Fudge Brownies

Oh.My.Gosh. These brownies will put any boxed mix to shame! So good! I’ll be the first person to say that I like the boxed mixes you can get in the grocery store. They are quick and easy, and quite tasty as well. Once you taste these brownies though, you’re going to wish you had made this recipe every time instead of the box.

I’m a “double boxer” baker when it comes to brownies. I enjoy brownies that are not paper-thin, and barely look like they are brownies so I use two boxes instead of just one. Ryan is completely the opposite of me. He’d take one of those paper-thin brownies any day. Unfortunately for Ryan, I’m typically the brownie maker, and I get the brownies I want! ūüôā

Brownies remind me of my high school and early college¬†days when my friend Karoline and I would hang out. We’d order a Tomacelli’s pepperoni and mushroom pizza, make a box of brownies, grab a movie, and either chat about life or fall asleep and wake up to the end of the movie.¬†Sounds like the place to be, right?! Brownies were always a staple of those nights, and I think they just completed the essence of a girls night. I’m pretty sure that almost all gatherings that Karoline and I were at included brownies.¬†Us without brownies is like having velcro shoes without the¬†velcro. It’s just wrong!

Here’s a little gem I found from Valentine’s Day 2004 of Karoline and¬†me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These¬†fudge brownies are moist (I can’t believe I just wrote that! I do not like to even hear that word said out loud!) ¬†and chocolatey, two things brownies should always be. They are also beyond easy to make, so there are no excuses for using those boxed mixes anymore!

Fudge Brownies

Recipe from King Arthur Flour, adapted by a blogger I can’t remember. Sorry to the gal that modified it!

1 c. (2 sticks) butter

2 1/4 c. c sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 tsp. salt, optional

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. espresso powder, optional

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. all- purpose flour

2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter completely. Stir in sugar and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not allow sugar mixture to boil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour butter mixture into a large bowl or stand mixer. Beat in cocoa powder, eggs, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.

Stir in the flour and chocolate chips until well combined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester comes out mostly clean.  The edges should be set and the center should still look slightly moist (Ugh! That word again!) but not uncooked. Cool on a wire rack.

Advertisements

Animal Crackers/Cookies

I had the privilege of guest posting on Tiff’s blog (she shared an AWESOME recipe here!) on Friday, and since her blog is not open to the public, I wanted to re-post my recipe.

We’re going to make homemade animal crackers! These are fun, easy, quite tasty, and if you have children, kid-friendly! What more can you ask for in a recipe? (If you’re my aunt, and you’re reading, I know you’re thinking chocolate or ice cream!)

*There is a required refrigeration time, so keep that in mind if you want to make these. Also, the directions seem super long, but they go quite fast. Don’t let them scare you!*

You’ll need the following ingredients for the animal crackers:

(recipe from Williams-Sonoma)

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp.¬†freshly grated nutmeg (If you don’t have fresh, that’s okay!)

1/8 tsp. mace

12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 c. sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

mini-animal shaped cutters – I found mine at Michael’s for around $4.00. They are from Wilton and are Noah’s Ark themed. If you can’t find them in a store, any other cutter set will do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and mace. Set aside. (Ryan offered to sift, and little did he know how long it takes to do so! I’m pretty sure that was the one and only time he’ll offer to shift anything!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer (can use hand mixer as well if need be) fit with the flat beater, beat the butter on high-speed for 2 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium, slowly add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low-speed until most of the flour has been absorbed. Add the remaining flour and beat until all the flour has been absorbed and dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 equal balls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shape each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Place each dough disk between 2 clean, large pieces of plastic wrap. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness (If the dough cracks while rolling, let it stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes more). Remove the plastic wrap and place the dough on a floured work surface. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour.

Preheat the oven to 35o degrees.

Line several baking sheets with parchment paper (I used non-stick cookie sheets without parchment paper, and they worked great). Dip cookie cutters in flour just before using and cut out the shapes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut out as many as you can, then peel away the unused dough. Place cookies on baking sheets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freeze for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes. Gather up the scraps, reroll, and cut out more cookies. (I found out that I’m too much of a cookie cutter perfectionist for Ryan. He basically told me I was working too slow and tedious, took the cutters, and got the job done in minutes. So much for bonding while baking! As you can see, Ryan had all of his cut out and was starting to put the dough on the cookie sheets. Me? Well, I had about two rows cut out and that’s it!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake the cookies until very light golden brown, 14-16 minutes (I recommend checking them around 12 minutes as all ovens are different and you don’t want all the cookies to be too dark.) transfer the sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool to room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep in mind that these won’t taste exactly like the animal crackers you find in stores. Personally, I like the homemade version better, and I hope you do too! Enjoy!

