Hi there!

Hey – Long time no write! Unfortunately I have been busy trying to catch up on missed practice from my summer break so I have not had time to post… however, I am happy to share that I have some changes coming to the blog soon – yay!

In the way of food, I have some recipes I am eager to share with you and can’t wait until I get back in the swing of things and can start posting on a (hopefully) regular basis.
Also, I tried this awesome recipe for s’more ice cream this week and wanted to share the link with you so you too can gain weight enjoy this tasty treat!

S’more Ice Cream.

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Now in the way of some randomness, I have been nominated (by two different people) for the Liebster Award! In short, the Liebster Award is something that is passed along through different bloggers with a following of 200 or less – it’s a way to get to know some of your fellow bloggers – fun, huh?
I don’t know if I can do this or not, but since I was nominated by two people, I am going to answer both sets of questions.

Thanks to my sister Shelbi from the Nobby Life and Katherine from Katherine’s Corner for the nomination!

1…2….3…. here I go!

Questions from the Nobby Life:

1. What do you consider the most enchanting place you’ve ever visited?
I think I would have to go with Mystic, CT. I have the fondest memories of Mystic and the other surrounding areas I have visited while there such as Niantic, Madison, New Haven, Newport, RI – to name a few. While I have never lived in Mystic, I have spent a lot of time there and long to go back!

2. What is your favorite travel accessory?
My iPod, does that count?

3. What is your worst airline/airport experience?
Oh gosh, I try to think about this experience as little as possible, but once when going through security a TSA agent pulled me aside. I don’t exactly remember what the problem was, but obviously it was just something that was questionable in my suitcase. Anyway, to make a not really long but painful story short, I misheard the agent and thought she told me to follow her (I thought I was going to get the pat down!) and started heading towards the OTHER side of the conveyer belt (where the luggage comes through). As I was doing so, I heard someone calling out: ma’am! ma’am! what are you doing? I think I was heading towards a restricted area! Oh yes, I was soo embarresed…

4. What is your favorite food to consume when on the road?
I’m actually not sure, but one of my favorite snacks when in need of sustenance is a chocolate chip Cliff Bar. They are really satisfying and great to carry around!

5. How many bags do you typically pack?
I’m by no means a light packer, but after seeing the way some other people pack, I realize I’m not the heaviest either! 2 bags is usually the norm for me.

6. Hotel, hostel, B&B, tent, or a couch in a stranger’s home?
It depends on how long I am staying somwhere, but a B&B or hotel are always going to be first choices for me – for longer stays I prefer to rent a house/cabin/cottage, but I am NOT interested in satying in a stranger’s home or a big fan of staying with anyone other than who I am traveling with (which has always been family). When you stay with people (especially strangers) you don’t have the freedom to relax and be your natural self as you do when staying elsewhere. However, sometimes staying with people you know (like, really know) can be fun too, it’s just not my first choice!

7. Coffee or tea?
Tea!

Now for the questions from Katherine:

1) What are you currently reading?
A Damsel In Distress, by P.G. Wodehouse.

2) If you could meet anyone in the world (real or fictional) who would it be and why?
I really can’t think of anybody off hand… but I wouldn’t mind having a conversation with one of the great pianists – Martha Argerich, maybe?

3) What movie have you enjoyed more than the book?
I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a movie MORE than the book. However, when reading Pride and Prejudice, I couldn’t help but think of how all the actors/actresses were so perfectly cast in the 1995 TV version!

4) What are 3 random facts about you?
1. I think just about anything I do with my family is the best.
2. I love to travel.
3. I love the ocean and have a fascination with the creatures that live beneath the water. Sometimes I think I would like to be a marine biologist and don’t mind taking kids to the aquarium as it gives me an excuse to go as well! shh…

5) Do you finish a book you hate, or stop and put it down?

I actually can’t think of a book that I hated… but if I were reading one and hated it, I would probably put it down.

6) What is your favourite food?
Anything chocolate and waffles.

