Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Baileys Butterscotch Brownies

One of the best parts about revisiting a recipe is the chance to make improvements either in ingredients or directions. My improvement to Baileys Butterscotch Brownies, a previously posed recipe, was making the directions clearer. 
Recipe adapted from tastykitchen.com
For the brownies

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. instant coffee granules (I used espresso powder)
  • 1/4 cup Baileys (or other similar brand) Irish Cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 TB. butter
  • 4 oz. 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate bar chopped (I used 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate but a Semi-Sweet Chocolate bar would also work) in small pieces,
  • 2 TB. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • Preheat oven to 375 and line an 8×8 baking pan with aluminum foil and allow the foil to hang over 2 opposite edges. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • In the bowl mix the eggs to break them up. Add in the sugar, coffee granules or espresso powder, Baileys, and vanilla. Beat for 8 minutes.
  • Place the butter in a small saucepan, Add broken pieces of chocolate and melt on low, whisk a few times. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder.
  • Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, whisk the flour mixture in and gently mix. Fold in the butterscotch chips.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and bake brownies in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack. Remove brownies from the foil when cooled. The top part will be a little crackly but all is good with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  
Check out the original recipe on Ever Ready for how to use leftover brownies (if you have any) to make this Caramel Pecan Brownie Trifle.  https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2018/08/caramel-pecan-brownie-trifle.html

Monday, January 20, 2020

Asian Chicken Stir Fry Rice Bowl

Cook's Notes:Protein rich chicken and fresh veggies tossed with a flavorful Asian style sauce. Serve the stir-fry over steamed brown rice, cellophane or udon noodles. Garnish with diced green onions, chopped cashews or peanuts. 
Broccolini is not baby broccoli even though it may look like it. This lanky vegetable is a hybrid; first created in 1993, it’s a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. It has small florets, long stalks, and a few small leaves — all of which are edible.
Compared to the bitter flavor of regular broccoli, Broccolini is more mild, with a sweet, earthy taste. And while it can be eaten raw, Broccolini is best when cooked. It can be sautéed, steamed, roasted, and grilled. It's a winter vegetable.
Asian Chicken Stir Fry Rice Bowl
Recipe serves 3-4 
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 TB. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 large chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, diced 
  • 3 TB. sesame seeds
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 cup mini sweet red peppers, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4-1 cup Kung Pao Stir-Fry Sauce, divided (readily available Asian aisle- grocery store) 
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (low sodium) 
  • 1 cup broccolini
  • 1-2 cups sugar snap peas
  • Optional red pepper flakes or Sriracha Sauce
  • Garnish salted cashews or peanuts
  • In a wok or a large skillet pan heat sesame oil and add 1/3 cup stir fry sauce, chicken pieces, carrots, onions, peppers, sesame seeds and garlic. Saute on medium low heat 10-12 minutes, covered, stir occasionally. Uncover and add in rest of stir fry sauce and chicken broth.  
  • In a colander add a tray of ice cubes. Blanch sugar snap peas by bringing water to boil in a saucepan, add and boil 1 minutes. Drain peas in colander with ice.   
  • Add cut broccolini florets and blanched sugar snap peas and stir fry 3-4 min more with chicken mixture.
  • To serve fill bowl with rice or noodles and top with chicken stir fry mixture. 
Remembering the profound words of Martin Luther King JR. January 2oth MLK Day

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Morning Glory Muffins

Add a Morning Glory Muffin to your breakfast and you will rise and shine!  
Cook's Notes: Morning Glory Muffins are a throwback to the  land of the 60s. A recipe that combines the great taste with a chewy texture of carrots and the wonderful flavors of apple, raisins, coconut, nuts and cinnamon all put together in an earthy whole-grain muffin. Morning Glory Muffins are just the right kind of treat to start your day. Prepare the batter the night before and just pop the muffins in the oven the next day.
Recipe makes 18 muffins and was adapted from KingArthurFlour.com


