Archive for July, 2013


We have 3 July birthdays in karate, and they’re all within 10 days. That means 3 different birthday treats. Yikes!!Karate Flowers

The middle birthday is mine, and this year I got ice cream treats and flowers. Ice cream after karate? Fantastic!! And I’m still enjoying the flowers!

I made desserts for the other two birthdays: strawberry cheesecake for Alex, and these Oreo Fluff Brownies for John. John loves brownies, and last week he was saying how much he loves Oreos. So after a little poking around on the internet and looking at various ideas, I settled on the idea of Oreo Brownies.

Oreo Fluff BrowniesI found a recipe for Oreo Truffle Brownies, which is the delicious combination of Oreos and cream cheese atop a brownie base, and thought those sounded good. But I was really sugared-out from Birthday Week and all the treats I was given for my birthday, and it just sounded too rich and too chocolatey – if you can believe that!

I was thinking about how to lighten them up a bit and decided to use one of my favorite frosting additions – marshmallow fluff. It’s something I use to “customize” a can of pre-made frosting, or to combine with a block of cream cheese to make a lighter cream cheese frosting. It adds a little “something” that can really make a difference!

I used a boxed brownie mix because I was having a challenging week at work and made the “cake” version. If you want to make brownies from scratch, try the Craggy-Topped Fudge Brownies on the Mix it Up! page. After they cooled, I mixed up the topping, smeared it over the brownies, drizzled on some quick-setting chocolate ice cream topping, and popped them in the frig to set up.Oreo Fluff Brownies

I think the marshmallow addition was just right! It kept the topping from setting too hard, and provided a lightness that was really nice. The birthday boy was happy, too!

Oreo Fluff Brownies

Stuff you need:

1 9×13” pan of brownies, baked according to directions and cooled.

2 8-oz. blocks of cream cheese, softened

1 jar marshmallow fluff (7 oz, I think)

Magic Shell chocolate ice cream topping

1 14-ounce package of Oreos, crushed in a large zip-lock bag with a rolling pin. [I left some chunks of Oreos for a little texture but you can crush yours more finely if that’s your preference. This isn’t an exact science, so if you eat a few, it won’t ruin the brownies. 😉]

Now what?

Beat the softened cream cheese in a mixer until smooth.

Set aside ½ cup crushed Oreos and add the rest to the cream cheese and mix well.

Now stir in marshmallow fluff and mix until there are no streaks.

Spread the Oreo mixture on the brownies.

Drizzle with the Magic Shell chocolate topping and quickly sprinkle the remaining Oreo crumbs on top.

Place in frig to let the topping set up.

Store in frig. The topping will still be somewhat soft, but it will set up some.

Advertisements

When I was younger, Mom used to take us into downtown Chicago to shop. We’d take the commuter train down and walk over to State Street, where all the big department stores had their flagship stores. We’d spend the day in the beautiful, multi-storied buildings window shopping and enjoying the experience. At Christmastime we’d go downtown and look at all the store windows, which were fixed up with elaborate Christmas season displays. The sidewalks were filled with people crowding in to see the windows. It was a wonderful tradition that I’ll never forget!

Deerfield Bakery's Pecan Pie

Happy Birthday, Jackie!

Mom and I still go downtown when we get a chance. Most of the big stores are no longer on State Street, which is a shame, but we still enjoy it.  Lunch was always a part of our trips downtown, and that’s still the case. I remember eating many, many times in the Walnut Room at Marshall Field & Co. Even though it’s now called Macy’s, The Walnut Room is still there, and the current menu includes some of the traditional favorites we enjoyed years ago!

I have two vivid memories of food downtown. One was the Field’s Special from The Walnut Room — iceberg lettuce, sliced turkey, Swiss cheese, smoked bacon, tomato and egg served open-faced on rye with thousand island dressing. Nothing special, but it was my favorite and I still order it!

The other is the Pecan Pie from Flo’s. I don’t remember much of the place except that it was more of a diner, noisy and crowded at lunchtime. I don’t even remember what we’d order for lunch, except that knowing me, it was probably a grilled cheese. That was my go-to meal when I was young.

But what I remember the most about Flo’s was the pecan pie. Oh, was it good!! It was served heated up, and the filling was warm and gooey and just to die for! I’ve never been much of a pie person because I don’t like regular pie crust, but Flo’s pecan pie was a wedge of heaven!!!

Pecan Pie from Deerfield's BakeryYears later, my favorite pie is still pecan pie – partly from nostalgia, and partly because it’s just that good. I recently had the opportunity to make a pie for a birthday celebration at work. I’ll admit I cheated and used a refrigerated pie crust. I’d like to perfect a scratch-made pie crust, but that will have to happen when a) I have more time; and b) I don’t need it for a special event.

When the pie was baked, I thought it looked a bit darker than the pecan pies I’ve made in the past. It took me a minute to realize the recipe I used was a little different from any I’ve used before because it includes brown sugar and honey instead of white sugar. It was wonderful! I may try it again and use maple syrup instead of honey. Maple and pecans are great complements, so that should be good in the pie.

I did use more pecans than the original recipe. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of pecan halves but I didn’t think that was enough! I used somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 cups. If you don’t want a ton of pecans, start with the 1/2 cup and see if that looks like enough for you. If you’re like me and LOVE pecans, load ’em up!

If the crust starts to brown too much while you’re baking, use foil and loosely cover the pie. Either foil or those crust protectors you can purchase will do the trick.

All the comments I received on the pie were positive, so I know I’ll make this one again!

Pecan Pie

Adapted from the Deerfield’s Bakery recipe published in Killer Pies

Stuff you need:

3 Tablespoons honey

1/3 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

10 tablespoons packed brown sugar [I used light brown sugar.]

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

1 to 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a saucepan, mix honey, corn syrup, butter and brown sugar and heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.

Once the butter and sugar dissolve, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm. [If you add the eggs to the hot mixture, the eggs will scramble and ruin the pie.]

While the mixture is cooling, line the uncooked pie shell with the pecan halves. They’ll rise to the top while the pie is baking.

Beat the eggs and vanilla together and stir into the cooled sugar mixture.

Gently pour the mixture over the pecans. [They won’t all stay in place, so don’t worry if some float and move around.]

Bake for 1 hour, then allow the pie to cool before serving.