7) What three items would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
1. A LONG book (like War & Peace or Le Miserables)
2. A mister to keep cool
3. A book on edible plants 😉

8) If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?
My family would probably say a sloth… 😉 I do love my beauty sleep!

9) What is your favourite book of all time?
Do I have to name just one?? Pride and Prejudice.

10) Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what?
I have sometimes while waiting for my brother in piano lessons, but I don’t usually.

11) Which character would you love to be and why?
That is a tough question… maybe one of the children from Edward Eager’s series of magic books (such as Half Magic) – childhood favorites of mine.

Well, that was… interesting! Just a warning that I do not know 11 bloggers to nominate, but…

I nominate:
Consumption Curiosity & Travel For Taste 

Here are my questions (I’m going with a music and food theme here):

1. What is your favorite genre of music?
2. If you could play any musical instrument (if you already do, pick a second… or third or fourth ;)) what would it be?

If you are not into classical music, you can skip this next one…

3. If you could star in an opera, which one would it be?
4. Favorite food?
5. Name one food you can’t bear the thought of eating?
6. Chocolate or vanilla?
7. If you could pick one music hall to visit, which would it be?
8. Coffee, hot chocolate, or tea?
9. If you had to spend the rest of your life eating just one food, what would it be?
10. Do you like to listen to music while in the kitchen?
11. Favorite cuisine?

Have fun!

Mint Cheesecake Brownies for your BOTW

 

 

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In the dull, hot (and here in Texas, I do meant hot) months of Summer, one is always looking for something refreshing; whether it be an ice cold glass of lemonade, a snow cone, some ice cream or gelato – whichever it is I am always ready for that cold and refreshing something to go down my parched throat. Aren’t you?

Now, something that isn’t a drink or necessarily cold but still refreshing to me, is the flavor of mint. Mint ice cream, gelato, you name it – when it’s flavored right and not overkill, there is not much that involves mint that I don’t like.

A month or two ago when at the store with my mom, we were excited (we get excited over little things like this) to find that they were carrying Hershey’s Mint Chocolate Chips. Being as to how they don’t carry them at the store where we usually do our grocery shopping we decided to grab a couple of bags. I was excited to see what I would use them for but for whatever reason they ended up sitting in the cabinet for awhile.

Last week however, when going through brownie ideas I decided to make cheesecake brownies and then for whatever reason, I decided to use the mint chocolate chips in the brownie layer. Now when combining recipes and experimenting, one never knows how things are going to turn out, but these turned out pretty good – actually, like r.e.a.l.l.y. g.o.o.d., let me tell you a little about them.

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The way these brownies are constructed is a mint chocolate chip brownie layer on the bottom, a cheesecake layer in the middle, chocolate ganache on top, and a mint white chocolate drizzle to finish it off.

For the brownie layer, I used a new recipe (one of the two you will be seeing the most in my brownie creations) which worked very well for this combination. And for the cheesecake layer, I used this recipe from Handle the Heat. The ganache on top is Alton Brown’s, which is my favorite recipe to use and well, for a white chocolate drizzle…who needs a recipe?

I am so excited to share this recipe with you!!  If you are a fellow mint lover you are going to love these,  however if you don’t love mint there’s still hope, as my brother who is not quite so crazy about mint (to say the least), after trying them said to me,” These aren’t bad….”  – which, coming from him, says a lot….

The lowdown:

These mint brownies are a luscious combination of mint chocolate brownie, cheesecake, ganache, and white chocolate – could you really get any better?

Cottura felice!

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Mint Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients

For the brownies:

1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces

1 1/4 C. granulated sugar

3/4 C.unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/3 C. all-purpose flour

3/4 C. mint chocolate chips

For the cheesecake layer:

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

½ C. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

For the ganache:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (good quality chocolate chips work well)

1 C. heavy cream (heavy whipping cream may be substituted)

For the mint white chocolate drizzle (optional):

2 ounces white chocolate

1/8 tsp. mint extract (less if you want less mint flavor)

Green Gel Food Coloring

Directions

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with foil. Press foil firmly into the pan and leave a 2 inch overhang. Spray foil with nonstick spray.