Guest Post!

Hey all! I thought I’d spice up my blog life, and have guest posts from time to time. Fun, right?!¬† I think so! Dottie’s first guest is my friend Tiffany, who I met while Ryan and Tiff’s husband Chris played softball together a few years back. Tiff is a wonderful cook and baker, and I’m a bit jealous she’s so darn good at them both!¬† I’ll be guest blogging on Tiff’s blog called This is My Life, and I’m more than excited to share a fun recipe that both kids and adults will love!

Here’s a picture from when we visited the Chris, Tiff, and their kids in California. Please excuse the beach hair! ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy Tiff’s post! Her cupcakes look AMAZING!

It’s a hijacking!

Ok, not really, I was invited! My name is Tiffany and I am normally posting over at my own little blog , “This is my life.” However, Kate had the fun idea of swapping blogs for a guest post. So here I am!

Once Kate presented this idea to me I thought, “oh my gosh, this makes us “real” bloggers!!” My following thought was, “hmm, I’m going to need to come up with something super delicious (how else can I keep up with the wonderful Kate?!)!!” After much thinking I finally decided to take a risk and share a new recipe with you. However, here are my three thoughts right out the gate about the recipe I chose.
1. This is super delish and you MUST try it!
2. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list, it’s a bit long, but not difficult!
3. Your life will not be fulfilled if you skip out on the frosting!
These are just my thoughts though, who am I to tell you what to do?!

Moving right along. ¬†Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of Chocolate Cupcakes with…hold your breath…Peanut Butter Frosting (are you officially salivating (if you aren’t your glands must be broken! ¬†seriously, who doesn’t love the chocolate and peanut butter combo?!)) We’re going to start in the obvious place with the cupcake portion and then move on to the peanut butter frosting.

To make the Chocolate Cupcakes you are going to need these items:In exactly these amounts:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons strong, brewed coffee

1 3/4 cup flour

1 cup powdered cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

First things first, get your coffee brewing so it’s ready when you need it. ¬†Then get your oven heating, you’ll need it at a warm 350 degrees. ¬†With all of that underway, grab yourself three bowls…one large one and two medium ones.

Starting with your large bowl, drop in 12 T. of butter and 2/3 c. of each sugars. ¬†Mix them on high, until they are light and fluffy, sort of like this…

Then, one at a time, plop your eggs in and blend it up real well.  Lastly into the large bowl, blend in

2 tsp. of vanilla like so…

(Alright, I mostly had to include this picture as a salute to Dottie and all her amazing duties she can accomplish.  However, let it be known, while I long for a Dottie of my own, a $30 handheld mixer can get the job done too!)

Back on task, grab one of your medium bowls and whisk up¬†1 c. buttermilk,¬†1/2 c. sour cream and 2 T. coffee (remember I already told you to brew your coffee? you listened, riiight?!). ¬†Now, if you’re like me you were totally ready to make these cupcakes. ¬†You made sure you had all of the proper ingredients and all the right amounts of said ingredients. ¬†Duh, who doesn’t check stuff like this before they bake?! ¬†(Insert downcast eyes and embarrassed smile <HERE>!) ¬†Even though I know this would never happen to you, let us just pretend that you aren’t prepared. ¬†Let us pretend that perhaps you pull your sour cream out of the refrigerator, pop the lid off and find something similar to this…

That is just repulsive and under no circumstances would anything like that EVER happen in my kitchen. ¬†However, let’s just say it happens in yours…DO NOT DESPAIR. ¬†There are many sour cream substitutes. ¬†For example, take advantage of that big carton of buttermilk you bought and mix 3/4 cup of it with 1/3 cup of butter. ¬†You will never know the difference (not that I’d know, this is just an example people!)

Moving right along.  Take your remaining medium bowl (I know you are thinking all these bowls are making for A LOT of clean up, but trust me, IT IS WORTH IT!) and whisk, whisk, whisk 1 3/4 c. flour, 1 c. cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt.

You should have three bowls all set…a sugary butter bowl, a liquid bowl and a cocoa flour bowl. ¬†All we are going to do now is combine them together. Everything gets added into your big bowl of light and fluffy, sugary butter. ¬†Alternate adding in thirds the buttermilk mixture and a then the flour, end with the flour. ¬†It will look something like this along the way…

Mix the batter until it is just blended, don’t beat it to death!

Now, pour this yumminess¬†into your choice of pan. I made a dozen cupcakes and a 9 inch cake. With the cupcakes only fill them 3/4 of the way or they will overflow during baking (bad news!). ¬†For cupcakes bake at 350F for 20 minutes. ¬†Check with a toothpick to be certain they are cooked all the way through, be sure not to over cook them or they will dry out, and voila¬†(and that is pronounced vwala folks, just in case you’re curious), you’ve got this…

Now, if you had good sour cream to work with that recipe wasn’t so difficult, was it?

