Sunday, June 27, 2010

Giveaway Winner--Pillsbury Brownies Prize Package

There were 180 entries in the Pillsbury Chocolate Chunk Brownies prize package giveaway! Whoo hoo! Unfortunately, only one can win, so here is the winning number, chosen by random integer generator at

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2010-06-28 00:52:53 UTC

And #75 on the spreadsheet is Mellissa C, who commented that she'd use her prize for a fourth of July picnic. Mellissa, I've sent you an email to get your mailing information.

Thank you again to everyone who entered, and to MyBlogSpark and Pillsbury for sponsoring the giveaway.

Until next time, good (un)cooking, and good eating!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sugar Free Sunday--Cream Cheese Brownies

Welcome to this week's edition of Sugar-Free Sunday! Thanks once again to Chaya of Chaya's Comfy Food for her recipe for Nutty Wild Rice.

This week's recipe is for the brownies I intended to make last week--before I discovered I was out of cocoa! What I did was take my basic, easy, made-from-scratch brownie recipe, substitute granulated Splenda for the sugar, and add a little cream cheese flair. (If you're not interested in sugar-free, leave off the additional powdered milk and baking powder, and substitute the same amount of sugar for the Splenda.

Brownie Base Ingredients:
  • 2 c granulated Splenda
  • 1 c self-rising flour
  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 t vanilla
  • adjusted to add: 1 c powdered milk*
  • adjusted to add: 1 t baking powder*

Cream Cheese Layer:

  • 1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c Splenda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t vanilla

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together Splenda, flour, and cocoa until well blended. Add melted butter or margarine, give it just a stir or two to cool the butter, then add the eggs and vanilla. Spread in a lightly greased or cooking-sprayed 9 x 13 pan.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cream cheese, Splenda, egg, and vanilla. Spread over the brownie batter. At this point, you are supposed to kind of swirl the two together a bit on top. (I had a hard time swirling because my brownie layer was so thin--more on that below.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into squares.

I had a little problem with this--I've made this brownie recipe at least a hundred times with sugar, and they've never turned out this thin. When I made a sugar-free cheesecake last week, I blamed the flour, thinking it was past it's "rise", but I think it may be the Splenda. One thing I've noticed about granulated Splenda, it dissolves in liquid much more quickly than sugar, which is a good thing when you're adding it to a liquid--like when I made the ice box pickles. But once I added the butter and eggs and vanilla to this and started stirring, the batter seemed to "shrink" as the Splenda dissolved. Even though the package states to substitute measure for measure for granulated sugar, Splenda just doesn't leave the same bulk in a batter as sugar.

*Leave it to me to jump ahead without reading directions. I read the front of the Splenda bag where it states "Measures Cup for Cup Like Sugar", but I failed to read the cooking and baking tips on the back of the package until my mother called me and told me look at it. Under "Volume/height", it states that for every cup of Splenda used, add 1/2 c of powdered milk and 1/2 t of baking powder. Makes sense for the bulk, and of course it just isn't going to have the exact same properties as sugar. It also recommends that for "Confections", which I assume to mean candy and the like, to only substitute Splenda for 25% of the sugar. Also makes sense. Keeping that in mind, I've added powdered milk to my grocery list for this week, and I'll be making this again as soon as I get some! Thanks, Mom!

This recipe turned out--okay. Not bad, but not great, either. It wasn't very sweet, it was thin and so cooked up just a tad dry--if I do make this again, I'll either put it in a 9 x 9 pan, or I won't bake it quite so long. I thought about using just a little more Splenda--maybe an additional 1/4-1/2 cup, but I'm afraid that it may add to the "artificial" taste. Splenda is absolutely great in small quantities, and when used in liquid, but I have to admit there is just a bit of different taste in something with such a large quantity, like these brownies.
I'll be making these again next week, but with addition of the powdered milk and baking powder mentioned above.

So how about you? Any experience baking with Splenda or other sugar substitutes?

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

This recipe is linked to:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Tuesday Tastes at Crazy Daisy
Delicious Dishes at It's a Blog Party

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pillsbury Chocolate Chunk Brownies from Sam's Club--Review and Giveaway

Giveaway is now closed--thanks for entering!

Have your kids ever come home from school and announced that they've volunteered you to send two dozen brownies for the class field trip--tomorrow? Or have you ever forgotten that it was your turn to bring refreshments to your ladies' group?

What do you do when you need a last-minute treat to take somewhere, and you have no time to bake? Or it's too hot to use the oven? Or you discover at the last minute that you're out of cocoa?

MyBlogSpark and Pillsbury recently provided me with an opportunity to try Pillsbury's new Chocolate Chunk Brownies from the bakery section at Sam's Club. They sent me a $25 Sam's Club gift card, as well as a covered Sterlite container, cake decorating kit, and some frosting.