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter. Cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.

With a steady stream, pour butter into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to combine.

Mix in vanilla. Next, add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition.

Stir in flour and mix just until combined (do not overmix).

Stir in chocolate chips.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until just starting to set but not fully baked.

Cool to room temperature then store in the fridge until ready to use.

While brownies are cooling, make cheesecake layer.

For the cheesecake layer:

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until well combined and smooth.

Beat in the eggs, flour, and salt until just incorporated.

Pour cheesecake batter over the brownie layer and bake at 325° F. for 50 minutes or until the cheesecake is set.

Remove from oven and while cooling, make the ganache.

For the ganache:

Place the chocolate in a medium sized bowl.

Heat the cream in a small microwavable bowl for 3 to 4 minutes on high, or until it is just beginning to simmer; make sure not to allow the cream to boil over.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it stand for 2 minutes.

Whisk together until mixture is smooth.

Pour over the brownie/cheesecake and spread evenly.

Cool brownie/cheesecake to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator at least 2 hours to chill.

Before serving, make the white chocolate drizzle (if using):

For the white chocolate drizzle:

Melt chocolate in a small saucepan until smooth – be sure not to overheat!

Add in mint extract and stir until combined.

Add in, a little at a time, food coloring stirring after each addition until you reach desired color.

Snip off a very small  portion off the corner of a small zip top bag and place chocolate inside.

Drizzle over brownies.

Store leftover brownies in the fridge.

Brownie recipe from Epicurious, Cheesecake recipe from Handle the Heat, and the ganache recipe is Alton Brown’s Ganache  Frosting Recipe. 

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

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I think I have got to be the only person in the world where due to my gift at being unorganized (stop laughing…), blogging is a full time job… when it shouldn’t be. When you have 50 gazillion readers I get that, but when you don’t? Please console me and tell me I’m not the only one, please??

I think I need cookies…

Speaking of cookies, chocolate truffle cookies sound pretty good, don’t they?

I thought they sounded good too when I came across the recipe in one our family recipe bags, but I don’t think I ever imagined they would be this good. What do I mean by this good? I mean warm, chocolatey, dense, truffle like cookies that melt in your mouth. Crisp on the outside, but oh so dense and chewy on the inside! It’s like eating truffles with a crisp outer shell, or in a way, they are almost like mini flourless cakes in cookie form.

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These, my friends, are little rounds of chocolate joy

Before you read any further however, I am going to give these cookies a rating: TCL, which means you have to be a Total Chocolate Lover to make them (okay, maybe not to make them, but to enjoy them).

Now that you have been fully warned…

Making these beauties is really easy and would be quick if it weren’t for the chilling time… but oh, is it worth it!

Another thing I like about this recipe is that usually when you make cookies and chill the dough or save leftover dough in the fridge, you have to let it sit out a bit before you are able to dig in there and put the balls or whatever on the sheet to bake. But due to the consistency of this particular dough that’s not the case. You just bring it out of the fridge and make the cookies right then and there. No setting it out ahead of time, and in fact, letting it sit out for any considerable length of time probably wouldn’t be a good idea as the dough would become hard to work with (unless you had mounds of flour on your hands!).

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The lowdown:

Not far from being flourless, these Chocolate Truffle Cookies are dense and loaded with chocolate flavor. Holding true to the name, it almost is like eating truffles!

A dream for any chocolate connoisseur.

Cottura felice!

 

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Ingredients

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2 C. semisweet chocolate chips, divided

1/3 C. butter

1 C. granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 C. all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4. tsp. salt

confectioners’ sugar, for garnishing

Directions

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of chocolate chips, and butter. Cool for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine sugar and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes.

Add in vanilla and chocolate mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add to chocolate mixture and mix until combined.

Stir in remaining 1 C. chocolate chips.

Cover and chill for 3 hours (at least).

Preheat oven to 350° f. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from fridge and with lightly floured hands, roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet. If dough becomes to hard to work with, put it back in fridge or put it in the freezer briefly to firm up.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly puffed and set (tops may be slightly cracked).

Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

 

 

 

Easy & Inexpensive Summer Activities For Kids, part 4

A few snapshots from my July, starting from above left: flip flops, a summer staple, top right: frozen pink punch, who wouldn't want that on a hot day? Bottom left: an epic failure I made for Independence day - there may be a post about it coming soon, and bottom right: taking in a ballgame  is always a highlight!

A few snapshots from my July, starting from above left: flip flops, a summer staple, top right: frozen pink punch, who wouldn’t want that on a hot day? Bottom left: an epic failure I made for Independence Day – there may be a post about it coming soon, and bottom right: taking in a ballgame is always a highlight!

Well, August is finally upon us, and around this time every year I begin to see hope for some relief from the hot weather not too far away. Although, I really can’t complain as this year has been one of the mildest summers I think I have ever experienced. Still…

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To continue with my series of easy and inexpensive activities for kids, lets make a popcorn cake, shall we?

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This is a cake I think just about any child (and adult!) would love; popcorn, gumdrops, peanuts, and melted marshmallows; it sounds like a creation fresh out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

With minimal effort, you can have this cake ready to eat in no time – which is good, unless you happen to have/know a child with an unusual amount of patience!

Oh by the way, a big bonus is no use of the oven needed!

Enjoy!

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Notes:

~ Please do not make the mistake I did, and end up with a popcorn + kernel cake… I used the microwave kind of popcorn and wasn’t sure how I would sift out the kernels so they ended up in the cake! :/ Yeah, that’s me…no worries though, my nieces never ate the actual cake, just some of the leftover mixture which the kernels could be picked out of – but lesson learned: don’t use the microwave kind of popcorn! (and yes, I’m sure it was sheer stupidity to use it in the first place…)

 

Popcorn Cake

With a mixture of popcorn, gumdrops, and melted marshmallows, this is a sure pleaser!

Ingredients

4 quarts popped corn

1 pound small gumdrops

1/2 pound salted peanuts (totally optional, I left them out!)

1/2 C. (1 stick) butter

1/2 C. vegetable oil

1 pound marshmallows

Multi-colored sprinkles, optional

Directions

In a large bowl, combine popcorn, gumdrops and peanuts (you may have to use your hands).

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter, oil and marshmallows until marshmallows are thoroughly melted and mixture is smooth.

Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn/candy mixture. Stir (again, you may have to use your hands some) until combined.

Place in a generously (and I do mean GENEROUSLY) buttered tube/bundt pan.

Once the mixture has cooled, turn out onto a serving plate.

Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Must be prepared the same day it is served.

Serves 12

Sugar Muffins

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Birthdays have always been a special affair in my family. It started when we were all young and continues today. Even when we were young however, one of the main ways we have always celebrated the day was in planning our birthday menu.

Can you imagine? Choosing WHATEVER you want for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Oh yeah, we love our birthday’s around here!

I guess one could say that as we have all gotten older, some things have changed. But what has really happened is that those changes have morphed into other ways of celebrating. For example: instead of the BLT sandwiches we chose for lunch as kids, you have peanut butter and jelly but then celebrate with a cupcake from Sprinkles. Do you see what I mean? The simple pleasures we enjoyed (such as BLT sandwiches) as kids have just been exchanged for more indulgent ones (like cupcakes).

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While on vacation in 2012, we took my brother to our favorite the only place to get Lobster Rolls in Mystic Ct. for his birthday.

To get back to the subject of birthday menus, I can’t remember too many birthday’s that did not involve sugar muffins for breakfast. You know what I mean. The warm muffins drenched in melted butter and then coated in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. While they may have some other names – such as doughnut muffins or french breakfast puffs – they always have been and always will be sugar muffins in this house. And you have to admit, it’s a far more appropriate name because that’s exactly what they are; SUGAR muffins.

A few years ago they only used to show up at birthday’s or other special occasions, but being now adults we can make them whenever, like um, last week… no special occasion, I just felt like making/eating sugar muffins for breakfast, so on an ordinary Thursday morning that’s exactly what I did. No regrets!

