Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nutella Brownies...(Are you drooling yet?)



There are some things in life that are without a doubt comforting...grandma's cooking, Snuggies, cuddling with that certain someone...all three at the same time!  But since my grandma can't cook, I haven't made up my mind whether I like Snuggies or not, and I am currently unattached (am I getting your sympathy yet?), I go to brownies...ok, and wine.
I buy Nutella in bulk, like, monthly.  That's how much is eaten in my house.  The go-to Nutella use is on toasted bread.  Here is an alternative.  NUTELLA ! BROWNIES !....oh yeah, I went there.  And I go there on a regular basis.  I added peanut butter chips, because how do you make chocolate better?  You add peanut butter, that's how.  These brownies are fudgey, chewy and should be added into your regular baking routine, seriously.


What you need:



  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and brought to room temp

What you do:

Preheat your oven to 325.  Prepare a 9 inch square pan by lining it with parchment paper and spraying it with non stick spray.  
In a small bowl, sift flour and salt together.  Set aside.  In another bowl, mix Nutella, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla on low speed until well incorporated and creamy...about 2 minutes or so.   Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the melted butter.    Spread in your pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.  I started to check mine at about 25 minutes.  You want the center to be just set, if you like them fudgey like I do.  










I'm linking to:










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Fantabulous Friday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cakemix Sandwich Cookies...Yeah, I said it





Did you ever have an awesomely awesome idea, only to find out thousands, nay, millions of people have already had the same idea, and are so much quicker than you to make it known?  Ok, maybe I'm alone on that one.
So I am looking through my baking cabinet (I'm not fancy enough to have a pantry)  because not a day can go by where I don't make something loaded with calories just to test my will power and the strecthy-ness of my jeans, and I see umpteen boxes of cake mix.  I like cake, we are friends.  But like all friends, sometimes you need a break, so you don't end up getting on each other's nerves and making out with each other's ex boyfriends.
The wheels (ok, wheel) in my head starts turning, and I'm all "Hooray!  Cake mix cookies!!! With butter cream frosting smooshed in the middle!!!! I'm a stinking G.E.N.I.U.S!!!"  And then I made some, and just to see if I needed to patent my idea, Googled cake mix cookies...and yeah, there are TONS of recipes....
So there is my sad story.  It's ok though, I consoled myself with cake mix sandwich cookies, and I'm all better now.



 



What you need:



  • 1 box cake mix..any kind you like
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips, nuts or whatever you like (totally optional)
  • 1/2 batch of this butter cream frosting recipe...ok use any you like, ill let you.



What you do:


Mix cake mix, eggs and oil together until well combined.  Fold in goodies of your choice.  I chose to leave mine plain.  Drop by tablespoon fulls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  If you don't have different size cookie/ice cream scoops, get some, seriously.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.  Let them cool COMPLETELY before frosting.  Once the are cool, frost the bottom side of a cookie with as much frosting as you want...then top with another cookie! Holy goodness, Batman!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese





Ok, this is awesome enough to need no introduction.  So I won't be bringing the LOL's with some dumb story to start this post.  Eat it up!



What you need:



  • 1 box elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard ( you can use regular mustard too)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese ( ok maybe 3 cups..1 for the top, I mixed cheddar and colby jack)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


What you do:
 
Preheat oven to 400.  Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain.  In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk together.  Continue to whisk for a few minutes, until mixture becomes a light brown color.  Slowly add milk and cream, whisking the whole time to avoid lumps.  Add in mustard, salt and pepper, and let it bubble for a minutes to thicken.  Once thick, add 2 cups of cheese, a little at a time and mix well between additions.  Remove from heat.  Mix in cooked macaroni and pour it all out into a 13x9 inch baking pan.  Cover with remaining 1 cup of cheese and bake  for 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  YUMMMMMM!

I make a more adult version of this, but subbing gruyere cheese for the cheddar and subbing 1 tsp nutmeg for the mustard.  Either way its crazy good, and comforting.




Friday, January 14, 2011

Chalkboard Fridge Tutorial!

I have been meaning to get this up for a while.  But as you can see, I have been busy making marshmallows and cookies.  It's tough work, but someone has to do it.  Anyway, I have an old house, and an old kitchen...an old ugly kitchen, an old, ugly, only partially functional kitchen.  I have one, yes one drawer and base cabinet.  And yucky appliances.  Who knew RCA made both tv's and refrigerators!!??
I am also a single mom, and a corset tight budget.  A kitchen re-do is as far in my future as my only probable retirement.  So I have to do small projects that make my kitchen look refreshed and less, well , ugly.
This time, I opted to paint my fridge with chalkboard paint.  But, I made my own chalkboard paint!  How cool is that...well I thought it was pretty cool.  Here is my little tutorial for a chalkboard fridge.   Oh yeah, if you have stainless appliances, don't do this..not that you would want to anyway!






To start, clean off your fridge of all the kiddos pictures, forgotten shopping list and other random junk.  Take off the handles, and give it a good cleaning.  I used a vinegar/water solution so I didn't leave a chemical residue.







Next, take a fine sandpaper, I used 150 grit, and give the entire front a good sanding.  You really only want to remove the shiny top layer, and create grooves for your paint to stick.  To make your own chalkboard paint, you pick whatever color paint suites your fancy.  Make sure its an interior water based paint.  You won't need that much, so you can get away with a quart.  You will also need some UNsanded tile grout. Choose a white or light color grout, so it wont change the color of your paint.    Mix 1 cup of paint with 2 tablespoons of the grout, and viola!  Custom chalkboard paint!  I only made half the mixture per coat, because the paint thickens in the time it takes for the previous coat to dry ( trust me, i only know because it happened to me!)  In case that wasn't clear, I only mixed 1/2 cup paint and 1 tablespoon grout at a time!




With a small roller, roll on your paint, going with the grain (if your fridge front is textured).  Keep the coats relatively thin...you don't need a lot of paint, several thin coats are better than fewer thick goopy coats.  Let each coat fully dry, 2-3 hours, before painting again.  You will probably need 2-3 coats to get a nice slate finish.  Let the final coat dry for a full 24 hours.  When its completely dry, condition it but rubbing chalk over the entire fridge and just wipe it off...All done!





You can still use your lame magnets!  I opted not to put the handles back on.  I think its looks neater with out them.  The kids love using it, and its great being able to see what I need and write it right on the door!




P.S. Sorry for the awful pictures.  My kitchen is a hole, with almost no natural light!






Thursday, January 13, 2011

Valentines Printable

I made these cute Valentine's Day cards for Thing 1's class.  Feel free to use them!  I printed them on card stock and cut them out






Wednesday, January 12, 2011

THE Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie



When my Things are sick, they don't ask for soup, or for toast...they want cookies.  Ok, that may be what I want, more than what they want.  Hey, you try being stuck in a house with two snotty nose Things that have stuff pouring out of them from both ends...then tell me that you don't want chocolate chip cookies, and a stiff drink (that's another post).  I divided the dough in half before I added the chocolate chips...so I could make one batch with candied cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate...and the other with just chocolate and white chocolate chips...see, I did make half of them with the kids in mind, so I'm not totally selfish...just
partially.


Adapted from this recipe.

What you need:



  • 2 sticks unsalted butter- melted
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I used half and half...mostly because that all I had, but it makes them slightly richer)
  • 11/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups chocolate chips ( or what ever goodies you like)

What you do:

Preheat oven to 375.  Melt butter over low heat until just melted.  In the meantime, sift together flour, baking soda and salt...set aside.  When butter is completely melted, pour into a large bowl, add sugars and cream together.  Add egg yolk and egg..one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add milk and vanilla and mix just until incorporated.  Slowly mix in flour mixture, I added mine in about 3 batches.  Once dough comes together, stir in chocolate chips, or whatever cookie stuff you like.  Chill dough in fridge for 15 min or so, and scoop out tablespoon size dough balls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Cook for about 12 min.  Start to check after 10 minutes, just to be sure.  Oh and try not to eat all the dough before you even bake the cookies...yup, guilty.


Printable version here!!





