Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Today I am sharing my recipe for homemade peanut butter swirl brownies. I recently made them for a friend and was reminded how good they are. These are so much better than any box brownie mix and the peanut butter swirl really kicks them up a notch. 

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

350 degrees; 20-25 mins. 

  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9” x 9” pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a bowl mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 

In a mixer combine oil, vanilla and sugar. Blend well. Add eggs. Blend again. 

Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well. Add the second half. Mix well. 

Pour brownie mix into the lined/greased pan. Melt the peanut butter in a microwave safe glass dish. Pour over brownie batter.

Using a knife swirl peanut butter into brownies making sure to get peanut butter at least half way down into brownie batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

Allow brownies to cool, then lift foil from the pan. Remove foil from brownies, cut and serve. 

Enjoy!

Liz

Bacon Wrapped Cocktail Weenies

Yup, were wrapping stuff in bacon again. Can you really ever have enough bacon? I think not.

This simple party appetizer came from one of my best girl friends years ago. She was looking for a quick and easy dish to bring to a party we were having. We all loved them and history was made. 

I have continued to make these for parties and events throughout the year. They do take a little time to prep, but they are so yummy that they are completely worth it.

Bacon Wrapped Cocktail Weenies

makes approx. 60

  • 2 14oz. packages of smoked cocktail sausages
  • 3 medium jalapeno peppers
  • 1 ½ pounds of bacon 
  • Brown sugar 

Note – I prefer to use smoked sausages because I think they give a little more flavor, but unsmoked work as well. There are also cocktail sausages available that have cheese in them. They too are delicious. 

I start by getting all the prep done and out of the way so assembly is easier. 

Cut up the jalapeno peppers into thin strips. Cut 1 and ½ packages of bacon into thirds. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap bacon and jalapeno strips around little sausage and secure with a toothpick.

Space wrapped sausages evenly on parchment lined baking sheets. 

Sprinkle sausages with brown sugar. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until bacon is crispy. 

Serve warm. 

Bring them to a party or serve them at your own. Enjoy!

Liz

Fresh Bruschetta


I decided to whip up a batch of Bruschetta since I had a few ripe tomatoes on hand. This simple version is quick and easy to make. I like to serve it with toasted sliced Baguettes, or as a topping for chicken. It also makes a great dip option for a party. See some of my favorite uses below.

I think it tastes like a little bit of summer!

Each year I grow quite a few tomatoes. I am always looking for different ways to use them up since it seems like they all are ready at the same time! This recipe came out of necessity. This past summer the deer robbed me of my tomatoes (and the plants) just as they turned ripe. They pulled my fence down and ate the whole patch in one night! They even bedded down and slept in my raised bed after they finished eating the plants. (I have plans for a MUCH better fence this year…) But USUALLY I make this Bruschetta recipe a few times during the late summer… 

Fresh Bruschetta

Bruschetta

  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar 

Dice up tomatoes and place them in a bowl. 

Mince garlic and basil and add to the tomatoes. 

Add oil and vinegar. 

Stir well. That’s it!

Serving Ideas:

  • Slice a baguette thin and brush slices with olive oil. Toast at 350 for 10 minutes. Top with Bruschetta.
  • Serve with scoopable tortilla chips.
  • Bake or grill chicken or pork chops. Top with Bruschetta and shredded mozzarella cheese. Broil for a few minutes to melt cheese. 
  • Use it as a pizza sauce – Roll out fresh pizza dough. Add a layer of Brushchetta. Top with additional veggies if desired. Top with cheese and bake until melted.
  • Add it to a calzone.
  • Add to a wrap or sub as a sauce – pairs well with turkey. 

Let me know if you come up with more ideas! I would love to hear them. 

Liz

Crustless Quiche

I make a crustless quiche about once a week. They can be cut into wedges that can be eaten right away, or frozen for up to a few weeks. It makes the easiest breakfast imaginable that is packed with protein and vegetables. If fresh, pop a slice into the toaster oven (preferred) or microwave for a few minutes, and a little prep once a week makes breakfast easy.

This recipe is great because you can use any vegetables, cheese and meat you have on hand at the time. It is completely customizable. As long as you stick to the same egg to milk ratio, anything goes for the flavor.

