture and swirl on top.

Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick that is inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before cutting and removing from the pan. And ENJOY!!!! You can never go wrong with brownies. I think brownies always disappear very quickly, no matter what the occasion.

Juneau and Vinnie were happy with this recipe too because they got to empty the peanut butter jar. At first Juneau wasn’t sure what to do with the jar, but she quickly learned from Big Brother Vinnie, and was a pro in no time at all.

Vinnie said this is definitely NOT his first time with a peanut butter jar, and he knew exactly what to do with it.

Peanut butter days are just as much fun as ice cream days.

Stay cool, stay safe and stay well Everyone. Enjoy your days as if they are all peanut butter days. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – The Killdeer

I have been seeing and meeting so many new friends lately, and I just love it. Luckily I have my bird books that help me identify all my new, and old, feathered friends. I saw a Killdeer for the first time the other day, and then I saw one again yesterday. They are gorgeous little shore birds, but they like the grassy knolls too. They get their name “Killdeer” by the songs they sing. It sounds like they are saying KILL-dee-ur

Have a great day Everyone. There is always something new to see and new friends to meet. Keep your eyes, mind and heart open. There is always so much to see.

Lemon Glazed Cookies

Cookies are my absolute favorite dessert. I can eat them anytime, and that is why I don’t make them that often anymore. I end up eating way to many. 🙂 But I did make some this time. We are having a church BBQ on Sunday, so they will be both for my coffee cart, as well as for the BBQ that follows our baptism and BBQ. I don’t feel guilty when I make them for others to enjoy. And of course I will have one, or maybe two, but I know they are for the group, so I will not be able to eat to many. Making them for others is a great way to still enjoy making them without all the guilt and calories.

I made some glazed lemon cookies for the event. There is something about the glaze that just sends me to the moon and back. I love glazed cookies.

Lemon Glazed Cookies

I doubled my recipe since I was making them for a lot of people. I also used some of my lilac sugar in the mix as well. Gail’s Lilac Sugar. Since I doubled the recipe, I used 1 cup of regular sugar and 1 cup of the lilac sugar.

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup softened butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 TBSP lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350* F or 180* C.

Combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.

Mix the butter and sugar together until it is creamy, then add the egg and the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix again. Add the flour mixture 1/2 at a time, mixing in between each addition.

Drop the cookies onto a baking sheet, about 2 inches apart and bake for about 12-15 minutes or just until the edges start to turn lightly browned. I actually like to slightly flatten my cookies with the palm of my hand before baking them. Some people like puffy cookies, but I am not one of those people. I like my cookies more “cookie shaped” and slightly more crispy.

When the cookies are done, let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, then remove them and let them continue to cool on a baking rack.

Let them cool completely before adding the glaze.

The Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 TBSP lemon juice

1 tsp lemon extract

1 tsp vanilla

Mix it all together until it is the right consistency, then spread over the cookies. I also added some colored sprinkles to make them more fun and festive.

Now all that is left to do is to share them with friends and enjoy.

Have a lemony fresh day and eat your cookies. Stay cool, stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – My Ducks Are In A Row

Momma and her not so little babies were out in an adventure. At first they were enjoying one lake when all of a sudden, they decided another lake would better. So they all got and trekked over to the neighboring lake. All the ducks, from momma on down, were crossing over in a row, with momma in the lead. They were all following where momma was taking them, no questions asked. They were nice enough to allow me to follow them make their long journey with my camera lens too.

And once they were all safely to the other lake, they all went in for a cool, refreshing dip in the new lake.

Momma always knows what’s best. Listen to momma.

Portuguese Sausage Stew

Portuguese cooking is something I am learning more and more about all the time. I love it, but then I love any and all types of Mediterranean foods. It is a Mediterranean country, bordering Spain and and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a matter of debate on whether or not Portugal actually borders North Africa. Some say yes, some say no. My point is, that Portugal has many influences on its culture and particularly on its foods, ranging from France and the Mediterranean to the East Indies, Africa and yes, even America.

Seafood is one the most popular types of food eaten all throughout Portugal, but seafood is definitely not the only food eaten in Portugal either. The Portuguese love their spices of all kinds, as well as potatoes, tomatoes, all kinds of fruits and vegetables, and MEAT. They love their meats, of all kinds. It is said that the Portuguese food is born of the earth. It is hearty peasant fare full of strong flavors, many charting the culinary history of the country.  Pork is a favorite meat and is used in the famous chorizo, or chourico as it is known in Portugal, which is sausage that is smoked over wood with heady aromas of garlic and paprika.

I love sausages too. I was still in a Mediterranean frame of mind, and I had some sausage I wanted to cook. So I did what I do best, and found something similar to what I was thinking about, and then created my own dish from there, following the guidelines of my own taste buds. I made a Portuguese styled stew with sausage (not chorizo this time), cannelinni beans, tomatoes, garlic, red wine and a fig balsamic vinegar. I served it over pearl couscous with some crusty ciabatta bread on the side, and an earthy, medium bodied merlot to complete the meal. !Deliciosa1

Portuguese Styled Sausage Stew

1-2 lbs sausage or chorizo, cut into large chunks

1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

2 large tomatoes, diced

1/2 red onion, sliced very thin

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2-2 TBSP garlic

2 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste

salt to taste

1-2 tsp black pepper

1 cup red wine

2 TBSP fig balsamic or regular balsamic vinegar

olive oil for cooking

fresh parsley, chopped

In a large very hot skillet, add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.

