{Brownies & Cookies}

A new friend from grad school told me about the MOST AMAZING brownies her mother-in-law makes. I told her if she got the recipe I would bake them...it turns out these brownies are the easiest brownies you'll ever make and with one simple addition you can serve what people will think are Gourmet Brownies or Symphony Brownies as I call them:-) Thx to Summer's MIL.

Symphony Brownies
Recipe Courtesy of Summer’s MIL, Trace

            1 (18.25 ounce) package Pillsbury brownie mix (follow directions on box)
            2 Symphony Bars

1.    Prepare Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge brownie mix
 (as directed on box) 
2.   2-3 Symphony bars with toffee 
(depending on what size you use. I used Theater Sized) 

For thicker brownies:
Fill a 8X8 baking pan half way with prepared brownie batter. Then, lay Symphony Bars vertically along pan. Finally, cover bars with remaining batter. 

Bake according to directions. Cool completely! Then, cut and enjoy.  

For thinner brownies:
Fill a 13X9 pan a little less than half with batter. Then, add Symphony bars to middle. Finally, cover bars with remaining batter. Do not worry if the mix does not completely cover bars. The batter will rise and cover them. Also, you will get a cool grid made from the bars that will show on the surface of the brownies. Makes the brownies look artsy and easier to cut! This is what I inadvertently did. Bake according to directions (baking time should be less). Cool completely! Then, cut and enjoy.

            1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
            2 eggs
            1/3 cup vegetable oil
            1 teaspoon lemon extract
            1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration

1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2.   Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil, and lemon extract until well blended. 
3. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into a bowl of confectioners' sugar. Roll them around until they're lightly covered. Once sugared, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 6 to 9 minutes in the preheated oven. The bottoms will be light brown, and the insides chewy.

    Grandma's Sweet Potato Pie

    Bea's Sweet Potato Pie
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    For my family, this Thanksgiving was different than any other year. This was our first Thanksgiving without Mom. The "Firsts" in life are either wonderful or difficult. When you lose a loved one the "firsts" are the most difficult.  I woke up feeling blue and didn't know how the day would unfold but I was going to be open to the blessings of this marvelous day of giving thanks and gratitude! Thanksgiving turned out to be a wonderful day filled with the aroma's of the holiday, Kilkenny's turkey dinner, conference call with my sister Cymone and time with Dad, Allie and Los. I missed my Love this year but he'll be home soon-I have a pie waiting for you :-)

    Growing up my Grandmother would make the most AMAZING sweet potato pies. A couple of years ago I learned the recipe and only make the pies once a year. For a woman who NEVER measured anything (my grandmother)  I somehow was able to get the measurements that allow me to recreate this delicious delicacy year after year.

    You can use premade Pillsbury pie crust or make your own. 

    Bea's Sweet Potato Pie
    Two thumbs up from Los!

    Sweet Potato Pie
    Makes enough for 2 pies

    3 Med/Large Yams
    6 Tablespoons butter, room temp
    4 Tablespoons of flour
    1 C. White sugar
    1/2 Teaspoon salt
    4 Large Eggs
    2 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
    2 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
    1 Tablespoon Vanilla
    1 C. Whole Milk

    Preheat oven to 350.

    1. Boil potatoes (45min-1hour) until you can put a fork all the way through and peel the potatoes warm (potatoes are HOT. Be careful peeling them) Discard the skin and place the skinless potatoes in a large mixing bowl. If you are using an standing mixer put your cooked and peeled potato's directly into the bowl of the mixer.

    2.Cut the butter in small cubes and add to warm potatoes. The heat from the potatoes should be enough to melt the butter. using a fork mash the  butter into potatoes. When butter and potatoes are almost combined add flour and continue to mix together with a fork.

    3. Add the eggs mixing well to incorporate into mixture. Add sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and lightly mix together. Then add the milk and vanilla and using an electric hand held mixer mix ingredients until smooth and creamy.

    4. Prepare your pie plates with crust and evenly pour the filling your two pie plates.
    OPTIONAL: sprinkle the bottom of your pie plate with a thin layer of brown sugar before adding your filling

    5. Cook pies for 60 minutes and rotate in oven and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Continue to cook until crust and Pie filling has browned.

    OPTIONAL: When pies are hot out of the oven lightly rub butter on top for a crispy crust

    I Scream, You Scream...

    We all scream for Ice Cream, Sorta. 
    After making Hungry Girl Vanilla Cupcakes my Friend shared a secret recipe with me that is in line with the Hungry Girl Philosophy. These little 'Sorta like' Ice Cream sandwich's are worth screaming about and they are so easy to make. 


    2 Trader Joe's Old Fashioned Cinnamon Graham Crackers
    2 Tbs Cool Whip (you can use Free Cook Whip if you prefer)
    1 Tsp multi-colored sprinkles
    Parchment Paper

    1. Scoop two tablespoons of cool whip onto one graham cracker
    2. Place other graham cracker on top of cool whip and gently press down
    3. Hold sandwich over a deep bowl to prevent sprinkles from scattering and sprinkle all four sides of the sandwich.
    4. Place on parchment paper in the freezer for at least 2 hours or until cool whip is frozen.

    Only 125 Calories per sandwich.


    Hungry Girl Vanilla Cupcakes!

    For those of you that don't know who or what Hungry Girl is, check out her page HERE. I was invited to a HG Potluck which means everyone brings a HG recipe. I love to bake so of course I chose something sweet. I found this recipe in the section Chew on the Right Thing.

    I wasn't so sure about the recipe at first but thought why not...after a couple of hours these cupcakes were Darn Good!!!!

    Unfortunately I ended up getting sick and wasn't even able to bring my cupcakes to the potluck. Thankfuly a friend came over to help me and she was able to take the little cakes to work today.

     I did however make a couple of changes to this recipe because I don't use "sugar-free" ingredients.

    For Frosting (Double Recipe)
    1 1/4 cups Cool Whip Free, thawed 
    1 1/2 tbsp. Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix

    For Cupcakes
    1 1/2 cups Trader Joes yellow cake mix
    3/4 tsp. baking powder
    1 cup 7-UP, room temperature
    1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    1/2 cup liquid egg whites or (about 4) raw egg whites

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    To make the frosting, combine Cool Whip with pudding mix in a bowl, and mix until smooth. I used my Kitchen-Aid and let it mix for about 3 minutes. I then transferred the frosting to a pastry bag and stored in the refrigerate until cupcakes were ready to be frosted.

    In a large bowl, combine cake mix with baking powder and stir until free of lumps. Add soda and vanilla extract, and stir or whisk until batter is smooth. Set aside.

    In a separate bowl, whip egg whites (at room temperature) with a handheld electric mixer set to medium speed until fluffy. Read Baking 911 egg white tutorial.

    Gently fold egg whites into the cake batter until thoroughly combined.

    Line 9 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups or spray with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute batter among the 9 cups. Cups will be VERY full -- this is okay! My batter made 14 Cupcakes

    Bake for 15 - 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out fairly clean. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

    Once cupcakes have cooled, top each evenly with the frosting and 1 tsp. sprinkles. Let cupcakes stand for an hour and then Enjoy!!

    Peanut Brittle...worth trying!!!

    I made peanut brittle several years ago to give away as gifts and it was a real winner.

    During the last couple of week I kept dreaming of peanut brittle so Thursday night I thought I would give it a try. TRY is the operative word. I TRIED twice and twice I failed.

    I always read food network reviews and wonder about those people that say "I followed the recipe exactly and it didn't look anything like the picture and tasted awful too" well I can officially put myself in that category. I tried twice and failed twice!!!

    I like to think of myself as "the little engine that could" so I tried again last night after reading lots of cookbooks and watching several YouTube videos on making brittle. Long story very short...it takes time for brittle to cook, you cant rush the process AND you MUST have a thermometer.

    My revised version of the recipe!


        * 1 cup white sugar
        * 1/2 cup light corn syrup
        * 1/4 teaspoon salt
        * 1/4 cup water
        * 1 cup peanuts
        * 2 tablespoons butter, softened
        * 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
        * 1 teaspoon baking soda

    1. Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside.
    2. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
    3. Insert your thermometer into the pot. Dont let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan.
    4. When the tempature reads 250 Degrees F. Stir in peanuts. Continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 305 degrees F (150 degrees C), or until a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard and brittle threads.
    5. Remove from heat; immediately stir in butter or margarine, Vanilla extract and baking soda; pour at once onto cookie sheet. With 2 forks, lift and pull peanut mixture into rectangle about 14x12 inches; let cool for 30-40 minutes and then Snap candy into pieces.

    Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com Moms Best Peanut Brittle

    Cake Pops...Gotta Love'em!!

    I went on a cake pop marathon in the past few weeks. At first these little pops seemed difficult and time consuming but once you get the hang of it there actually quite easy and a joy to make.

     These were the leftovers, just  decided to play and have fund with them

     My best friend and I made these for her children's school. It was Harvest day! These little pops came in first place for taste and look.

    Homemade Oreo's-Take II

    So the story goes like this...
    1. I went to a potluck shabbat and 
    2. Someone brought homemade oreo cookies. 
    3. They were beautiful and everyone loved them. 
    4. They were the perfect potluck dessert
    5.  I wanted to make them. 

    Since I couldn't get the recipe from the baker, I had to do some recon work via the web. I found a few but could't pick just one until I woke up this morning at 4AM and decided to try Smitten Kitten's recipe. I must have still been a little tired because I not only burned the first batch but I added 3/4cup TOO much butter.  When I took the cookies out of the oven, needless to say, I was not a happy camper...I waited a few hours and tired again. And the finished product... 

    Gingerbread and the Bullseye...

    I got the cutest little gingerbread man cookie cutter at Michaels for .99 cents...and I just can't stop making these little men...I made these for one of my best friends who has been with the bullseye company, aka Target, since we graduated!!!


    6-Strand Braided Challah
    Challah Dough Ball
    I recently taught a challah baking class at The Wellness Community in West Los Angeles. The Wellness Community (TWC) is a not for profit organization that offers free services to those with cancer and their loved ones. Monday-Saturday there are yoga classes, tai chi classes, workshops, support groups

    Poppy Seeds to compliment
    all free of charge. A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of teaching a class and what a rewarding was to spend a Friday afternoon. There were 13 wonderful women and one awesome dude in my class. we had a great time and the challah's turned out delicious. I didn't get any pictures of the class but I baked challah last night so here is the 1, 2, 3 of challah baking!
    Shabbat Shalom


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