I didn’t expect much from this simple recipe. I found it one night when I was craving brownies and needed a recipe using ingredients I keep on-hand. This recipe caught my eye with its stellar ratings, and because it doesn’t leave you with a pile of dirty dishes. And so, I gave this recipe for Best Brownies a try- and boy, they sure live up to that name! Since that fateful evening about a month ago I have baked numerous batches and eaten far more of these brownies than I care to admit.
The original recipe fills an 8×8 pan. I never make sweets in small batches though, so I’m sharing the doubled version that will give you a 9×13 full of deliciousness. And about the frosting- it is supposed to be really, really thick. Even though you may be tempted to alter the frosting recipe to make it easier to stir, I recommend sticking to the recipe. Do be sure to frost the brownies while they are still very hot, though. If the brownies are very hot the frosting will become melty and spread very easily. When I made another batch of these brownies yesterday I waited too long- maybe ten minutes after getting the brownies out of the oven- and the frosting just would not spread. Thankfully, my brilliant husband remembered we have a broiler. While this did work out, it’s much easier to just have the frosting ready to go as soon as the brownies are done baking.
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 9×13 inch pan.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.
- To Make Frosting: Combine butter, cocoa, honey, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm.
These are the rolls that find their way onto our table for almost every holiday meal. They are deliciously light and airy, and they make any meal seem special. Most often, we call them “Aunt Emily’s Rolls,” since the recipe came from my mom’s sister, but she called them
Salem Ecumenical Rolls.
2 pkg. regular yeast
1/2 c. warm water
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. butter
1 1/2 c. hot tap water
6 c. bread flour (We usually use 3 cups wheat, 3 cups white flour—we prefer the flavor with the wheat.)
1 tsp. salt
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in small bowl. In large bowl, beat sugar, butter, and 1 1/2 cups hot water. Beat in eggs and add yeast mixture. Beat in 3 cups flour and salt. Stir in 3 more cups of flour. Dough will be sticky. Cover and set on counter for 2 hours. Punch down. Put in fridge and cover with plastic and a damp cloth until dough is cold or up to 3 days. (Due to the time rising and the time to refrigerate them, these rolls are easiest if you put them in the fridge the night before you bake them.) Divide dough into thirds. Roll each circle 1/4 inch thick. Brush with butter. Cut circle into 16 pie-shaped wedges and roll up. Let rise 2 hours on greased cookie sheet. Before baking, brush rolls with egg and a little water, beaten together, or just brush with butter. (We only make them this way on special occasions. For regular meals, we leave off the topping, and they are still wonderful.) Bake at 375* for 10 minutes. Cool slightly (about 5 to 7 minutes). If you take off sheet immediately, they are so tender they squish.
My wonderful mother-in-law, Ann, introduced me to these muffins last summer. I have no idea why it’s taken me until now, nearly a year later, to share this recipe. I hope that once you do try these delicious muffins you can find it in your heart to forgive me for not posting the recipe sooner.
This recipe is super easy and quick… and the combo of these banana muffins with the caramel icing is just fabulous. Notice how there are only four muffins in the picture above? That’s because I can’t manage to get a picture of the muffins before they are nearly all gone. You can also serve these muffins without the icing, which is how my nearly-10-month-old enjoys them. But with the icing, these muffins go from good to addicting. Enjoy!
Caramel Banana Muffins
adapted from Taste of Home
Ingredients for muffins:
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 large)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ingredients for icing:
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon 2% milk
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture just until moistened.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For icing, in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk; bring to a boil. Cool slightly. Beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Use a spoon to drizzle or spread the icing over the muffins. Work quickly since the icing hardens quickly.
Before I share a wonderful new recipe with you all, I have a couple things to take care of:
First off, I know it’s a day late, but I want to give a Happy Mother’s Day shout-out to all of the amazing mothers in my life who inspire me and make me excited to be a mother some day, especially my own mom, and my amazing sister and sister-in-law who are nice enough to share this blog with me!
Secondly, I’ve been MIA for far too long now – sometimes life just gets crazy, you know? But I’m back! No more shirking for me.
And now for the good stuff…
I’ve been wanting to try this recipe from Perry’s Plate for a while now, and I’m so glad I did. It’s packed full of spinach, avocado, Greek yogurt, and garlic – you just can’t go wrong with that combination. It’s super easy, and even more delicious! Give it a try.
Creamy Spinach and Avocado Pasta
(from Perry’s Plate; my comments are in italics)
- 6-8 ounces of pasta (I used Penne)
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- pinch of salt, more to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon)
- 3-4 big handfuls of spinach (about a 10-12 ounce bag)
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into large chunks
- 1/2 cup grated fresh Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- (handful fresh basil)
Get the pasta cooking in a very large pot of salted boiling water. When it’s finished, drain pasta from the pot, setting aside about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to large pot and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the spinach to the saucepan (Yes, the pan will be full. Just stuff it all in.) Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Let the mixture cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the spinach is completely wilted.
