Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Homemade Brownies

I have a special baker being featured on my blog today! She has had many successes in the baking world, and today she outdid herself by completing a recipe from scratch perfectly. This recipe definitely deserves a spot on the blog! So, let's get to it! Here she is.........

My little 9 year old daughter. 

She has been absolutely obsessed with baking ever since watching the Kids Baking Championship on the Food Network. She vowed to be on the show someday and has been hard at work ever since. We do little baking lessons just here at home. We tackle one recipe a month like so:
1st week: Intro to recipe. Give tips, give help and educate.
2nd week: Review. I'm there to help if needed but stay pretty hands off and quiet otherwise.
3rd week: Test. No help from me in any way shape or form and we just hope for the best! Mistakes are how we learn so we don't sweat it too much :).
4th week: Perfect. Make it again to take to some friends or neighbors. This ensures confidence in skill since it most likely won't be able to be tested before sending them off to someone else.

Well, my kids had only had their intro (walk-through) on brownies when I came down with a pretty crazy sickness that lasted 2 weeks. They decided to lock me in my room to rest while they took on the brownies by themselves without any help. Needless to say, they were amazing! So Anna got really into the brownie thing and can't stop making them. She tried out this recipe today from the Recipe Rebel and it's a fam favorite now! 

They are exactly what most people want from a brownie. Rich and gooey (but not so gooey that it feels underdone), yet can be held without falling apart. Oh, so delicious!

What you will need:
  • 1 C butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Line a 9x13 baking dish with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray
  • Combine melted butter, sugar and vanilla and mix well
  • Add the eggs one and time, mixing well after each addition
  • Add in the cocoa powder and mix well
  • Add in the flour and salt and mix well
  • Spread batter evenly into baking dish
  • Bake 26-30 minutes (mine took about 32 and my oven cooks things faster than usual)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops & Potatoes

Comfort food at its finest! Smooth and pillowy mashed potatoes, creamy, flavorful gravy and a deliciously tender pork chop all in one bite. The best part is you really only need 4 ingredients for the pork chops!

I'm a little crazy. I had scrolled past a picture of something like this on pinterest. It had a picture of the pork over the potatoes and a picture of a ranch packet. So I assumed I knew what I was doing without actually opening the link. I went shopping and grabbed the things I figured it asked for, went home and pulled up the link just to make sure and I was a little off! The recipe was way more complex than I'd thought and I just had a few basic things to use.

So I used them anyway. And you know what? It's fanFREAKINtastic! Holy crap. My daughter who hates potatoes (she's learning...) still gobbled this up and kept telling me how yummy and flavorful it was. So I'm kinda like hm, I don't know that I want to try the more complex recipe when I can just make this and have my kids eat it all with fewer ingredients/time put into it.

What you will need:
  • Pork chops (as many as you'd like. I think I used 8 and there was plenty of gravy for them all)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 3 T ranch mix
  • 1-2 T kosher salt (I tasted the gravy before serving and added more salt in and pinch more of the ranch mix but you decide!)
  • Mix together the soups, ranch mix and salt
  • Place pork chops inside a crock pot
  • Pour the gravy mix on top of the pork chops
  • Cook on low for about 5 hours

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thin Mint Brownie Ice Cream Cake

 I have some pretty big news! Yesterday our family went to Lagoon, and while we were there we wandered around Pioneer Villiage. We came upon a little shop that had a sign saying they sold Swig sugar cookies! I absolutely HAD to get one. I had only ever heard about them (a lot) up until that point. MAN were they good!!!! My husband had to listen to me marvel at how they got it to the perfect sweetness (both the cookie and the frosting) without feeling like it was just a bunch of powdered sugar, or worse, feeling the sugar while you ate it. It was just.....perfection. I turned to my 9 year old and asked if she wanted some.

"No.....I only like your sugar cookies."

Um, what? I tried to convince her that these were like mine but better! She was insistent on the fact that no, she doesn't like any other sugar cookies but mine and just won't even bother trying any others. This was news to me. 

The same thing happened for her birthday dinner. Her favorite food is taco's so I'm thinking okay we can go out for tacos or something. She said NO. "Mom's tacos." She likes mine more than anything.

SAME THING HERE, FOLKS. She wanted an ice cream cake for her birthday but wanted ME to make it. I'll be honest, I'd never made an ice cream cake before. I'd spread some ice cream over an oreo crumble before but the cake addition thing was new for me. 

She absolutely loves mint chocolate chip ice cream (and anything mint really). I spotted our girls scout thin mint cookie brownie mix in the cupboard I'd picked up since I had an Ibotta rebate for it. Why not give it a try?

I'm not sure why I decided to crumble the brownies and press them into a pan. Probably because the instructions say to use an 8x8 or 9x9 pan and I wanted an ice cream cake that was 13x9. So I was able to make a larger ice cream cake with just one box of brownies. The base layer was just a bit thinner than maybe some people would like their cake to be in it. 

I also decided to put the cool whip layer between the ice cream and ganache. In my head I was thinking that the ganache might melt the top part of the ice cream if I put it directly on top of it. But in reality, I'm sure if I'd just dumped it on when it was completely cool it would have been fine? So, do your layers however you'd like! You could even do ice cream as the bottom layer and brownie it up on top! Who cares! Have fun!

