Best Brownies

March 13, 2009

On my first finale of my first Dessert Week I will now share my first photo on this blog.  One year ago today, Jacob and I celebrated his birthday.  I drove down 1 hour away from where I lived, to where he lived at the time and made him a heart shaped brownie and a picnic dinner.  We then went to a local park and celebrated by making sandwiches and watching the sun set over the water. It was a wonderful day!

Jacob's Birthday


  • 1/2 C oil or melted butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 t Vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 C baking cocoa
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt

Beat those wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  Add the dry ingredients. Do not over mix this batter or they won’t be soft brownies but tough ones, one tip that helps is whisk the dry ingredients together before adding them.  Place the batter in a 9×9 pan.

Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies pull away from the pan around the edges but is still moist.  The ever-useful toothpick tip will not work here, at least if you have yummy, gooey brownies.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

March 12, 2009

I wish I could say that for this Dessert Week that I made each day’s dessert for my loving, deserving husband, but alas, he only get’s the one posted tomorrow for his birthday (I’ll make a note for his next birthday).  However, we made these wonderful, scrumptious cookies for our very first 6 month anniversary (of dating).  It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work.  We ended up with a huge 6-kiss cookie out of pure weariness.  This is one of the classic Christmas cookies from my childhood, and is a lot of fun with a group! (Be sure to buy extra kisses for snacking, they disappear like crazy!)


  • 1/2 C shortening or margarine
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T milk
  • Hershey’s Kisses!

Cream the first ingredients, then beat in other wet ingredients. Sift dry ingredients and gradually add, try not to over mix. And finally finish off the recipe with the milk.

Roll the dough into balls. Keep them small, maybe 1″ diameter spheres.  Then toss the ball into a bowl of white sugar and coat it gently.

Bake a sheet of these in a375 F oven until the tops are slightly cracked, this takes about 5 minutes. Be unwrapping the kisses now, if you haven’t already. Pull out the batch and squish down each ball into a cookie with a kiss in the middle.  Put the cookie sheet back in for a minute and a half more. My recipe card also states that a double batch of this yummy cookie makes over 100 cookies!  Plenty for you, the family, the guests, and Santa.

These cookies are yummy to eat right out of the oven (or rather, right off the cooling rack) because the chocolate is still gooey.  But chocolate is good in any form so letting them cool and waiting until after dinner is also a good choice.  One piece of advice I have is that if you are going to take these somewhere, say a potluck or a Christmas party, I would press the kisses flat while they are cooling.  This trick facilitates stacking and compact storage in a single container of a good amount of cookies and the least likelihood of a cookie loosing its chocolate friend.

I apologize for the Christmas theme in March, I’m already getting sad knowing that the holiday is so far away.  But these cookies are just so associated with the holiday for me I almost cannot think of them in a better situation (although I’m sure there are plenty of other great celebrations to use this yummy cookie for!).

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

March 11, 2009

Here is another one for Dessert Week!  I love oatmeal raisin cookies.  Maybe it is because I, in a way, trick myself into the idea that I am eating a “healthy” food, I mean it has raisins and oatmeal just like a good granola does, right, right?  And Jacob really enjoyed how these turned out, not an undercooked softness or a gingersnap breaking cookie, but a cookie with a crunchy oatmeal with still-soft raisins, perfect!


  • 1 cup (1/2 pound or 2 sticks)  butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, well beaten
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins

Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes.  A while in the freezer with some extra baking soda gives the cookies a bit more shape, but more flour might also help the problem.  (I put the balls out on a metal pan right after I put the stoneware cookie sheet in the oven. Then just filled the partially cooled stoneware with some more chilled cookies for the next batch.  Some more time in the freezer might have been good, but I don’t need to save some for more batches, this is a small enough batch on its own.)

Elise, the blogger who shared this recipe, reminds us: do not overbake these cookies. The edges should be brown, but the rest of the cookie should be very light in color.

The nutmeg was a bit strong.  I’m learning that although I enjoy nutmeg, it can really take over your tastebuds if its ratio is too high in a recipe, I’ll cut it in half the next time I bake these wonderfully scrumptious cookies.

I found this recipe at Simple Recipes.  But I found another one as well, and would love to make this cookie with an applesauce base by David Lebovitz.

Crazy Cake

March 10, 2009

In continuation of Dessert Week for my husband, I submit an old family favorite.  My mother told me my father’s mother (born in 1910) had used this recipe because in the Great Depression eggs were hard to come by.  The name is from the fact that making a cake without eggs is just “crazy.”  The suggestion of any other kind of cake was futile around my birthday, so I guess you could say I was crazy about it, ;)


  • 2 C sugar
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 6 T cocoa
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 T vinegar
  • 10 T melted butter
  • 2 C cold water

I feel like these instructions are quite wanting without pictures but I will try to explain the amazing fun this cake can be.

Place all the first five ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish (I love that this can be so easily halved and put into a 9×9!), and mix well with a fork.  This should result in a consistently speckeled powder.  Next, carve a smilie face into the powder, two eyes and a smiling mouth.  One eye is for the vanilla, the other for the vinegar and the smile is about to be a yellow, buttery smile in need of a good brushing.  Enjoy your cute creation.

