Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Mummy Hot Dogs

I made mummy hot dogs years ago when Laura was little, but resurrected the recipe for my grandson’s birthday party. Kids love them and so do adults. Best of all, you can use any kind of hot dog- turkey, kosher, fat free, vegetarian or all beef.

Just open a package of hot dogs; rinse and pat dry.

Unroll a carton of refrigerated crescent dinner rolls, keeping two triangles together to form a square. Roll dough to eliminate perforations and cut into thin strips.

Wrap the dough strips around the hot dogs, leaving a space for the mummy’s face.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350-375 degree oven until the rolls just begin to turn light golden brown, around 13-17 minutes.

Remove from oven and use a toothpick to create mustard eyes- or ketchup eyes.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Brownie Bake-Off

Duncan Hines versus Ghirardelli

I volunteered to take three dozen brownies to a volleyball tournament. Now, I could have baked them from scratch, but I didn’t. I had two boxes of mix in the pantry, each calling for the exact same ingredients, so decided to have a bake-off.

First, I stirred up the Duncan Hines Chocolate Lover’s Brownie Mix with Walnuts, choosing the additions for fudgy brownies. Then, I prepared the mix of Ghirardelli Chocolate Walnut Brownies. I baked both on the same shelf in the oven, each in 8 x 8 inch pans.

The result: Ghirardelli won in all areas.

Batter: I licked the spoon before baking and the Duncan Hines seemed to have some undissolved sugar.

Appearance: When I removed the pans from the oven, the Ghirardelli mix had a smooth, semi-gloss sheen. The Duncan Hines had a rough looking texture.

Presentation: After cooling, both desserts cut easily but the Duncan Hines seemed a bit dried out, especially around the edges. The serving portion of each brand held together, even after I took a bite.

Taste: What really matters, of course, is taste. The Ghirardelli brownies had a rich, dense chocolate flavor which was moist and chewy. However, neither brand were the real heavy, homemade type. The walnuts in both were plentiful and crunchy. Perhaps the quality of the chocolate in the Duncan Hines was not as good as Ghirardelli.

Score: I give Ghirardelli a thumbs up and high five! For ease of preparation, these can't be beat. I'll definitely buy the brand in the future.

Disclaimer: I must admit my homemade Layered Mint Brownies are still the all time favorite, although they do require a lot more time and effort. Here's the recipe if you want to make really special brownies.

Debi's Layered Mint Brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate

½ cup butter or margarine

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup chopped walnut or pecans

1 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar

3 Tablespoons heavy cream

¾ teaspoon peppermint extract

2 drops green food coloring

2 (1-ounce) squares sweet baking chocolate

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt unsweetened chocolate and ½ cup butter in top of a double boiler or in the microwave; cool.

Combine eggs and 1 cup sugar, beating until light and fluffy; stir in flour, nuts and cooled chocolate. Spread into a greased 9 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, heavy cream and peppermint extract. Stir in food coloring and beat until smooth. Spread evenly over the baked layer; cover and chill at least 1 hour or until firm.

Melt sweet chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter in double boiler or in microwave. Stir in vanilla and drizzle over the frosted layer. (My drizzles go all over, more like splattering.) Cover and chill 1 more hour or until firm.

Cut into 1 inch squares.