Add the yogurt, avocado, and 2-3 Tablespoons of reserved pasta water to the spinach mixture. (I also added a handful of fresh basil at this point.) Stir it a bit, then buzz it up with an immersion blender. (If you don’t have one, transfer to a food processor or a blender. Blend well, and return sauce to the pot.) Stir in the cheese, and add more pasta water if it seems too thick.
If your pasta is still hot, simply toss the pasta and sauce together in a large serving bowl. If it’s not, then combine the pasta and sauce in one of the pots (preferably the larger one) and cook over medium low until everything is hot. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a sprinkle of grated cheese.
I found this amazing recipe around Easter time, and made for a little family dinner. I’d never had anything like it before, but the minute I saw the title I wanted to try it. I don’t know if it’s authentic (Nathan, any ideas?) but anything with Bavarian (a state in Germany) or French or Swiss in the title and yes, it will be delicious. Really, the Europeans know exactly what they are doing when it comes to dessert.
You’ll just have to trust me, and this grainy monochromatic photo, when I tell you it was SO delicious and SO easy and you should try it. It sounds fussy and impressive but takes 10 minutes to throw together. There’s that expression, easy as pie? Well this is easier.
Also you can used canned/bottled pears, which are quite cheap and of which I have in abundance thanks to my amazing mother-in-law. And they are already peeled/sliced!
Picture a pie plate. Now picture a layer of what is essentially sugar cookie – shortbread type crust. Then top it with a sweetened cream cheese layer. Then slices of sweet pears. Then slivered almonds and sugar and cinnamon. Then bake and YUM! In what world wouldn’t those ingredients be divine together?
Bavarian Pear Torte
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups peeled pears, sliced thin
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and flour.
- Press into bottom of a 10 inch deep dish pie pan.
- Mix cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla.
- Pour on top of crust.
- Toss together pear, sugar and cinnamon.
- Arrange over cream cheese mixture as desired.
- Sprinkle almonds on top.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and 350 degrees for 25 more minutes. Allow to cool before removing from pan.
Hello. Sorry to have been MIA. These last few months have been BUSY!
(No, I am not potty training my 21 mo old. But he’s happy to give it a try now and then and I’m sure not going to stop him.)
Anyway. I have a few recipes tucked away to get on the blog eventually, but until then I’d like to share links to a few great recipes that I’ve been using:
frugal homemade yogurt using your crockpot from the crockpot 365 blog: I have been using this method for the last two years and it works beautifully. Read the whole post, but skim the comments. People left many comments experimenting on all sorts of variations and additions, but I’ve had a lot of success using only the following: a crockpot, whole milk, and 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt as a starter. We eat a lot of yogurt around here, and this works really well and has definitely saved us money.
Huge thanks to Shelise for showing me this recipe for homemade almond milk, I love the flavor of it so much more than the previous recipe I’d had. I am finding as I get older that my body doesn’t like straight milk anymore, although cheese and yogurt are OK. And it’s not too hard to make at home. This post explains it all beautifully. The only thing I’d add is that the author suggests using cheesecloth to strain the pulp from the milk. I’ve done that in the past and found it ridiculously messy/frustrating. I now use a simple muslin drawstring bag to strain the milk and it’s much easier to do.
Lastly, one of the recipes on this blog that gets a lot of love and attention are these no bake choco-coco-cookie bites.
They’re still delicious. But every time I stare at that name I feel my brain start to spasm. These things need a new name. NEED, I tell you. We are now taking suggestions. And if we can get a few good ones, we’ll open it up to a vote. So far I have one contribution – our Bishop’s family has dubbed them Gorilla Poop. (Hi Hernandez family!) Which is hilarious but looks terrible as it spreads across Pinterest and wherever else. And certain members of my family would never eat anything called gorilla poop, no matter how delicious it actually was.
So, your turn. Any non-bodily function related names out there that are also not tongue-twisters?
I love Mexican food, both authentic and Americanized. When I was 17 I spent three weeks living with a host family in the beautiful city of Cuernavaca in Mexico. During my stay I met many wonderful people, enjoyed the best thunderstorms, and visited the usual touristy sites. However, the highlight of my trip, by far, was experiencing the most incredible foods prepared with love by my host “Mama” three times a day. I often think back on those wonderful weeks and have only one regret- oh how I wish I’d asked my host Mama for her recipes!
Dwelling on regrets won’t get me anywhere though. So, I continually search for the best, doable Mexican recipes I can get my hands on. A year and a half ago I found a recipe for refried beans you can make in a crock pot. Its simplicity and great reviews caught my eye. Over time I have changed a few things here and there, but I now pretty much stick to the recipe I share with you today. These beans have such great flavor they’re great as a side on their own, piled onto nachos, or stuffed into burritos. So go pull out your crock pot- you don’t want to miss out on this!
Step 1: Sort through and rinse the beans. I do this the night before and allow them to soak in a bowl overnight with the water level about an inch higher than the beans.
