I consider myself a connoisseur of brownies. I have eaten hundreds of different kinds of brownies. I, of course, have a checklist of what I enjoy in a brownie and what makes an exceptional one! It has to be soft and chewy. It has to have that rich, fudgy, decadent flavor. Not to bitter and not to sweet. In my opinion, a brownie does not have to be frosted. If it is tasty enough to stand on its own, then let it! But if it is frosted, the frosting has to be good enough to not ruin the brownie. Okay, I’ll stop and just say that this brownie is ALL of these things. It is also easy to make. No fancy ingredients and no weird baking methods. Just a yummy brownie! And just for the record, these babies are good enough to stand on their own. So now it’s for you to decide: Frost or not to frost?
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a stand alone mixer, combine butter and sugar. Then add eggs and mix until combined. Add vanilla, cocoa and salt and mix. Add flour and combine. Do not over mix.
Pour batter into a 9×13 greased baking dish. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean.
- 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate
- 1 cup butter
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup milk
In a small saucepan, melt chocolate squares. In a stand alone mixer, cream the butter for about 4 minutes. Add melted chocolate, 4 cups powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix. Slowly add milk until the mixture begins to look like frosting. Then add one cup of powdered sugar at a time and adding milk to achieve the desired consistency. The trick to this frosting is to keep on whipping. Make sure all powdered sugar is blended before adding more.
Cool brownies completely before frosting.
Sometimes you just need the goodness of a homemade breadstick. I felt that way last Sunday and wanted to make something to satisfy my craving. I used to believe that Sunday was a day of rest, but once I get baking and cooking, it becomes a day of food madness! But these babies were worth it! They don’t take long and they are easy to make. You can have hot, buttery, parmesan breadsticks in one hour!
Homemade Parmesan Breadsticks
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
- 3 ½ cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon salt
To Brush on top
- 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
In a small bowl mix the water, yeast and sugar together and let sit for 10 minutes.
In the bowl of your mixer add the flour and salt and mix. Pour the yeast water to the bowl and using the dough hook mix for a couple minutes until smooth. Let the dough rise for 15 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a large square. Brush the top with melted butter then sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Fold the dough in half and cut into 15 to 20 strips.
Twist each strip and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Let the twists sit for another 15 minutes to rise.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bake the breadsticks for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. When they come out of the oven, brush the top with remaining butter.
Oh, Pumpkin Poppers! You make the house smell like fall and you taste like a little bit of heaven in my mouth!
If you are a pumpkin bread lover, then this is a must try. We made these in the cooking class I teach to some young girls and not only were they a hit with the girls, I had several mom’s who said that they couldn’t keep out of them either. They have a deep, rich, spice, pumpkin flavor that will have your taste buds saying, “thank you!” This is also a great recipe if you have a few little helpers around. Who doesn’t love to roll these goodies in cinnamon and sugar?
- 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and all spices in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, mix oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin and milk. Pour flour mixture into wet mixture until combined.
Fill mini muffin tins almost full. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
After poppers have cooled a few minutes, dip in melted butter and roll around in cinnamon sugar.
- 1 cube butter (may need additional cubes)
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 Tablespoons cinnamon
Yields about 3 dozen mini poppers.
What are Chantilly Potatoes? I knew that Chantilly was a town just outside of Paris, France. Is it such a great town that it had the way you prepare some potatoes named after it? YES! And did you know that Chantilly is famous for its cream? It is actually believed to have been the precursor for modern day whipped cream. And wouldn’t you know, the secret ingredient in this recipe is whipped cream! It’s all making sense now.
So in honor of Julia Child’s 100th birthday, here is a French inspired, easy, tasty potato side dish.
- 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, chilled
- 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
(may also use Havarti, Gruyere)
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Place potatoes in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for about 10 minutes, or until soft and tender. (I gave mine a shake halfway through) Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes well. Add salt and pepper then cover again and microwave for an additional 3 minutes.
In a large bowl beat the whipped cream until stiff and peaks form. Gently fold in about 2/3 of the whipped cream into the potatoes. Most of the cream will be absorbed into the potatoes. Pour potatoes into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Potatoes will look slightly uneven. Do not rub with spatula to even out as potatoes will lose their airiness and lighter texture. Mix the parmesan cheese and all but 1/4 cup of Swiss cheese into the remaining whipped cream. Spread the mixture over the potatoes and sprinkle with remaining Swiss cheese.
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, until top is golden brown. Let rest about 5 minutes before serving.
Hello Friends! How are you? We apologize for the lack of postings recently. We have been enjoying our summer vacations and have been busy creating memories with family and friends. However, now that school has started for some of us, it is back to the usual routines and chaos of dinnertime!
