Monday, October 22, 2012

Knock You Naked Brownies


Let me say these are the most decadent brownies I've ever made and eaten in my life. Close your eyes and imagine rich, chocolately brownie mingled with caramel, chocolate chips and a tiny bite of pecans. Mmmmm-mmmm!

Not convinced yet? Let's get up close and personal. Get your gallon of milk and dig in!

Margaret shared this recipe with me after she enjoyed it at the Pro-Fab Friday Lunch Feast. Since I'm not working on-site in Canada, she did her best to let me know how delicious they were. She did such a great job I went to the grocery store for the ingredients and whipped them up for Sunday evening dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1 box (18.5 Ounce) German Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans
  • ⅓ cups Evaporated Milk
  • ½ cups Evaporated Milk (additional)
  • ½ cups Butter, Melted
  • 50 whole Caramels (1 bag), Unwrapped
  • ⅓ cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (suggestion only! I used a little more)
  • ¼ cups Powdered Sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine the cake mix, melted butter, pecans and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk. The mixture will be quite thick. I had to keep scraping and stirring to get it blended well.

Spray the bottom of an 8x11 or 9x9 casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 of the cake batter in the bottom of the dish. Bake for 10 minutes and set to the side.

While this bakes, the "fun" begins! Unwrap all those yummy caramel morsels. :-) It'll be worth it!

You can use a double boiler or do what I do, put about an inch of water in a sauce pan, bring it to boil and set a small bowl on top.

 Stir.
 And stir.

And stir some more until it's nice and creamy smooth.

Pour that creamy bowl of caramel all over the top of the partially baked brownies. Avoid the temptation to dip your fingers in the bowl! Yeah, right! Didn't work for me either!

Now it's time to randomly scatter the chocolate morsels over the top of the caramel.

On a very lightly floured surface, spread out the remaining brownie mix in an approximate size of the baking dish. FYI: Break out a spatula. I had no luck picking this up in one section. I used my spatula and covered the top in sections. Worked great!

Let the brownies bake for around 20-25 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. Once the dish has cooled down, place in the refrigerator for several hours. At this point, you can dust the top with powdered sugar, but come on! They're rich enough and really don't need it. You might have to change the name to "I Won't Be Caught Naked Brownies." Cut with a plastic knife when ready to serve.

 Here's a few views of the finished product.



Adapted from: Tasty Kitchen

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pelicans on the Elk River

Every winter for the past two years, we noticed the pelicans migrating to our little section on the Elk River. I counted 63 yesterday afternoon. Typically they come in the high hundreds. Last weekend Andy thought he saw some and I just couldn't believe it. I thought he was confused with the white "storks" that reside there. On the way down yesterday, Andy and I were trying to remember when they normally came in and I was thinking it was closer to December. I don't remember ever seeing them in the middle of October. When we returned this evening I looked up one of the local newspaper articles I remember looking at last year. The pelicans were a feature story in February of this year (2012). Hmmm, they must really like this area or they know something weather-wise we don't know!

Yesterday afternoon they were swimming and feeding on the other side of the river. The water is much more shallow on that side. When TVA starts dropping the water level to winter pool it looks like an island of mud. We are on a really wide part of the river and they were just far enough away I couldn't get pictures I would be happy with. So here are a few I took from this spring. I'll be sure to update this post with some fall 2012 pictures as soon as I can.

I'll have to get some video when they join us on "our side". The sound their wings make when they slap the water as they're lifting off is amazing.


 


 






Friday, October 12, 2012

Andy and Denise's Kraut and Weiners

Here's one of those good ole' southern recipes that you either love or hate. Kraut does have a strong taste...but not when I fix it! Typically Andy fixes this dish with red wienies, but he went all out and splurged and put smoked sausage in it. That's the way I like kraut and wieners best. Now, having said all that; we have two different ways of preparing this. He uses oil, I use bacon grease. The bacon grease just tones down the strong kraut bite. My Momma didn't raise a fool. If my husband is fixing this, he can fry the wienies any way he wants. We like to serve stewed potatoes and black-eyed or purple hulled peas and a pan of cornbread.

