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Saucepan Brownies

picture of Plated Congos

Have you ever heard of saucepan brownies? I had never heard the term before I read it in a little booklet many years ago, although I had made brownies using this method before I knew of the term. They are sometimes also called one bowl brownies. The idea is that you melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan (or in the microwave) and then combine with the other ingredients. I have found that brownies or bars prepared by this method are usually very moist, dense, and chewy rather than cake-like.

These Congo Bars are an example of saucepan brownies. I was given this recipe by a student many years ago and we have enjoyed Congo Bars ever since. They are very rich and delicious, so cut them small and plan on sharing a plate of them with friends.

Congo Bars

2 1/4 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup butter or margarine (approximately 10 Tbsps.)
3 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt butter or margarine. Add brown sugar and slightly beaten eggs. In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to first mixture and stir to blend and then stir in the chocolate chips. Spread in a 9" x 13" pan that has been greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 mins. or until the bars test clean. Cool and cut into bars.

Here are the ingredients:

picture of Brownie Ingredients

Here's everything mixed together:

picture of Mixing Brownies

Here they are ready to pop into the oven:

picture of Brownie Dough

Since I was planning to give most of these bars away I lined the pan with non-stick foil instead of greasing and flouring it so I could remove the bars from the pan to make them easier to cut.

picture of Congo Bars

Give these a try if you need a quick, delicious bar recipe.


Weekend update

DH was at a conference at church Friday night and nearly all day and evening on Saturday, so I puttered around the house. Here are a few things I worked on:

I made another batch of granola. This time I tried a tropical blend with chopped dried pineapple, coconut, banana chips, and chopped cashews. I didn't know if we would like this combination, but we've found it to be quite tasty.

picture of Tropical Granola

picture of Thomas Quilt

I worked on quilting another baby quilt. This one is made from a remnant of Thomas the train fabric and an old curtain from DS Mark's bedroom. I just need to add the borders and it will be finished. I adapted an idea from this book:

picture of Quilts for Baby

I had read about the book on a sewing blog and checked it out of the library. It was still in print and DH got it for me for Valentine's Day. All the quilts are simple without a lot of fussy piecing and are planned to go together quickly and easily.

I made a Ham Loaf for our Sunday dinner using some of the leftover Easter ham that I had ground up and frozen. My Aunt Nana used to make Ham Loaf and it had been years since I had eaten any. I made the loaf on Saturday and cooked it in the Crock Pot on Sunday.

picture of Raw Ham Loaf

DH got up at 5:30 AM to turn it on. 🙂 It was perfectly cooked by lunch time. I had read this tip about putting the strips of foil in the crock pot in one of those little Pillsbury cookbooklets.

picture of Foil Crockpot

This is all that was left when I remembered to take a picture!

picture of Cooked Ham Loaf

Here's the Ham Loaf recipe:

Ham Loaf

1 1/2 lbs. ground ham (about 3 cups) (I chopped it in the food processor)
1 lb. ground fresh pork
1 cup dry bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (can use graham cracker crumbs)
1 cup milk
2 eggs
dash pepper
1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion

Topping Sauce
1/4 cup catsup
2 Tbsps. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. dry mustard

Mix all ingredients well and form into a loaf. Top with some of the sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours or in crock pot for about 7 hours on low. (I added another portion of the sauce about 1/2 hour before the cooking time was up.)

I served the Ham Loaf with these green beans, which are also very tasty:
(note, I hadn't added the bacon in at this point.)

picture of Green Beans Tomatoes

Skillet Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Bacon

6 slices bacon
1 large onion, sliced or diced
1 bag frozen green beans or about 1 lb. fresh, cleaned and snipped
1/2 cup chicken broth
dash pepper
1 large tomato, chopped (in the winter I use about 3/4 cup drained, diced canned tomatoes)

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. Set aside. Sauté onions until slightly browned. Add beans, broth, and pepper. Cook until beans are tender, about 10-15 mins. Add tomatoes and cook briefly. Add bacon and serve. These are very tasty and attractive.

I hope your weekend was equally full and blessed.



picture of Jar of Granola

I recently read a couple of recipes for granola that inspired me to make some. I did a Google search and came up with some recipes by Pam Anderson, who often has recipes in the Sunday magazine section of the newspaper. Her recipe seemed to have less oil and sugar than a lot of the ones I found. I have also tried making it with the Splenda brown sugar and found it works just fine.

