Saturday, July 31, 2010

Turtle Brownies

Last night we got together with some old friends that were in town and I was bringing dessert.  I had a brownie mix in the pantry, but wanted to spruce them up a bit.  I had some caramels in a bag and decided to use those and searched for a recipe for Turtle Brownies and this is what I ended up using.  They were VERY good - nice and moist, really, but did NOT look like the picture at all!  The above picture is from the Betty Crocker website where I got the recipe.  Mine did not have that beautiful layer of caramel.  Instead, it just baked into the brownie layers with no distinguishable difference of layers, at all.  Still very good, and I would make it again!

Turtle Brownies (from the Betty Crocker website)

1 box (1 lb 2.4 oz) Betty Crocker® Original Supreme Premium brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box
36 caramels, unwrapped (from 14 oz bag)
3 tablespoons whipping cream (I used half and half)
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chunks (from 11.5 oz bag) (I used mini chips, what I had on hand)
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom and sides 9-inch square pan with baking spray with flour. Make brownie batter as directed on box. Spread 1/2 of batter in pan. Bake 18 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in large microwavable bowl, microwave caramels and whipping cream uncovered on High 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

3. Pour caramel over partially baked brownie; spread to within 1/4 inch of edges. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup of the chocolate chunks and 1/3 cup of the pecans. Drop remaining brownie batter by small spoonfuls onto caramel layer. Sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup chocolate chunks and 1/3 cup pecans.

4. Bake 34 to 37 minutes longer or until center is almost set. Cool 1 hour at room temperature. Cover; refrigerate 1 hour before serving. For brownies, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store covered at room temperature.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Favorite Finds

Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner:  This product really works, in keeping the mold and mildew at bay.  We have a shower with a shower door, and the air does not circulate to dry up the water quick enough to keep it dry inside.  This works well, and you can get the refills at a good price at Sam's Club for a 4 pack.
Martha Stewart Covered Casserole for Macy's:  This beauty is not a LeCrueset pan, but a Martha Stewart covered casserole that cooks beautifully and cleans up as good as new!  I love it!  It is very heavy, and it sure came in handy with my jam making!

Crock Pot:  Yes, this is an old, 1985 Crock Pot with a removable insert, that works as good as the first day I used it!  I have an oval stainless steel one as well, but it gets hotter and burns things easier than this big one.  Never had a problem with this old gal...and I got it as a wedding present! 
Yep, she's lasted as long as my marriage!  :-)

Wusthof 6.5" Santoku Knife:  My favorite sharp knife that cuts through meat, whole carrots, and anything else I put to the test, with ease!  I also have the Santoku knife sharpener and use that everytime I go to use my knife, and just love it!  I had a different brand and it was too heavy to use.  This one is light and works GREAT!

That is it for now!  Just a few things I can't live without! 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Homemade Granola

Last night I made some homemade granola for breakfasts and snacks during the week.  I tasted it before I put it in the oven, and new it was a winner!  I got this recipe from Polly on her blog and website.   
Here is the recipe:

Homemade Granola

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 c. slivered almonds (raw, not roasted yet!)
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. canola oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all together by hand. Spread onto cookie sheet and bake at 325* til golden brown, stirring often approx. 30 minutes.  Cool on waxed paper and store in an airtight container.

Warning -- this is SO good you may eat it all in one day!  I love it on top of vanilla yogurt, or whatever flavor I have on hand.  SO yummy!

Check these places out for more great ideas!

Today's Creative Blog
Sumo's Sweet Stuff
Hope Studios
Someday Crafts

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to have a Successful Garage Sale

This weekend, we had a garage sale and made close to $1000!!  That is the most I have ever made at any previous sale, so I'm going to share with you some tips on how to make YOURS a successful one!

Tip #1 - Have it two days.  I had mine on Friday, where I made most of my money, and also on Saturday.

Tip #2 - Advertise in the Newspaper, Craigslist and anywhere else you can.  Yes, people DO read the paper, and I did pay and extra $5 to have two stars in my add to make it stand out.  It paid off.

Tip #3 - Signage.  Have plenty of signs out, either make your own or do like I did, and buy them at wal-mart.  On Saturday, someone not only took my sign down, but used it for themselves by crossing off my address and adding part of their own!  I had NO traffic, until I had my husband go check the signs, and sure enough, the one pointing onto my street was gone.  Luckily we had extra signs from a previous sale which he quickly put out, and the people then started coming.  SO signage is EVERYTHING!!

Tip #4 - Use 1 and 2 gallon ziploc type bags to bag like items in and put a price on it.  This way people won't be nickle and diming you to death, but will buy a bag of stickers or a bag of pooh toys all for one price!

