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”.

Uglies But Goodies

These are ugly but super delicious! Buttery, thin, crispy outside, chewy inside and full of chocolate chips. You can not eat just one.

Uglies But Goodies

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup white granuated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white all-purpose flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the melted unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar and packed light brown sugar.

Beat in the large egg and pure vanilla extract.

Stir in the salt and baking soda.

Fold in the white all-purpose flour.

Fold in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Place into the freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove and roll dough into tablespoon size balls. Place, two inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Once baked, remove from oven and immediately place baking sheet in freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove, remove cookies and enjoy.

Disgustingly Rich Brownies

These live up to their name! Delicious!

Disgustingly Rich Brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 cups white granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups white all-purpose flour

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl combine the melted unsalted butter, white granulated sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder.

Beat in the large eggs, one at a time.

Beat in the pure vanilla extract and salt.

Gently fold in the white all-purpose flour.

Pour into prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Remove and cool before cutting.