"The Best" Brownies

I thought I would share this very simple recipe with you. In fact, its so easy you will be wondering why you ever bought brownie mix. But its not just easy, its VERY good.

I have made these brownies more times than I can count over the years. With just a few ingredients and one mixing bowl I can turn out delicious brownies in no time. I prefer to use real butter instead of the oil. I also like to add chopped pecans but I didn't have any today and as we are waiting for Hurricane Sandy to pass I wasn't going out for any.

The original recipe did not use self rising flour but all purpose flour with baking powder and salt. I have always used self rising flour when making these and they have always turned out great. I know many of you are not SR flour fans however, so I included instructions for using all purpose flour w/ baking powder and salt added. (Self Rising Flour has baking powder and salt already added.)

This recipe is from an old Hershey's Cocoa Cook Book copyright 1979.

So here we go....

Assemble the ingredients

Blend melted butter, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat with spoon.

Add the cocoa and flour

Pour evenly into pan and bake.



  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter. (1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup self rising flour *
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
* or Mix together 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease a 9 inch square pan
  • Blend oil or melted butter, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
  • Add eggs and beat well with spoon.
  • Add flour and cocoa and mix well.
  • Stir in nuts.
  • Spread in greased pan
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan.
  • Cool in pan.
  • Frost if desired
  • Cut into squares, 16 brownies

Slow Cooker Comfort Pot Soup

Today as we wait for Hurricane Sandy to pass the weather is cooler, windy, and rainy. What a perfect day for Slow Cooker Comfort Pot Soup!

I'm not sure why this is called Comfort Soup as its really just a wonderful vegetable beef soup. I guess all soup could be considered comfort food however. A nice pot of soup just has a homey feel, all warm and cozy. Anytime we are waiting out a hurricane (we live on the east coast of NC), I try to have something warm and comforting cooking.

I also love anything cooked in a slow cooker because I like to get it started and then not have to mess with it all day.

I do have a couple of recommendations for this recipe. Instead of buying four bags of frozen veggies I would just buy the frozen mixed vegetables that has green beans, carrots, corn, and peas. The carrots will be smaller pieces but should work just fine.  Today I just made it the way the original recipe is written. I also chopped 1/2 of a small onion and added to the mix. Most of you won't need extra salt but I also added salt and pepper.

Serve with some hot crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich!

What I did...

Assemble your ingredients.

Brown the beef

Mix everything together in the slow cooker. Note, the recipe says to use a cooking spray but I just coated the inside of the pot with butter.

You will need:

  • 8 ounces lean ground beef (can used turkey)
  • 3 cups tomato juice (you can use reduced sodium)
  • 1 3/4cups (one 15 ounce can) Beef Broth
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen cut green beans
  • 1 cup frozen sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
  • 2 cups diced raw potatoes
  • 1/2 cup (one 2.5 ounce jar) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

What you do:

In a large skillet sprayed with olive oil flavored cooking spray brown meat. Spray a slow cooker container with olive oil flavored cooking spray. In prepared container, place browned meat. Add tomato juice, beef broth, green beans, carrots, peas, corn, potatoes, mushrooms, and Italian seasoning. Mix well to combine. Cover and cook on MEDIUM for 8 hours. Mix well before serving.


I wanted to share one of my old things with you. This is a Toast-O-Later bread toaster that belonged to my Grandmother. It was impossible to get a photo without all kinds of reflections that I did NOT want you to see! lol

I think this thing is so neat! You put the bread in one end and a little conveyor belt with teeth carries it through the toaster and then it falls out the other side.

The adjustment for lighter or darker toast simply adjusts the speed of the conveyor to make the bread move slower or faster through the toaster thus making it lighter or darker.

The little window in the front lets you see the toast as it goes through.

Would you believe this toaster still works?

Here is the plate on the bottom that says it is a Model J and Serial 8 48.

Bread goes in this side
 And comes out this side!


I even have the little instruction sheet that came with it! And, as you can see, it was purchased September 15, 1948. And check out that price! $21.95 was a lot to pay back then for a toaster. Course, if you lived "West of the Rockies" you had to pay more. lol

Hope you enjoyed a bit of history with me. ♥

Slow Cooker Peanut Butter Apple Crumble

For some reason fall just seems to mean crock pot or slow cooker weather. It also means apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg. All these can be found in this recipe plus peanut butter. Wow!

