Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Ultimate Brownie Recipe

Chocolate Brownies

Need we say anymore?

For the last couple of summers 
we have been on the search for...

"The Ultimate Brownie"
I think we found it!

A crunchy top 

And a fudgy, moist, chewy center.

We didn't so much find it, 
but after trying
many, many, many
(did I say many?)
different recipes
Dakota came up with this one.

And it is good.
  And moist.
 And chocolate-y.
We started with this.

And added butter,
and sugar,
and vanilla,
and more things.
And came up with this...

  You could also drizzle it with fudge sauce.
and top it with chopped pecans.

Or fudge sauce, walnuts, 
and mini chocolate chips.

The Ultimate Brownie Recipe

1 stick butter
7- 1 oz. squares of semi sweet chocolate
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 & 3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup of flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Melt together the butter and chocolate squares.
You can do this on the stove
in a glass bowl that is 
resting on a pot of boiling water.
Stir until melted.
In the microwave at 2 minutes on high
stir and then 1 minute intervals
until melted.
Whisk in the cocoa powder.
Let this cool slightly.

Whisk the eggs until a golden yellow color.
Whisk in the sugar, vanilla, and salt.
Add the cooled chocolate mixture 
and whisk together.

Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until combined.

Pour into a greased 9"x9" pan. 
We like to line our greased pan 
with parchment paper 
and spray the paper 
with cooking spray.
It makes it much easier to remove 
the brownies and cut them into squares.

Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes.
Let cool.
Then enjoy.

Now spotlight!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Avocado / Tomato/ Mozzarella Salad


Never had them? Don't think you like them?
Keep reading.

We were in the same "I don't like avocados" boat
Funny thing was...we had never even tasted one!
Just thought we didn't like them. They are green.  Guacamole was slimy and green. 
No way can that taste good!  But you know what?  
No not good.
And they are good for you.
Try them. 

Dakota came up with this recipe for
Avocado / Tomato /  Mozzarella Salad
It is even better than good.
It is awesome.

when there are lots of garden fresh tomatoes
That is a great time to make this salad.

 Besides tasting so great 
did you know that avocados are good for you too?
According to the avocado website 
they provide nearly 20 essential nutrients,
including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid.

You need fresh mozzarella!
It is a must.
Do not use the bricks of mozzarella.
Not the same.
Not even close.
Get a ball of fresh mozzarella.

No picture of it out of the package because we had to cube it
as soon as we took it out.
(There is a "fresh mozzarella monster" in this house.
He loves to eat it straight out of the package.)
 It IS that good.

Avocados make great food for babies and toddlers too.
The "little spoonful", Dylan, in our family (1 1/2 year old) 
loves a mashed up avocado with a little olive oil and basil mixed in.
He will gobble than down... FAST! 

Avocado / Tomato /Mozzarella Salad 

2 avocados (peeled, pitted, & cubed)
2 - 3 tomatoes (cubed) 
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese (cubed)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. basil (we used dried, but you could use fresh)
salt & pepper (to taste...I like it saltier than Dakota does)

Put the cubes of avocados, tomatoes, 
and mozzarella in a bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Add basil, salt & pepper.
Mix lightly. 
(Best to eat it right away.
At room temperature.)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is not a better taste in this world than a  chocolate chip cookie straight out of the oven.
  With a tall glass of cold milk...of course. 

I started making these cookies in high school. All - of - the - time. 
When Dakota was in pre-school she had to tell her teacher a "recipe" for a Mother's Day cookbook the class was making. She recited it almost word for word.  

These cookies are requested quite frequently by friends and family.
They are the one cookie that is always suppose to be in the cookie jar.

Everyone thinks they are special.  We just think they are cookies. They want the recipe! 
"What is the secret?"  they say. Well, it is just the recipe off the back of the 

Nestles Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip bag...with one substitution.

Yep.  White Crisco instead of butter.  That's it.


 The cookie dough tastes pretty good too. 


Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup white Crisco
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
2 cups Nestles Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream together the Crisco and sugars about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla.

Mix again for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the salt and baking soda.

Mix about 1 minute.

Then stir the flour in by hand.

When thoroughly mixed add the chocolate chips.

Scoop tablespoon size dough onto cookie sheet (we prefer AirBake).
Bake about 11 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven.

Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack or paper towel on the counter.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

When we were stationed in Italy 30 years ago we got a rude awakening about pizza.  Nothing like pizza here in the states!  It was more like pizza bread with a few smashed up tomatoes on it and a little cheese.  Definitely not Pizza Hut!  So with a little help from Betty Crocker's International Cookbook we started making our own. In about one hour you can have a delicious made from scratch pizza anyway you want it. Pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, onion, olives, peppers, anchovies...anchovies??? Why would you ruin a good pizza with tiny dead fish. Yuk!!! 

Anyway here is our version of PIZZA !!!

You will need this to make your crust.

After you add the water, oil and yeast to the flour mixture this is what you get. Looks good, right?

    Having a mixer with a dough hook really helps.


                Time to get it off the hook and on the counter for a little bit of hand kneading.


    Now in a bowl to rest and rise....

   After about 20 minutes it is all ready to go!

  On to a greased pizza pan.


                          I would show you the pictures of us tossing and spinning it in the air but...     
    Really...well not really but it sounded good.


                  Sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.  That is what is going on this pizza.
                           We also sometime use onion and bacon and a little cheddar cheese.


   You probably noticed that a small corner of our pizza is completely bare.  Yes, we did that on purpose.  Although in a minute it will be covered in cheese. A young member of our family likes his pizza with just cheese.  Not a cheese pizza with sauce and cheese but just crust and cheese! Nothing else! 

                       Covered in cheese (the best part) and ready to go in the oven. 
                      Watch out for sneaky fingers trying to steal some of the cheese! Get it in the oven fast!!!

 Fresh out of the oven and golden brown.

                      Nothing like a fresh piece of pizza and a cold glass of diet coke.  
            Hey... have to balance out all that cheese!
                      And for the record Dakota does not drink diet, but Debbie does!

   Smells as good as it looks and tastes even better.

 Pizza Crust

2 packages Fleischmann Rapid Rise Yeast
1 1/2 cups hot water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 plus cups of flour

Combine the 2 cups flour with the yeast, salt, and sugar. 
Add the water and oil to the flour mixture.

Mix on slow to medium speed in a mixer using a dough hook if you have one.
Once that it is mixed it will be kind of gooey.
Slowly add more flour (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour) as it is mixing until it is a firm..ish ball. 
Remove from the dough hook and knead it on a floured hard surface for a few minutes.
Put in a bowl, cover with a clean towel and let rise for about 20 minutes until about double in size.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Spread onto a greased cookie sheet.
Cover with pizza sauce. Homemade or store bought.  We like Ragu Pizza Sauce.
Top with whatever toppings your heart desires.
Finish off with about 3 or 4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Then bake for about 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven until golden.  Sometimes we stick it under the broiler for about 1 minutes to get the cheese bubbling! 

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