Saturday, October 27, 2007

Indoor Picnic

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had the privilege of participating in my church's wednesday night dinner program the past year and a half. Last spring, I had a culinary vision of a meal for the upcoming year: An Indoor Picnic. All the traditional picnic-ey fixins', complete with red and white checkered tablecloths and plastic ants (although we discovered that plastic flies were cheaper...more realistic, too, since flies are more problematic at a picnic than ants are!) My vision was brought to fruition in September and here is the menu and recipes:

Giant Sub Sandwiches
Hot Bacon Potato Salad
Assorted Individual Bag of Chips
Tossed Salad
Fresh Fruit Bar
Marbled Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

Hot Bacon Potato Salad
This has become one of my all time favorite potato salads. Originally found in a Betty Crocker grilling cookbook, you can make it just as easily in the oven, too.
  • 2 lbs. unpeeled red potatoes
  • 8 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dry ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Heat water to boiling in a 3 or 4 qt. saucepan. Add potatoes. Cover and heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 25 minutes or until almost tender; drain. Allow to cool until easily handled, then cut into large chunks (about 1 1/2 to 2 inch cubes). Place cut potatoes in a baking dish (or a disposable, aluminum pan if grilling).

In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard and pepper until smooth. Add green onions and bacon. Pour dressing over potatoes and toss until combined.

Oven instructions: Cover with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring once, until heated through.

Grilling instructions: Cover with foil. Grill 4 inches away from medium heat (charcoal or gas) for 20 minutes, stirring once, until heated through.

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Marbled Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

I've always been a fan of both chocolate and of peanut butter. Alone, they are, indeed, quite delightful. But combine the 2 together and you've achieved something just short of pure genius. My friend, Linda, knowing what an aficionado I was of the chocolate/pb combo, found this recipe on a jar of Reece's peanut butter many moons ago and typed it out for me. It immediately became one of my all-time favorite brownies. And once you taste them, that is, if you're still alive after tasting them, I'm confident that you'll feel the same way I did. **Note--This is direct cut 'n' paste of the recipe, but be reassured, it is not necessary to us Reese's and Hershey's brands to achieve the same results!

  • 2 packages (3 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter or REESE'S Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Chips or 1 cup HERSHEY'S MINI KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Prepare PEANUT BUTTER FILLING by beating cream cheese, peanut butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg and milk.

3. Melt butter in large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH (100%) 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until melted. Stir in remaining 2 cups sugar and vanilla. Add remaining 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Remove 1 cup batter; set aside. Pour remaining batter into prepared pan. Spread PEANUT BUTTER FILLING over surface. Drop reserved chocolate batter by teaspoons over filling. Using knife, gently swirl through top layers for marbled effect.

5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

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