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Cable Car Chocolate Brownies

Photo1298 (2)The picture you see contains this recipe as originally printed on the sides of the metal canister. The final product I made is adapted using the recipe from 25 years ago by San Francisco based Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, aptly titled “Cable Car Chocolate Brownies”. Although they post the equally delicious Empress Chocolate Cake, I couldn’t locate this brownie version among the others.

These turned out very different than what I remember and I attribute that directly to having made some adaptions that I hope replicate for you! I normally use Ghirardelli cocoa powder for brownies even buying their 4 pk. Triple Chocolate brownie mix from Sam’s Club. Unfortunately, Big Boy made a mess and I needed a cheap replacement at the time and what was on sale was Hersey’s. Tonight I dug out this recipe for brownies because it’s simple for me and quick. This recipe at times seems to be hard to find, but you can also find it slightly different here.

Ghirardelli’s Cable Car Chocolate Brownies

2 eggs

¾ C sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

½ C melted butter or margarine

¾ C Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate* (SHOULD BE NOTED AS “SWEET”!)

2/3 C unsifted flour

¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ C chopped walnuts*

Using a spoon, stir eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter. Sift Ground Chocolate with flour, baking powder, salt. Stir into egg mixture; add nuts. Spread into greased 8 or 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. For extra chewy brownies, use 8-inch pan and less baking time. For cake-like brownies, use 0-inch pan and longer baking. Cut into squares.

 Now the original recipe is great, but this is what I did:

  • I had no idea when I used Hersey’s UNSWEETENED Cocoa that it would give the brownies such a deep, sultry coffee like taste. Next time I’ll try it with both types of cocoa to try for a better balance of chocolate and coffee richness.
  • I also omitted the walnuts (I know, shocking since I have several pounds) but used the last of my chocolate chips that probably amounted to less than 1/4 cup.
  • Add in what you like – both the original version of the recipe and my adaptions result in a very thick mix, you could add up to 3 tablespoons of milk or equivalent “rich” substitute to thin it out slightly.
  • I have a convection setting on my Frigidaire oven (considered a commercial setting for residential use) so I used it. When I’m not paying attention using convection at the typical temperature called for in a recipe is a burnt disaster. Remember when using the convection setting, use the temperature at 325 degrees F. I let the brownies bake for 25 minutes, letting them cook themselves at rest outside the oven.

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Walnut Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins

Walnut Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins – adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook (1950 edition)

This is from the “Sweeter Popular Muffins” recipe – the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of milk but I found that the muffins are too dense for my taste so I always double the milk.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup soft shortening

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 cup blueberries (frozen, canned or fresh) – put an extra 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour aside.

Nut-Crunch Topping

Mix together 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup broken nuts (walnuts or pecans are excellent!), and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Make sure to break up any lumps.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together with blending fork or pastry blender. Then stir JUST UNTIL ingredients are blended. Roll your blueberries into the sugar and flour you set aside. Carefully fold your blueberries into the rest of your mixture. Then should help keep your blueberries from bleeding purple juice into your muffins. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle the Nut-Crunch Topping over the muffins.

Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Makes about 12 muffins.

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I use frozen blueberries I get at one of the club stores and have a lot of broken blueberries, and I never know when I’m going to get a tart one I like to add some sugar onto them.

Back of the Box Recipe: Cornbread

Photo1252I had grand plans Sunday for some recipes but the computer was cleaned and cleaned of my blog cookies so only pieces of the website are showing up, making posting impossible. But I’ve managed to figure out some cookies so that I can post again.

Reviewing the ingredients for Cornbread, reminded me I needed to mix up a batch of baking powder (1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons cream of tarter, and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch [for stability, eliminate if you are only making enough to use immediately].

CORNBREAD (adapted from Aunt Jemina Corn Meal recipe)

1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 egg whites or 1 egg, beaten

1 cup corn kernels, canned is easiest but yes, you can use frozen or fresh (THIS IS MY ONLY ADDITION TO THE RECIPE)

Heat oven to 400 F. Grease 8 or 9-inch pan. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Photo1249

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Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (If you find the mixture too wet, add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup more flour until it’s a bit thicker). I used the same pan I use for cream corn souffle and it puffs up like a popover in this picture below, huh?

I didn’t have any canned corn to use and as I often use frozen corn, I adjust the temperature and cooking time. Lowering the temperature to 375 degrees for UP TO 1 HOUR, it cooks to this:


I haven’t frozen this recipe but I’m sure you could with varying results on when you use it. I’d say freeze and eat within a month. Um..better yet, make this recipe as muffins and that’ll do the trick.

You can also add herbs and spices to make it more savory even spice it up using yummy items like black beans, onions and Jalepeños! What’s your take on what to include in your cornbread?

Check out these fabulous link parties for delicious entrees and desserts to go with!

Apple & Cheddar Muffets from “Julia’s Child” by Sarah Pinneo

I just read a book as part of my 2012 Reading Challenge (read more about my review of the book) about a mompreneur trying to have it all in Julia’s Child. I decided to make this delicious sounding muffin coined a “Muffet” by the authors character Julia Bailey. In the book Julia Bailey runs an organic toddler meals and backed goods business from Brooklyn, N.Y. called Julia’s Child. I’m kinda jealous that The Book Fetish got to review her book and interview her! The author Sarah Pinneo is on tour in New England currently.

Here is the recipe I”m making for breakfast and I’ll update with the pictures as soon as possible. HERE ARE THE PHOTOS!!! YUM

Apple & Cheddar Muffets


1 very large apple or 2 small ones

2 tablespoons butter

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg lightly beaten

1/3 cup whole milk

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar, divided


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Generously grease and flour 12 muffin cups.

Peel and core the apples and dice finely.  If your toddler is helping, peel and slice an extra one to share. If you play your cards right, he or she will be busy eating the apple slices while you’re measuring out the dry ingredients.

In a small skillet, melt the butter and sauté the apple until tender and just beginning to brown, about 7 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

All the dry ingredients

The wet ingredients & cheese

Wet meets dry ingredients

Meanwhile, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, sour cream, and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients; then add the apples and butter.  Stir just to combine.


Spoon into the prepared tin, and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until very brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffets comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a rack. Loosen muffets by ringing their edges with a plastic knife. Turn them gently out onto a plate. Serve warm or room temperature.

Check out some tasty recipes this weekend at “bethfishreads”!

I'm Lovin' It at TidyMomfingerprints on the fridge

Saved: Red Velvet Massacre

Yesterday, I made The Pioneer Woman’s red velvet cake as cupcakes and my baking powder was flat – so were my cupcakes! It wasn’t her recipe, it was my ingredients but I needed an alternative for Big Boy’s cupcakes FAST. I searched for a recipe without baking powder to save me a trip to the store if possible today until later. Wow – now I understand the importance of “tags” in a post!!!!

Honestly? I could cry. I am hopelessly depressed when a recipe goes wrong. Do you feel the same way too? I was so depressed I let my son tear the things (which tasted horrible, by the way) out of the muffin pan and let the dog “clean” them up.

I came across White Whimsy who posted the recipe she uses for Red Velvet Cupcakes: (here is the recipe copied from her blog), if you try them please go to her page, leave a comment [I suggest, ‘thank you’], and follow her.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T. red food coloring
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 24 muffin tin cups or fit the cups with paper liners. (Wyomingstorygirl says: grease the paper liners because I hate cupcakes/muffins that stick!)


In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs.  In a small bowl, make a paste of cocoa powder and food coloring; blend into creamed mixture.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Beat in buttermilk, vanilla and water. (Wyomingstorygirl says I didn’t have buttermilk so I put 1 Tablespoon into just under 1 cup of milk – sours it perfectly if you let it sit for a few minutes. Also, I didn’t have apple cider vinegar, so I used regular vinegar) In a small bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda; fold vinegar mixture into cake batter just until blended. Spoon batter evenly into the muffin cups.


Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the pans cool on  a rack for 10 minutes before removing cupcakes from pans to cool completely.


Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.  Beat together frosting (recipe follows) until smooth and creamy.  Spread frosting on cupcakes.  Serve promptly or refrigerate.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. clear vanilla extract

I’ll have to update with frosting after they’ve cooled. I’m going to keep it simple with a toothpick decoration of a tiny heart and white frosting not quite as fancy as White Whimsy’s. I’m typing one handed so that I can enjoy a cool, unfrosted one right now.

 Smile YUM…because really I want to be that mom that everyone asks “what did she bring?” in anticipation…not fear!

I'm #356

Hop #49 and I’m #177
fingerprints on the fridgeI’m #437!

An Oldie But Goodie Cookie: Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

IMAG0360One of my all-time favorite, reliable sugar cookie recipes is from Betty Crocker. (See photo on your right to try the recipe!) It’s the go-to sugar cookie my Mother used when I was a child to make rolled out sugar cookies. It’s the recipe I made for Big Boy’s preschool class Valentine’s Day party. I decorated them like flowers since I couldn’t find a heart cookie cutter.

This recipe is older than I am, hence the modifications to the recipe in my Mom’s handwriting! I like to work with room temp butter and lard (formerly I used shortening for a balance of crispy and soft cookie. I use Watkins’s vanilla flavoring and put the salt and baking powder in before the flour. At sea level I didn’t have to adjust the amount of flour I used by about 1/2 cup more plus the flour used when rolling it out, but I have had a lot of mixed results at high altitude with spreading (the butter/lard mixture) even when I’ve chilled the dough. It doesn’t end up tasting too floury for me. They are good plain or decorated!





Making cookies was a special activity my Mom shared with me, and we baked cookies at least once a week. I have tons of wonderful memories of us baking and using this recipe. She grouped similar or holiday cutters she put in colorful bags we’d get at Hallmark when we bought stationary items. Orange for Halloween and Thanksgiving, Red for Christmas, Pink for Valentine’s Day, Green for St. Patrick’s Day, etc. After Thanksgiving passed, we’d begin baking, almost spending 2 weeks straight making batch after batch of cookies for Christmas plates we’d give to neighbors, friends and family. Some of our cookie cutters were handmade and were from the 1920s, there is even one she made in shop class in high school! Baking was a special thing for us and I miss that with her. Baking and cooking is an activity I love sharing with my Big Boy and Baby. I hope my children remember our baking times as fondly as I do with my own Mom.


Do you have special memories with a loved one baking or cooking?

Do you have a favorite recipe used in that special time together?

Here are some more of the decorated ones …

Flower power!

using homemade frosting for "sandwiches"

I’m linking to some great Valentine’s treats & ideas this week! Seriously, wow – how may Red Velvet recipes are there? All yummy!

I’m #30
I’m #359!
In Hop 49 I’m #118
fingerprints on the fridgeI’m #438!

Foodie Friday! Homemade Flour Tortillas

A couple of days ago I was reading the 30-day Thrifty Challenge: The Food We Bought over at True Food Movement and clicked on their link about the USDA’s Food Plans, Cost of Food/Cost of Food at Home. I was amazed! My husband is complains that our food bills are too high, but when I clicked on December 2011, then on January and February 2011, I found that we are very frugal!

I did this, you might want to too – check your receipts from your last shopping trip – did you spend more than $100.00 in one shopping trip? Most of it in processed foods? Yep, I’ve been there; I’ve done that too. We are preaching to the choir here when we talk about wanting to eat healthier, get fit, and save money. But where does the dime drop? For my family it’s already dropped, but it’s still spinning. Will we be able to commit to healthy, fit, frugal lifestyle and Tweet like Charlie Sheen with #winning! or have one of Katy Perry’s epic fails? Popular culture is a big influencer because we our visual and seeing the same thing over and over becomes “normal.” Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, with no internet, you know what I’m talking about!

Several bloggers have been writing about these issues lately under healthy eating, frugal living, but isn’t this really more about a lifestylechange? In my new life as a permanent stay at home mom (SAHM), I’m realizing that when I “read the label” I’ve don’t like the 20+ ingredients that I can’t even pronounce. I mean, really, how hard is it to pronounce an ingredient like “flour”? Everything else are additives, stabilizers, color restorers, anti-caking agents, and preservatives.

Today I want to share with you my alternative to buying flour tortillas by making your own using this recipe from WikiHow Make Flour Tortillas. After getting to this part in my writing knowing that you can substitute other kinds of flour (like wheat) with this recipe I decided to bust out my wheat flour. You would need to adjust the amounts of flour and water in the recipe with trial and error – so don’t do what I did –  use all 4 cups of wheat flour! Results were mixed; it may be due to the age of my wheat flour, humidity in my home (or lack thereof) and/or the time of year, as I had to add a lot more water for the dough to have the right consistency. Next time I will incorporate white flour with the wheat to give it the smoother texture I prefer with the white flour tortillas. Biting into one of these wheat ones takes courage because several remained a bit dry even after cooking, but with some smear they are fine just not rolling. Oops.

I’ve seen other online recipes that pare the white flour down by half, less salt too, but use more baking powder, but I liked this combination of amounts the best. Again, it might be the age, humidity level, or season, but I end up using about 1-1/2 cups total water. You don’t need anything special with this recipe like a tortillas maker, a Comal (a special skillet for tortillas), or even a rolling pin.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

    • 4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 cup lard or butter or vegetable shortening
    • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup warm water

Step One:

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Start with 2 cups of flour into the bowl, then baking powder, the shortening (I’ve never used lard in my baking, can you believe it? More about that, later). Add the remaining flour. Time to get your hands dirty! Dig in and start smushing the dry ingredients together until they are crumbly, it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you’ve made pie crust dough, then you should have a similar texture at this point.


Step Two:

Add the salt into the water, swish with a spoon or whatever is handy, even your finger. Photo846 (2)


Pour into the dry ingredients. Um, at this point I’d like to remind you to remove your hand jewelry least you end up like I did – forgetting! Mix until you have a nice dough. If it’s too dry, add more water a little bit at a time; if it’s too wet, add some flour. You should be able to get the consistency pretty quick.


Don’t spray it with cooking spray or anything. Now is the time to heat up a skillet on your range over HIGH heat. You want your pan nice and hot! Think like the “hot” for pancakes – a pan too hot burns the pancake before it bubbles and a pan that isn’t heat hot enough will bubble but not brown.

Step Three: Test Tortilla


Pull a handful of dough for your test tortilla and put it on a surface, no need to flour it first as it won’t be that tacky/ sticky. Photo857I find there hasn’t been any difference where I roll it out, but I use my rolling pin or you can use a can of refried beans, if you’re in a dorm room you know, whatever is handy. Photo863

Depending on what kind of style of tortilla you like, thick or thin is how you should roll it out. I like mine very thin (Sonoran style, I’ve been told) so when you roll it out, thick or thin, you can stack them on top of each other since they don’t stick to one another.Photo859 If you made a tortilla that is too big for your skillet, you’ll have smaller tortillas or get your biggest skillet out so that it can accommodate larger tortillas.

Turn the heat down to MEDIUM under your skillet. Your pan should be nice and hot now, so go ahead and put your tortilla in the skillet. It may take longer for your test tortilla to cook than that rest, so don’t worry, as you can adjust the heat once you get the hang of it. It will develop brown spots as it cooks, and the tortilla becomes stiff when it is ready to flip. If it’s floppy when you start to flip it, then it’s not ready. If you smell burning, then turn the heat down a bit. You can peak – it’s not a soufflé! It should look like this when you flip:


If you are lucky, most likely your 2nd or 3rd tortilla will develop bubbles as it cooks. That is lucky!


Um… too big of a bubble…



If your test tortilla worked out perfect, repeat your methods. If it didn’t work out quite like you thought, then change it up. Here is a photo of a white flour tortilla I made last week and it was good! When I began trying to calculate the nutrition information for this post, I discovered the vegetable shortening had some of those ingredients I didn’t understand, so I bought lard at the store a couple of days later to try the next time I make these!

There are lots of things you can do with this dough, you can add herbs or spices, and be as creative as you like! Have you made tortillas before or experimented with flavors? Leave me a comment or include a link of your own recipe in exchange. Enjoy!

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