Brownies, Anything but Basic

Salted Caramel Brownies

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Whether you make them from scratch or use a boxed mix for a shortcut, brownies are great! They are an easy dessert everyone loves.

I can remember being a kid in the kitchen with my mom and making brownies. I would wait for them to cool down just enough (as a kid this seemed to take hours!), add a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and dig in. I was in heaven.

To this day, I still love a basic brownie. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized you can easily jazz up a basic brownie and turn them into one impressive dessert.

"I’ve had a craving for some salted caramel and chocolate," says Diane Hopson Smith. “[I’m] not a big chocolate fan but when I want chocolate, well, I want chocolate!” One bite of Diane’s Salted Caramel Brownies and any craving will be satisfied. I’m a big fan of chocolate and caramel together and this recipe is sweet and salty at its best! It is a bit labor intensive, but the decadent result is so worth it. Serve these to guests and they’ll definitely be doing a happy dance!

Minus the raspberry, Kelli Thomas’ Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies are really good. But WITH the raspberry, these are do-a-jig delicious! “I love chocolate, my husband loves cheesecake,” says Kelli. “But we both agree these brownies are to die for!” These couldn’t be easier to whip up… you probably have the ingredients in your pantry! And, you can switch up the jam flavors too if you’d like. I bet blackberry or strawberry jam would work wonderfully too.

In fact, Catherine Cappiello Pappas creates an easy strawberry jam for her Strawberry & Chocolate Brownies. Catherine thinks these make “a delicious dessert for Valentine’s Day” and they would. But, they’re so good why not enjoy them year around! If you love chocolate and strawberries, then you will LOVE these brownies. They taste like a chocolate covered strawberry. The addition of dried cranberries adds a little tang to balance out the sweetness. Just delicious.

"These brownies are so moist and the touch of cinnamon adds a unique flavor," says Audrey Musick about her Brownies with a Kick. I love brownies that add coffee to the recipe. Strongly brewed coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor. But adding cinnamon? I hadn’t thought of that! The cinnamon adds a nice twist. You can taste it, but it’s not overpowering. Your guests will be asking themselves “what is that” as they gobble these up!

Penny Jordan’s Mom’s Best Ever Brownies are so chocolaty, so moist and so good! “My mom used to make the best brownies in Texas,” shares Penny. These definitely are delicious! Everyone in the Test Kitchen kept on going back and sneaking “just one more” from the plate. Buttermilk is a nice addition to this recipe. And, that icing? It tops these treats off perfectly!

"The chocolate and peanut butter covered rice cereal on top (along with the peanut butter cups) make this brownie recipe rich and amazing," says Traci Coleman of her Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies. From the chocolate flavor to the peanuts to the delectable crunchiness… these are divine. If you’re a fan of peanut butter and chocolate, then you’ll be a fan of this recipe!

Add nuts, frosting or even raisins and you have a wonderful treat that is anything but basic. While I was talking to everyone in the Test Kitchen, a big debate started - nuts or no nuts? I prefer my brownies without nuts, but what side are you on?

Chicken, It’s What’s For Dinner

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I’m a big fan of chicken - I easily serve it three nights a week in my house. It’s just such a versatile meat. You can grill it, fry it, bake it, shred it, change up spices… so many options. I was looking around to see what I’d whip up this week. And I noticed how many chicken recipes we had on the site (there were thousands!).

That got me thinking. Of all the Blue Ribbon recipes which chicken ones were my favorite? I realized I had way too many to include in here. But these were a few I thought I’d share.

"In my house my grandmother did all the cooking while my mother and father were at work," shares Telisia Dodd. “She would cook two kinds of meats a day, and one of them was her fried chicken.” Telisia’s Texas Fried Chicken is perfectly salty and crisp. I would eat this delicious chicken any time of the day or night. The crust on this chicken is finger lickin’ good!

To me, nothing is better than a roasted chicken. Carrie Brannon’s Unique Roasted Chicken recipe interested me because I’d never used her method of roasting a chicken. You can bet I will be doing it again! “Although the spices in this recipe may sound strange for chicken, it is so good,” says Carrie. “If you cook this in July you’ll swear it is Christmas from the yummy smell in your kitchen!” I would have never thought to add cloves, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon to a chicken rub. But, the spices add a ton of flavor! This chicken comes out so moist and delectable.

Lisa Crum’s Balsamic Chicken Garden Medley will serve a crowd, but I’m not sure you’ll have any leftovers (it’s that good!). “Just about everyone who’s ever tried it says it’s one of the tastiest chicken dishes they’ve ever eaten,” says Lisa. The marinade adds great flavor to the chicken and veggies. You could almost eat that as a meal itself! But, I suggest adding the pasta and marinara for an impressive meal. This yummy recipe is fairly labor-intensive, but nearly all the prep work can be done in advance. What a great way to serve friends and family something special and still have time to visit with them!

"I have always made my chili verde with pork, but my family loves chicken," says Tamra Miller. I think the addition of tomatillos to Tamra’s Chicken Chili Verde and a hefty amount of cumin turn this recipe into a real stand-out! Put it on top of some corn chips and cheese as Tamra suggests and you have one hearty dinner.

"Sweet & fruity, with just the right zing," is how Lauren Conforti describes her Caribbean Chicken. I’d agree… this dish has a great combination of flavors. I really loved the addition of apples and peppers. I bet this would be terrific served alongside some wild rice too.

I love to make chicken for Sunday dinner, then use the leftovers in a different way during the week. That’s why I love Karie Houghton’s Slow Cooker Shredded Taco Chicken. “We had this super duper easy flavorful chicken in several different meals this weekend,” says Karie. You can throw this in the slow-cooker and forget about it - couldn’t be easier on a lazy Sunday. I loved this served in a soft taco when I first tried it, but like Karie says, it would be wonderful served as part of so many meals.

Next time chicken is on sale at the store, grab a few extra packages and try one of these flavorful recipes. Do you have a favorite chicken recipe? Make sure to share it with us!

Flavorful Chicken Wings Are Our Favorite Football Fare

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Are you ready for some football? I know I am! I cheer for my favorite college and pro teams, but really I love football season for the food. Chili, burgers, chili dip, pretzels … I love it all. But, to me, no tailgate is complete without chicken wings.

Wings are my favorite. Drop ‘em in the fryer, add some hot sauce and I’m happy (and don’t forget the bleu cheese dressing on the side!). But, these days, chicken wings have gone to a whole new flavor level.

The wing sauce on Cynthia Sigler’s Korean Chicken Wings is scrumptious. “Everyone loves these when I make them, they are usually the first to go,” shares Cynthia. We loved this sauce so much so, in fact, that we decided to soak our second batch of wings directly in the sauce while they were still hot. It made them a lot messier, but oh-so-good! The soy sauce, garlic, ginger and scallions add great flavor, while the sugar adds a nice sweetness.

"These wings are delicious - a bit of heat and a bit of sweet," explains Teresa Clayton when describing her Wings Worth the Wait! recipe. “My husband talks me into making them every Sunday for the football games.” These wings are fried and baked. It gives a nice crunch to the wings. The sauce is really good too. It has some heat, but not too much. Teresa mentions leftovers are yummy. These are so tasty, I don’t think you’ll have any left!

I love that Mary Ann Hanson’s Slow Baked Chicken Wings are baked (making them a bit better for us!). The slow baking made the meat just fall off the bone. “My family has eaten these right out of the pan right from the oven because they are so good,” says Mary Ann. The sauce won me over on these wings. It’s really good, and different. Who would have thought to put french dressing in wing sauce? The Kitchen Crew gobbled these up and I’m sure your guests will too.

Why not throw wings onto the grill? Heather Johnson and Angela Gray do! Grilling adds a great extra flavor boost to their recipes.

"I made these marinated wings on the fly (pun intended) for a Sunday afternoon cookout," explains Heather. "I didn’t have enough of the one type of marinade so I made my own." Well, the marinade she came up with for her Ginger Lime Chicken Wings makes this recipe. Ginger and lime are a wonderful combo and give these wings a ton of flavor!

Angela Gray’s Orange Glazed Chicken Wings do not disappoint. “The orange marmalade and the lime juice are a tangy combo,” says Angela. “And the hot sauce is the surprise kick!” The orange marinade and sticky orange glaze is unusual and made these wings so tasty. These wings are definitely gooey so make sure to have some wet naps on hand. These would be great at your next tailgate.

Kick-off a full-flavored football season with a few of these chicken wing recipes. You’ll definitely earn extra points with the crowd! I’m curious … what’s your favorite tailgate food?

The Ultimate Back-to-School Time-Saver — Crescent Dough


Easy Crescent Dough Lemon Bars

Tuesday, August, 19, 2014

I don’t know about you, but back-to-school time is always hectic in my house. These days, I’m running to my grandson’s functions. But, I still remember taking my son to football games, swim practice, a friend’s house, etc. I was always looking for recipes I could easily throw together.

One of the things I grew to love was crescent dough. You know … you find it in a tube at the grocery store? I was always figuring out ways to make something quick with it. After searching on, it looks like members have found great uses too!

Lora D.’s Crescent Breakfast Cups are the perfect on-the-go breakfast. We loved the mix of flavors and ingredients in this recipe. Bacon, eggs and cheese in bite sized (and portable) form. What’s better than that?

Your taste buds will be woken up when you bite into Penny R.’s Sausage and Cheese Crescent Squares.”This can be used as a breakfast dish or an appetizer - we love it both ways,” says Penny. The heat of the pork sausage is a great way to start off your day. But, if you want something milder feel free to substitute. It’s whatever makes your taste buds happy. And with only 4 ingredients it really couldn’t get any easier.

Elaine Moretti’s Miniature Meat Turnovers are a great snack idea. “I’ve been making these for over 40 years,” shares Elaine. “They are really very easy to make.” Depending on how many you need, you can easily double or triple the recipe. I think everyone will scoop these up fast!

In a pinch, you can quickly put together Jennifer Tennyson’s Cheesy Spinach Pinwheels with items you probably have in your fridge. These are fast, easy and really tasty! They’d also be great to serve alongside a bowl of soup. Easy dinner in a flash.

"This is a wonderful vegetable dish," is how Shirley Schiavone describes her very savory Zucchini Crescent Casserole. This is a great way to use extra zucchini and sneak some veggies into dinner. The herb cheese spread, seasoning and vegetables combine together to give great flavor. The crescent rolls creates a nice crust and makes this recipe pretty easy to whip up!

Blue ribbon winner - and guaranteed to be a winner in your house too - is Gail Herbest’s Antipasto Squares. “A cross between antipasto and deep dish pizza,” explains Gail. “Cut into small squares for an appetizer or larger squares for a main dish.” This is the type of dish that’s so good it will haunt you … to the point where you find yourself having eaten the whole pan. A quick trip to the deli counter and you’ve got a great dinner.

And let’s not forget about something sweet! Amber Moon’s Easy Crescent Dough Lemon Bars are a recipe everyone will enjoy for breakfast, dessert or an after-school treat. “My mom now requires me to make these for her birthday while the kids ask for them all the time,” adds Amber. “The butter, lemon curd, juice and sugar can all be tweaked to your liking.” We loved the creamy filling in this dish. And the crunchy sugar topping is perfect and adds the right about of sweetness. Super and simple!

Have you noticed a theme with these recipes? They’re all easy! Which is exactly what we need on a busy day. Open the fridge and grab a tube of crescent dough. I’d love to hear what recipe you create.

Kernels of Goodness in these Summertime Recipes

Tue, Aug 12, 2014

To me, nothing epitomizes summer more than corn on the cob. I’m a fan of quickly boiling the cobs, adding a little butter, salt and I have an easy summer side dish. But you know me … I’m always looking for new ideas. These delicious recipes take corn to a new level!

Shannon Hinkle’s Roasted Corn with Garlic and Olive Oil is an easy way to prepare corn on the cob. “My husband is a corn lover and he LOVES it when I make him this,” shares Shannon. This is a great recipe if you’re serving a large crowd - have everything ready and then stick it in the oven at the last minute. Basic, simple ingredients (you probably have in your kitchen) create the tastiest corn.

Unusual ingredients make Lynn Socko’s quick and easy Corn Salad a very non-traditional recipe. Who would have thought to add rice, eggs and turkey to corn salad? But it works! Give this creative recipe a try. Your guests will love it!

"Summertime finds me with an overabundance of corn," says Christine Hadden. “This side dish is a refreshing change to the same old same.” Christine’s Summer Roasted Corn Salad is a little more on a traditional side and oh so good! I love the addition of zucchini to this salad. The balsamic vinegar and basil definitely add a punch of flavor.

