Light and Easy Granola and more…

img_2477You know all of those goals I had to eat healthier? More whole grains, nuts, fruits and fiber? Granola topping fruit and yogurt is one of my favorites. That was fine for a while, yet somehow the granola started tasting too heavy and sort of like sawdust. I know, I should have been a stalwart. Still. I know myself well enough that if I’m getting tired of something, I won’t stick to my goals. So! Last year, I fiddled around and came up with this light and easy granola! And, the best part is, I still  love it! Here’s how you make –

 Camellia’s Light and Easy Granola

  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats – 6 minute type
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients – tossing lightly. Pour melted butter over all. Spread mixture on parchment lined baking sheet, evenly and as thin as possible. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until crisp and golden. Break up granola. Cool. Store in airtight container. Wonderful topping for fruit and yogurt or as an ice cream topping drizzled with caramel.

*note: Almond flour is a good substitute. Add coconut as part of the overall quantity of nuts as a nice addition. Use light and easy granola as the base for Trail Mix, adding dried fruit, seeds even bits of chocolate. And… this Light and Easy Granola as a topping on frozen yogurt with hot caramel sauce is amazing!img_3262

I truly do love eating healthy, yet occasionally my southern sweet tooth flares up! And- while a cake mix might not be quite as healthy as homemade, I do think a homemade frosting with really good ingredients like butter, pure extracts and quality cream cheese is important! Especially if you need an easy special occasion dessert. If you make a sheet cake, cut it in smallish squares ( ice the whole cake first, chill and cut- then place each square in paper cupcake liners!) Well, you’re set!img_3293

And, if your Johnny Jump Ups are in bloom, they’re an adorable addition. Top each square with beautiful and edible violas! Then, maybe pour a cup of coffee and hold your little pinkie just so… I’ll bet you won’t make a fool of yourself by eating more than one or two! Especially, if you’re in polite company! Or hosting a sweetheart party, bridal tea or baby shower. Here’s how you make an easy and really good cream cheese frosting!

Camellia’s Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 pound Cream Cheese – softened, I prefer Philadelphia Cream Cheese®
  • 3 Sticks of Butter (softened)
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar- sifted

Blend Cream Cheese and Butter until very smooth and mixed well. Add extracts, mix well. Add 1/2 of sifted powdered sugar, blending well. Then add the rest of sifted powdered sugar- mix until smooth. (This should be a firm frosting, if needed add a tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time, being very careful not to make frosting too stiff). This frosting recipe makes enough to generously frost a 9×13 cake.

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Now, if there’s no time at all and you need a really impressive dessert, fast and easy too! Maybe one fabulous enough for your Valentine? All you need are –

    Frosted Vanilla Cupcakes- store bought is fine!  Microwave Popcorn (I love the Movie Butter Style)  A good brand of Caramel Sauce with a pinch of Sea Salt

Pop popcorn according to directions. Warm Caramel Sauce to pouring consistency. Set Vanilla Cupcake on a plate, top with Popcorn (spill a bit over!), then top with warm Caramel Sauce, be generous! Really, isn’t that pretty? Delicious and easy too!

There you go! A healthy snack or breakfast, if you’re caught short of time for a special event desserts or if you’re like me and your sweet tooth is crying out for attention! You ready now with a few easy recipes! Spring is a busy time, and the truth is we all need a few reliable recipes from time to time! There’s absolutely no shame in taking shortcuts or using store bought, then embellishing!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine. And, if you just want to encourage yourself to drink extra water you need – those sweet little Johnny Jump Up’s will do the job beautifully!

Homewreckers…

BDB6AC65-F5E4-437E-BA57-084BCB00E203An amusing dessert for Fall and even Halloween sounded fun, maybe something chocolate would be a good idea- I had seen a lot of wonderful and photogenic desserts, so mine had to be different. I thought of a confection I had made for a Holiday Bake Sale I hosted several years ago. Okay. Here’s the problem- I couldn’t find the recipe! I turned this house upside down looking for it! Homewrecking, if you will. When I made the first version of my confection, I’d decided to make an extreme version of Blondies. I planned to called them Blonde Bombshells- reminiscent of the beautiful blondes of the silver screen.