Now, ya'll know that I've been off of sugar for over a month now, and I don't have little one's needing a treat for school anymore, either, but I do have a husband who's co-workers like to eat! They all bring food and cook-out at lunch time, sometimes several times a week, so he's always needing something to take at the last minute. Last week I bought a package of the Pillsbury Chocolate Chunk Brownies from Sam's Club and sent them to work for them to try out. I didn't even bother to break out the frosting, I just sent the package--which they finished off with no complaints! This week they're having guests and cooking out again, and I've been requested to send more brownies, so they must be good--and yes, this time I will actually frost some of them! And now for your chance to try these out for yourself. Pillsbury and MyBlogSpark are graciously providing a prize package to one of my luck readers, which includes the cake decorating kit, covered container, and $25 Sam's Club giftcard! Whoo hoo! (I don't know about you, but I love getting things like this in the mail!)

All you have to do is leave me your name and email address, (and blog url if you have one) and a comment telling me what occasion you think these luscious brownies would be perfect for--picnic, road trip, neighborhood block party---or if you'd just like to keep them all for yourself!

Giveaway is now closed! The winner will be announced shortly. This giveaway will be open from now until Sunday night, June 27th, at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time. All entries and email address will be kept private, the only information that will be shared is what's necessary to fulfill the giveaway. The winner will be chosen by random number generator.

Until next time, good (un-)cooking, and good eating!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sugar Free Sunday--Cheesecake, Part 2

Coming Monday--a new product review and giveaway!

Welcome to this week's edition of Sugar Free Sunday! Thanks to Chaya from Chaya's Comfy Cook for her Herb Saute'ed Bell Pepper Strips, and to NeedANap2 for her informative comment about sugar-free products she uses for her family.

This week's recipe was supposed to be cream-cheese swirled brownies, but I discovered at the last possible minute that I was out of cocoa. But I did have extra cream cheese, so I decided to try another cheesecake, instead. You may remember the sugar-free cheesecake recipe I shared a couple of weeks ago--I decided I wanted to try a slightly different cheesecake this week, so I took Bisquick "Impossible" Cheesecake that I made last year and tweaked it a bit, and came up with today's recipe.

  • 2 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c Splenda (granulated)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c self-rising flour
  • 1 t lemon flavoring
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla flavoring

Mix all ingredients, beating on medium speed until smooth--1 to 2 minutes. Spread in a lightly greased or cooking-sprayed pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees F, 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned and "set". Cool, and serve with toppings of your choice.

This didn't "puff" as much as I thought it would--for one thing, it was really supposed to have Bisquick in it, which I didn't have, hence the self-rising flour, which now that I think about it, may be getting past it's "rise" prime. Plus I think it would have done better in a smaller pie plate. So it came out thin, but other than that, it worked out well.

This was a very light textured and "light" tasting dessert--you could taste the lemon, but it wasn't an overpowering. We ate ours with sliced strawberries and sugar-free whipped topping, and it was delicious. It's still not the rich-and-creamy sugar-free cheesecake I'm looking for, but I will definitely make this again.

And now it's your turn--what new sugar-free recipes or products have you tried lately?

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blackberry Freezer Jam--No Cooking Necessary!

Last year I wrote about the delicious fresh blackberries my husband picked for us from the bushes in the woods around his job site--and it's that time of year again! When I got back to Georgia last week, I had several quarts of berries waiting for me in the fridge that he'd just picked over the weekend.

We've all been trying to cut out or at least down on sugar, so I haven't been baking much, but I did take the opportunity to while I had these delicious fresh (and free, too!) berries to put up a batch of blackberry freezer jam.

I used the Ball pectin to make this batch--it requires no cooking or heat processing, and uses less sugar than some brands.

  • 4 cups crushed blackberries
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 pkg Ball Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin
Notice that the measurments is for crushed fruit--I used a potato masher to smush 1-2 cups at a time, pouring the crushed berries into the measuring cup. (Don't use a food processor for this, you don't want puree, you need some 'body' left to the fruit you use.)

Mix the sugar and fruit pectin in a bowl; stir until blended.

Add the crushed fruit, and stir well, until all of the sugar and pectin is incorporated into the fruit.

Ladle into jars or other containers--a jar funnel makes it easier.

I just happened to have some half-pint jelly jars, but because this is not heat processed and "sealed" you can use plastic containers or "re-purposed" jars.

Allow the containers to set for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate (if you're going to use it right away) or freeze (for later use.)

This makes a soft-set jam that's delicious and fresh-tasting on biscuits or toast, or makes really really good peanut-butter and jam sandwiches.

What have you been cooking this week your garden or from nature's bounty?

This post is linked to:

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
at Blessed with Grace
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Tuesday Tastes at Crazy Daisy
Tuesdays at the Table All the Small Stuff
Delicious Dishes at It's a Blogparty
What's on the Menu? at Dinning With Debbie
Recipe Swap at the Grocery Cart Challenge
Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as Mom

Until next time, good (un-)cooking, and good eating...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sugar Free Sunday--My Favorite Sugar-Free Products

Welcome to this week's edition of Sugar-Free Sunday!