You will need:
  • 4 1/2 cups cored, peeled, and sliced cooking apples
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 6 tablespoons Bisquick Baking Mix (can use Reduced Fat Bisquick)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (can use pourable Splenda or Sugar Twin)
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice (or make your own, directions below)
  • 6 tablespoons Chunky Peanut Butter (can use reduced-fat)
BTW, 1 pound apples should equal 3 cups cored, peeled, and sliced apples. So you will need about 1 1/2 pounds. Rome, Granny Smith, or Fugi are good baking apples. I used 2 1/2 of the apples pictured.


  1. Spray slow cooker container with butter flavored cooking spray. 
  2. Evenly layer the sliced apples in the bottom.
  3. Combine oats, baking mix, sugar, and apple pie spice.
  4. Add peanut butter.
  5. Mix with a fork until mixture is crumbly.
  6. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over apples.
  7. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
  8. Mix well before serving.

Assemble your ingredients

Spray slow cooker container with butter flavored cooking spray.

Evenly layer the sliced apples in the bottom.

Combine oats, baking mix, sugar, and apple pie spice.

Add peanut butter.

Mix with a fork until mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over apples.

Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. My slow cooker must cook fast because cooking for 6 hours was plenty.

Mix well before serving.

Makes 6 servings (2/3 cup)

Hope you enjoy!

If you use the low fat alternatives and the sugar substitute, each serving will equal 190 calories, 6 gm Fat, 5 gm Protein, 29 gm Carbohydrate, 162 mg Sodium, 17 mg Calcium, 4 gm Fiber.

To make your own Apple Pie Spice:

Combine the following and store in an airtight container.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Blueberry & Raspberry Baked Oatmeal

I'm the type that would be fine just skipping breakfast. But, that's not supposed to be healthy plus my vitamins seem to set better if I eat something. But what? Sometimes I just eat a piece of whole wheat toast, or maybe a banana. I like cold cereal but not in the morning, I like to eat that at night. lol 

I am a fan of oatmeal, not that instant stuff, but real oatmeal. But only when the weather is cold and its not cold here yet. I still had blueberries in the freezer from my berry picking this summer (story here), so I went searching for a breakfast recipe using oatmeal and blueberries.

I found the following recipe from sohowsittaste.com. It sounded delicious with oatmeal, blueberries or raspberries, walnuts, and even a little maple syrup. I also liked that it could be put in the refrigerator to provide breakfast all week. Just heat in the microwave for a warm and healthy breakfast. Only about 200 calories too if you use skim milk and sugar free syrup. I decided to give it a try.

Preheat oven and assemble the ingredients.

Grease the baking dish

Mix the dry ingredients

Mix the wet ingredients

Evenly spread sliced bananas and 1/2 of the berries in the bottom of the baking pan.

Sprinkle the oat mixture on top of the fruit. Note: the spices will tend to settle to the bottom so be careful not to dump out the last of the dry ingredients in one spot.

Pour the wet ingredients evenly over the oat mixture.

Top with remaining berries and nuts.

Bake, BTW this is going to smell great while cooking.

Now eat and enjoy a warm healthy breakfast! Mummm


1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup maple syrup (can use sugar free)
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup blueberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen, divided


1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, half of the walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla.
3. Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish. Top with half of the berries. Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer. Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats.
4. Sprinkle the remaining nuts and berries over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Grind Your Own Beef!

I can not believe the price of hamburger (ground beef)!  Just checked my local grocery store and the prices ranged from $4.59 to a whopping $9.54 per pound. Of course the less expensive meat has more fat mixed in. Actually the last 4 pounds of ground beef I purchased seemed to have liquid added to it! What???

I'm not above shopping in the "mark down" section of the meat departments. I often see various beef roasts there usually discounted to around $2.00 to $3.00 per pound.  I have purchased these before and cut up into chunks for beef stew or cut into smaller roasts. So I got to thinking.....I have two vintage meat grinders at home, they used to be my grandmother's....why not grind my own hamburger?

First I had to figure out which grinder to try and how to use it. I decided to try the oldest looking one. Here it is...