  • Jane Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman,
  • the Gabor Sisters, Jean Harlowe, Grace Kelly even Brigette Bardot-

Rich, talented, beautiful – a feast for the eyes… but wait a minute! Why not celebrate Brunettes! There was-

  • Ava Gardner, Natalie Wood,
  • Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and more…

Why, they too were rich, beautiful, talented even warm and spicy. So, I made something like a Brownie but added warm spices like black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Let me tell you- they were so decadent- a one inch square was… well, all anyone needed!  Still. I couldn’t find the recipe. All I knew, from the scribbled notes- there was a notation- ‘Base is like Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies’… the lost recipe for the brownie had a notation in one of my grandmother’s cookbooks or scraps of newspaper clipped recipes- I believed it was in a cookbook compiled by her double first cousins. No luck- but I did find a recipe purported to be similar to Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies in one of my community cookbooks by a lady named Maybelle, whom shall remain anonymous. 8E79A7D4-52D3-4930-B50F-1C12803E5F31

Could I just take a minute and say- There were certain things we were taught not to talk about di-rectly. Or in mixed company- even in polite society. Things like mental lapses were spoken of as being eccentric or colorful – Money- the haves and the have nots- whether you had money or you didn’t – had absolutely nothing to do with whether you acted right, had social graces and good manners – You could be poor as Job’s turkey and still be genteel. Marital problems? Ladies might read about it in True Confessions or a tabloid at the Beauty Parlor whispering among themselves in hushed tones then nervous giggling ensued. A ‘Homewrecker’ was rarely spoken of – those with refined sensibilities just didn’t talk about these unpleasant things.

The first time I ever actually recall hearing the word ‘Homewrecker‘ – my grandmother practically hissed the word- in her own home, mind you! To be honest, until I was out on my own I had the feeling that a homewrecker was someone who owned a small time wrecking company and ran one of those wrecking ball machines in dubious neighborhoods- someone who tore down houses…perhaps under the cover of darkness. Though, I vaguely recall believing homewreckers mostly lived out in Hollywood- since my dreamy eyed mother mentioned admiring Katherine Hepburn… my grandmother quickly followed that by hissing…‘Homewrecker’. It sounded unusual and perfectly scandalous.

I know now that Miss Hepburn apparently had a long running love affair with a married man named Spencer Tracy. Neither movie star looked like the type to run heavy equipment on a regular basis. Though Mr. Tracy was described as ‘powerful’ and ‘dynamite’– he was never…nevah! described as a homewrecker– and apparently he never … shh- D-I-V-O-R-C-E-D .  Thank you very much, Tammy Wynette.  Still. Miss Hepburn must have made some wonderful brownies; maybe Spencer Tracy was partial to chocolate. And y’all, for the record?

I long for that vintage civilized conversation– in polite company. Too much information and vulgar language in society has become one of my pet peeves; genteel, polite, kind and respectful conversation would be like a breath of fresh clean air. Don’t you think?   At any rate- down through time the recipe for Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies was touted as a dense rich chocolate confection filled with walnuts or pecans and for sure those brownies were socially acceptable. Just for fun- I adapted Maybelle’s recipe a bit, I added strong coffee, doubled the recipe and used Baking Chocolate instead of Cocoa, Butter instead of Oleo and of course no walnuts- I used Southern Pecans. So, stay tuned- you’ll see why I dubbed my new brownies- Homewreckers, just for fun and pure devilment!