Here is a suggestion about all of those bowls, clean them while the cupcakes are baking. ¬†It makes waiting go so much faster. ¬†Total bonus! ¬†Plus, while they are baking you can make your yummy frosting using these ingredients…

In these exact amounts:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup heavy cream

Take one of those medium bowls you finished cleaning and mix everything together except the heavy cream. ¬†Beat it until it’s smooth and then add in your 1/3 c. heavy cream. ¬†Mix this on high until it is light and smooth!

(I could have licked the whole bowl out and not frosted the cupcakes it was that good!!)

Hurry up and frost those ‘cakes so you don’t eat all the frosting alone! ¬†For fun, throw some mini chocolate chips on top!! ¬†You can never¬†have enough chocolate!!!

Now try to refrain from eating only one!!

Rainbow Cake! {How-To}

My heart will always have a special place for cake. I LOVE cake. Carrot cake, marble cake, upside down pineapple cake,¬†chocolate cake…you name it, I most likely will eat it. Cake is the one thing I rarely get to eat though, as I end up being the only one in my house who enjoys it. Ryan doesn’t like cake. Can you believe that?! There’s something terribly wrong with my husband.

Anywho…I’m always looking for new recipes out in the blogging world, and cake recipes always get me. So many pictures that bloggers post are fantastic looking pieces of art. They have perfectly frosted edges, chocolate shavings, ganache¬†filling, pretty decorations…you get the point! My cakes, well, leave a lot to the imagination. I’m a terrible froster. I’ll be the first to admit it. I also can’t do those fancy decorating tricks some can. Then again, I’m not entirely sure I’d want to. That kind of work takes a lot of time!

When I came across a picture of a rainbow cake, I think my mouth dropped quite a bit. The vibrant colors! How did bakers make them so bright?! I told myself that I must make one as soon as I could find the dyes. It was just too awesome of a cake not to! I’m sure a little part of me just wanted to eat cake, no matter the flavor or design. ūüôā

The rainbow cake is really quite simple to make. The most important piece of information you’ll need to know is that you need gel dyes. Waterbased¬†dyes do not work well, as they don’t really hold their color. I use Americolor¬†Soft Gel Paste Food Color. You can buy gel dyes at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, baking supply stores, and online. I think I’ve seen fluorescent gel dyes in the baking aisle at the grocery store as well, if you’re not close to a store that carries all sorts of colors. The second most important piece is that this cake doesn’t have to have all the colors of the rainbow in it. You can do any colors you want, and it will most likely still turn out fantastic. The sky’s the limit on this one!

My cousins Kim and Cassie helped me make a rainbow cake this past weekend while I was visiting. I told them awhile back that I would make one with them,¬†and after a few reminders from them to not forget my supplies, and both questioning “When do we get to make the cake?!”¬†the moment I walked in the door, we were able to. They did a great job pouring, mixing, dyeing, and frosting the cake while we jammed out to Kim’s pick of music, Taylor Swift (thank goodness it wasn’t¬†Justin Beiber!). ¬†I’m sure they’ll be begging their mom to make another one soon! Thanks for the help girls!

Rainbow Cake

Makes 1- 2 layer cake and 12 cupcakes

2 boxes white cake mix- use white only, to preserve the color of the dyes

  • You can use just one box if you’d prefer. I like to make mine with two so the cake is a larger and has plenty of room for all the colors

Eggs and oil, per cake mix

Gel dyes- for the cake, I used the following AmeriColor colors: Red Red, Orange, Lemon Yellow, Leaf Green, Sky Blue, and Violet

Pre-heat your oven to the correct temperature, and prepare cake mix as directed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When mixed, pour batter into 6 (or however many colors you may have) bowls. You’ll want to¬†have a little¬†more batter¬†for the first and last colors for your cake. So, for my cake, more red and purple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a greased 9 in circle pan, pour around 3/4-1 c. of the red batter (or your first color)¬†into the pan. Don’t use all of it, as you’ll need some for the second pan.

Continue with the next colors, adding a little less each time. You will want to pour one right on top of the other.

When finished with the one pan, reverse the colors and pour remaining batter into second greased 9 in pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the remaining batter, spoon colors into cupcake liners. Make sure not to add too much, or they will overflow when baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put the cake pans in the oven, and bake as directed. (No need to use a knife or toothpick to swirl the colors. They will work perfectly just as they are!)

After your cakes have cooled a bit, carefully take cake out of the pans, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cooled, frost the cake with the frosting of your choice. I’m a fan of buttercream, so that’s what I normally use.