Tip #5 - Group like things together.  I had all of my candle items together, my linens together, crafts together, Easter items together, etc.

Tip #6 - If you have alot of one item, set them all together and print out a price big enough for people to see what that price is.

Tip #7 - If your kids want to help, have them man one table with their items on it, or have them sell lemonade, cola or water. Many people will buy from them, especially during these hot months!

Make sure you line your things up along the driveway, if it looks like rain keep any paper items inside the garage, and have tarps to cover things you do not want people to look at, like the bikes and lawnmower...  It took me a couple of weeks to price everything, but it was worth it.  I had many people tell me this was the most organized sale they had ever seen! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blueberry Jam

I wish I could say I grew these berries myself or picked them from a farm, but I did not.  Just bought them from my local grocery store.  When the summer berries are at a good price, get them!
Wash and destem all of your blueberries.  I also run my hand around in them and "feel" for any overly soft and mushy ones, and remove those. 
Make sure you get everything out and ready.  Sterilize your jars, simmer your lids, have the sugar ready to pour at once, and get your pots and pans out. 
Do you see this pan??? THIS is the LOVE of my life, when it comes to large dutch oven pans!! My husband should be VERY jealous! It isn't a LeCreuset, but a Martha Stewart HEAVY enamelled cast iron dutch oven!  My husband bought me this from Macy's last Christmas, and I almost forgot I had it when i was making all of my jams.  So see, he shouldn't be jealous over this enamelled beauty since he bought it for me! It cleans up SO nice, and looks perfect when you are done, just like it was new.  Love-Love!!!!
Bring your mashed fruit and pectin to a rolling boil.  Then add your sugar, all at once.  Return to a rolling boil for 1 minute, and ladle your fruit goodness into sterilized jelly jars.  Put on the two-part lid, screw on the jar rings but not too tight, and return it to a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  After the 10 minute canning, take them out and let them alone on the counter.  You will here the lids "ping", which is a good thing!  After 24 hours, take off the rings ONLY, use your finger to try to lift up the top lid.  If it comes up, it didn't take, and you will have to either put that jar in the freezer, give it away, or put it in the fridge to eat for later!  Sometimes they don't all can, but this time all of my blueberry jams did.
Here they are, all done!  I also rewipe the jars, because there tends to be some stickiness around the treads of the jars, even after canning.  Make some pretty labels and you are done!  Here is the blueberry jam recipe:

Blueberry Jam

4 cups prepared fruit (buy about 4 pt. fully ripe blueberries)
1 Tbl. lemon juice
1 box of SureJell Pectin
6 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Simmer and do not boil the flat lids and screw bands in a saucepan. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

CRUSH blueberries thoroughly, 1 layer at a time. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Stir in lemon juice and pectin. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

I am linking up here:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More Jam - Strawberry and Triple Berry Jam

After trying my first attempt at making blackberry jam, I decided to venture on to Strawberry and Triple Berry jams.  I ended up getting fruit at the market, but it would be much better if you could grow your own.  That is something I will have to look into next year, because I am WAY past the planting stage right now!  But taking advantage of all of the wonderful summer fruits, I am able to get some gifts together for Christmas, etc.  And canning is surprisingly very satisfying!

Strawberry Jam (Recipe from

2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled
4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate.

Triple Berry Jam (Recipe from Tasty Kitchen)

•2-½ cups Strawberries, Hulled
•1-½ cup Raspberries
•1 cup Blackberries
•2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
•1 box Pectin
•7 cups Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Have your jars sterilized and waiting for you in a large canning pot, sitting in simmering water. Make sure that the water covers them by an inch or two. Have you lids waiting in a seperate warm water bath.

Crush berries one layer at a time with a potato masher, and put into a 5 to 6 qt. saucepan. Dump in the lemon juice. Measure the sugar in a separate bowl and set aside.

Stir the pectin into the fruit and bring to a full boil. Quickly stir in the sugar all at once and return to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute.

Take off the heat, and skim off the foam with a metal spoon. Ladle quickly into hot sterile jar, leaving 1/8″ head space. Clean rims and threads, put a lid on it (har de har har), fasten rings, and hand-tighten them. Immediately return each jar to the hot water bath as you fill it.

Once your water bath is full (do not stack jars), pump up the heat. Once it is at a full boil, let it boil for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it rest in the hot water for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and place in a draft-free area to set. If they do not seal, follow normal canning procedures with the defective jars, i.e. try to re-lid, and repeat the water bath OR, if it’s just a jar or two, be a piggo and stick it in your fridge once it’s cool, just making sure to use it within a week or so.

Here are some links to follow:

Hope Studios
Join us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap up party!