Wednesday, November 25, 2015


This is, by far, the best peanut butter brownie recipe I've tried. It is quick and easy and has a FIVE STAR peanut butter-honey frosting. We can't seem to stop snacking on it!!

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I use Jiff)
1/3 cup butter at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini-chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 9 baking pan (personally, I do not grease, I use parchment paper instead.

By hand or mixer, cream the peanut butter and butter till smooth. Add brown sugar and white sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips.
After it's all mixed together, add it to the peanut butter mixture and mix just until well combined, don't over mix.

Spread evenly in parchment lined pan and bake for 25 minutes or until top springs back when you touch it. Don't over bake!! You might be tempted to give it an extra 5 minutes for good measure, but don't!!

Cool completely before frosting.

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the butter and peanut butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften them.  Whisk everything together until smooth.

If the frosting seems a little thicker than you want, add an extra tablespoon of milk. If it seems thinner than you want, add an extra tablespoon (or two) of powdered sugar.

Make sure you toss the mini-chocolate chips with the flour, so they don't sink in the batter.

Friday, November 20, 2015


If you are a tater tot fan, you will adore these homemade tots. If you are NOT a tater tot fan, you WILL be after you try these, they are THAT good!!

It isn't accurate enough to just say these homemade tots are better than commercial tater tots .... it is more accurate to say they are worlds above commercial tater tots, and very easy to make.

2 pounds Russet potatoes
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup vegetable oil (for frying)

Wash and peel the potatoes (leave whole) and put them in a pot of cold water on high heat.

As soon as it comes to a boil, turn heat down to medium high and boil for 6 minutes (they will not be cooked all the way through).

Remove the potatoes from the hot water and drain on a towel. Cool to room temperature (takes about 30 minutes) (important step).

Grate partially cooked (and cooled) potatoes with a box grater.

Mix the flour and seasoning together. Spread the grated potatoes out a little and evenly sprinkle with four-spice mixture. Gently toss with two forks. The potatoes will seem a little dry, but that OK, it's the way you want them.

Heat 1 cup of oil to 375° (I use my electric skillet) and squeeze a small handful of seasoned potatoes in your hand until you get a nice little nugget. I couldn't get them round, but that's OK.

Fry about 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on how big or small your nuggets are (don't crowd the tots, just fry a few at a time). Turn them over when they get nice a golden.

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt.


Thursday, November 19, 2015


There is just enough time to make these tropical fruitcakes for Christmas. They are sweet, rich and full of fruit (that you can identify) and nuts, then you wrap them tight and keep them cool for 4 weeks while the flavors blend together (and mellow out) and they becomes REAL fruitcake.  NO chunks of green candied mystery fruit in this recipe, just pineapple, coconut, apricot, pecans and banana. It is NOT the traditional boat anchor fruitcake.

1 cup butter room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup mashed RIPE banana
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
5 eggs
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 cups DRIED pineapple bits (16 ounces) (see note below)
3/4 cup rum (I use pineapple juice instead of rum)
2 cups sweetened coconut
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups pecan halves

The day before you bake, mix the rum (or pineapple juice) and the dried pineapple bits together and microwave (or heat) until bubbles start to appear around edge of bowl. Cover tight with plastic and let it sit, at room temperature, overnight.

Put the sweetened coconut on a dry baking sheet and toast in a preheated 300° oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until JUST light golden (watch it because it likes to burn).

On day of baking, cream room temperature butter, sugars, jam, mashed banana, baking powder, salt and extract until very smooth.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. The batter will look slightly curdled after this step, but that's OK.

Measure 3 3/4 cups of all purpose flour and set aside. Measure out 1/2 cup of coconut milk (find this in the ethnic food aisle)(shake the can really hard before you open it). Set it aside.

Add the flour, a little at a time, alternately with the coconut milk, beating on low until well mixed.

Stir in the toasted coconut and pecan halves.

Grease the loaf pans and fill half way up with batter. Decorate with maraschino cherry halves that have been patted dry (optional). 

Place pans on a bigger cookie sheet and bake in PREHEATED 300° oven: 1 hour for small loaf pans (7") and 90-95 minutes for full size loaf pans.

Finished fruitcakes should be golden brown and 200° in the center.

While fruitcakes are baking, make some vanilla simple sugar syrup by bringing 1 cup water + 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to a boil. Turn the temperature down to a very slow simmer and simmer for 3 minutes, then cool completely. When fruitcakes are still warm, baste the top of the cakes.

When fruitcakes are completely cool, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in a COOL dark place for 4 weeks. Open them up once a week and brush with more vanilla simple sugar, then re-wrap.

The dried pineapple bits are a little hard to find. Do NOT use fresh or canned pineapple because there's just too much water in them. Candied pineapple might work (I haven't tried it) but you would have to cut it up so that the pieces were about the size of a large pea.