CHEW THIS! Family Memory Brownies

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, December 7th 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

A special recipe, in memory…
Blaise Doubman

As I sat down to write this column, words kept escaping me. I am not sure what to say in all honesty, as the shock still has not worn off and I am not sure if it ever will. Within the course of 10 days, both my Grandma Deloris and my Grandma Barbra passed away. Just when this year had been testing me in all ways, this happened – a double loss. My Grandma Deloris and Grandma Barba were not just my Grandmas; they were also both my best friends, life teachers, therapists, critics, motivational speakers and so much more. There was not a day of my entire life that went by that I didn’t somehow see them, call them or talk to them. Even on my most depressing days I knew that somehow, they would be able to reach into my soul and drag me out of whatever it was I was facing and whatever it was that was holding me down. Now, as some of the realization is coming to me about what has really happened, and so quick, the first thing that comes to my mind is fear. Fear of facing life without them. Fear that maybe somewhere deep inside, I won’t be able to continue without my best friends. Also, a fear of never being able to really open up honestly with anyone else in my life, or to feel again that special “grandmotherly” connection that I have had all my life. I have, especially this year, been reading and learning more about the “seasons” we go through as humans. It seems that life is a continuous progression of different phases, or “seasons” and sometimes I think of them as weather patterns. Sometimes there will be a phase in life of perfectly sunny weather, maybe a few clouds roll by but all in all things are pretty good. The current season I am in, and have been in for what seems like awhile, I would classify as hurricane season and just within the last few weeks, 2 large category 5 hurricanes have rolled through, one right after the other, completely demolishing the landscape and everything in it’s path. How do you recover from devastation?

I know that both of my Grandmas would want me to be strong and not just for me but for my family. Sometimes a person has to be strong so that other people can see the strength in that person and allow themselves to be stronger and pull themselves through because of it. I will be the first to admit that being strong is hard and trying to be strong for someone else is harder. My Grandma Deloris and Grandma Barbra were both Believers and had countless talks with me on Faith, God and what it means to not only believe what you believe but act it out on the world. Storms make trees grow deeper roots is something that both believed and talked about. One of my favorite things though lately has been the saying that sometimes in the waves of change, we find our true direction. I believe that God doesn’t make mistakes and I believe that everything happens for a reason but sometimes it is hard to find the “why” in the mist of heartache and sorrow. What lesson was this to teach? Why did this happen? Eternal questions that I may be forever asking myself. All I know, is that right now, I need time. I need time to heal, to process, to question and to wonder. I have so many memories to hold and to cherish of these two fabulously wonderful, loving human beings. If you have been a reader of my website and column, from day one, these two women have played a huge role in everything that I do and I believe that even though they are gone, they will still be loving me and guiding me.

Family Memory Brownies

These brownies are delicious on their own but if you are a fan of a frosted brownie, use this recipe. Beat 6 tablespoons soft unsalted butter with 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons light corn syrup and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract until smooth and combined. Add in 2 cups powdered sugar and add in 4 tablespoons milk. Beat until smooth and creamy. Spread on cooled brownies and enjoy.

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 cups white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup white all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl combine the melted unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar and pure vanilla extract. Beat until combine.

Beat in the large eggs, one at a time. Stir in the unsweetened cocoa powder.

Gently stir in the white all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.

Fold in the milk chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread out evenly, smoothing out the top.

Bake for 33 minutes.

Remove and cool. Frost if desired.

Ask and Answer: So many of you have reached out and written, texted, emailed, messaged and called with condolences and I want to thank each and every one of you. My gratitude for your kindness and words of encouragement are immeasurable. Thank you.

CHEW THIS! Pretzel Biscuits

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, November 16th 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Pretzel Biscuits
Blaise Doubman

Can anyone else believe that it is almost Thanksgiving! I can’t believe how fast this year has went! Soon we will be venturing into the year 2020! Which blows my mind even more because was it really twenty years ago that everyone was panicking over “Y2K”? Remember that? For those who are not old enough, Google it and you will be amazed. Ha! Looking ahead to Thanksgiving, not to mention Christmas and New Years’, I am already starting to plan the family meals. It is never a bad idea to start planning ahead, especially with the busy lives everyone lives today! For Holiday meals I have a few tips I would like to share with all of you! First off, I always say to start with a list. Make a list of the things you want to prepare and then cross off two or three different things. This will eliminate your stress, give you extra time to put love into the other dishes and will narrow the focus on what you would really like to serve. Secondly, write down the time and date of your Holiday party and start writing down what you need to do to prepare each dish, backwards, so that you will get an idea of when you actually need to start each dish. Thirdly, and maybe the most important, try to find recipes that you can make ahead of time and don’t be embarrassed or afraid to buy some good store-bought side dishes or even desserts! Yes, that is right, everything doesn’t have to be made from scratch. Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, has also given the same advice when it comes to good store-bought side dishes and desserts so if it is good enough for her, it is good enough for me!