Then add the sausage, mushrooms and onions. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the tomatoes, wine, balsamic vinegar and the seasonings, and continue to cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the cannellini beans towards the last couple of minutes and incorporate well into the mixture.

Add some of the parsley and stir into the sauce.

When everything is ready, serve it over pasta, rice or couscous. I choose couscous this time, making it even more of a Mediterranean delicacy. Top it all with the remaining parsley and serve with a crusty bread on the side. This sauce is to good to let go to waste, and the bread will definitely help with that by dipping it into the sauce.

Even though all the ingredients used are simple, everyday ingredients, when combined together, they blossom into a delicious or deliciosa exotic meal from the Mediterranean. It was oh so good and easy to make too. In my book, that is always a win/win.

Stay cool, stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – The Model Squirrel

Yesterday was a perfect picture day. My camera was clicking a 100 clicks a minute. There was so much to see. And squirrels were everywhere. Some were getting very frisky too, in all ways. But there was this one squirrel, literally in a tree in my backyard, that was just posing for my camera and he was having so much fun. My camera loved him as much as he loved my camera. He was just the perfect model.

Have a squirrely day and make the most of all your days. 🙂

Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta

Shrimp, like chicken, is very versatile and can be used for just about everything. It goes with all kinds of sauces and vegetables. It can be grilled, boiled, sauteed, baked, poached, and oh so much more. It comes in all sizes, and is found in most places around the world. It is one of the world’s favorites, and it is definitely one of my favorites too.

I very can rarely resist shrimp, no matter how it is cooked, but when it is paired with pasta, I am hooked. Two great tastes that taste great together.

The recipe that caught my eye this time, originally called for crab, which I also love, but I had shrimp and that is what I wanted to make. I use recipes as guides and inspirations. Rarely do I actually follow a recipe exactly. Most often, I look at a recipe and then create my own thing. And of course, this is exactly what I did this time too.

I love all kinds of vegetables, so I am always adding a lot of vegetables to just about any dish I make. This time was no exception. The more variety of vegetables, the better too.

Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta

1 1/2-2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1-1 1/2 TBSP garlic

1-1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

olive oil and/or lemon olive oil for cooking

1 cup dry white wine

2-3 TBSP lemon juice

salt & pepper to taste

2 TBSP fresh basil, chiffonade

2 TBSP lemon verbena, chiffonade, optional

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed and cut in 1/2

3-4 tomatoes, diced medium

1/2 cup mixed olives, sliced

1 TBSP Peruvian peppers, optional

1 lb cooked angel hair pasta

Add the oil(s) to a very hot large skillet, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute. Add the shrimp and continue to cook until the shrimp is done, about 4-5 minutes.

Carefully add the wine and allow to cook for about 2 minutes.

Add all the vegetables and seasonings and combine well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for just about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the lemon juice right at the end and incorporate well. Once everything is ready, spoon it all over the angel hair pasta, then top with the basil and lemon verbena. Serve with some warmed ciabiatta or crusty bread and a cool, refreshing Mediterranean white wine, such as a white temperanillo or an albarino. Even if you are dining in your own home, or out on your deck, you will feel miles away. You will be on a Mediterranean vacation, at least through the course of dinner.

!Mangia! ! Desfruitas! Bon appetite! Enjoy!

Stay cool, stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – A Rose By Any Other Name

Roses are so beautiful. There are so many different varieties and colors. All have their own special, unique beauty and charm. I just love roses. I love everything about them. Even their thorns are part of their charm, as long as you don’t pricked to badly by them. We have so many beautiful roses in bloom right now, I just had to share them with all of you .

I hope you all have a very rosy day.

More Fun With Food

Life these days is getting pretty intense, all over the world. There is so much going on and it seems all we hear about are all the negatives in life. Sometimes we just need to step away from all of that and have a good laugh or two. Laughter, after all, is the best medicine. Laughter combined with food is even better. So I am giving you some more food funnies to help lighten your load and brighten your day.

I am a major cookie lover, so this one speaks volumes to me.

My kitchen, my recipes! Larry has learned NOT to question the chef. I know how to play with big knives.

We all know EVERYTHING is better with bacon.

The secrets of a successful chef.

And another favorite of mine. This was a staple in my house as I was growing up. Oh yeah, I was the one doing the cooking too, so I had final say. 🙂

Have a great day Everyone. Stay cool, stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – The Sparrow

Sometimes the “friends” I see on my walks are pretty adventurous and bold. They are not afraid of me and I guess they know I am not going to hurt them and will just let them be. So they often just come right up to me. it seems like they just love being the center of attention, and often pose for the camera. I will take as many pictures of them as they allow.

This little Chipping Sparrow was loving his camera time.

Nature is our friend. When you are kind to nature, she is kind to you.

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