Step 2: Drain the beans again and place in a large crock pot. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic (the day I took these pictures I was out of fresh garlic, hence the garlic powder) and a whole onion, quartered. I prefer white or yellow onion, but red is what I had on hand that day. Add your very carefully chopped jalepeno. The first time I prepared this recipe I was not careful and the jalepeno juices burned my hands. This was not a fun experience! Please wear gloves or at least wash your hands very carefully afterward! Add spices.
Step 3: Add water and cook on high for about 4 hours or until beans are fork tender. Drain water reserving about half in a bowl. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding reserved water until beans reach the desired consistency. Enjoy!
Crock Pot Refried Beans
adapted from AllRecipes.com
1 lb. dry pinto beans, rinsed
1 onion, quartered
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped (or don’t seed it if you want the beans to be spicy)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder)
3 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. Cumin
3 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Paprika
9 cups water
- Soak rinsed beans overnight in a bowl of water.
- Drain beans and add them to your crock pot. Add all vegetables, spices, and 9 cups of water.
- Cook on high 4-6 hours until beans are soft.
- Drain water from crock pot, reserving about half of the water in a bowl.
- Mash beans with a potato masher, adding reserved water as necessary, until beans reach the desired consistency.
- Serve and enjoy!
Ladder Loaf is a family favorite in the Averill household. Greg enjoyed this recipe so much while growing up, he requested Ladder Loaf for his birthday breakfast when we were dating…. Back when my culinary skills were a bit embarrassing to say the least. (Greg had to teach me how to cut the cream cheese and butter into the Bisquick mix.) , Despite the unfamiliar technique, this recipe was easy to follow and came together quickly. Ladder Loaf is perfect for a special occasion breakfast when you’re low on time. At least, that’s usually when I pull this recipe out.
I know, I know… it calls for Bisquick… but you know what? I’m okay with that. Yes, I usually prefer purely made from scratch goodness. I’m not really into the whole instant meal thing. But ladderloaf truly is worth the exception. Trust me.
Ladder Loaf (makes 2 loaves)
From the Kitchen of Ann Averill
Ladder loaf Ingredients:
6 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter or margarine
4 cups Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk
1 12-ounce can cherry, apple, peach (or other!) pie filling
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 6 tablespoons milk
- In mixing bowl, cut cream cheese and butter or margarine into Bisquick mix until crumbly. Add milk (the 1/2 cup, not for the icing); mix well.
- Knead on lightly floured surface for 8 to 10 strokes. Divide into two equal balls of dough. Roll each into a 12×8-inch rectangle on waxed paper. Turn onto greased baking sheet; remove paper.
- Spread approximately half a can of pie filling lengthwise down the center third of each loaf.
- Make 2 1/2-inch cuts at 1-inch intervals on both long sides. Fold strips over filling, pinching into narrow points at the center. (Sometimes the strips won’t stay pinched together, and that’s okay. Don’t stress over it.)
- Bake in a 425-degree oven about 15 minutes or until done.
- Mix icing ingredients together, adding milk until it is thin. Drizzle icing over loaves while warm.
I’m a little bit addicted to these cookies. Packed with peanut butter, chocolate chips, m&ms, and oats… can you blame me?
These cookies probably got their name from their monstrous size. Or maybe because these cookies are the only bait that will tempt monsters out of your closet. Or perhaps this recipe was originally dreamt up by the master of such deliciousness, the Cookie Monster. Most likely, it’s because these cookies bring out the selfish I’m-not-sharing-with-anyone side of me, gradually turning me into a monster.
Whatever the reason for the name, I am sure glad I stumbled upon this recipe thanks to good ol’ Pinterest. Not only is this the best tasting cookie recipe I’ve come across, it’s also super easy. You don’t have to use multiple mixing bowls either, which cuts down on clean up time. So, for someone like me who loves a good treat but hates doing dishes, this recipe is the perfect fit.
from Fake Ginger
Yield: about 2 1/2 dozen
1 cup peanut butter (the original recipe calls for crunchy, but I have always used creamy and LOVE it.)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup M&Ms
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 325F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream peanut butter, butter, and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add baking soda and vanilla. Use a rubber spatula to add oats, M&Ms, and semisweet chocolate chips. Stir in flour (the dough will be stiff).
- Shape 1/4 cupfuls into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, about nine cookies per batch. Gently flatten cookies. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks.
Give in to your inner cookie monster.
Did you know, that if you take a simple brown lunch sack, and spoon in 1/4 to 1/3 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, and fold over the top of the bag several times as if you were taking your lunch to school, like this:
No butter or oil required for popping. Listen to the popping noises in the microwave, and when the popping slows down to 3-4 seconds between pops its ready!! You can buy a jug of unpopped popcorn for only a few dollars, making this a very healthy and inexpensive snack.
We love to put melted butter or coconut oil on ours along with a sprinkle of salt and cheese. My boys ask for this snack often and I am happy to oblige
- All day I did the little things, the little things that do not show; I brought the kindling for the fire, I put the candles in a row, I filled a bowl with marigolds, the shallow bowl you love the best- and made the house a pleasant place where weariness might take its rest. ~Blanche Bane Kuder, "The Blue Bowl"~
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- The best things in life are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson