Charleston Chews

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Charleston chews are one of my favorite things. No, not the candy. This is like a brown sugar blondie thing and it’s delicious! I always wait to have them when I’m in Charleston because I’ve been afraid of being disappointed in my own version. I don’t need to be afraid of that anymore! They weren’t as gooey in the middle as I’m used to, but I think I can solve that by baking for a few minutes less.

I researched a few recipes and read a few sections of the “How to Bake Everything” cookbook as I was trying to figure out the best way to make these. The only thing all of the recipes had in common was a stick of butter, a box of brown sugar, and a cup of chopped pecans. The amounts of eggs, flour, and everything else were all over the place. I decided on 1½ cups flour because 2 cups just seemed like a lot compared to everything else. I tasted the batter after mixing in 1½ cups of flour and decided that was enough (I don’t recommend doing this due to the raw eggs.) I think any more would have made them way too floury.

If you have parchment paper, I highly recommend using it to line your baking dish. These were very hard to get out of the pan, and I buttered it very well. Thankfully my Pampered Chef cake tester and releaser helped me work a miracle, and I was able to remove all of the bars.

Ingredients 

½ cup butter, softened
1 box brown sugar (I used light brown, but dark brown might be better)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour and baking powder, and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla.

Gradually add flour, beating well until combined. Mix in chopped pecans.

Spread mixture into a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper (see note in narrative above – I greased it well with butter because I ran out of parchment, and they were still almost cemented into the pan.)

Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Let cool, then cut into bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Granola Bars

granola barsMy wife had a bag of granola that she was snacking on, but once she was about halfway through it was too crumbly to eat unless she made ate it with milk like a cereal. She asked me to make her some granola bars with it.

The recipe in this post is one I made a really long time ago that didn’t use pre-made granola, but I used a similar process for the bars from the pre-made granola. You’ll want to use less honey and brown sugar if you’re making them from pre-made granola – I think I used 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup butter, and 2 tbsp brown sugar for every 2 cups of granola. If this doesn’t seem like enough to keep them together, keep adding melted butter and honey a tablespoon at a time until the everything is coated. You also do not need to toast pre-made granola because it’s already been baked.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can easily change the ingredients. I really like pineapple, but if you don’t, you could use dried apricots or cherries instead. You can also swap out some of the fruit for a different type of nut, reduce the amount of oats and add some flax seed, or use two types of nuts instead of just walnuts.

The Tastefully Simple silicone bar pan is amazing for making granola bars. I’ve made them on a sheet pan with a silpat before, which is fine, but the bar pan is an easy way to make bars all the same size. The silicone also prevents sticking. If you use a regular pan to make these, trust me, you will need to definitely use a silicone baking mat or line your pan with parchment paper. If not, you will be chiseling them out of the pan.

Ingredients

4 cups oats
2 cup finely chopped walnuts
½ cup butter
1 ¼ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla (optional)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp kosher salt (use ¼ tsp if you don’t use any fruit)
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 cup dried pineapple, chopped into pieces similar in size to the cranberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix oats and walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Add honey and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. Add cinnamon and vanilla.

Mix dried fruit, oats, and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour liquid mixture over the dry mix and stir until everything is evenly coated with the liquid.

Place the bar pan on a baking sheet. Use a spoon to fill each compartment of the bar pan. (Warning – if your bar pan is not silicone, don’t attempt to use if for this recipe! You will be chiseling granola out for days. Instead, use a baking pan completely lined with parchment paper – including the sides.)

Press each bar firmly with the back of the spoon until each compartment is packed. If you have empty compartments after using all of the granola mixture, fill them abut halfway with water. (Not sure why this is necessary, but the directions for the bar pan say to do this.)

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the bars become golden brown and the outside edges start to get crispy. Let cool for about an hour. The bars should come out of the pan pretty easily once they’re cooled. If they are too buttery, place them on a cookie rack to drain once they’re cool.

Ma’s Ham

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe. I’m really not a big ham eater, but I really, really like this ham. Make sure you save the leftovers (including the leftover sauce, drippings, and carcass) to make ham and bean soup! I’ll be posting the ham and bean soup recipe separately.

Ingredients

1 whole ham
Whole cloves (optional – I’ve made it without)
1 can crushed pineapple
1 ¼ cups brown sugar (should be about half of the bag)
¼ tsp cloves
¼ cup honey
¼ cup yellow mustard

Instructions (Sauce)

You can make the sauce ahead of time, or while the ham is cooking. I usually make it a day ahead if I have a lot of other things to do while the ham is cooking.

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until it starts bubbling. Once it bubbles, turn the heat to the to lowest setting and cook until the brown sugar dissolves. Set aside until needed for the ham.

Instructions (Ham)

Preheat oven to 325°.

Put ham in roasting pan with fat side up, and score it into a lattice pattern. The lattice pattern will create squares. If using whole cloves, push one clove into each square.

Pour some water into bottom of roasting pan (basically cover the bottom of the pan enough to wet whatever falls into the bottom of the pan and keep it from burning). Cover the ham tightly with aluminum foil.

Follow the instructions on the label for the cooking time. If the label calls for a higher temperature, you can cook it on a higher temperature or lengthen the cooking time and cook it at 325°.

At last hour before the ham is done, remove the foil and spoon the sauce onto ham. Re-cover the ham and finish cooking. You may not need all of the sauce depending on the size of your ham. Save the leftover juices you don’t use if you plan to make soup with the leftover ham.

Honey Yeast Rolls with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Butter

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We had a big group over for Easter yesterday, so of course I cooked a lot. I’m still getting the hang of coming up with my own bread recipes, and I didn’t want to risk an experiment with a big crowd. So, I used this recipe for honey yeast rolls from Southern Living. These rolls were amazing. There were no rolls left. People were going back for second and third rounds of rolls!

I used the last bit of honey we had on the actual rolls, so I had to come up with another plan for butter. The butter recipe makes enough for 28 rolls, and you might have some left over.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Butter

Combine ingredients below with a fork. Ideally you want to let it sit for a little while so the brown sugar isn’t grainy, but I served it right away and it was fine.

2 sticks butter, softened and partially melted.
⅓ cup + 1 tbsp light brown sugar
6 shakes ground cinnamon