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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ultimate Bars Cookie Brownie

Rather than this being a recipe for baked goods, it's a bit of a plug for a package mix that I tried for the first time. Yeah, I know - it's from a box, it isn't made from scratch. That's okay sometimes though, and when you have a surprise visit and need something to be in the oven fast, this (by all accounts) is a worthy package to have in your cupboard.

The instructions are simple, and it seems pretty foolproof (I bet even my non-cooking husband could do this), but the baking time is sort of long compared to a standard brownie. The box contains 2 packages of mix - one for the brownie bottom, and one for the cookie top. The brownie mix requires an egg, water and melted butter - pretty easy, you just dump the liquid in on top of the dry and mix it up by hand til it's reasonably smooth. Spread that in an 8" X 8" greased pan (even if it's non-stick you'll want to grease it).

Then the cookie mix - add water and softened butter (not melted butter, just soft). It doesn't say this, but it's best if you mix the butter with the dry cookie mix until it's sort of crumbly, then add the water and continue mixing til it's a somewhat stiffer dough without big lumps. Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls onto the top of the brownie mix. Try to cover the top evenly with clumps of cookie dough.

Once it's done pop it into the oven (the box says 43-44 minutes. My oven seems to overcook things if I leave them the full amount of time - these I baked for 41 minutes), set your timer and wait for them to bake.

That's pretty much it because, of course, it's a package mix and there isn't much to do. The final outcome was, apparently, pretty yummy though. I sent the batch up to the horseshoe game on Friday morning, and only a few came back. I set them aside so I could get pictures when reviewing the product (since I didn't think to take any when making it) but, when I got the storage container out this morning ... all that was left were a few crumbs. Sorry about that - no finished product at the moment. (I guess that means I'll have to make more).

This is a product I haven't seen before, and a name brand I haven't really heard of. It may be a common name in the US (that's where we were when we bought the box) but in Canada, I haven't ever seen it. For what I paid for it, it's well worth the price for a "quickie-just-in-case" to keep in the cupboard. I'm going to buy it again, so it's a thumbs-up recommendation from me. Just be sure to use butter (not margarine).

BUT ... yeah, there is a but. Not particularly anything wrong with the product - no, but it certainly brings to mind a lot of other options.

  • make your own brownie and cookie recipes from scratch
  • buy individual brownie and cookie mixes (but why, unless you are brand conscious)
  • add your choice of cookie toppings
  • switch from chocolate chip cookie dough to any other soft cookie dough
  • toss in a handful of peanut butter, butterscotch or white chocolate chips
  • add a handful of chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts)
  • chop up some peanut butter cups and spread them on top of the cookie mix
  • chop up any chocolate bar of your choice (butterfinger, twix, skor, crispy crunch, coffee crisp etc.) and use as a topping

... seriously silly but this Brownie Cookie/Cookie Brownie lends itself to whatever your imagination can think of.

All for $1.99

Baker's Corner®
Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Mix
(bought at Aldi's in Lakeland, FL)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Canadian Snowbirds vs US Citizens

That's probably one of the saddest titles I've written over a post for a long time. In fact, the whole post is one I considered not writing at all, but in the end, I think it's a good idea to "set the record straight". All this stems from a letter submitted to our local newspaper (our local newspaper to the city in the US we call home when we're here) from a US resident (I assume a citizen).  Even worse ... is the sadness you feel when you realize some people don't see you as people, but as a non-entity, not even worthy of having an opinion.

We own a home here, and we pay taxes, water, sewer, electricity, cable, TV, phone ... all of that, just like any citizen of the US. I guess if we have a complaint about them, we're entitled to say so since we pay for them. We may not be given all the same rights as citizens since we only live here part of the time, but this is our home while we're here and I resent someone telling me otherwise.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Boggy Creek Air Boats - Kissimmee, Florida

During early March we decided to wander on over to Kissimmee - a cute, touristy area near Orlando, and about 40 minutes by highway from our place in Cypress Lakes (Lakeland). We'd been to Kissimmee on our first trip - a little section called "Old Town" with the usual tourist type shops - flea markets, restaurants, hotels/motels, discount stores. Places that usually cost more than tourists really want to spend, but still ... the draw is there to pick up momentos or tchotchkes (uh, nick-knacks). It's just an interesting place to wander around.

We'd been there on our first trip a year ago, and stopped in at the Ponderosa Steak House for lunch. The food was amazingly good - much better than we'd had at Ponderosa's in Pennsylvania (no longer any in existence there) or at home in Orillia (also gone many years). Actually, it surprised me to find a Ponderosa so we hustled in, more out of nostalgia than anything else. Back home, when our kids were small Ponderosa was something we could treat them to, and a place they liked to eat. After thoroughly enjoying the food our first trip, we realized it would be a place we'd go back to.

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