So really the only thing for me to say is that if you have NOT made or ever eaten sugar muffins,I pity you because you have been missing out! These are probably the best muffins you will ever put in your mouth. As I stated earlier, warm, drenched in butter and then coated in sugar, so, SO good! And look, I know they’re not healthy, like not at all, but one has to indulge and enjoy life (that’s what this blog is all about!), so put a little sunshine into your ordinary day, and make these – no regrets!

The lowdown:

Muffins with a hint of nutmeg, baked, dipped in butter, rolled into a sugar/cinnamon mixture and served warm. Be sure to have some other people present to help you eat them, not because one actually needs help eating them, but staying out of them!

Cottura felice!

 

 

  French Breakfast Puffs (aka Sugar Muffins)

Warm, buttery, and coated in sugar/cinnamon, these muffins will melt in your mouth! 

Ingredients

3 C. all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 C. granulated sugar

2/3 C. shortening

2 eggs

1 C. milk

For coating

3/4 C. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 C. granulated sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° f. and grease 15 (see note below) muffin cups.

In a medium sized bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; set aside.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together 1 C. sugar, shortening, and eggs.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, mixing well after each addition.

Fill  greased muffin cups 2/3 full and bake bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

For the  cinnamon/sugar coating:

In a bowl big enough for rolling the muffins in,combine  sugar and cinnamon.

While muffins are still warm, dip in the melted butter then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Serve warm.

* The original recipe says it makes 24 puffs, but the last time I made them I only got about 15. 

 

Frozen Pink Punch

 

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I don’t know if I’m a little out of it when it comes to what kinds of beverages (other than alcohol…) are being served at parties/events or not, but regardless, punch is one beverage that I still enjoy immensely!

Today I want to share with you a very delicious and refreshing punch recipe I made for a wedding last month that was a huge hit – I obviously didn’t make enough as my mom and sister were refilling the (large) punch bowls constantly and they had pretty much run out by the time we left with still about 2 hours left of reception! Whoops…

What I love about this punch is that it is as easy to put together as it is tasty. The base, since it is frozen, can be made ahead of time making it easy to pull out, thaw (not much though, as you want a slush effect if possible), and mix with the other liquids! You know I’m all about easy… 🙂

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Now about the taste… very sweet, slightly tangy and ADDICTING! Plus, if you can get it slushy (which you probably can, I seemed to be the only person in the world that had problems with this – of course that could have been due to my not chilling the ginger ale before hand…) it makes it all the better!

I know you are going to love this punch and I strongly urge you to try it at your next event – you will be the hit of the party!

Notes:

~ If you don’t end up with an icy/slushy punch, it’s ok – trust me – it tastes just as good!

~ If you want, you can substitute (you would need about six bottles though…) sparkling apple cider for the ginger ale. But be forewarned: it makes it EXTRA sweet, so if you don’t like things on the super sweet side then I would leave it out and just use the ginger ale and 7-Up, or perhaps cut down the sugar(?).

 

Frozen Pink Punch

Serves 50

Ingredients

2 C. water

3 C. granulated sugar

1 (6 ounce) package strawberry gelatin mix

1 (16 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate

5 C. plus ¾ C (46 ounces total) pineapple juice

¾ C. lemon juice (the kind in the bottle)

3 quarts ginger ale

1 (12 oz) can 7-Up

Directions

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil to a thin syrup.

Next, add gelatin mix, orange juice concentrate, pineapple juice, and lemon juice. Stir well.

Pour mixture into 1-2 large zip top bags and place into a larger freezer safe bowl.

Freeze until almost completely frozen (freezing overnight works well).

When ready to serve, remove bags and bowl from freezer and allow to thaw for about an hour.

Remove mixture from bags and place in punch bowl (or desired container).

Add ginger ale and 7-Up. Stir well and break up ice chunks as you go.

 

Glorified Brownies for your BOTW

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Do you ever crave comfort food? Food that maybe isn’t too difficult or time consuming to make, but also kind of makes you… happy…? I made that sort of food yesterday when I made these Glorified Brownies. Getting the recipe from an old cookbook that doesn’t have pictures, I didn’t know what to expect, but they (the  ingredients and the whole process, that is) looked very promising, so I decided to give them a try. The results were as good as they sounded, brownies with a layer of melted marshmallows on top and then a chocolate frosting to finish it off. Yes, I was quite happy.

I first thought about trying this combination with a different brownie, but upon further tasting and thinking, I figured out why this particular brownie suits the combination of marshmallows and chocolate frosting so well; it’s because the brownie itself is not overly sweet, making it the perfect bottom layer for all that marshmallow chocolatey goodness on top.

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The brownie has actually more of a cake like consistency and when you are mixing that part up you are wondering how it’s all going to work out, but it does!

The only thing I might change, would be the addition of chocolate chips. Maybe bittersweet? Mini semisweet? If you decide to try this recipe with chocolate chips before I do, let me know how it is!

The lowdown: A cake like brownie topped with gooey melted marshmallows and finished off with a delicious chocolate frosting. Easy, simple and tasty, these brownies would be great for any event or sudden craving – be sure to have some napkins on hand, though!

Cottura felice!

Notes:
~ If you are like me and don’t have a 9×11 pan, then you can do what I did and make your own! I took a 9×13 pan and lined it with foil, but did not line the whole pan. About 2 inches before the opposite edge from where I began, I stopped and folded the foil up to have a make shift side that would give me the correct measurement, i.e. 11 inches instead of 13. Hopefully this picture will help you visualize it!

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~ When making the frosting, you may need to add a little more milk, but be careful not to add too much. Just add a little at a time – I added around 1/8 cup (maybe a little less) more total.

Glorified Brownies

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 C. granulated sugar
1 C. (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted
3/4 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. nuts, lightly floured (totally optional, I omitted them myself)
18 large marshmallows

Chocolate frosting:
3 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. milk
3 C. confectioners’ sugar
1/4 C. plus 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions
In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Add butter, chocolate, flour, salt and nuts (if desired).

Pour into a greased 9×11 pan and bake at 350° f. for 20 – 25 minutes or until moist crumbs stick to a toothpick when inserted (it’s okay if the brownies are a little underdone as you will be sticking them back in the oven)

Remove from oven and top with marshmallows. Bake for 3-5 minutes, or until marshmallows are melted.

Remove from the oven and mash marshmallows with a spatula.

For the frosting:

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat butter and milk until it just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, salt, and vanilla. Mix well.

Pour over marshmallows and cool thoroughly before serving.

Cut into small squares.

A Super Easy (and very tasty) Ice cream Recipe

Well I’m glad I enjoyed the extra months of no miserable heat this year, because it sure is hot and miserable now…

IMG_0800 (1)Do you ever get really excited over certain recipes? I did on Tuesday when I made this ice cream that came from an old magazine dating back to 1984. Look at that picture, doesn’t it just look old? Come to find out my mom acquired this recipe after a friend brought the ice cream to a church potluck – apparently it was raved about for days afterwards. I had seen this before while browsing through our dessert recipe collection, but never thought much about making it. I guess I have not really been interested in making ice cream that wasn’t made in a machine (yes, I’m one of those people… but I’m learning to branch out and try more simple recipes). So when looking through the recipe collection recently, I decided to give it a try. It looked good enough and then what really clenched it for me was coming across this blog, and seeing what the blogger had to say about a very similar recipe.

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My mom was right, the blogger was right: this is so good! I am now very much in love with this ice cream and its simplicity – I can’t get over it! 5 ingredients (more or less depending on what combinations you try), that’s it! And seriously, this tastes about as good as anything that I have gotten out of the ice cream maker, and bonus! it’s so much EASIER. I have already been thinking about the different combination possibilities…

But don’t listen to me, go try it for yourself and I bet you will be just as in love as I am!

Also, if you like gelato, then you have an added incentive for trying it, as that is what my sister said this tasted like to her.