I spent 3 weeks up in California with Shannon this summer. We were actively typing our cookbook and were able to get a lot of it done. It has been such an exciting AND tiring process. They never really tell you how much work it is going to be. Luckily, this is our love and our passion, and now it is our little baby. We have high hopes of finishing this book within the next month or two! Woohoo!!
My awesome mom also lives in CA in the summertime and so I was able to spend some time with her as well. One Sunday evening she made her famous chicken salad and it made me happy for summer. Happy for all the yummy fruit, fresh vegetables and summer desserts. So if you are not sure what to make for dinner tonight, try this. And then pair it with some yummy fruit or fresh veggies. Yum!
MOM’S CHICKEN SALAD
- 5 cups cooked chicken, cubed
- 1 (10 ounce) can artichokes, drained and chopped
- 2 teaspoons grated onion
- 1 ¼ cup diced celery
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped almonds
- 1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon dill weed
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
In a large bowl combine all ingredients except mayonnaise, sour cream and almonds. Cover bowl and let marinate so flavors mesh together. After 1 to 2 hours mix in mayonnaise and sour cream. Add almonds just before serving.
Eat as a side salad, or serve on fresh bread or roll of your choice. May be served warm or chilled. Store in an airtight container. Refrigerate.
How many ways can you make potatoes? Baked, mashed, roasted, boiled, twice baked, and on and on and on. How about smashed potatoes? This is one of my most favorite side dishes and so easy to make. These smashed potatoes take on a crispier outside and soft inside. My fave!
These measurements for this recipe are more like guidelines. I tend to like my food a little saltier than my husband, so I use almost 3 teaspoons of the Kosher salt. But you can cater this to what your family likes. I have left out the pepper completely when I know I will be serving this dish to little kids.
- 12 or so baby red potatoes
- olive oil
- 2-3 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons rosemary
In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add potatoes and two pinches of salt and boil for about 20 minutes, or until a fork inserted into potato feels tender.
On a jelly roll pan, drizzle some olive oil so potatoes do not stick to pan. Place potatoes on jelly roll pan and arrange like you would cookies. Then, using a potato masher, smash the potatoes then turn the masher 90 degrees amd smash again. (I find this takes a delicate touch) Then brush or drizzle more olive oil over the tops of the potatoes. Then sprinkle the salt on the potatoes. Lastly, sprinkle rosemary on. Remember that if you are using dried rosemary, to use less than if you are using fresh.
Place in a 450 degree preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops start to golden. Serve immediately!
An oldie, but a goodie! I love ordering cheesy garlic bread when we go out, but it’s even better homemade! Yes, it’s bad for you, it’s a lot of carbs going in, but can’t a girl live a little?? I would not make this every night, but it sure is a great complement to any Italian meal. (Have you tried our homemade Alfredo sauce yet?) I love that it is a crispy, cheesy delight on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. It is quick and easy to make and will dress up your meal!
Here they are right before going into the oven….yum!
CHEESY GARLIC BREAD
- 1 loaf of French Bread
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup Shredded or Grated Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup per side)
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – no need to measure, enough to cover
- 1 teaspoon dry Parsley flakes
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Soften the butter in the microwave then add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. Mix together well. Cut your bread in half the long way and spread the butter and garlic mixture on top. Take the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top of both halves. Then cover with the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle dry parsley flakes on top and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 13-15 minutes, or until edges are browned and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and slice bread horizontally for serving.
For the month of June, I have been teaching kids how to cook. Sadly, it is the last week of cooking classes. These kids have been so fun and so curious! And really, such great cooks! I let the older kids decide what they wanted to make for the last week of class. One of the things they really wanted to learn was soft pretzels. I have only made these one other time and while they are pretty simple to make, they were not a regular in my household. So, I set out to find a good recipe for these students. Nailed it! Try these soft, chewy, touch of sweet, like you find in the mall pretzels!
- 1 cup milk
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 5 Tablespoons butter (2 Tablespoons for dough and 3 Tablespoons for brushing on finished pretzels)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- 3 cups warm water
- Coarse salt, to taste
Warm the milk in the microwave for about 40 seconds. Pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes. Then stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of the flour with a wooden spoon. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 ¼ cups flour and salt to make a sticky dough. Add more flour if necessary (you’ll probably need a few tablespoons) to form dough into a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each into a pretzel shape (form a U-shape, then holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press firmly onto the bottom of the pretzel).
Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on a prepared baking sheet (re-shaping if necessary) and sprinkle lightly with course salt. Bake until golden, 10 – 12 minutes. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter and brush on baked pretzels.
Yields 6 big pretzels
Cooking Kids Class, minus Zoe. Aren’t they cute?!?