Warm, Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts - - - O How She Loves Me!


It all started with a few kisses, and sincere, sappy hugs. My sweetie would say, "What's all this about?" I would just say, "I love you."

Then suddenly, out of the blue, she decided to go to the store, buy me some more walnuts and dark chocolate (I was out), along with a plan to get supplies and bake brownies later.

Brownies can be a thing of love.

I am eating them now, in case you cannot tell. They are now out of the oven just long enough to still be warm, and yet not too hot to eat. The walnuts were baked on top, letting them get that extra flavorful taste of having been toasted.

Chocolate is a very delicate, complex substance. It is very susceptible to heat. When brownies are baking, if you start smelling chocolate all through the house, it is because the heat is breaking down the chemical composition of the chocolate, and the flavor is literally being baked out of the brownies.

The right time to bring them out of the oven --if the baking temperature was right-- is just right when you start to smell the chocolate in the room. The brownies may seem a little soft then, but hey, brownies were meant to "Cool to Doneness" -- not be baked to a crisp, hard, chocolate-less thing.

These were done perfectly, with love oozing from every precious morsel. I dare not eat too much at once, else it will start to ruin my success. (I've lost six to eight pounds since we changed our lifestyles as a result of the Israel trip.) But just one won't hurt. Heh heh heh.

It is not my goal to make any of you jealous. I just had to let you know how sweet it is. Wow. What a sweetie she is.


Flynn: Time is Only a Concept





Global Warming Exposé (DVD)




Apple Dumplings (mini-pies)


Recipe by Sister Cindy Murphy

Yield: 18 mini-pies


18 Apples -- peeled, cored, and quartered.

Butter -- cut into pats of 1 tsp each.

Dough Ingredients:

5 cups flour

1 1/2 cups shortening

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup ice water

Filling Ingredients:

5 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1/3 bottle of ground cinnamon (of a 1.5 oz. bottle)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar


Mix the filling ingredients well. Set aside.

Mix dough ingredients by hand or in a large mixer with hook. Divide dough into 18 equal balls. Roll out each ball to a diameter of at least 6 inches.

Repeat the following for each of the 18 dumplings:

Place 4 of the apple quarters (1 apple's worth) into middle of one of the rolled-out dough portions. To that, add 1/3 cup of the filling mix, and top it off with 1 pat of butter. Close it up by bringing the dough up to cover the apple. Place the dumpling into a pot-pie tin. Sprinkle with approximately 2 Tbsp of the filling mix. Top this all with another pat of butter. Place on cookie sheet, and bake @ 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Note: These are great for church fundraising! We sell them well for a price of $3 each.




I've returned from an awesome trip to Israel. You can see photos hosted on our church website. More soon.







Chicken a la Benedum

Note: This story was originally written and posted on 12/7/2007, back when I was using a different software for blogging. The Benedum family has since added a third child. (Praise the Lord for blessing our church families with children.)

I did not go bonkers over Italian food until I came to West Virginia. But they do it really well here! Now, I'm a big fan of Italian food. Clarksburg, WV is an Italian food mecca. Annually, the city hosts the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival. Now, after having lived in the state for a combined 14 years or so, I'm already an honorary (adopted) West Virginian. But I cannot yet say I'm a "bona fide" expert Italian chef. However, to hear the Adam Benedum family tell it after eating this dish I invented the other night, I should be up for the nomination.

It all started when I got a hankering (that's a southern word for a strong desire, a yearning) to have some homemade Cajun Gumbo. That's a delicious chicken-&-okra-&-whatever-else stew, based on a dark roux dissolved into chicken broth, to thicken and flavor the broth. (As you may know, I was born in San Antonio, Texas and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. Now we all know that Louisiana is the home of Cajun Country, and delicious Cajun cuisine. I don't use the word cuisine lightly. Cooking great Cajun food is literally an art form, and some expert Cajun chefs are paid big bucks to do it right.)

To make Gumbo right, you gotta boil chickens. Well, I went to the store to buy chickens and other needed ingredients. They had fresh chicken quarters ("leg & thigh") on sale ($0.62/lb.), and so I bought leg quarters instead of whole chickens. Quarters have a good mixture of meat (dark meat and medium meat, if that's a term?) on them, so one can make just as good a Gumbo with them as with whole chickens.

Anyhow, it so happened (a day or two after the grocery shopping trip) that we invited Adam & Brandy Benedum and their family (they have two cute boys) over for dinner. He is a great brother in our local church who's been helping me a lot around our house, over the last few weeks and months. When we arrived home, I knew there wasn't enough time to complete any Gumbo that night, but I wanted to get the lengthy Gumbo process started anyhow--while trying to figure out whatever else we could cook up for that night's dinner.

I put all 10 pounds of meat on to boil. After the quarters had been boiling for about 30 or 45 minutes or so, I got this idea to invent something. I was winging it. Well, leg-quartering it, actually. Into a huge Teflon skillet I deposited about three of the leg quarters that I plucked out of the boiling pot. I cannot remember if I de-skinned them at that point, but I think I left the skin on. They would have been easy to de-skin then, since they had been cooking for some time. (De-skinning reduces fat content. Leaving it on adds flavor, and lets the individual eater have his or her choice.)

I cut one or two of them apart (separating leg from thigh) to make it easier to arrange them in the skillet. I ladled out some of the steaming hot broth (from the chickens boiling in the big pot) and gave it to the orphans in the skillet. (Covering them less than half way up.) I liberally covered them with garlic powder and oregano, and added some thyme and sage, and salt and black pepper. I added 1 cup of chopped onion and 1 cup of chopped green bell pepper. Then I poured in 1/2 large jar of spaghetti sauce, and 1 can of creamed corn. I wanted corn in the dish, and knew the cream would help thicken the broth. I also poured in about 3 oz. of Coca Cola to sweeten and darken the mix a little. I chopped up about 10 slices of pepperoni into small pieces, and threw those in, too.

I cooked all this on a high heat--turning the chicken pieces over occasionally, as needed--until the meat showed as done when I sliced down to the bone on the thick parts. As the sauce reduced, if it got too dry, I just added a little more broth from the boiling pot.

We cooked up a batch of spaghetti noodles (al dente, of course), and we made lots of garlic toast (sliced Italian bread covered with butter & garlic powder, sprinkled with parsley flakes, and toasted in the oven).

The delicious meal was served by laying down a bed of spaghetti noodles covered with my delicious new sauce, topped with a scrumptious piece of the chicken, and bordered by the garlic toast. Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm. We all enjoyed it immensely. Adam asked what the new dish was to be called. Well, I named it after him and his family. I don't know if Benedum sounds Italian, but the "a la" part does. :-)

Now, don't you want to come to the pastor's house for dinner? To all CAC members: You're officially invited! Just call, email, or hint to get a date and time arranged.