 As you can see, it is very old. The instruction sheet is there but in very bad shape.

 There was only one discounted beef roast available, a bit more than I usually pay per pound but I was anxious to try out the grinders.

The price per pound worked out to slightly more than $3.00 a pound. It was a 4.13 lb. boneless beef sirloin tip roast. Regular price was $4.99 lb.  Now I know this would have made a nice roast for Sunday dinner but what I needed was hamburger.

Next I cut the roast up into pieces small enough to fit into the grinder hopper.

Let the grinding begin!

A couple of things I learned. One...use safety glasses. Sometimes the beef would "squirt" out the hopper as it was being drawn into the cutter. You would not want this to get into your eyes.

Second...this is messy. I am thinking that the newer grinders are probably not as messy as this old one. Also they would be electric where this one  has a hand crank. It was very easy to grind however.

So here is my ground beef. As you can see there is very little fat. I did not trim the roast at all but if I had it would have been extremely lean. Personally I want just a little fat as it adds flavor and some moisture to the meat.  I just divided this up into four fairly equal parts, wrapped it, and put in the freezer. Now I had a little more than four pounds of very fresh, very lean, ground beef for about $3.00 a pound.

Comments? I would love to hear from you. ♥

Blenders Are For More Than Smoothies!

I saw a blog post recently listing a few different ways the blender can be used. You probably have a blender right? Sits somewhere taking up valuable space gathering dust? Yeah, same story here.

So I was thinking there must be other ways I can use my blender than just making smoothies! BTW, I have had my blender for at least 30 years. It's not very pretty anymore and I definitely don't keep it on the counter, but the thing still works!

Anyway, I did a bit of research and I found lots of ways to use my blender. My favorites are the grated cheese and whipped cream. What about you?


  • You can puree any type of cooked vegetable in your blender. Just add 1/4 cup liquid (the cooking water works great but experiment with other liquids such as broth) to 1 cup of cooked vegetables and blend until smooth. Soups can be made really creamy too, such as avocado or tomato.

    Baby Food

    Just like above for Puree. Pureeing makes simple work of making your own baby foods and gives you the added assurance of knowing exactly what you are feeding your child.

Grated Cheese

  • Cut cheese into 1-to-2 inch cubes and use your blender to grate the cheese for pizza and casserole toppings.

    Grate Raw Vegetables

    Use the blender to grate raw vegetables, such as zucchini for zucchini breads, or to mix into salads or soups. Using the pulse feature of your blender, you can also chop ice, grind nuts and make bread crumbs.

    Grind Spices

  • Use your blender to grind peppercorns into freshly ground pepper. You can do the same with cinnamon, nutmeg and other dried spices. Grind coffee beans for fresh coffee in the same way; pulse the blender until the beans are at the desired grind. Most percolators use a coarser grind than drip models, which prefer a fine grind.
Picture of Mayonnaise Recipe

Make Salad Dressings or Mayonnaise           

  • A blender will make quick work of making salad dressing or mayonnaise. Combine salad dressing ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. I found this Paula Deen recipe for mayonnaise here... .  Also try some mayonnaise variations like maybe Basil Mayonnaise? Yum
  • Smoothies

    • A smoothie is a blended drink with fruit, crushed ice, milk or cream and fruit. This frothy drink is made in a blender. First crushed ice is added to the blender, or cubed ice is pulverized in the blender. Fruit such as strawberries, bananas, mango or oranges is added to the blender. Sugar and milk is sometimes added for taste. The smoothie is blended on high in the blender and served cold right away. This drink is popular as a healthy alternative to shakes.

    Frozen Bar Drinks

    • Drinks requiring crushed ice are also made in a blender. Margaritas are perhaps the most popular. This drink combines crushed ice, a margarita mix and tequila and is served in a large glass sometimes rimmed with salt and garnished with a lime. To make a margarita in a blender add ice, margarita mix and tequila and blend it all together. Some premade margarita mixes are also available that do not require blending. Other drinks made in a blender include mudslides, which contains ice, chocolate syrup and Kahlua.

      Other Frozen Drinks

      • For frozen drinks, add approximately 6 ice cubes and the ingredients of your drink recipe. Blend until the ice cubes are crushed and the drink is a slushy consistency and serve.