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The lowdown:
I made two different combinations, both with a chocolate base and Oreos, but two different flavors. Both were equally good. By the way, let me tell you that I am privileged to have five happy (and sometimes probably not so happy..) taste testers around, it can really come in handy! Anyway, to get back on subject, one combination was a double chocolate Oreo, and one a chocolate mint Oreo. The double chocolate consists of chocolate ice cream with double chocolate stuffed Oreos mixed in. The mint chocolate has chocolate ice cream with mint Oreos mixed in and a little mint extract for more even more mint flavor.
Also, if you would like some extra chocolatey goodness on top, let me then recommend some ganache. I used Alton Brown’s recipe.

Cottura felice!

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Easy Double Chocolate Oreo Ice cream
(makes about 1 1/2 quarts)

Ingredients
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely (or big chunks, however you like it) crushed chocolate creme filled Oreos (or any other brand of sandwich cookies
2 cups (1 pint) whipping cream, whipped (do not use whipped topping)

Directions
In a large bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Stir until well combined.

Fold in cookies and whipped cream.

Pour into a 2 quart container (a loaf pan would also work well). Cover and freeze for six hours or until firm.

If desired, serve with ganache (highly recommended) or hot fudge topping.

Chocolate Mint Oreo Ice Cream

Ingredients
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp. (about 1/4 tsp. more if you like a very minty flavor) pure mint extract
1 C. coarsely crushed Mint Creme Filled Oreos (or any other brand of sandwich cookie)
2 C. (1 pint) whipping cream, whipped (do not use whipped topping)

Directions
In a large bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, mint extract and vanilla. Stir until well combined.

Fold in cookies and whipped cream.

Pour into a 2 quart container (a loaf pan would also work well). Cover and freeze for six hours or until firm.

Reese’s Stuffed Oreo Brownies for your BOTW

Summer is definitely upon us as is the summer weather. It is that time of year when some days are so hot, you can be in an air conditioned building and STILL be miserable! Ugh.

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So one would think that since it is summer, I would (a.) have more time for baking/blogging and (b.) be making things that do not require any heat whatsoever – meaning use of the oven. But in answer all I can say is, well, what can I say? Somehow few posts have been appearing (it’s all I can do to get the Brownie Of the Week Post up – and that’s only twice a month! I also have a post that’s been hanging around in the “drafts” section for awhile…) and me being the glutton for punishment that I am, have not (yet) stayed clear from use of the oven. But you wait, I’m sure the ice cream, no bake, and beverage posts will start pouring in (I say pouring, by the time I get around to posting again, it may be Fall) soon enough.

 

Okay, so what did all that have to do with this weeks brownie? Nothing, I suppose.

 

When at the store recently, my mom pointed out a package of Reese’s Oreos. I don’t eat Oreos as a rule (wouldn’t you much rather have something homemade?), and they are rarely found sitting around the house except in cases like these, but when you see something like that, the immediate thought is that I need to use these for a recipe (for the blog)! Which is exactly what my Mom pointed out.

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Allow me to tell you about the brownie that evolved from this package of Oreos. Here you have a brownie with chocolate chips (of course) and Reese’s Peanut Butter stuffed Oreos thrown in (I was going to add a peanut butter swirl, but the batter was too chunky) and a lovely chocolate ganache adorned with more crushed Oreos and drizzled with melted peanut butter.

 

The result: One of my favorite combinations (aside from this one) yet! I could have eaten a bunch of these, and would have, had I not had to share the small pan 6 ways… methinks next time I will make more?

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They are so yummy – the peanut butter flavor is just right and the ganache (how I do love ganache!) just adds that extra something, not to mention the additional Oreo’s on top…

 

Now that you have the low down, go try them. You will find that turning on the oven was worth it!

 

Cottura felice!

 Notes 

~ Please be sure to leave PLENTY of time for the brownies to reach room temperature, as they are not quite as good cold.

~ For breaking the Oreos into chunks, I placed them inside a ziploc back and used what I think is an old, old meat tenderizer to break them up slightly.