Ashley Dawkins shared her creamy, kicky and fantastic recipe for corn on the cob. How could guests not love a recipe called Crazy Corn?! “I am not a fan of mayonnaise, but I could eat this corn ALL summer long,” says Ashley. If you’re not a fan of mayo, you can substitute more butter in this recipe. But give it a try with the mayo … I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Your dinner will be spiced up with this easy side dish.

"Every summer I look forward to the fresh vegetables, especially silver queen corn," says Cathy Tate. “But even with my beloved veggies, I do get bored eating them in the same old way.” To add a little variety, Cathy experimented and came up with her Falling in Love with Okra and Corn recipe. The okra gives this dish a slight crunch, while the fresh corn adds nice sweetness. A couple of the best veggies of the summer in one recipe - perfect!

Amazing fresh corn, bright peppers, ample seasoning and creamy butter are what make Diane Hopson Smith’s South of the Border Corn Pudding stellar. “Corn pudding has been a favorite side dish for me for as long time as I can remember,” says Diane. “In fact I love corn just about any way you fix it.” This may be one of the best corn puddings to ever cross your plate! The mix of flavors is fantastic. I think picky eaters will be asking for second helpings of this.

Farm stands seem to be overflowing with fresh ears of corn at this time of year. Take advantage of the summer bounty and chow down on one of these fantastic recipes. And make sure to have dental floss ready!

You’ll Be Just Peachy after Trying These Desserts


Amaretto Cheesecake

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

There’s nothing better than whipping-up a fruit dessert with ingredients that are in season. When fruit is at its peak, it adds so much flavor.

Right now, my fruit bowl is overflowing with fresh peaches. There’s a truck near me that sells the juiciest peaches. I think I went a little overboard and bought a few too many of ‘em this week. But, now I have a reason to make one of these tasty recipes.

The combination of amaretto and peach in Karen Halstead’s Amaretto Cheesecake is simply divine. The first time Karen made this, the cake wouldn’t easily come out of the pan. But, even messy everyone ate it because it’s that good! Practice makes perfect and, after a few changes, Karen created a beautiful recipe.

The cheesecake itself is super creamy and flavorful. Placing fresh peaches on the top adds a nice sweetness. The almonds give each bite a crunch that tops off the cake perfectly.

"This is a recipe passed to me by my mother-in-law," says Annette Kisser about her Sour Cream Peach Pie. “As the youngest of eleven children she found her niche at age nine as the family pie baker.” With only four steps, this pie is super easy to make.

As the peaches bake, their wonderful juices combine with the cream and sugar to make a mouthwatering pie. Sweet and fruity, this pie is the perfect antidote to a steamy summer day. Especially topped with a bit of whipped cream!

Another wonderful recipe is Jacklyn Bertolini’s Blushing Peach Pie. “If you like strawberries and peaches, you will love this,” says Jacklyn. The mix of fruits in this recipe is so fabulously scrumptious. The pie is perfectly sweet and flaky. Ideal for a summer evening.

"When I was a little girl, my mom made desserts as cheap as she could, but were also delicious," shares Jeri Thomison. “She made this Peach Fluff - so simple, so good and so light for summer.” You’ll look like the hostess with the mostest without breaking a sweat when serving this tasty dessert. This recipe is proof positive that great-tasting food doesn’t have to be complicated.

Karen Rees’ Strawberry Peach Easy Pies are an easy dessert. Cute as a button, and tasty too! The perfect pick for the next time you’re wanting something sweet in a snap. “Everyone loves these,” says Karen. I recommend grilling the peach as Karen suggests. The grilling adds wonderful flavor. But, get extra creative and try your favorite fruit combo!

When you visit the grocery store or farmers market this week, throw a few extra peaches into the basket. Then, you can whip up one of these sweet treats!

Happy Halloween! Best way to use up leftover candy corn… make Easy Butterfinger Candy!

Happy Halloween! Best way to use up leftover candy corn… make Easy Butterfinger Candy!

Crockpot Apple Butter… Homemade is best!
Amazingly moist Yam Biscuits! They go great with apple butter or sliced pork. Yum!

Amazingly moist Yam Biscuits! They go great with apple butter or sliced pork. Yum!

Bean & Pea Slow Cooker Soup…. Cupboard cooking at its finest.

Bean & Pea Slow Cooker Soup…. Cupboard cooking at its finest.