Saturday, August 30, 2008

Maple Syrup

3 Cups light corn syrup
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1/4 C water
1 1/2 tsp maple flavor
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs butter, optional

Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, and water in 2 qt sauce pan; mix with wooden spoon. Stirring occasionally, bring to rolling boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Turn off/remove from burner and stir in maple flavoring and vanilla extract. Stir in butter.
Cook's notes: Adding the optional butter helps to keep your syrup from developing a film on the surface; the butter will still create a film, but it breaks up more easily. I love this recipe because it is so much more cost effective than buying the syrup sold in the store, and it tastes better! The recipe will yield a little less than 1 qt syrup. It is very easy to reheat when it is stored in a mason jar. You can warm it in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds (on high). It is well worth it to invest in some maple flavoring. Click here for a link to the best deal we found online (at the time- we could NOT find maple flavoring in the stores; additional note, we got the 1 pint size and it has lasted us a couple years).

Adapted from McCormick's Maple Syrup recipe

Friday, August 29, 2008

Picnic Brownies

4 ounces baking chocolate
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup walnuts, pecans, or almonds, chopped (optional as always)
1 cup chocolate chips

Grease two 9-inch round pans. In top of double boiler or microwave-safe bowl melt chocolate and butter. In medium bowl mix sugar, vanilla, and salt; add to melted chocolate mixture and blend well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and mix well. Divide batter equally into prepared pans. Spread evenly and sprinkle top of each with chopped nuts and chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. (Do not overbake.) Allow to cool completely before cutting. Run a thin knife between pan and brownies and turn upside down.
You may need to shake hard to release brownies from pan. With knife that is longer than brownies are wide, cut brownies by pressing knife straight down through brownies; cut into 8 pie-shaped pieces. Makes 16 brownies.

Note: These brownies are named Picnic Brownies because they stack and travel very well.
Cook's notes: This recipe really does do best in round pans. When I do try it in a rectangular
9 x 13, I usually end up under baking the center.

Preparation time: 15 mins
Source of recipe: Lion House Classics

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup stick margarine or butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
1/2 cup buttermilk (yogurt or soured milk are great substitutions)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9 x 5 x 3 inches, with shortening.
2. Mix sugar and margarine in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. [Mix the following ingredients in separate bowl before adding to original mixture, this helps to prevent baking soda pockets from occuring.] Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in the nuts. Pour into pans.
3. Bake 8-inch loaves about [45 mins -]1 hour, 9-inch loaf about [1-] 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pans on wire rack. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely before slicing [NOT necessary, but definitely for about 10 mins]. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.
*If using self-rising flour, omit baking soda and salt.
Cook's notes: I have found that the 8-inch loaves cook more evenly than the 9-inch. Additionally, if you can find seamless bread pans, then it is incredibly easy to get the finished loaves out. I frequently replace the buttermilk with yogurt if I have it on hand (since it's abnormal for me to have buttermilk on hand). You can also make "buttermilk" on your own if you do not have any by combining 1 C milk and 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice and letting it sit for about an hour (this will make double what you need for this recipe, but you half that mixture). Also, spoiled milk works wonderfully in substitution for buttermilk! I typically mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl before adding to the recipe, otherwise you risk having pockets of baking soda (yuck!!!!), this frequently happens when I am being lazy.

Prep time:15 min; Bake time:1 hr
Source of recipe: Betty Crocker's New Cookbook

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lemon Bars

1/2 cup soft butter or margarine
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon

Cream butter and powdered sugar; add flour. Spread in 8x8-inch pan and bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. While crust is baking prepare next layer: Beat eggs slightly; add sugar, flour, lemon juice, and rind. Mix well and pour over hot crust. Bake for an additional 18 to 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar. Cool slightly before cutting into finger cookies. Good served with vanilla ice cream.

Note: This recipe may be doubled and baked in a 9x13-inch pan.
Baker's notes: If you wait a few minutes before sprinkling the sugar on top, then it will stick, but the temperature of the bars will not cause the powdered sugar to "melt" into it. If you wait to cut the bars until the following day, that is best. Additionally, this dessert does tend to taste best the following day, as the lemon flavor stands out more. Wait to cover until completely cooled. If you double the recipe, baking for 20 and 25 minutes (respectively) will typically cook the dessert fully (varies by oven).

Total time start to finish: 1 hr

Source of recipe: Lion House Classics

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