When thinking about this year’s Thanksgiving I was researching different combinations of yeast rolls. I wanted something different, something that was easy and something that was a combination of sweet and salty. I thought about coming up with a recipe for salted rosemary yeast rolls, when I caught an episode of Ree Drummond’s show, The Pioneer Woman. She was making pretzel rolls and they looked delicious! Aha! How about making pretzel biscuits? I did some research and discovered that not many appealing recipes exist, so I got busy developing. These are wonderfully soft with the flavor of a pretzel without being too chewy, like a lot of the recent pretzel breads and rolls can be and have a wonderful deep flavor with minimal effort. I highly recommend you stir up a batch of these delicious rolls for something new and fun!

Pretzel Biscuits

These can be made ahead and then warmed up ahead of serving. If keeping these overnight and wanting to heat them the next day for serving, run cold water over the biscuits and place on baking sheet. Bake in 375 F degree oven for about 8 minutes until warmed through. This trick also works with stale or dry breads and rolls.

1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 stick, unsalted butter
1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups white all-purpose flour
1 package instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups water
½ cup baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt, for sprinkling

Start by combining the whole milk, unsalted butter, packed light brown sugar and salt in a large pot over medium high heat. Bring to a near boil, but not boiling, and remove from the heat.

Allow to sit at room temperature to slightly cool for 8 minutes.

Add in the white all-purpose flour, instant dry yeast, baking soda and salt. Stir well. Cover this mixture with a clean, dry kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 60 minutes.

Divide the dough into 14 equal size balls and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.

Cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

In the meantime, place the water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once at a boil, stir in the baking soda. After the 30 minutes is up, place each ball of dough into the boiling water, working with about five balls at a time, and let them boil for 45 seconds.

After 45 seconds, remove and place back onto the baking sheet. You can form the balls at this point to appear a little “cleaner” by rolling in lightly floured hands, or just leave as they are for a more homemade, “rustic” appearance. This is up to you. I prefer a “rustic” appearance.

Brush each dough ball with the melted butter and sprinkle the tops with the Kosher salt.

Bake, in preheated oven, 14 minutes, until golden brown and delicious.

Ask and Answer: Do you have a family recipe that you would like to share with me, or perhaps a special recipe that you have developed or are “known for”? I would love to hear from you and would love to feature you in an upcoming column, right here! Please reach out and share with me! Visit my contact page located at, https://trailblaise.com/contact for more information.

CHEW THIS! Grandma Barbra’s Secret Holiday Recipe

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, November 2nd 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Grandma Barbra’s Secret Holiday Recipe
Blaise Doubman

My Grandma Barbra and I have been super close since I was born. Some of my most precious and earliest memories, are of that of the two of us in the kitchen. We have encountered just about every problem you can think of in the kitchen and somehow worked our way around it. Awhile back, I shared a recipe for apple pie that was made from a disastrous situation! Ha! That pie is still baked and served at family gatherings and is the best anyone has ever had. Grandma has always told me to look for the silver lining in no matter what situation and she shared this with me through examples through food and kitchen work. I will always be grateful for the lessons, both good and bad, that I have learned through her throughout the years. One of the funniest recipe memories is when, years ago, she explained to me that sometimes when people give out recipes, they leave out an ingredient or two, that way your version is never as good as theirs! I never understood that! I told her, if you are going to put your name on something, you would want it to be good, right!? She laughed and said she sure thought so!

Skip ahead to Easter dinner a few years back. My Mom, Darla, and I were going on and on about this slow cooker pulled pork that Grandma had at her buffet. For some reason I thought she had bought it somewhere but no, I was wrong! She explained that it was a slow cooker recipe that she had made up on her own one time by accident, it turned out and so she had made it ever since! I had to have that recipe! She shared it with me, and I made it and it was so delicious for it being so simple! I shared the recipe on my blog and people went wild over it! Well, since sharing it, I have made a few simple changes that make it even more fabulous, if that is possible. For starters, when making this pulled pork, do not marinade the pork any longer than overnight in the refrigerator. Also, less water and a little honey does wonders for the overall flavor and even the texture when shredding the pork! Leftovers can be kept, covered and chilled, in the refrigerator for up to three days. Make this and enjoy!

Grandma Barbra’s Secret Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

My favorite way of enjoying this recipe is by sandwiching the meat between two thick hamburger buns. However, you can also serve the meat by itself and alongside your favorite side dishes or alongside streamed rice.

1 pork roast (between 2-3 pounds)
1 bottle Italian salad dressing
½ cup water
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

In a shallow baking dish combine the pork roast with the bottle of Italian salad dressing. Cover with aluminum foil and place into the refrigerator to chill overnight, but no longer.

When ready to start the cooking process, spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. I wouldn’t recommend using a plastic slow cooker liner because later, when shredding the pork, there is a chance of ripping the plastic and having it enter your food.

Place pork roast inside carefully along with water. Drizzle on the honey and sprinkle evenly with the salt and black pepper.

Cover and cook on high for four hours. Turn down and cook on low for four additional hours. At the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and carefully shred the pork with two forks.

Serve on hamburger buns with BBQ sauce and pickles or serve as desired.

Ask and Answer: I have heard from some of you who would like to know the difference between table salt and Kosher salt. I have always used Kosher salt in developing and testing my recipes, both sweet and savory. I find table salt to be more of a “chemical” flavor. When using Kosher salt, it is a “purer” clean salt flavor and since it is made up of bigger flakes, the less salt you use compared to table salt. My favorite brand of Kosher salt is “Diamond Crystal”.

CHEW THIS! TRAIL BLAISE The Baker Cookies

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, October 19th 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Blaise the Baker and TRAIL BLAISE
Blaise Doubman

Well I would like to officially announce the “comeback” of my Blaise the Baker brand! For those who do not know, my original brand and blog website, Blaise the Baker was hacked, along with my attached social media accounts, just a little over a year ago. I started Blaise the Baker in February of 2014 and had it for years without any problems whatsoever. As my numbers, views and followers grew, that is when problem struck. My website and all attached social media was compromised, therefore giving me no choice but to rebrand. I chose to rebrand as, TRAIL BLAISE. Jump to present day and I am now, once again, the proud owner of Blaise the Baker. When you visit my old website, or their social media sites, you are now automatically taken to TRAIL BLAISE. I am so happy and thrilled with this outcome, I cannot even possibly say! Several people were involved in making the transition and for that, I thank you all so very much.

When developing this recipe, I wanted to create something that was fun, colorful and delicious. Immediately my mind drifted to monster cookies! They are delicious, huge, colorful and fun! I’ve developed a few recipes for monster cookies, but these are by far my favorites! They have everything that makes a cookie delicious. They are full of peanut butter, oats, potato chips and even M&M’s! Not to mention the delicious ingredients of sugar and pure vanilla extract. Ha! Several people eating these say that the potato chips in the cookie really make the flavor and texture really something extraordinary. It is hard to explain but the potato chips really give the cookies an almost buttery flavor and crunch like texture. Celebrate my Blaise the Baker and TRAIL BLAISE brands coming together as one, by creating these fabulously addictive cookies!

TRAIL BLAISE The Baker Cookies

These are basically a version of the famous “monster cookie” that you can find in certain bakeries and Amish stores across the midwestern US. Feel free to play around with the recipe and try different flavor combinations and different candy combinations. These are also fun to make “plate size” but be sure to adjust the cooking time.

1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups white all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup crushed plain potato chips
1 10 oz. bag M&M candy pieces

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line several large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together the white granulated sugar, light brown sugar and solid vegetable shortening until smooth and combined.

Beat in the two large eggs, pure vanilla extract, baking powder and baking soda until thoroughly combined.

Next add in the white all-purpose flour and stir until combined, no white streaks visible.

Finally, stir in the quick cooking oats, crushed potato chips and M&M candy pieces until everything is thoroughly combined and well mixed.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets. Roll the dough into balls, but don’t press flat. Keep dough balls about 3-4 inches from each other – giving them plenty of room to spread out when baking.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly on baking sheets before enjoying.