Today I had some leftover shredded carrots, bell pepper and two leftover breakfast sausage patties. So there is our combo for today. I will share some of my favorite variations at the end of this post and as time goes on, on the blog.  

The base for this recipe is the same every time. The oil, garlic, onions, egg and milk portions of this stay the same with each variation. Just the add ins, meat and cheese changes.

great with breakfast, lunch or dinner

Crustless Quiche

350 degrees, 50 minutes

Serves 4-5

  • 2 tsp. oil (I use olive oil)
  • 1 small or ½ medium, white/sweet onion diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (I use two)
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup shredded cheese (today I used NY sharp, white cheddar)

Today’s Mix Ins:

  • ½ bell pepper, diced (any color, today’s is orange)
  • ⅓ cup shredded carrots
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 2 cooked breakfast sausage patties, chopped up 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop and prep all your ingredients.

prep makes it easy

In a small pan saute onions, garlic and chosen vegetables (peppers and carrots in this case) in two teaspoons of oil. Cook on medium until vegetables get soft and onions turn clear. 

vegetables soft, onions turning clear
place in greased 9″ pie plate

Grease a 9” pie plate. Add onion/garlic/vegetable mix to bottom of pie plate. Add meat and shredded cheese. Add basil or other herb leaves. 

layer other ingredients

In a mixing bowl beat eggs and milk. Pour mixture into pie plate. Salt and pepper quiche. 

top with egg/milk mixture

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Eat immediately, or cut into slices.  To reheat – toast in toaster oven for 3-5 minutes. If microwave, 1-2 minutes. Freeze up to two weeks. (Wrap slices individually.)

Some Favorite Variations:

Western: diced ham, bell pepper, shredded cheddar

Caprese: sliced tomatoes, basil leaves shredded mozzarella

Mexican: taco meat, shredded cheddar, black olives, diced green onions

Veggie: asparagus, tomato, spinach, pepper, shredded carrots

cool and slice

Favorite cheese options: cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, pepper jack, feta or whatever you like.

Favorite meat options: bacon, sausage (breakfast or italian), chopped steak beef/venison, diced ham, leftover taco meat of any kind, chopped up ribs, diced roast of pork/beef/venison, corned beef…really whatever you have. 

Favorite veggie options: bell pepper, asparagus, spinach, tomato slices, sliced carrots, black olives, green onions, broccoli, kale…sky is the limit here…

Give it a try and you will add it to your weekly routine guaranteed.

Liz

Baked Chicken Wings

Last night was the superbowl. Decided to make our own wings. I have tried a lot of different homemade wing recipes in the past and all have been pretty good, but nothing that I would say was the best wings ever. 

Last night I’m pretty sure we made the best wings ever. They were simple, but delicious. Crispy and hot. Baked in the oven, so easy and so good.

Oven Baked Chicken Wings

350 degrees (first bake 40 minutes, second bake 16 minutes)

  • 1 3 lb. bag of wings (approx. 30)
  • 2 ½ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground, black pepper

Pat wings dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Do not skip this step. 

Mix flour and spices. Toss wings in mix to coat. Place on parchment lined baking sheets.

coat wings in four and spices, place on parchment lined baking sheet

Bake 20 minutes, turn wings. Bake 20 minutes more.

Remove wings from oven and toss is chosen sauce. 

bake 20 minutes on both sides, remove and toss in sauce, bake 8 minutes more on each side

Return to baking sheets. Bake 8 minutes per side to crisp again.

Toss again in remaining sauce. 

crunchy, hot, spicy, sweet, yummmmmmm

Done. That’s it, no frying and mess. No oil. They come out super crispy and caramelized. Would be great tossed in any sauce. 

We used Brooks BBQ ‘Oneonta 51’ Medium wing sauce since we stopped by yesterday. It was a great sauce, good heat and flavor. We picked up a couple wing sauces there. Can’t wait to try them all out. 

Give them a try!

Liz

from Brook BBQ, Oneonta, NY – www.brooksbbq.com

Fresh, Homemade Guacamole

Mmmmmm… I love me some homemade guacamole. As a dip or a topping… you can’t go wrong. The combination of fresh flavors is delicious in any season.

I gave a sneak peek yesterday of my guacamole in the recipe for Carnitas tacos. If it got your mouth watering then here we go, let’s dig in.

