Friday, August 21, 2009

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars

First off, I wanted to share this photo with you of an amazing storm that rolled in one afternoon of our vacation. The beauty of the dark, stormy clouds against the clear skies all hovering over the rough, gray waters of the ocean was absolutely breathtaking. God's creation at its finest. I quickly grabbed my camera and shot at least a dozen pictures. It was such a gorgeous sight to behold!

In my warped thought process, the definition of vacation reads, "time away from the daily grind that offers any and every excuse to overindulge on sweets for breakfast, lunch and dinner and as many snacks in between as possible". So, as I was planning the menu for the week, I selected some of the most mouth watering treats for our desserts
These little brownie bars were rich and chocolaty and packed a marvelous peanut butter flavor. I served these slightly warm with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream on top. (of course) They were a huge hit with all the "kids" big and small! These were so good that when we stopped in Atlanta to visit my brother and sister-in-law, I made them again! Their family loved them too. Huge success with very little effort. Love it!

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
3 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Reese's Peanut Butter (I used Jif-it's what was on hand)
1 cup Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chips, divided
1 cup Reese's Peanut Butter Chips, divided
3/4 teaspoon shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9x2-inch pan.

2. Stir together butter, sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in large bowl. Add 2 eggs; stir until blended. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture, stirring until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, stir together sweetened condensed milk, peanut butter, remaining egg and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour evenly over baked layer. Set aside 1 tablespoon each milk chocolate chips and peanut butter chips; sprinkle remaining chips over peanut butter mixture. Return to oven; continue baking 20 to 25 minutes or until peanut butter layer is set and edges begin to brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

4. Stir together remaining milk chocolate chips, remaining peanut butter chips and shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at HIGH an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Drizzle over top of bars. When drizzle is firm, cut into bars. (I didn't wait that long!) Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Source: Hershey's Classic Recipes

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

All-Star Muffins

Right before the kids went back to school, we vacationed on the beautiful Emerald Coastline of Florida with some dear friends of ours. Everyday was filled with fun on the beach, swimming in the pool and the sounds of the surf. wonderful and relaxing!! What made our vacation even more perfect was the view out our condo window. There's nothing like waking every morning and looking out over the balcony and seeing the beauty of the ocean, sand and sky. I could even stand in the kitchen and still have a perfect view of the ocean and skyline. I was in heaven...what better environment to spark some creativity in the kitchen!!

The family we vacationed with also has four kids which made it double the fun for me to plan fun and tasty meals. Whenever we vacation we plan to dine out maybe once or twice, but most of our meals are eaten in our condo. After spending the majority of the day in the hot, summer sun, our kids are always wiped out and the last thing they have the patience for is to get cleaned up to go out to eat. So dining in allows the kids to clean up and put on their jammies and the added plus is it saves us quite a bit of money. Always a bonus!!

On one of our first mornings I baked these delicious All-Star Muffins that I found in my "King Aurthur Flour Baker's Companion" cookbook. This particular recipe grabbed my attention because of its simplicity and many variations that are offered. One of the variations that practically leaped off the page at me was the toffee chocolate chip addition. Holy Yum....chocolate and toffee chips for breakfast! Perfect for vacation!!

These baked up simply perfect!! Light and fluffy on the inside and just a little crispy on the edges. And the chocolate and toffee??? Oh. My. Goodness. Absolutely sinful!! The kids devoured these right up and the few that were leftover after breakfast were quickly eaten during lunch time. These will definitely become a "go-to" muffin for our breakfasts. I can't wait to bake up and blog about the other variations. :-)

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

All-Star Muffins

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
10-ounce bag of Heath bar bits
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease 16 muffin cups or use paper liners.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a handheld or stand mixer until light and fluffy and almost white in color. Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the batter is smooth.

Add the Heath bits and chocolate chips to batter.

Fill muffin cups and bake for 18-24 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a rack. (Muffins left in the pan to cool will become tough from steaming.)

Source: The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion