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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread



This is a favorite of family and friends. Joe likes it for breakfast. I like it anytime, with a glass of milk. It's easy, and I've never come across anyone who doesn't like it.

The original recipe is from www.epicurious.com, but my sister and I believe rounding up a bit on the spices and adding miniature chocolate chips makes it perfect. We start craving it when the first nip of autumn hits and don't tire of it till the spring thaw.



BUTTERMILK AND MOLASSES GINGERBREAD SQUARES

Nonstick spray
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon
1 heaping tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 heaping tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (or margarine, diet fine), melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg (egg substitute is fine)
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray an 8- or 9-inch square metal or glass baking pan with nonstick spray. Sift all-purpose flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and nutmeg into medium bowl. Combine molasses, 1/2 cup sugar, melted butter, buttermilk and large egg in large bowl; whisk to blend. Whisk in dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. (Test sooner!) You can cool cake completely in pan on rack, but I confess to frequently digging out a corner while it's still warm. Yum. The original recipe calls for sifting powdered sugar over the cooled cake, if you want to go that route. I find it an unnecessary step, with or without the chocolate chips.

Note: If you double the recipe, which I nearly always do since someone I know usually needs a chunk of good cheer, the baking time increases. Start checking at 35 minutes.


The best macaroni and cheese

What happened to fall? I've been too busy with other things to do any blogging. It looks like the key may be getting up before anyone else.

Everyone seems to love this macaroni and cheese. Jackie, a friend in Medina, gave me the recipe. It's not something you want to eat on a serious diet, though. Well, you'd WANT it, but. . . .

It's also fine without the crumb topping. I use penne instead of elbow macaroni if my sister is going to partake because of justified childhood macaroni issues she is unable to overcome. Joe and I like to have broccoli with it so we can feel a little virtuous.

Mostly Sweetie Pie’s Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb. elbow macaroni or small penne
1 cup milk (skim to whole, doesn’t matter)
2 12-oz. cans evaporated milk (skim, 2% or whole)
3 eggs
Salt, to taste (I skip it; lots of salt in the cheeses)
1 tsp. pepper (more if you use white pepper)
1 heaping tbsp. sugar
1 lb. shredded Colby-Jack cheese
½ lb. sharp Cheddar, shredded
½ lb. mild Cheddar, shredded and divided in half
1 lb. Velveeta (small box), cut into small chunks
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces (I use one stick butter, one light margarine)

Topping:
4 tbsp. butter
2 heaping cups Panko bread crumbs
¼ cup shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-inch pan. (Unless it’s pretty deep, also spray a smaller pan, 1 ½- to 2-quart. This makes a lot, but it freezes well).
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain (do not rinse) and set aside.
Meanwhile, for topping: In a saucepan or medium skillet, melt butter and add bread crumbs, stirring to toast a bit. Remove from heat and toss with Parmesan.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, evaporated milk, eggs and seasonings. Stir in the cheeses except 1 cup of the mild Cheddar. Stir in butter chunks and slightly cooled pasta. Pour into prepared pans. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup Cheddar. Sprinkle the topping evenly over pasta. Bake 30 to 45 minutes until bubbly and top is lightly browned.
If you want the top to be browner, slide dish under broiler briefly.

FYI: The recipe is from the Sweetie Pie’s restaurants in St. Louis. The owner, Robbie Montgomery, was a backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner. She doesn’t use a topping and I made a few other minor changes, which is why it’s “Mostly” Sweetie Pie’s.