Ask and Answer: I have been getting questions about chilling and freezing cookie dough. Just about any cookie dough I have found, aside from peanut butter for some reason, can be made ahead, chilled in the refrigerator or frozen in the freezer. Peanut butter cookie dough is best not made ahead and only made fresh. I have tried all kinds of methods and none has ever worked for peanut butter cookie dough. Other doughs though can be wrapped well, chilled in the refrigerator for five days or frozen for up to three months. When baking the frozen dough, add a couple of extra minutes to the cookies while they are baking in the oven.

CHEW THIS! Angela Kudlets’ Sheet Tray Shrimp

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, October 5th 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Angela Kudlets’ Sheet Tray Shrimp
Blaise Doubman

I am not for sure when exactly my friendship with Angela Kudlets started but I am so grateful that whatever happened to fall into place, fell into place. Immediately we started talking and it was like we were long lost family members! She is one of the sweetest, down to earth, talented individuals I have come across. She is multi-talented for sure because not only is she a self-taught home cook and chef, she is also a self-publishing businesswoman with her own cookbook, recipe developer, brand ambassador, social media expert, recipe tester and television personality! She has appeared on several television programs and podcasts across the Midwest and even did a few cooking demonstrations for audiences at Williams-Sonoma! What did she prepare? Flank steak fajitas that she prepared in her Gotham Steel Pro Series pans. Yes, she is also an ambassador for Gotham Steel, Naturiffic seasonings and Pampered Chef, more on that later. She has helped me in my online social media career more than I can say. She even helped get my “Blaise the Baker” Facebook fan page finally deleted after months and months of me having no access to my own page! Something that I did not think would ever happen! She has a booming website located at http://yournextgreatdish.com with several delicious recipes that she has shared with everyone and a social media presence that is not only fun but delicious and informative as well! Even recently she expanded her brand into partnering with “Pampered Chef” and encourages online parties where you can earn free products! Yes, I threw a party, yes it was fun and yes, I got a lot of free products! It was a blast! Ha!

I highly recommend you follow her online and check out her website, where she even sells scones in a variety of flavors, made to order and freshly shipped! I was honored to be a part of her debut cookbook, “The Everyday Cook’s Cookbook” in sharing my recipe for peanut butter pie and I have been wanting to share my friendship with Angela, with all of you for awhile now! Browsing her website lately, there is one recipe I keep coming back to and that is her sheet tray shrimp! It is so good, so healthy, so flavorful and so colorful! With her permission I decided that was the recipe I wanted to share here with all of you! It was also perfect timing because on my contact page, I have been finding more requests for seafood recipes, perfect! Try this recipe soon and as always, drop me a comment and let me know what you think! Shout out and special thanks to Angela Kudlets of “Your Next Great Dish” for the friendship and support over the years and thank you so much for the permission to share one of your fabulous recipes!

Angela Kudlets’ Sheet Tray Shrimp

This is a fabulously colorful dish that people will go crazy over! Substitute the shrimp for your favorite cut of chicken but be sure to adjust the bake time accordingly. I love the seasonings and freshness that this dish offers! The “Naturiffic” Gourmet Salt can be purchased online by visiting, http://www.naturiffic.com

1/2-pound jumbo shrimp, shelled & deveined
1/4 small red bell pepper
1/4 small yellow bell pepper
1/4 small orange bell pepper
1/8 small green bell pepper
1/4 purple onion
1 large navel orange
2 bunch asparagus, trimmed
4 bulbs garlic, fresh
1 medium lime
1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
“Naturiffic” brand Gingery Orange Gourmet Salt

Slice orange and lime into thick wheels.

On a 1/4 sheet tray, arrange the orange slices, lime slices, asparagus, peppers, and onions in a single layer.

Place shrimp on top of vegetables.

Sprinkle with desired amount of Naturiffic seasoning.

Place garlic in each corner of the sheet Tray.

Bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes until shrimp is no longer translucent and the vegetables are fork tender.

Remove garlic, orange and lime slices and discard.

Ask and Answer: Several of you have written in about “Mona Brown’s Grand Champion Jade Express Chicken with Rice” and wondered if the recipe could be made ahead and then frozen. There shouldn’t be a problem with this but be sure to adjust the baking time by about 10 minutes. Several of you also wanted to know if the recipe could be tweaked by substituting the white rice for brown or a cauliflower version. Absolutely! Make according to your tastes!