  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour + 1 extra tablespoon or 1 cup white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour +1 extra tablespoon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded carrots (use a food processor for this step)
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced (small)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Optional: 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with papers.
  • In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water, and set them aside to soak while you assemble the rest of the recipe.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  • Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and wheat germ if using. 
  • In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange juice.
  • Add to the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened.
  • Drain the raisins and stir them in.
  • Divide the batter among the wells of the prepared pan (they'll be full almost to the top). Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Bake the muffins for 17-18 minutes, until they're nicely domed and a toothpick  inserted in the center of one of the inner muffins comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven, let cool for 3 minutes in their pan on a rack, then turn out of pans to finish cooling. Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
Have a great day! 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Slater's Tempest

"Slater's Tempest" is the third book in the Slater Mystery series. It follows former Navy Seal, now Private Investigator, Eric Slater and his partner in crime Maggie Jeffries, as they embark solving another mystery. Each of the three  books in the series is a stand alone novel as Jones skillfully interjects backstory for the reader to keep up with pertinent details found in the other two books. The book is aptly titled as the mystery is shrouded in the after effects of a hurricane in the Key West area for the Dunbar family.

While recuperating from a gunshot to his leg, Slater and Maggie are approached by a potential wealthy client by the name of Roland Dunbar. He relates a tragic story of his wife's death and how suspicions of her demise cast shadows upon his innocence due to a payout of a $10 million life insurance policy. Added to the mysterious mix was the loss of his daughter (it seems) during Hurricane Irma. Her body was never found. Rounding out the mysterious circumstances is the sudden appearance of Irma's necklace on the fourth anniversary of the death of Roland Dunbar's former wife. He had recently received in the mail his missing daughter's most prized possession, a necklace. Is it a hoax or is it possible his beloved daughter, Isla could still be alive? 

Isla had been presumed dead as she had taken out her boat, the Caroline, trying to move it to safety from the path of Hurricane Irma in 2017. Slater is ready to jump into action. He is intrigued by the case and agrees to take it on. With the help of his partner Maggie, and new to the investigative team Jasmine, they form a tight bond to solve Isla's disappearance. Jasmine, Slater's 17 year old ward, lends a youthful voice filled with brashness and spunk. Her no nonsense style, tells it like it is with a wry sense of humor. It adds some lightness to the story. Each of these main characters provide their own style to the ongoing investigation as they unravel a tragedy that happened years ago. 

The mystery is well written with many twists and turns. A web of entanglement is woven with a complicated plot and another subsequent plot develops simultaneously requiring the reader to be very attentive, especially with a large cast of characters introduced along the way. Jones skillfully weaves in clues and motives often throwing the reader off guard just as one thinks the mysterious disappearance has been solved.

Slater and Maggie, the two main characters, have great chemistry. Their developing romantic relationship feels real as well as the dialogue between them. Often it's amusing as they banter back and forth in a playful way adding a comedic release to rising tensions. Slater and Jeffries have formed a good working relationship supporting each other throughout this investigation. Jasmine was introduced in a previous book and her character becomes more developed in this story.
Other supporting characters in the story are well rounded with complex personalities and lives. Often they aren't who they seem to be throwing the readers' predictions off.

Jones is adept at propelling the story along creating tension and leaving the the reader to guess at every turn about who is guilty and who might have a hidden agenda. It is a fast paced mystery story that will keep your attention from start to finish. Jones is an emerging literary talent on the local scene.

T.J. Jones resides in the Pequot Lakes area and considers himself fortunate to have had several writing models that nurtured him as he developed his own style: Craig Nagel, local author, was one of Jones's teachers in high school, author Jon Hassler was his literature teacher during his first year of college and author James Casper at Central Lakes College. Jones hopes to keep the Slater momentum going with a total of 5 books in the series.  For Jones the best part of the writing process is figuring out how to say what you want to say,  seeing it in print, and not a rewrite by someone else. His character driven plots and themes will resonate with diverse audiences who enjoy a good mystery. 

Currently he continues to write about Slater and Maggie as well as developing a new mystery/sci-fi project. Jones recently found a narrator to produce an audible of "My Sister's Detective". The plan is to have all of the "Slater Mysteries" on Audible by the end of 2020.