4488E530-663B-4FAD-961F-81D1B72F97D5Camellia’s Homewreckers

  • You will need 4 oz. of Baking Chocolate – broken into squares
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (plus enough to butter the baking sheet)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  •  1/2 cup of sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of strong brewed coffee or 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 2 cups of pecans toasted with a pinch of salt and then rough chopped.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. On another baking pan- spread 2 cups of pecans and a pinch of salt. Toast pecans in the oven while it is preheating, they will be perfectly roasted, remove and chop coarsely. Set aside. Prepare a 10×15 baking sheet linws with parchment paper which has been buttered well. Set aside.

EB4EAB18-B784-4924-B892-D416393096A3*This is a one pot recipe! In a large saucepan, melt 4 oz. of Baking Chocolate (use the best you can find) with the 2 sticks of butter on medium low heat until just melted (be careful and do not scorch or you’ll have to throw the whole thing out and start over!). Remove from heat, then add 2 cups of sugar- stir until sugar is completely absorbed. Add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract  and 1 Tbs. of cool and strong coffee.

Break eggs into a measuring cup and stir until combined. Combine well with chocolate mixture. Then quickly stir in 1/2 cup of sifted all purpose flour until just combined. (Can you believe it? just one half cup flour in the whole thing!) Add in coarsely chopped pecans. Pour mixture evenly onto baking sheet.

8d48cfa5-4857-469d-96cb-1bdde2870e1e.jpegBake for 25 minutes or maybe less at 350 degrees. Test with a toothpick, if it comes out clean- they are done and no one will be mad if they are slightly underdone! These Homewreckers are soft fudgy Brownie Bars, if they are hard and dry? Again I say, throw them out and start all over! *note: These brownie bars will cut best if they are chilled in the pan- uncut. To be honest, I love to cut brownies in small pieces, dip the fudgy bottom in granulated sugar for an effect similar to the Electric Maid Bakery or several other fine baking establishments in the Birmingham area which have long shuttered their doors- they made a habit of offering their brownies dipped in white sugar and… I suspect to keep them from sticking together and making a mess.

Here’s the two secrets for very good brownies which are rarely shared- the perfect brownies or brownie bars have very little flour and are best undercooked! Please note again: Camellia’s  Homewreckers have just one half cup of flour in this whole pan! (you can make thicker brownies by baking in a 9×13 pan and increase the baking time just slightly)

Now, in an effort to make an amusing Halloween treat- I cut the chilled Homewreckers into 3×3 inch squares, using two of them, I filled the center with vanilla ice cream and topped it with hot fudge sauce- and a spritz of whipped cream on top- the ‘eyes’ aren’t the confectioner’s type but could be! *I double checked Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies – they don’t contain the strong coffee or espresso powder- her recipe calls for an 8×8 inch pan- mine for an 10×15 inch baking pan, they are surely thinner but do make sure not to overcook.  Imagine my surprise when I found an NPR segment citing a New York Times article with the recipe for Miss Hepburn’s Brownies- and the subtitle of the NPR segment was ‘A Recipe for Homewrecking?’(link to NYT article, posted on NPR is a segment called the Salt- an article written by Maquita Peters at http://www.npr.org)

Cooking and baking should be fun- and when you make your own rendition of any recipe- half the fun is naming the recipe! Be sure to share your rendition! By the way, if I ever do round up that recipe for Brunettes? You’ll be the first to know! As for this recipe? The only homewrecking these confections will create is maybe some scuffling over the last bite! Have fun making a batch of Homewreckers of your own- or Ghostbusters, whatever you call them- they’re good!  if you want to try your hand at coming up with a recipe for some Platinum Blondies or even some Fiery Redheads – I don’t know, maybe rich red velvet cookie bars vamped up with nuts and warm spices, just be sure to share the recipes!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine. I must say- Katherine Hepburn was one of my all time favorite actresses! And she was neither a blonde or a brunette but a beautiful redhead!

*I believe True Confessions was a magazine but maybe it was a tabloid- please forgive my lapse. I haven’t seen a copy in years