Kim frosted the cupcakes. Aren’t they great?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cassie frosted and wrote on the cake. She can frost cakes way better than me! Super impressed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Grandma Angie’s birthday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

Greek Chicken Pitas

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to try a recipe with Tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki sauce is frequently used when making gyros, and consists of yogurt, cucumbers, parsley, and can also include onion, dill, olive oil, and pepper. Ryan and I don’t eat at restaurants too often, and when we do, I always forget about a local Italian and Greek restaurant that serves up some fantastic gyros. For some odd reason, I get a gyro craving often, and never get to have one, so I’m happy to have found this recipe as a substitute for a real Greek gyro.

Greek gyros are almost always made with lamb, which I oddly happen to enjoy. This recipe calls for chicken, so it’s more “user-friendly” if you will. If you haven’t noticed from other posts, I like quick and easy meals. Most days Ryan and I come home tired from work, not really wanting to cook. With this recipe, I can come home, chop up the ingredients for the Tzatziki sauce and pitas, grill the chicken, and basically put dinner on the table with no fuss. It’s minimal prep and cook time, which I’ve come to appreciate!

While the recipe calls for pitas, I used tortillas. I looked at a few grocery stores, and none of them carried pitas, so I gave up. This girl does NOT like going to multiple grocery stores for food! I’m a one stop shopping kind of gal when it comes to groceries. I really enjoyed the use of tortillas, as they were light and filling, and still delicious. Yum!

Greek Chicken Pitas
recipe from Taste of Home
1/2 c. balsamic vinaigrette
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Cucumber Sauce:
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c. finely chopped cucumber
1/4 c. finely chopped red onion
1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Pitas:
8 pita pocket halves, OR white tortilla shells
1/2 c. sliced cucumber
1/2 c. grape tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c. sliced red onion
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese

Pour vinaigrette into a large resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (This step is completely optional-we didn’t like the balsamic vinaigrette taste, so we’ll omit next time they are made).

In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients; chill until serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drain and discard marinade. If grilling the chicken, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 4-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.

While the chicken is grilling, slice the cucumbers and onion, and chop the tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut chicken into strips. Fill each pita half with chicken,cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, and cheese; drizzle with sauce.

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Whoopie¬†Pies. Such a strange name, right? When I tell people I’m making whoopie¬†pies, they ALWAYS give me a weird look, and most exclaim, “What the heck are whoopie¬†pies?!” Simply put, whoopie¬†pies are two cookies with¬†filling in between. A lot of times, you’ll see chocolate and pumpkin whoopie pies when bakeries offer them. While I’ve never tried the chocolate or pumpkin, I’m sure both would be excellent flavors for a cookie sandwich.

If you didn’t know, Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pies are considered whoopie¬†pies. Until I¬†came across this¬†homemade version, I had no idea they were, nor did I know what a whoopie¬†pie was. Don’t feel as embarrassed¬†for not knowing now, do you?!¬†Let me tell you,¬†homemade oatmeal whoopie pies are so much better than the pre-packaged, store-bought pies. Plus, you get more for your money when you bake them at home. I’m not going to tell you not to buy those packaged treats, as I fondly remember eating more than my share of the Oatmeal Creme Pies, but once you try this recipe, you’re going to want them from scratch every time.

I’ve made these cookies many times. I don’t think I’ve had one bad thing said about them, which is always nice when you bake treats for people ūüôā¬†I’ve even managed to impress Ryan’s grandma, which is great. Grandma Angie is a wonderful¬†woman of few words and expressions, but lights up when she sees that I’ve brought or sent whoopie pies with when visiting.¬†If these can impress Grandma Angie, they can impress you too!

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Cookies:

2 c. packed brown sugar

3/4 c. butter, softened

2 eggs

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. baking powder

3 T. boiling water

1 t. baking soda

2 1/2 c. flour

2 c. quick oats

Filling:

1 egg white (can omit)

2 T. milk

1 t. vanilla extract

2 c. confectioner’s sugar

3/4 c. shortening
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beat in the eggs and mix well.

Stir in the cinnamon, baking powder, boiling water, baking soda, and flour. Mix to combine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir in the oats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drop cookies onto non-stick pans. I used a 1 T scoop, which I recommend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake for 8-10 minutes. You’ll want the cookies to have a light brown color. Do not overbake!¬†Let cookies cool, then pair cookies of similar shape together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put around 1 t. of filling on one cookie and top with another cookie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue until all cookies have been made into whoopie pies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make the filling:

Beat egg white. Mix in milk, vanilla, and 1 c. confectioner’s sugar.¬† Beat in the shortening and remaining sugar. Beat until light.