July 20, 2016

Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies



These brownies were a late night decision by my family after dinner.  As usual, I named off the not so appealing items we could have for an after dinner treat.  And, as usual, my family named something they wanted in which we didn't already have, but needed to be made.

I should probably mention that when they asked for brownies, my mouth almost immediately started drooling.  But, I put my wrist to my forehead and threw my head back very dramatically and said "yes, of course I will whip up a batch of brownies, even though I just slaved for hours making dinner".  That probably would have actually worked, had we not just had salad for dinner.

Anyways, never one to turn down a request from my family, I jumped online to find my next brownie recipe.  This one jumped out at me for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it was made in a 9x13 inch dish which means there would be plenty....for my family. Second, the description said "chewy" which is a key word for me.  I love chewy brownies and chewy cookies.

I have to say, the recipe was easy to throw together.  There's plenty of chocolate in there with the addition of the chocolate chips (you could frost them if you really wanted more chocolate). They are chewy, the edges get nice and firm, and the flavor is very chocolaty.  Exactly what you're looking for in a brownie.  Most of us have these ingredients in our pantry, so whip some up tonight.


Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies
Recipe from AllRecipes


Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Spray a 9x13 inch dish with non-stick cooking spray
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment add the sugar and butter and mix well.
  4. Add the eggs one by one blending after each addition.
  5. In a separate bowl add the flour, cocoa powder and salt and whisk together.
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet with the mixer on low until thoroughly incorporated.
  7. Add in the chocolate chips and mix briefly.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared dish, even out and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool on a cooling rack and serve.

July 13, 2016

Chia Chocolate Chip Cookies



My husband was at work one day, when his Captain pulled out a bag of little Chia Chocolate Chip Cookies and was telling my husband how wonderful they were.  They're healthy, gives him energy, curbs his appetite, and tastes delicious.  After my husband tried one, he called me to see if I could track down a recipe.  Which, of course, I could.  I mean, I practically live on Pinterest after all.

During the course of making these cookies I discovered how I didn't have all of the same ingredients the original recipe called for, so I substituted for what I did have. The important ingredient being Chia seeds, which I have plenty of.

Chia seeds are so very good for you.  They can puff up to more than double their size if left in a liquid, which means if you eat them as just a regular seed then they will fill you up, because of all that puffing up they do inside your stomach.  So, eat a cookie, wait, and soon you'll forget about being hungry.

You can make these to be dairy free (if you can find dairy free chocolate chips) or gluten free if you follow the original recipe.  Mine are neither, but they are delicious! I love the chewiness from the oatmeal and the slight coconut hint I got from the coconut oil.  Obviously the chocolate chips are obvious.  I'm loving this recipe.  Great flavor, and texture with the added bonus of filling you up when you're starving and getting all the added benefits of the oatmeal, chia seeds and coconut oil.  My husband will be taking these on his trips from now on.

Chia Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe modified from huffingtonpost


Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup brown pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together and the wet ingredients together and then mix them together.
  2. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 355º, lightly oil a baking sheet.
  4. Roll the dough into golf ball sized pieces and then flatten half way.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes. Check on them in the oven and if they aren't spreading you might have to help them by pushing down on them with a fork.
  6. Bake for another 2-3 minutes or until very lightly golden.
  7. Cool completely on a wire rack before moving to a plate or storage container.

July 7, 2016

Cherry Cheesecake Dip



You're looking at the dessert I made to bring to the 4th of July party we attended.  Even though it was smokin hot, this dip held up pretty well.  I served it with graham crackers and it was D-lishious!  We were only at the party for a couple of hours (because we got a new puppy, and we brought her with us) and we wanted to get her home for dinner and to cool down.

Talk about an easy appetizer or dessert to put together.  Only four ingredients and then whatever you want to dip into it. It was ready in less than 15 minutes and then just keep it cool until ready to serve.

