Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sugar Cream Pie

I found a recipe for "Indiana Sugar Cream Pie" in one of my mother's magazines. After reading through the ingredient list, I couldn't figure out how that could possibly make a pie, so I started doing some research on the internet. It turns out there are several variations on the sugar cream pie, but they all stick with the same key ingredients: sugar (brown, white, or both), cream (or half and half), and some spice on top (nutmeg, and/or cinnamon).

Here's the variation I came up with. It does make a rather low, dense, custard-type pie that is very sweet. I easily served ten people with this pie.

Sugar Cream Pie

1 unbaked pie shell
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups half and half or light cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
ground nutmeg

If you are making your own pie crust, prepare it and crimp the edges. Do not bake it. If you're looking for a pie crust recipe, you might want to check out this blog entry.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, and salt. Spread this mixture evenly in the bottom of the pie crust.

In a medium bowl, mix together the half and half with the vanilla. Pour this over the sugar mixture in the pie crust.

Cut up the two tablespoons of butter into small pieces and distribute evenly over top. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.
Cover edges of pie with foil to prevent overbrowning of crust. Bake in 350-degree oven to 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Top should be lightly browned and bubbly. Cool on wire rack. The pie will set as it cools. Within two hours, cover and store in refrigerator.

Pie is served cold.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chocolate Mint Brownies

This dessert is all butter and sugar. Prepare yourself for something extra sweet. I recommend cutting it into tiny bite-size pieces and sharing with many people.

In other words, I recommend not cutting into large pieces like you see below. I think I gave a sugar-high to the round of guinea pigs who tried the slices in the photo. :)

Chocolate Mint Brownies

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) plus 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon mint extract
green food coloring
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13 x 9 inch pan. Microwave 2 sticks of butter (1 cup) in large bowl until melted (about 2 minutes). Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in cocoa, flour, and baking powder. When well blended, pour into greased pan.

Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.

Once bottom layer has cooled, you can make the mint layer. Combine powdered sugar, 1 stick butter, water, and mint extract. Beat until smooth. Add about 4 drops of green food coloring and blend. Spread over top of brownies. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two.

To make chocolate glaze, microwave 6 tablespoons butter and chocolate chips in small bowl for one minute. Stir until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool slightly. Then pour over mint layer. cover and return to refrigerate. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kiss the Blarney Stone Cookies

I know many people are holding St. Patrick Day parties this weekend, so my post may be a smidge late for them. However, if you're celebrating on the real St. Patrick's Day, here's a fun, chocolaty cookie I found at It comes from the Hershey's people.

Kiss the Blarney Stone Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 baking cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
about 36 Hershey's Kisses

Ingredients for glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 drops of green food coloring

Beat together the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture, beating until thoroughly blended.

Divide dough in half. Place each half on a piece of waxed paper and shape into a log with square sides. You can make the log any size you want. The original recipe suggested 7 inches long and 2 1/4 inches wide. Wrap the logs in the wax paper and refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut logs into 3/8 inch slices and place onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 15 minutes. Cool for 1-2 minutes and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Stir together powdered sugar, milk, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla, and green food coloring. Using a small round tip (like #3), drizzle the glaze over the top of the cookies. Place an unwrapped Hershey's kiss on top.

Yields: about 3 dozen cookies, depending on size

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

I found a recipe for Butterscotch Macadamia Nut Cookies in a catalog a friend gave me last weekend. Since I didn't have any macadamia nuts at home, I decided to try a version with pecan chips instead. The result reminds me a bit of butter pecan ice cream.

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup butterscotch chips (about 1/2 a 12 oz. package)
2 oz. pecan chips (about 2/3 cups finely chopped pecans)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat butter, salt, baking soda, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add in flour.

Stir in oats, butterscotch chips, and pecan chips. Using a small cookie scooper, drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375. Remove immediately to wire rack to cool.

Yields: about 4 dozen small cookies

Friday, March 4, 2011

Short Story Published!

It has arrived!

Yesterday was a big day for me. When I opened my mailbox, there was a nicely padded envelope which held my author copies of the April issue of Pockets magazine. And you know what that means--my first published short story!

Here is the title for my story. If you look closely (or click on the picture to enlarge), you'll see my name in the byline. :)

The story appears to be 98% the way I submitted it. The magazine obviously made a few editorial changes, but nothing major. I was very excited to see my story on page 2, the very first thing in the magazine after the table of contents.

The drawings of my two main characters, twins Erik and Espy, are very cute, and they are pretty much as I imagined them.

Erik is supposed to look like their Puerto Rican father, and Espy takes after their Swedish mother.

This second picture of them is when they meet their new friend Val, who is going through chemotherapy. The theme of this month's issue is hope; that's why I named the girl Espy. (It's short for Esperanza which means "hope" in Spanish.) Espy is the optimistic one in the family. Erik is the pessimist. Val is the one who helps Erik remember that when times get tough, you have to pray to God and row for the shore (hence the story's title).

All in all, I'm very pleased with my short story debut. Unfortunately, I can't reproduce the story here, but if you know me, I'll let you borrow my spare copy. :) Or you can order your own subscription. Check out the Pockets website here.