    Milk Shakes

    • A milk shake is blended ice cream and milk. This drink is also made in a blender by adding any flavor of ice cream and milk and blending for a few seconds. Or, for a thicker shake, add more ice cream and very little milk. Blend the ice cream to a smooth consistency and serve. Another option is to add crushed up bits of cookies, brownies or candy bars. These popular combinations offer a tasty, cool treat for the summer. If you put the milk in the blender first and then the ice cream it will be able to process more smoothly.

    Spreads and Dips, Hummus

    • A spread is something you can use on bread to add flavor, or with a sandwich. One popular spread made in a blender is a chick pea spread, also called hummus. This is created simply by adding chick peas right from a can into your blender. Season it to taste with salt or crushed red pepper and blend to a uniform consistency. This spread goes well on toasted bread, crackers and as a side dish. Dips are also made in blenders. Most dips are created from sour cream and contain blended onions or chives. Bean dip, which consists of blended beans, is made in a blender as well.

    Pesto and Chopping

Pesto is a popular topping for pasta and chicken. It is also made in a blender. Pesto is chopped basil with cheese or a cream sauce blended to a fine paste. To blend up a batch of pesto it is best to have chopping blades on your blender, or set the blender to the chop speed setting. Blenders are also used to create other pastes and toppings. Some high speed blenders will process foods by cutting them at high speeds and forming a soup, as well.

Bread Crumbs

It is very easy to make your own bread crumbs in your blender. You can also make your own Seasoned Bread Crumbs.  You can even make your own gluten-free bread crumbs using pieces of toasted GF bread.  For easy seasoned bread crumbs mix the following:

  • 4 cups plain breadcrumbs (make your own)
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes (crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano or 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Powdered Sugar

Its really easy to make your own powdered or confectioners sugar. For each cup of confectioner's sugar: Add one cup of regular granulated sugar to the blender. Blend (pulse) until it turns to powder.

Whipped Cream

Add 1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream (not half and half), 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to your blender and blend. As I understand it the difference in whipping cream and heavy cream is the fat content. Also whipping cream may have more stabilization additives  You may want to put the blender blades and container in the refrigerator for a little while. The colder everything is the faster it will whip. Remove the center of the lid, the trick is to allow lots of air into the cream. Run the blender for no more than five seconds at a time to avoid making butter. The cream is done when it holds a peak. 

BTW, I also found this video comparing 5 major blenders that I thought you might find interesting.

As always, I would love to hear your comments!


If you follow my blog you know I have two dogs. One of them has chronic ear infections caused by a suppressed immune system. I have always hated having to use one antibiotic after another.
Photo by Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

I ran across this blog by Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer.  The writer offers several natural, herbal, homeopathic ear infection treatments for dogs and cats. There is even a list of herbs that can be added to food to help avoid infections. I saw a couple of ear flush recipes that I'm going to try.

As always, please consult your vet!

For instructions and recipes click here.

Oatmeal Pumpkin (wheat-free) Dog Treats

Dog treats are sooo expensive! I want my dogs to have healthy treats and most of all treats that are safe! I used to spend so much time looking at packaging not only looking at the ingredients but where the treats were made as well.
You may have already seen my post on the health benefits of pumpkin for dogs. Well, here is a healthy treat that is very easy to make and is also inexpensive. Made with healthy oatmeal, pumpkin, and rice flour. I found this recipe at doggydessertchef.com.
First assemble your ingredients.
Mix everything together.

Spread on a lined cookie sheet about 1/4" thick

Bake, cool,. and cut into bars.

Let your doggies enjoy!

Mine LOVED these! ♥
Oatmeal Pumpkin Dog Treats
2 cups Oatmeal
1 cup White Rice Flour
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 Eggs
1 tablespoon Honey
1/4 cup Molasses
1 (15 ounce can) Pumpkin
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (I didn't have either so I used a cookie sheet and greased it well with butter.)
2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
3.  Spread dough onto prepared baking sheet 1/4 inch thick.
4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly brown at the edges.
5. Allow to cool. Cut the dough horizontally and then vertically to make a grid (You can use a pizza cutter).
6. Break into pieces, then refrigerate.