I have to say, this is one of my favorites.  I mean, I love cherry cheesecake and this is SO much easier and just as good.  Plus, you can just take what you want.  The graham crackers are a perfect accompniament with this dip as they serve as the "crust".  I just loved it and apparently so did everyone at the party.  We were only there for 2 hours and yet I took home a half empty 9x13 inch dish.

I had to share a picture of our sweet little girl.  Her name is Kacey, she is my daughters puppy and we all just adore her.  She is a Mini Australian Shepherd.  She's taking up much of my time as we potty train her but she's super smart and it's going really well. 

Cherry Cheesecake Dip
Recipe from The Country Cook



Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 of a 7.5 ounce jar marshmallow cream
  • 8 ounces cool whip, thawed
  • 14.5 ounce jar pie filling, I could only find the larger can size and it worked perfectly
  • graham crackers for dipping
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix together the cream cheese and marshmallow cream until smooth.
  2. Add the thawed cool whip and mix until smooth.
  3. Spread into a 2 quart casserole dish or a 9x13 inch dish and top with the cherry pie filling.
  4. Refrigerate leftovers.

June 29, 2016

Peach Blueberry Pie


It's peach season in the South so naturally we've been eating all we can.  I love to can peaches but haven't had time this year, so we've just been eating them fresh.  However, to change things up a bit I decided to try a pie.  Blueberries are my husbands favorite so when I saw this recipe I thought it was perfect.  Also, I had a handful of raspberries in my refrigerator so I threw those in too.

I loved the flavor of this pie.  Sweet and interesting because of the multiple fruit flavors.  The mixture is perfect and held up very well when sliced and served up. Perfect with some ice cream or whipped cream.

I just used a store bought crust which is not what I normally do, but it was still delicious.  If you make a homemade crust it'll be the hit of dessert!  I hope you can try this one this summer with some of your local peaches.

Peach Blueberry Pie
Recipe from Taste of Home


Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 3 cups peaches, sliced and peeled
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • pastry for double crust 9 inch pie
  • 1 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • cinnamon sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400º
  2. Make the pie crust and put it in the pie plate (or use pre-made)
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and allspice and whisk. Add the fruit and stir to coat.
  4. You can either top the pie with a full pie crust and cut to ventilate or create a lattice top.
  5. After you've added the top crust, cut off the excess crust around the edges leaving about 1/2 an inch overhand so you can tuck it under the bottom crust and seal with your fingers or a fork.
  6. Use a brush to spread milk over the top and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden. Let cool slightly before serving.

June 21, 2016

3-Minute Fudge


I'm one of those people who has trouble with fudge.  I mean, I've made it and half the time it turns out great and the other half of the time it's gritty.  So, I tend to be leary about even making it at all. When I saw this recipe and I thought I'd give it a try.

I've got to tell you, it was super easy, super fast and super delicious.  Win Win!

I have a neighbor who makes amazing fudge so I sort of judge all other fudges by her's.  This one is creamier than hers.  But of course, her's probably takes longer than 3 minutes too. The taste is super chocolatey, it's creamy and smooth.  I loved it.

If you're like me and need a quick dessert to thrill, this could be just the thing.

3-Minute Fudge
Recipe from Chocolate Chocolate and More


Ingredients
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Spray a small square pan with cooking spray, 8x8 or smaller. Line with parchment paper and spray again for easy cutting.
  2. Mix the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips together in a medium sized microwave safe bowl.
  3. Heat for 1 minute in the microwave and then stir. It should be smooth at this point but if not microwave again in 30 second intervals until it is.
  4. Remove from the microwave and add the vanilla extract, stir and either refrigerate for leave on a counter top until set.

June 14, 2016

Baja Shrimp Taco


This is one meal that I fell in love with.  It's not overly spicy but just enough to give you a slight heat and tons of flavor. This is also one of those meals I need to cook for myself.  My husband is from New England and yet isn't much of a seafood eater.  Isn't that strange? Maybe not, but I guess I always assumed that people who lived near seafood should like it. I guess that's not always the case.  Although I grew up in beef cattle country and beef is one of my favorites....who knows.