Monday, January 10, 2011

S'moremallows





Man, I'm good...at coming up with really dumb names for marshmallows.  Either way, they taste good.  These particular marshmallows, are a fave in my house.  Because my kids are obsessed with s'mores.  I think if you were to tell them that there was only 1 s'more left in the world....they would give each other a hug and a kiss, then fight till the death for it.  Maybe I should address that.
I didn't Google this recipe, so I am sure I'm not the first one to come up with these little bad boys, but I like to think I am a culinary genius, so go with me on it.  The idea is majorly simple...marshmallows, dipped in chocolate, covered with graham cracker crumbs...Sounds so right, doesn't it?
Oh yeah, and if you see me out, and I am missing a Thing, assume there is a s'more shortage...or it ate the last jell-o cup, and had its contract terminated.


Marshmallow recipe from Martha Stewart.  I cut it in half, because that's a mess load of marshmallows.

Once mallows are set, cut them up and dip them in melted chocolate...make sure to shake off the excess..then roll them in graham cracker crumbs...rocket science, isn't it?


Monday, January 3, 2011

Ratatouille




It's not just a movie, no seriously, its a food.  It's a really good food.  A really good, really worth the prep time, food.  It's a food that you make when you have the in laws coming over and you want to dazzle them with your culinary prowess so maybe they won't judge how badly you need to dust, or the fact that your 2 year old has a stain on her shirt, or wonder why you don't call as much as you should and your Christmas card came 3 days AFTER Christmas, ok I may have personalized that a little bit.  Anyway, its yummy, smells amazing ( I attribute that to the copious amounts of red wine I dump in mine (read:me)) and is decidedly healthy.
I added my recipe for crusty Italian bread, just in case you're feeling froggy.



Ratatoullie


What you need:



  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion- chopped
  • 4 garlic gloves - minced
  • 2 bell peppers, any color- chopped
  • 2 zucchini- chopped
  • 2 summer (yellow) squash- chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small eggplant- chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes- drained
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine, any kind is fine, remember to sample, often
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 teaspoons fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

Coat bottom of big pot with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add onions and saute for about 3 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent.  Add garlic and saute, only for a a minute or so, or the garlic will burn and get bitter, and that's just ew.  Add wine and let it cook down for a few minutes.  Add in peppers, zucchini and squash.  Let the veggies cook for a 5 minutes to soften, then add thyme and rosemary.  Add eggplant and tomatoes and salt and pepper.  Let every thing cook and jive in the pot for about 45 minutes to an hour, so flavors marry ( I have always wanted to say that).  You can keep in on low on the stove for a long time, like I did.  The longer it cooks, the more flavorful it becomes.


Printable version here!!





What you need:



  • 1 packed dry active yeast, approx 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

What you do:

Mix dry yeast into a 1/4 cup warm water until it dissolves.  Let it sit for a bit until bubbles for, and yeast is totally dissolved.  Add remaining 1 cup warm water, flour, sugar and salt.  When dough starts to come together, add in olive oil and mix.  Pour dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes.  Dough should be tacky, but not sticky.  When dough is smooth and elastic, put it in a bowl with a little olive oil and swoosh it around to coat ball of cough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1-2 hours until its doubled in size.  
When dough has risen, punch it down and roll it into a long loaf.  Cut dough in half and either form into two bigger loaves, or 6 small sub rolls.  Coat a pizza peel, or wooden cutting board with corn meal and roll loaves lightly in the cornmeal.  With loves on the board, cover with plastic wrap and let rise again for 30-40 minutes. Before you put loaves in oven, put slice each one lengthwise down the center, only cutting into the dough about 1/4 inch.  
Heat oven to 425 degrees, and place loaves on a pizza stone or overturned cookie sheet, make sure you put the rack in the middle-lower half of the oven, too close to the top, and the crust outside will burn before the inside is fully cooked.  Cook for 10 minutes, or until the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped on.  To make the inside chewier, and the crust,well, crustier...put a cake pan in the bottom of oven or on the bottom rack before you preheat it, and add water to it when you put the bread in. 










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