 Reese’s Stuffed Oreo Brownies 

Ingredients

½ C. (1 stick) butter, melted
1 ½ C. granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
¾ C. all-purpose flour
½ C. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
2/3 C. semisweet chocolate chips
12 Reese’s Peanut Cup flavored Oreos, broken into chunks (see note above),

For garnish:

About 7-10 Reese’s Peanut Cup flavored Oreos, broken into chunks (see note above),
2 tbsp. peanut butter, melted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 8×8 in. baking dish with alluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Using a whisk (or mixer), add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Gradually, using a spatula, add the flour mixture to the egg mixture using a little bit of a folding motion until thoroughly combined.

Stir in chocolate chips and Oreo chunks.

Pour batter into prepared dish and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until moist crumbs stick to a toothpick when inserted.

Transfer brownies to a wire rack to cool.

When the brownies are room temperature, make the ganache.

For the ganache:

Ingredients

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I use good quality chocolate chips, it’s so much easier!)
1 C. heavy cream (heavy whipping cream works just as well)

Directions

Place the chocolate in a medium sized bowl.

Heat the cream in a small microwavable bowl for 3 to 4 minutes on high, or until it is just beginning to simmer; make sure not to allow the cream to boil over.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it stand for 2 minutes.

Whisk together until mixture is smooth.

Pour on top of brownies and spread evenly.

Top with crushed Oreos.

Place brownies in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until ganache is set.

When ganache is set, remove from the refrigerator and allow brownies to come to room temperature.

Before serving, drizzle with melted peanut butter.

 

 Brownies adapted from Brooke’s Best Bombshell Brownies, ganache recipe is Alton Brown’s Ganache Frosting

 

Vintage Lemon Bundt Cake

IMG_002-Edit Oh my! Have you ever searched the internet for a very old recipe – in other words, one that was like your mother’s from the 1950’s or so? I could not find this particular recipe anywhere and was in despair mode because of course I had lost the original copy mom had written down for me…. But, after turning the kitchen upside down searching for it, I finally found it, ahem, atop the slightly (I’m being generous here) unorganized bookshelf in the bedroom…..IMG_004-Edit This cake brings back such sweet memories of my mom baking in our large, sunny kitchen in Michigan and me eagerly awaiting the finished product. It is simple to prepare, beginning with a box cake mix (it was the 50’s after all) and ending with a melt in your mouth lemon bundt (or tube pan as mom originally used) heavenly cake. I have never tasted anything like it, so lemony, so simple to make and so satisfying. I think it would also be amazing with raspberries served on the side or decorating the top, because who can resist the combination of lemon and raspberries, especially in the summer?

By the way, if you enjoy reading the history of cooking in America here is an article on the history of the oft used, but much maligned box cake mix.  Enjoy!

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Lemon (Icepick) Bundt Cake With Lemon Glaze

With a lemon marinade seeped in and a lemon glaze on top, this cake is so moist and perfect for summer.

Ingredients

Cake

6 egg whites

1 1/3 C. buttermilk

1/3 C. unsweetened applesauce

1 (16.5 – oz) package lemon cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme)

1 (3.4 – oz) instant lemon pudding mix

2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

Marinade

1 C. powdered sugar

1/3 C. fresh lemon juice

Glaze

3/4 C. powdered sugar, sifted

5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° f. and lightly coat a 12 C. bundt pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer at high speed for 1 minute.

Add the buttermilk and beat until blended.

Beat in applesauce.

Add the cake mix, pudding mix, and 2 tbsp. lemon zest and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour and spread batter into pan.

Bake for 35 minutes or until cake springs back in center.

While cake is baking prepare marinade.

For the marinade:

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until blended.

Remove cake from oven and place on a wire rack.

Using a toothpick or cake tester, poke holes around the cake (the holes should be a 1/2 inch apart from each other).

Pour marinade over the cake and allow to seep into the holes.

When the cake has cooled to room temperature, make the glaze.

For the glaze:

In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix until blended.

Invert cake onto a serving plate and pour glaze on top.

Serve or garnish with raspberries, if desired.

Posted by Kathy