I'm trying to get settled into my summertime routine now that I'm back at our home-away-from-home in Georgia. I spent four mornings this week at the pool, and afternoons trying to unpack and take stock of what I needed to get my kitchen up and functioning here. I brought lots of fresh vegetables from my parent's garden back home, as well as farm-raised beef from our freezer. By the time I did some grocery shopping to re-stock some items, it was a real balancing act to get everything to fit into the fridge and the little freezer up top.

I did cook a little bit:

Round steak cooked in the crock-pot, same seasonings and technique I used here for chuck steak...

...purple hull peas--frozen, but originally from my parents garden... box pickles (made with Splenda), and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

For desserts, I've been eating a variety of fruit, including some delicious fresh blackberries that my husband picked from wild blackberry brambles. I do plan to make some sugar-free desserts, but I'll be honest, these fresh berries are so good, I put some in a bowl, pour on a little milk or cream (if I have it) and eat them with a spoon like a bowl of cereal. (One night I ate two big bowls of berries and milk instead of supper.)

Meanwhile, there are a couple of sugar-free products that I want to mention:

  • Splenda--I know that there are a lot of people out there that don't support the use of artificial sweeteners. In a perfect world, we wouldn't need artificial anything, but it's not a perfect world, and for myself, using artificial sweeteners is a choice I make in order to accomplish the goals I have of losing weight and getting my blood sugar back to a good level. It's not for everyone, I'm not a doctor, I'm not advising you to use them. But. For me, it works for now. I've been a dieter on and off for years. More years than I care to remember. But I do remember when our only choice in non-sugar sweeteners was saccharin. Little pink packets or some kind of drops, you couldn't cook with them, and to be honest, most of the products made with it, with few exceptions, tasted gross. Next came aspartame, the little blue packets. Still couldn't cook with, but it did at least taste a little better. There are all kinds of products out there today, some of which I haven't tried yet, but I have to tell you that so far, I've been very impressed with my use of Splenda in cooking. I bought the granulated Splenda, the kind in the bag or box that you use measure-for-measure in the place of sugar. I've used it so far in the filling for my cheese blintzes; additional added to leftover filling to make a sugar-free cheesecake; and in my ice box pickles. I'm going to try it in the next few weeks in some other things, including jam and cobbler.
  • Popsicle brand Sugar-Free Popsicles--especially the orange ones. 15 calories, folks--15!
  • Sonic--I know this isn't a product, but Sonic has half-price drinks during their afternoon "happy-hour", and they have more sugar-free drinks than any restaurant or fast-food place that I know. They not only carry Diet Coke, they have Diet Dr. Pepper, Coke Zero, Sprite Zero, Minute Maid light lemonade, Low-cal diet limeade, diet green tea, and according to their on-line menu, their raspberry and peach tea is low-cal, as well. In this heat, they are my new favorite drive-through.
And now it's your turn. What new sugar-free recipes do you have to share, or what are your favorite sugar-free products?

Thanks so much to Chaya for her link last week for sweet potatoes with chopped pecans and maple syrup, and to Debbie from Where's My Rolling Pin? for her feedback in the comments.

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sugar Free Sunday--Fruit Smoothie/Dessert

Welcome to this week's edition of Sugar-Free Sunday!

Sorry I'm a bit late with it this week, but I've been getting ready to close up my house for the summer--sorting and packing, cleaning out the fridge, all of that fun (!) stuff--so that we can spend the summer in Georgia with my husband. I tried to get the post ready using dial-up internet, and I just could not get the pictures to load or the links to work, and today was my travel day--10 hours of driving, but we're here at last and ready to unpack and settle in---tomorrow!

Last week I saw Chaya's I Can't Believe It's Not Ice Cream dessert then found another similar recipe on Where;'s My Rolling Pin? called "Who Says You Need an Ice Cream Maker to Make Ice Cream?" So I was determined to try this out for myself.


  • 2 bananas (1 frozen, 1 plain)
  • 8 fresh strawberries
  • 8-9 frozen strawberries
  • 1 c frozen blueberries

Put everything into the food processor, and blend away.

I started off with one frozen banana, and the fresh and frozen strawberries.

It blended well, but I didn't think it was very creamy, so I added a second, un-frozen banana.

Then I thought that maybe it wasn't "frozen" enough, so I added about a cup of frozen blueberries.

I never did get mine to ice-cream consistency, I guess I stopped too soon. (Re-reading Chaya's post, she processed her's an additional 10 minutes after it got to the sherbert-like stage, letting the motor "rest" every couple of minutes.) I did add just a bit of Splenda, (the amount would depend on the tartness of the fruit you use) and around a teaspoon of vanilla, just because. So just add and sample 'till it tastes good to you.

My son really liked this, he thought it was like a super-thick smoothie. I liked the taste of it, but the blueberries messed up the color, it looked kind of odd, but I'll be making this again, I'm determined to achieve that creamy ice-cream quality that Debbie and Chaya get from theirs, and hopefully it will look prettier next time, too!

So are you ready to link? Thanks to Chaya from Sweet and Savory for her recipe last week for Vietnamese Pancakes, as well as Denise Therese from Free to Feast for her Blackberry Thumbprint Cookies!

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!