This is such an easy recipe, it makes me wonder why we don't fix it more often.

ANDY'S INGREDIENTS:
  • Can of chopped kraut
  • 1 pack of red hot dogs, cut into slices
  • Enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a skillet
DENISE'S INGREDIENTS:
In a large skillet, heat the oil (or melt the bacon grease). Add cut up meat. Pan fry until lightly browned.

Stir in can of kraut. Mix well.

Cook until the kraut turns to a little darker color; about 15 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Not Just For Holidays Asparagus Casserole

Asparagus casserole is one of Andy's favorite side dishes. It is required for every single holiday. Every time I fix it; we wonder why don't we serve it throughout the year? The other night we had smoked chicken and I thought this would be a perfect side. It was finished before the chicken and I had it sitting on the stove. The next thing I know Andy is digging in and fixing a "nibble plate." What's that you ask? It's the bowl or plate that he puts a few bites in to "test" the food before we eat. Anyway, I go in there again about 15 minutes later and literally 2/3 of the dish is gone! Now, I will admit to a bite or two myself; but good grief!

While you have the casserole baking, I invite you to check out the link below from the QUICK EASY COOK blog and be sure to bookmark "The Definite Guide to Cook Asparagus in 2017!" This is a perfect resource for tips on preparing and cooking asparagus complete with twenty mouth-watering recipes.


INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 can asparagus
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs (I like Ritz crackers best!)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Drain off liquid from asparagus. In a medium bowl mix cream of mushroom soup and about 1/3 cup of asparagus liquid. Mix in asparagus.
Chop hard boiled eggs and mix in along with cheddar cheese.

Spray a small casserole dish with oil. Pour in mixture.

Top with cracker crumbs.


Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly and crackers are lightly browned.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Life As I Know It

If you've wondered why my postings have been running a little on the slow side....this is what has been going on since the first of July....

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

I have had so many changes and life experiences going on in my life the past couple of months, something had to give. I'm ready to slow down and take a breather!! All I can say is hang in there with me. It's getting dark earlier and that will slow down my outdoor activities. We've been cooking up a storm and I've got lots of good things photographed and ready to share, but I've had so much on my mind that I've been literally unable to stay focused.

The first thing that happened that has bewildered me beyond words was seeing my best friend Claudia and her daughter Sasha go through the loss of their beloved grandchild/child Claudia "Lux" to SIDS. She was the most perfect, beautiful, healthy 4-month-old baby you could ever imagine. She was so full of happiness and life that I find myself still not believing it really happened. I can only imagine the pain they are going through. The last time I held precious Lux in my arms, she slept the whole time. Never in a million years could I imagine that time would be the last. My heart is broken for my friends as this tragedy has forever altered their lives. I hope and pray that somehow, some day they will be able to find joy in life again after their joy was torn from them. For the first time in my life I'm at a total loss for words. There is nothing I can do or say to make things right. Hug your children every chance you get...we never know how much time we get to love them. Please keep my friends in your thoughts and prayers.

First visit to Andy and Nise's.
Such a precious little baby.

Where Did My Mother Come From?

Several months ago I also started up a little project to research my family history on my Mother's side. She grew up believing she was born in Maine and after a little investigating; I was able to locate her birth certificate from Edmonston, New Brunswick, Canada! My Grandmother Albert, (Meme') who was born in Canada, met my Grandfather (Pepe') when he was making runs over the border from Maine. From what we could tell; she went back over the border to be with her Mother and sisters and gave birth to my Mom and Aunt Pat. With a little more work, I was able to track my Meme's naturalization papers. All I can say is Walter Hickey with the Boston Archives was a blessing! He really helped me out tremendously. 

I also have to give a shout out to Claudia. She is a genealogy guru and without her help, I would have never found this Manifest showing my Meme's crossing over the border two days after she married my Pepe. My Mother's sister Kay and brother Art and his wife Ruth came up and it was so emotional to give my Mother a certified copy of my Grandmother's naturalization papers along with a book (for all of them) with every bit of documentation I was able to find.

With all the news you hear about people wanting to have citizen status just given to them; all I can say is it took my Meme' another seven years before she become a United States Citizen. She carried her papers in her wallet at all times. What a source of pride she must have felt the day she left the courthouse! I can remember her crazy French-Canadian accent and vivacious personality and am so thankful she fell in love with my American Grandfather and married him!

Oh, Canada!

While everything else was going on, I was in the process of interviewing for a position with a company in Canada. Once it was awarded; I learned I'd be training in Arborg, Manitoba! Jody, the sweet lady who trained me is expecting a little one this month, so I was really hoping that baby wouldn't come too soon! Arborg is a very small rural prairie town about an hour and a half north of Winnipeg. The town's claim to fame is that it is the hometown of James Reimer, who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The people are hard-working and incredibly kind. I was so blessed to have Margaret and her husband Lorne take me through the country side and experience all the beauty the area had to offer.

 My second plate of poutine! I will be fixing this one night for my bunch and posting! It consists of skinny fries, chicken/brown gravy and mozzarella. I've always been told there are no calories when you eat with friends!
A breezy, evening on Lake Winnipeg. I enjoyed Pickerel fillets, roasted root vegetables and wild rice. (In Canada, there are two l's in filets!) Since proofing is part of my responsibility on the job, I hope I can keep the Canadian/US English straight! The water will soon be frozen up to three feet thick which will allow for ice fishing and ice road trucking in some areas!

 The rocky beaches welcomed the choppy waters to its shores.
 I feel like I'm at a crossroads in my life...figuratively and literally!! This part of Canada is so flat, I could see forever no matter which way I looked!
 Margaret and Lorne took me all the way through Hecla Island in hopes of seeing beautiful wildlife and the Eagles. A little wind and rain didn't stop us!
 Come Again! This area has a strong Icelandic influence. The folks from Iceland only thought they found a warmer climate. Manitoba is actually one of the coldest parts of Canada!
 A park full of birch trees reminded me of what I saw as a child in Connecticut!

I was just reading about the eagles and lo and behold.....

 Look really, really hard! Yes, that was an eagle flying by!! I was so excited to see one!
 My AWESOME tour guides Margaret and Lorne Beauchamp. Thank you for some great memories!
 Paper Birch trees and their unusual bark.
 Parking lot at Pro-Fab Industries in Manitoba.
 These clouds went on forever!
Pro-Fab Industries...where I am now officially employed! 
However, I do work remotely at the Lawrenceburg, TN facility. Margaret is trying to find a reason for me to have to work up there in February; when it's 40 below zero! I told her folks in Tennessee don't own clothing for that type of lifestyle and she assured me she'd have a parka available.

It's Hard To Say Good-Bye!

What an emotional day! September 14 was the last day of my employment with Holley's Printing. I had worked on/off for this company for over 23 years. My awesome co-workers surprised me with a going-away party and all kinds of incredible goodies. I want to thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.

The Life is Good Getaway...Point A to B!

On top of everything else....Andy and I have made the decision to create a getaway cabin from the little blue building that inhabited the land we bought 9 years ago. We have enjoyed the camper...but we're ready for an upgrade. Over the past 8 years we added: electricity, water, septic system, dock, 71 steps from the only flat spot on the land to the water, a landing half-way down with two rocking chairs facing the west for sunsets and more. We are finishing the inside ourselves, so every free weekend will be devoted to this project.

 The little blue building has been a wonderful storage room and has housed a full bathroom for several years. If you've ever taken a shower in a camper, you'll understand why it was a priority!
 
 Looking to the west from the living room window.


 Almost here!! Hard to believe how much better everything looks!
 Meme checking out the view!



Home Sweet River Home!