Slater Mystery Book One
Slater Mystery Book Two
Books one, two and three are available in different formats. For ordering books and more information about T.J Jones and book signings check out his website www.tjjonesbooks.com

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Lemon Orzo Soup

An Ever Ready recipe updated: Lemon Orzo Soup with Chicken and Spinach

With a winter storm warning forecast for parts of the Midwest and rainy cool weather in parts of AZ- I do declare it's time for a warm up! 
Recipe serves 4. Use a rotisserie chicken as a time saver.
  • 3 large pieces of cooked chicken, shredded or diced chicken 
  • 1 cup each sweet onions, celery, carrots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1-1/2 TB. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. each parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon
  • 1 container 48 oz. chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 3/4  cup dried orzo
  • 1 small-medium lemon (zest and juice)
  • 3 cups torn spinach leaves, stems removed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese
  • Heat oil and saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Then cover and sweat veggies on low, about 8 minutes. Uncover and add in spices, broth and orzo. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer just until orzo is al dente, about 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper, mix in lemon juice and zest. Add in cooked chicken pieces and  spinach leaves. Heat until spinach leaves are wilted.
  • Optional adding in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese right before serving.
  • Since orzo will absorb liquid more broth may be needed to add to leftovers.
Suggested food pairings-fruit and cornbread
"I live on good soup,
not on fine words."
Moliere-French playwright, director, actor

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

One Skillet Chicken Enchilada Pasta

Enjoy a mid-week Mexican Fiesta Meal with One Skillet Chicken Enchilada Pasta
Cook's Notes: A kid-friendly meal with all your favorite Tex-Mex flavors. You can even customize the "hotness" depending on your family's taste. The meal can be put together in under 30 minutes, serves 4-5 and is all made in one skillet. Use a rotisserie chicken as a timesaver. Recipe adapted from chelseamessyapron.com
Topping options include: 
tomatoes, avocados, sour cream, guacamole, green onions, fresh lime  
  • 1/2 -1 can (15 oz. ) black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Steam Fresh corn (15 oz.)
  • 1 cup assorted mini bell peppers (about 7-8 mini red, yellow, or orange bell peppers)
  • 3 cups rotisserie chicken or 3 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 1 can (10 oz.) Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chilis not drained
  • 1 can (10 oz.) mild or spicy red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups regular shells or penne pasta
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2-3 tablespoons taco seasoning depending on taste preference
  • 1 package Shredded Mexican cheese
  • Prep the ingredients: Drain and rinse the black beans, corn and chop the bell peppers (remove stems and seeds), and chop the prepared chicken into bite-sized pieces. 
  • In a large skillet over high heat, combine the Ro-tel tomatoes with green chilis, the red enchilada sauce, the pasta, and the chicken stock or broth. 
  • Heat the skillet to boiling. As soon as it starts to boil, lower the temperature to low and add in the black beans, corn, bell peppers, and taco seasoning mix.
  • Cover, and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is tender and cooked through. Stir occasionally. More liquid (chicken broth) can be added if needed. 
  • Uncover and add in the prepared chicken and cheese, stir. Mix and heat for 3-4 minutes more. Serve with extra toppings.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Pizza Bar

Looking for a new and fun way to entertain even if it means shoveling a path to your grill? 
(photo taken winter of 2019 by Audrey Helbling Kletscher at mnprairieroots.com)

and set up a PIZZA BAR.
Let your creative side take over offering a variety of toppings and sauces for your guests.
Note left to right -whole wheat or corn tortillas (as they hold their shape better for grilling), a variety of toppings to include: mushrooms, olives, onions, assorted veggies, tomatoes, meats and cheeses. In photo background are prepared bottle sauces, e.g. pesto and tomato.
On the left of photo besides stacked tortillas is a plate with olive oil. Each guest places their tortilla in olive oil to coat the bottom and then moves along the counter/table customizing their individual pizzas. 

Place four pizzas at a time on the grill. Cover and cook 3 or 4 minutes until cheese is melted.

What a fun way to spend an evening!
So grab you favorite beer and/or glass of wine-toast and enjoy.

Baileys Butterscotch Brownies

One of the best parts about revisiting a recipe is the chance to make improvements either in ingredients or directions.   My improvemen...