What you will need:  
  • 13x9 cake pan
  • 1 box Pillsbury girl scout thin mint cookie brownie mix
  • 1 tub mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • 1 tub cool whip
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 8 oz. baking chocolate chopped up (I used German chocolate)
  • Bake brownies according to directions
  • When brownies are completely cooled, crumble them up and press them into 13x9 cake pan
  • Place brownie layer in the freezer to firm up a bit
  • Pull out ice cream and cool whip and let it thaw for about 20 minutes so it's spreadable
  • Scoop out all the ice cream onto the brownies and spread evenly
  • Spread cool whip on top of ice cream
  • Freeze again until firm
  • Place chopped up chocolate into a bowl
  • Heat up 1 c of heavy cream until just boiling
  • Pour cream over the chocolate an let it sit for about 5 minutes before stirring
  • Stir gently until well mixed and you have a nice smooth and creamy ganche
  • Either let it cool and spread it over the cool whip, or you can drizzle the top right before serving. Or you can let it cool completely and then whip it up into a frosting. The choice is yours!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Braised Potatoes

I didn't realize braised potatoes was a thing that was kind of frustrating to get "just right" until I watched an episode about them on Americas Test Kitchen. Turns out the trick is to boil them with the butter, so when the water evaporates, the butter that's left will sizzle and brown the bottoms. I thought heck, might as well give it a try!

Who am I kidding, though. It's from America's Test Kitchen. As if they'd give me a recipe that wasn't tested a bajillion times with ensured quality. 

You must try these! They are extremely easy and actually cook up pretty fast. I especially like them in the summer time as opposed to roasted potatoes so I'm not turning on the oven. The bottoms of the potatoes can be a darker brown than this when they're done, but these were great for me! (There's also no chives in this picture so they don't look very pretty)

What you will need:
  • 12" non stick skillet (I've used non stick, giant pot and everything in between and it's all worked out great)
  • Baby red potatoes about 1-1/2" in size, halved
  • 2 C water (or enough to fill the skillet up until just the tippy tops of the potatoes are peeking out)
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (made them without as well. Still great!)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • Arrange potato halves with cut side down around in the non stick skillet
  • Add water and salt
  • Add butter
  • Add garlic cloves whole
  • Bring to simmer over medium-high heat
  • Once it's simmering, reduce heat to medium and cover with a lid
  • Let it simmer some more until it's just tender (about 15 minutes)
  • Remove lid and remove thyme and garlic to set aside
  • Keeping the lid off, allow the potatoes to continue simmering back at medium high heat, swirling pan occasionally until the water has evaporated and you can hear a "sizzle" sound from the butter started to work its magic (this will take about another 10 minutes)
  • When garlic has cooled, mince into a paste and mix with 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp pepper and 2 T chives (or you can use whatever seasonings you have around that you want to try out!)
  • Check the bottoms of the potatoes and when they're a deep golden brown color they're done! Toss them around with the garlic/lemon paste or whatever seasonings you've chosen

Monday, June 6, 2016

PMS Cookies

I spent a little while trying to figure out what to call these cookies. Double Chocolate Nutella....Nutella Chocolate....Chocolately Chocolate Chocolateness. Then I kind of just figured hey, I'll be honest. They're PMS cookies.

I spent a good 20 minutes scrolling through Pinterest trying to find a cookie recipe that I wanted to make after a day of raging irritation at every tiny noise and sight. After a day of feeling so tired and bloated and foggy. I just wanted chocolate. But I wanted nutella. But I wanted them both. But I didn't want any of the recipes I was seeing.

So I stood at my Kitchen-Aid and threw stuff in there. I know the basics of a cookie recipe so I just went for it and hoped it worked out. Oh gosh they freakin' hit the spot! I'm so glad they worked out. And I think my husband is too. Because I was nice again afterwards.

What you will need:
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c nutella (I feel like I could have gone up to 3/4 c to make them a bit more gooey)
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 375*
  • Mix butter, sugars and egg until light and fluffy
  • Add in the vanilla and nutella and mix in until well combined
  • Add in the cocoa powder and baking soda until well combined
  •  Add in the flour a little at a time until well combined
  • Toss in the chocolate chips and mix until just combined
  • Roll dough (it will be very thick) into balls on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  • Bake for 9-11 minutes depending on your oven

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Banana Muffins

So these are preetttyy much exactly like my banana bread recipe. Except I've got this with a little less sugar, no cinnamon flavors and some baking powder thrown into the mix. I of course kept my brown sugar in there because once I started doing it that way I couldn't stop. :)

These are very frickin' delicious. I usually get around 14 muffins using a regular sized muffin tin. I've been reaching for this recipe more often than banana bread once my bananas are ready because they bake up in 15 minutes (13 minutes if it's my oven) instead of nearly an hour with the loaf of banana bread!

What you will need:
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed up
  • 1/3 c butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
  •  Preheat oven to 350*
  • Spray a muffin pan, or place cupcake liners
  • Mix all wet ingredients together in a mixing bowl (mashed bananas, melted butter, egg and vanilla)
  • Add in the sugars and mix well
  • Add in the baking soda and baking powder and mix well
  • Add in the flour a little at a time mixing well between each addition
  • Scoop batter into each muffin tin about 3/4 of the way full (I use a large cookie scoop which makes it go by really fast and no mess!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mini Pizza Pops

So these were originally Mini Deep Dish Pizza's using muffin tins, but I didn't love the idea of my kids biting into a cup of pizza sauce. So we made them like this and called them pizza pops cause they could just pop'em in their mouth.

Their texture is perfect! They crisp up nicely on the bottom and kind of curl up a tad around the edges. Needless to say my kids went crazy for them! Using just 1 tortilla, I got 12 mini's out of it so each of my girls got to make 6. It was the perfect after school snack. It actually filled them up enough and I didn't hear any requests for snacks before dinner! That's pretty darn huge ;).

What you will need: 
  • Tortilla's
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzerella cheese
  • Mini pepperoni's
  • Any other pizza toppings you like
  • Preheat oven to 425*
  • Cut circles out of a tortilla, whatever size you like, though the mini's are pretty darn cute
  • Add your pizza sauce, cheese and toppings
  • Lay mini's down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  • Bake for about 10 minutes