Carnitas tacos with fresh guacamole

Guacamole

  • 4 medium OR 3 large avocados
  • ⅓ cup red onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Juice of ½ a lime

Core, scoop and mash avocados with a fork in a large bowl.

Note: I mention 3-4 avocados because it depends on what type/size avocados you are using. You can use either 4 Hass avocados which tend to be a little smaller, or 3 Florida avocados that tend to be larger.

Mince onion and garlic very fine. Chop cilantro to medium fine. Add all to bowl. Add salt and stir well.

six simple ingredients…. one delicious dip

Juice ½ lime over the whole thing and stir well again.

Fresh and delicious. Serve with chips, vegetables or as a topping.

Note: Fresh guacamole will turn brown as the avocados oxidize due to exposure to air. (Apples do the same thing…) If this happens you can just stir the guacamole to freshen the color. Another way to avoid this (especially if you are going to use the next day) is to press plastic wrap firmly over the surface. If the guacamole does not touch the air it will not brown.

ready for dipping

Enjoy!

Liz

Pulled Pork & Pulled Pork Tacos (Carnitas)

In the winter I really enjoy getting out the crockpot. There is something so nice about coming home on a cold day and walking into the house to the smell of something delicious. Doing a little prep in the morning makes dinner a breeze. 

pulled pork

One of my favorite things to cook in the crock pot is pulled pork. This recipe is something I came up with via trial and error. I have added many different spices in different quantities and finally found a combination that I like the best. 

I have always loved traveling to the south, and one of the reasons is because the food is so amazing. Carolina style BBQ has always been one of my favorites. The tangy taste of the vinegar combined with the sweetness of the brown sugar is a sweet and savory combination that works well as a sandwich or as a base for leftovers. In true Carolina style this is a “dry” pulled pork. It is not cooked in or with BBQ sauce. However, you can add BBQ sauce to it later if you wish. 

Today I am going to share both my pulled pork recipe and a delicious leftover option, Carnita tacos.

Carolina Style Pulled Pork

  • 2 – 3lb. boneless, pork shoulder roast
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ¾ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. ground, black pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. crushed, red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs. yellow mustard
  • 1 – ½ tbs. brown sugar

Place roast in the crock pot and add vinegar and water. Coat roast with spices. 

ready for crock pot magic

Chop onions and place on and around roast. Sprinkle roast with mustard and brown sugar. 

Set crock pot to high and cook 8 hours. 

Remove roast from crock pot and place in a big bowl. I like to pull the pork with two large forks. It will fall right apart. Add ½ cup of the juice (or more to taste) from the crock pot to the pulled pork and mix it in. 

And there you go. It is delicious as is, or makes a great sandwich. You can top the sandwich with BBQ sauce, coleslaw, pickle chips or whatever you like. 

This is a very versatile recipe. You can top pizza with it. You can use it in soup. You can use it to make nachos or quesadillas. Tonight, I made tacos. 

Pulled Pork Tacos (Carnitas)

  • Pulled pork
  • Shredded cheese
  • 4” soft tortilla shells (wheat or corn)
  • Fresh salsa (pico de gallo)
  • Chopped greens of your choice
  • Chopped Cilantro (optional)
  • Lime wedges

Pretty simple little recipe here. Warm the tortilla shells and layer pork, cheese, greens and salsa. Squeeze a lime wedge over the whole thing. I like these just like this but you can add other toppings if you wish – tomatoes, hot sauce, green onions… whatever you feel.

Pulled Pork Tacos (Carnitas)

Serve with side of your choice – mexican rice, chips and homemade guacamole or salsa, beans. Or just eat them as is.  

Tomorrow…. I share the guac recipe. 

Liz

Sweet Potato Bake

This side dish is in our regular dinner rotation, and chances are if you have been to dinner at my house you have likely had these. I make them all the time because they go with everything. So goooood.

I created this sweet potato bake about ten years ago. I tried it over the years with different variations to vegetables and spices. The recipe I am prepared to share here has been a closely guarded secret of mine. But I am asked for this recipe all the time and they are so delicious that they need to be shared and enjoyed by everyone. Give them a try and you will not be disappointed.

At the end I am also going to share some variations and a bonus way to reheat the leftovers. If there are any…..

Sweet Potato Bake
400 degrees/45 minutes
Serves 6

3 medium red potatoes, diced into ½ inch cubes
1 medium sweet potato, diced into ½ inch cubes

½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried (minced) garlic
1 ½ tsp. dried, chopped onion flakes
¾ tsp. seasoned salt
¾ tsp. Italian seasoning (dried basil/oregano/thyme blend)

3 ½ oz. sharp cheddar cheese
2 ½ tbs. butter

Wash the red potatoes and sweet potato (leaving the skin on both) and cut up into ½ inch cubes. Place vegetables in an ungreased, pyrex baking dish and arrange in an even layer.

Note: I have tried making these in various sized pans of different materials. They come out the crispiest in a pyrex dish. It really seems to make a difference.

Season with the spices and stir gently to coat. Slice cheese and arrange evenly over the top of the potatoes. You can also shred the cheese, but it ends up melting just fine and it is an unnecessary step.

Melt butter and pour over the dish evenly.

Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and poke holes in the top to allow the steam to escape.

Note: Covering the potatoes with foil for the first 20 minutes of baking speeds up the softening of the sweet potatoes by about 15 minutes. If you omit the foil, add 15 minutes to baking.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 25 minutes more.

Recipe Variations:

  • Try carrots, turnips, or cubed squash to mix up the vegetables, or add some variety
  • Add fresh rosemary to compliment chicken or pork dishes
  • Omit garlic and seasoned salt and add a touch of brown sugar or honey to sweeten them up


Leftover Variation – (My favorite.) The leftovers of these make fantastic breakfast potatoes. Simply melt 1-3 pats of butter in a pan.

Add potatoes and cover. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook another 5 minutes. They will crisp up again all yummy. A delicious compliment to any breakfast menu. If you prefer to make them this way you could make the potatoes the night before, store in the refrigerator overnight, and make them the next day.

Note: I prefer to use a cast iron pan to reheat these. It evenly crisps the potatoes and the cheese in the recipe will not stick to the pan.

Enjoy!

Liz

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

It’s crunchy, it’s savory, it’s sweet. Bacon wrapped Asparagus is easy and delicious to make. In the spring there is a farm stand across the street from my good friend’s house. They grow a lot of Asparagus and boy do we take advantage of it. As I was cruising through the grocery store today I saw some that looked really good. I thought I would share it with you!

The following recipe will make six bunches of four spears each. You can adjust the quantity to make more or less.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

1 bunch (24) Asparagus Spears
3 strips bacon, cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup brown sugar

Glaze:
¼ cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
⅛ tsp. ground, black pepper
⅛ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 ½ tsp. honey

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Note: I love parchment paper. If you are not using it, go out and get yourself a roll. You will thank me. The nonstick surface changed my cooking, and especially my baking game, completely.

24 spears, washed and trimmed

Wash and trim the bottoms of the Asparagus. Cut the bacon strips in half lengthwise into long strips. I used thick cut bacon, but you can use any kind you would like.

bacon cut in half, lengthwise

Starting at the top of the bunch, wrap the bacon downward around four spears in a spiral and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the bunches with brown sugar.

sprinkle spears with brown sugar

Bake in the oven on a middle or upper rack for 25 minutes at 425 degrees.

Combine ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan.

Note: The original recipe for this glaze came from my brother-in law Dan, who is an amazing cook. I have modified it slightly through the years. I am finding out that the process of sharing actual quantities is kind of hard. This is one of those things I have made for years and never really measured the ingredients. I just kind of wing it. But I can assure you, these quantities are accurate. Once you make this a few times, you too will be able to wing it.

With five minutes left to go, simmer the sauce on medium-low heat. The sauce will come to a boil. Reduce heat slightly. Whisk constantly for five minutes to reduce the sauce to a glaze. When the glaze slightly thickens, remove from heat and set aside. It will continue to get thicker as it sits for a few minutes.


Plate the Asparagus and drizzle the glaze over the spear bunches. This quantity of glaze will provide a drizzle as shown, but will also leave a little left in the pan to add as needed if you like them really saucy.

mmmmmm…… drizzle spears with glaze

Another variation is to grill the bunches until the spears are tender and the bacon is crispy. Grill on medium heat. This is tasty in the spring or summer when the weather is nice. The flavor of the grill adds another layer that is great for a BBQ.

I hope you enjoy my recipe for bacon wrapped Asparagus. It makes a great side dish to almost anything.

Liz