She gives a basic formula for the granola and then has ideas for quite a few variations. I have a good variety of dried fruits and nuts on hand right now and have been having fun trying a few different combinations.

One thing about this recipe which makes it extra good is that she tells you to pour the liquids over the dry ingredients in the baking pan and then squeeze the mixture with your hands to form clumps. As the granola bakes these clumps form little crunchy clusters which are delicious!

picture of Clumpy Granola

I was talking about this recipe with my friend Sandy and she suggested lining the baking pans with parchment paper to make the clean up even easier.

Here is one of our favorite varieties with dried cranberries and sliced almonds:

picture of Fruited Granola

So, if you like granola give this recipe a try and create your own favorite combination.


Easter Week Update

We had a very blessed and busy Easter week here at our house.

This is my egg tree that DH thinks looks like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree:

picture of Egg Tree

Our friend and my former college roommate, Cathy, came down from NC for a couple of days to see us and to attend the Living Gallery program on campus. This was the 13th year that the school has presented this program. This year's play had a very powerful evangelistic message.

While Cathy was here she wanted to reconnect with Jane, another friend from college. We were able to meet for lunch at a restaurant and hear about Jane's recent trip out west. As you can imagine, none of us has changed a bit in the last thirty or so years.

picture of Cathy Jane and Me

Everything is in full bloom here in Greenville. Rob brought in some daffodils and helleborus from our yard and I was given a lovely bouquet of tulips and a beautiful lily plant for Easter. I don't think I have ever had a lily before and I didn't realize that the white ones were so fragrant.

picture of Easter Flowers

My Easter wheat grass experiment was a great success! I even had to "mow" my grass a couple of days before Easter because it was getting so tall. I need to make a note for future plantings that one week before Easter is sufficient for a healthy crop. 🙂

Here is the grass ten days after planting:

picture of Tall Grass

Here it is on our table for Easter:

picture of Easter Grass Table

I also tried a few more of the silk tie-dyed eggs. They are fun to do and I plan to try to do more of these in the future.

picture of Silk Eggs Two

We had wonderful services at church on Sunday. The Sunday school hour was a time of focusing on the Lord's crucifixion and the morning service was a time of rejoicing in the resurrection. The evening service was a praise service where six different individuals were able to share how the Lord has worked in their lives in recent days.

We were also able to share lunch with family and friends gathered around our table. I hope all of you had an equally blessed day.

Before I close I need to post a couple of Easter pictures of GS, Drew.

Here he is meeting the Easter bunny at the mall:

picture of Drew Bunny

Here he is tasting his first colored Easter egg. He was very excited about the whole process of coloring the eggs, but was very disappointed in the taste after eating marshmallow eggs earlier in the week!

picture of Drew Meets Egg


A few kitchen tips

In a recent post I mentioned using a Silpat to line a pan for easy clean-up. Rhonda wrote and asked about the Silpat, so I thought I'd post a picture to show what it looks like.

picture of Silpat

The Silpat is a silicone/fiberglass mat that can withstand high temperature. You have probably seen all kinds of bakeware made from this type of material in recent years. I have had my Silpat for a number of years as you can tell from it's stained condition. It is very handy for baking items such as cheesy sandwiches, etc. when you are trying to avoid a lot of clean-up

Another item I have been using a great deal lately to avoid clean-up are these foil sheets. I saw them a few months ago at Dollar Tree and decided to try a box. I have really enjoyed using them and have found all kinds of uses for them in my kitchen. I even gave each of the kids a box of them for Christmas! DH bought me a large box of them at Costco for even less than I paid for them at Dollar Tree.

picture of Foil Sheets

The next tip is for lining a casserole dish or baking pan with foil. I think I read this tip in a magazine. Turn your pan or dish upside down and shape the foil on the outside of the pan. Remove the foil and then flip the pan over and place the shaped foil inside the pan. I have found this makes it fit much better than if you try to stuff the foil down inside the pan or dish and then try to smooth it out.

picture of Foil Pan

Do you ever need to cut a pie into an odd number of pieces? Here is a helpful tip: If you need to cut the pie into seven pieces (or five or nine) first cut a "Y" shaped cut into the pie. Then cut the large sections into three pieces each (or two or four). I have found this to work much better than just trying to eyeball the cuts.

picture of Odd Pie

Do you have a favorite kitchen tip you would like to share?