Anyway, This meal does take some preparation because of the breading and frying of the shrimp but other than that it's totally easy.  And, leftovers are delicious. I think that they fish fry breading has a lot of flavor anyway but when you combine it with that spicy ranch it really takes it over the top.

I enjoyed this recipe tremendously.  I got it from my local grocery store (Publix), they have a section called Apron's where they let you sample a meal idea and if you decide to try it they have all of the needed ingredients right there waiting for you, so you don't have to wonder all over the store trying to find stuff.  Great concept and obviously it worked!

Baja Shrimp Tacos


Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 limes (tested and juiced)
  • 2 cups shredded three-color coleslaw mix
  • 3 Tbsp spicy ranch dressing
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (thawed if frozen) Medium size should work
  • 1/2 cup fish fry mix
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 small flour tortilla's
  • 1 avocado, sliced
Cooking Directions
  1. In a small bowl add the chopped fresh cilantro, mayonnaise and 1 tsp of lime zest, 2 Tbsp lime juice, whisk until smooth. Add the slaw, stir and set aside.
  2. Coat the shrimp in the ranch dressing, then coat in the fish fry mix.
  3. Add the oil to a pan and heat on med-high. Add the shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until shrimp are opaque and coating is golden. Drain on paper towels.
  4. To build a burrito add the slaw to the bottom, then a couple of thin sliced avocado and then shrimp. Roll up and enjoy.

June 8, 2016

Peanut Butter Banana Dog Treat


My first attempt at a homemade dog treats was a success! My dog loves this treat! I knew he'd love the peanut butter (what dog doesn't love peanut butter), but I wasn't sure about the banana.  Turns out, the peanut butter makes this cookie so desirable, that it just doesn't matter.  Although, for all I know he loves banana too.  I'm just guessing here. 

These are very easy to assemble and bake. You could probably also substitute all-purpose or whole wheat flour if you don't have a food processor. 

The picture above just sort of makes my dog look like a shark, doesn't it? He's really very gentle.  He's also very old.  I'll have to give you the run-down on him.  

Chip is our rescue dog.  He's about 15 years old.  We guess that he's probably an Akita mix.  Most likely mixed with a heeler or a border collie, we think. He's also the reason I met my very first friend in Charlotte.  

My husband and I moved to the Charlotte, NC area about 13 years ago.  We moved into an apartment when we first got here.  My husband's job was going to be out of the Charlotte airport so I set out trying to find myself a job too.  It's harder to find a job in this area than in other area's, I found. So I was often lonely while my husband was working and I was home alone.  I started to search petfinder .com, and one day came upon this dog.  His name was Harvey at that time and they had found him as a stray.  He was actually set to be euthanized because he had heart worms and he wasn't a very social guy.  They had him in a cage with a puppy and he just sat in the back of the cage and growled at the puppy.  He also didn't come to the front when people where looking to adopt.  So my friend, Cristen, decided to save his life and adopted him, cured his heart worms, and then set out to try to find him a good home.  That's where we came in. 

So, we eventually got to meet him, adopt him and I made my first friend in Charlotte.  After that I was able to find a job and life has been good.  

Since we've had Chip we've moved twice and still live in the Charlotte area but now we're in a house with a fenced back yard and we've had our daughter join our lives, 8 years ago.  I can't believe all that's happened in 13 years.  We're so glad to have found Chip.  His health has started to decline these past few months and I can't believe he isn't going to live forever.  So, homemade dog treats it is!  It's the least I can do. 

Peanut Butter Banana Dog Treats


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Cooking Directions
  1. Blend the oats in a food processor until it becomes a fine powder.
  2. In a medium bowl, squish the banana and mix it in with the peanut butter.
  3. Add the oatmeal powder to the banana/peanut butter mixture (reserve 1 Tbsp of powder) Push together until it forms a dough and place on a work surface dusted with the leftover oatmeal powder and press out or roll out to 1/4 inch.
  4. Use any shape cookie cutter to cut shapes.
  5. Bake at 350º on a parchment paper or silicone lined cookie sheet for 15 minutes.