Blonde Toffee Brownies

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Back in 1994, a co-worker of my husband invited us to a big pig roast at his house in Indiana.  He had a large backyard with plenty of space for all of his guests to visit and munch on appetizers while waiting for the roast to be ready.  Each guest was asked to bring something and I chose these Blonde Toffee Brownies because I knew they would hold up well in the heat.

After enjoying the succulent roast pork and side dishes, we were instructed to go into the kitchen and pick out a dessert.  I was not prepared for the array of desserts on that Indiana table.  There was every imaginable kind of pie, cake and cookie – and lots of them.  I doubt that my brownies were even touched that day, but I’m sure they went home with someone who could enjoy them later in the week since they keep well for several days.  These brownies are very sweet and rich – a small serving will suffice.

BLONDE TOFFEE BROWNIES

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup each granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp almond ext
  • 8 oz. pkg. toffee bits, divided
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
8 inch square pan, greased

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In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs, gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar.  Whisk in melted butter and vanilla/almond extracts.

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Gently stir in flour mixture until all is moist.  Fold in 2/3 cup toffee chips and add nuts.  Pour into prepared pan …

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…and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle remaining toffee bits over top.

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Cool completely before cutting.  Makes 12 brownies. 

Slightly Asian Slaw

This salad is my version of several recipes for an Asian-type slaw.  It’s very flavorful and goes nicely with any kind of sandwich.  Also, I like the fact that it can be served immediately rather than having to prepare it an hour or two in advance of a meal.

SLIGHTLY ASIAN SLAW

  • 1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tblsp. peanut oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp. Mongolian Fire Oil (opt.)
  • 1 Tblsp. rice vinegar
  • ½ Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 3 green onions, chopped (white and green part)
  • 1/4 cup grated carrots
  • 1 Tblsp. peanuts
  • 1 Tblsp. snipped cilantro

Place peanut butter in a small jar with a lid. Add peanut oil, sesame oil, Mongolian Fire Oil, vinegar and sugar.  Whisk with a fork…

…and then put a lid on the jar and shake vigorously.

In a large bowl, toss the shredded cabbage, onions and carrots together.   Salad can be covered and refrigerated at this point.

When ready to serve, add peanuts, cilantro and dressing.  Toss well.

4 side-salad servings 

Greek Potato Salad

I fell in love with Susan Branch with the first cookbook I bought, published in 1990, Christmas from the Heart of the Home.  Her artwork is so charming and her recipes are excellent.  Susan offered this potato salad recipe on her F.O.S.B (Friends of Susan Branch) Facebook page and it is also in her 1995 cookbook, The Summer Book.  I made a few minor adjustments (used new potatoes, less sweet pepper and feta cheese, and added a bit of honey to the dressing) and served it  for our Fourth of July lunch along with the usual hamburgers, hot dogs and baked beans.  It was great.

GREEK POTATO SALAD

  • 2 lbs. red new potatoes
  • ½ cup red sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Cover the potatoes, unpeeled, with cold water and cook over medium heat until tender.  Drain thoroughly.

Place the dressing ingredients in a pint jar with a cover and shake vigorously to blend.

When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl.  Add chopped vegetables, cheese and olives.

Pour dressing over salad and toss lightly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least ½ hour.  Serve at room temperature.  Makes 8 servings. 

Susan has a wonderful blog, www.susanbranch.com.

Apricot Spice Bars with Lemon Glaze

I have a large collection of county and state fair cookbooks, and this recipe came from an Indiana county fair book, 100 Blue Ribbon Cookies. The cookies are baked in a large jellyroll pan, 15x10x1, so you get a lot of thin, delicious bars with apricots and nuts plus a tart lemon glaze.

APRICOT SPICE BARS WITH LEMON GLAZE

Bar cookies:

  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves or allspice
  • 1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 15x10x1 jellyroll pan.

Cream together shortening, sugar and honey – beat in eggs.  Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture – stir well.  Fold in apricots and nuts.  Spread in greased 15x10x1 (jelly roll) pan.


Bake @ 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes until cookies are golden brown.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10-15 minutes.


LEMON GLAZE

  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 T lemon juice

Mix sugar and lemon juice together to make a glaze.

Brush warm cookies with lemon glaze.

Cut into squares and continue to cool on wire rack. 

In my recipe binder, I have a note:  First made June 10, 1995 to take to a picnic on Brookville Lake in Brookville, Indiana.  Everybody loved them.

Banana Mocha Snack Cake

topperOver 20 years ago, I copied the recipe for this cake from a 1986 Dole Banana flyer.  Today, I just got around to making it with a few of my own touches.  This is a very good, not too-rich, satisfying snack cake with a strong coffee flavor.  It’s an easy cake to mix – everything is put together in a baking dish.

BANANA MOCHA SNACK CAKE

  • 2 ripe bananas (1 cup mashed)
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tblsp. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tblsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a small bowl, blend mashed banana and instant espresso coffee powder.

In an ungreased 9″ baking pan, combine flour, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Blend well with a fork.  Make a well in the center.

In a cup or shaker, mix together the egg, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract.  Pour this into the well in the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until well blended.

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Smooth out the batter in the baking pan and bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

When completely cool, frost the top with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting:

MOCHA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 3 Tblsp. butter, softened
  • 2 Tblsp. cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup toasted almond slivers

Beat the butter and cream cheese together, add confectioners’ sugar, instant espresso coffee powder and vanilla extract.  Beat until well blended.  Frost top of cooled cake.

Sprinkle with toasted almond slivers.

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This would be a nice cake to take on a picnic or to a barbecue – or just enjoy at the kitchen table with a big glass of ice cold milk.

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A Picnic at Cincinnati’s Coney Island

For generations, Cincinnati families have been going to Coney Island on the Ohio River for picnics, rides and swimming.  Until the mid-1940s, there was a beautiful boat which made the trip, bringing people from the public landing in downtown Cincinnati to this lovely spot just outside Coney’s old riverside entrance.

Then, up the hill and through the stone entrance to a day of fun.

Everyone enters  Coney Island these days by car, coming in the main front gate, but it’s still a fun way to spend a few summer hours.  I came along with my youngest daughter and her two children to see Lake Como….

….try out the ferris wheel….

…and bounce up and down on The Frog.

The best feature of this old park is the abundance of big, leafy trees and lots of shade.  We picked a shady spot to eat the picnic lunch I had prepared – chicken sandwiches on foccacia bread, brownies and our favorite Broccoli Salad.  Here’s the recipe for the broccoli salad which is a little lower in fat than the original:

BROCCOLI BACON PECAN SALAD

  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tblsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Blend mayonnaise, granulated sugar and vinegar and refrigerate until ready to mix with vegetables.

Blanch broccoli by steaming for just a few minutes – just until the broccoli turns bright green.  Place broccoli, bacon, cheese, onion, pecans and raisins in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to mix.

AT LEAST ONE HOUR BEFORE SERVING, mix mayo dressing with salad and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Yield:  4-6 servings.