Now enjoy the destruction with the addition of the 2 cups of cold water and fluff with your fork.  Make sure all the powder has been mixed in well, as a youngster I would usually miss the corners and there would be quite a bit of unedible dry flour down there when the cake was sliced.

Now put in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 350 F.  Use a toothpick to check if it is done.  Stab the middle of your cake, when it comes out clean your cake is ready.  But be sure to be gentle when pulling it out and pushing it in while checking, this cake has a tendency to drop in the middle.

Top with your favorite fudge or chocolate icing, or with my mother’s favorite: confectioner’s sugar (a good substitute for my icing-hating hubby), and voila! An eggless chocolate cake that will not last long in almost any home.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

March 9, 2009

Welcome to Dessert Week!  In celebration of my husband’s birthday this Friday I will be sharing some of his (and my) favorite recipes all week long.

I’ll start off with one we made for the first time last night.  I got the recipe out of the 1981 Deseret Recipes.  I really like this book because it gives me simple ideas, not all the convoluted 25-ingredient recipes of other books.  This is mainly a food-storage and simple vegetables kind of book.  I made the peanut butter oatmeal cookies. The following is the recipe cut into thirds (it originally made “9 dozen” cookies, we are only 2 people, have mercy!)


  • 1 stick of softened margarine or 1/2 C soft shortening
  • 1/3 C granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1 C all-purpose flour (actually 1 1/6, so a heaping cup?)
  • 2/3 t baking soda (again, eyeball more than a half teaspoon)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2/3 C oatmeal, uncooked

Beat first set of ingredients until smooth, then beat in the egg and peanut butter one at a time.  Now add the flour and its buddies.  And finally add the oatmeal.

Bake at 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes.

I loved plopping these cookies, the batter was held together nicely by the peanut butter.  However, this also resulted in a sort of dry cookie, but we both concluded they were perfect with a glass of milk!  Jacob had the same luck when he scraped them off, nice and clean.  Maybe I need to add more flour to my other cookie recipes, since they are always so flat and sticky.  Jacob agrees we should make them again, so one more recipe on the favorites list.

(Slightly) Wheat Pancakes

March 8, 2009

Jacob tried very hard to surprise me on Valentine’s day morning with hash browns in bed.  He failed miserably and I ended up with cereal, but I gave credit for the effort!  That afternoon, he actually searched for a recipe and we had hash browns with cheese and ham for our dinner.  They were amazing, but we were still hungry.  So I made us some pancake batter; I altered it by adding a bit of wheat flour.  They turned out really good.  Jacob is a very good flipper, he even made pancakes in the shape of our initials, he is such a pro!


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, separated (whites whipped)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

We used a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  We used a large pan so we could fit 2 at a time, obviously a griddle would work well also, but we aren’t so lucky to have one.  We waited for bubbles to flip (sometimes I need to peak to check if it is brown), then it won’t even take half that time for the other side.

I love eating breakfast foods, all the time.  And hash browns and pancakes are my favorite!  I would like to add sausages or bacon to our normal repertoire of meat.  And bacon is such a good flavoring for so many dishes!

Slow-Cooker Chili

March 6, 2009

Once when I asked Jacob for a meal idea he immediately wanted chili, like his mom makes.  He got her recipe; I believe there is a lot of experimenting still to be done but here is her original suggestion:


  • 1 can of kidney beans (15.5 oz)
  • 1 can of chili beans (15.5 oz)
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
  • chili powder (sprinkle some in)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (12 oz)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 lb-ish Hamburger, cooked

Those were our instructions.  Throw it all in, let it go all day.  The end.

Well O.K., I like the idea but I’ve run with it a bit.  I like the amount of tomatoes but we wanted less liquid, and more beans.  In my most recent episode of chili, I actually soaked some dry black beans (1 lb) over night and threw them in as well.  I’m very new to this bean thing, so I didn’t realize I also needed to cook the beans, they were a bit hard but the chili is still fine to eat.  We made the mistake of trying to fix the liquid and bean issues at the same time, which resulted in a very thick chili, not a problem per se but I will leave in all the juices the next time I add beans (but not the bean’s cooking water).

I like to cook the onion with the meat before throwing it in.  This could loose some of the flavor to the chili because some flavor is lost in the juices/fats removed, but if I have to cook the meat, I might as well throw in the onion.  That is just a personal preference.

I think in my next iteration I would like to maybe add more vegetables like celery, if I have any at the time.  I would also like to normalize my addition of chili powder, Jacob says it never has enough so I will start with 1 Tablespoon, and work from there.

In general we really love this recipe for a start, I love that I don’t have to add water or a ton of seasonings.  And Jacob only had to buy 8 cans of kidney beans to get sent a free stuffed bean, yay for food storage and free toys.  Seriously, I do love that all these ingredients are storable, so as long as we have power, or a fire we can made some chili with all our canned beans and tomatoes.

Fun Attachments

March 5, 2009

Getting married comes with many perks, one being a registry.  We had a pile of gift cards left over once we owned everything we really needed for our kitchen.  While going through and deciding what would be a good use of the rest of our money we decided to get two kitchen-aid attachments.

The slicer/grater attachment has already served us well, and I haven’t yet made scalloped potatoes or potato chips.  We have grated a block of cheddar into a pile of toppings for some chili we made this weekend, and we grated some potatoes into hash browns for a treat on our snow day from school and work, and topped them with the cheese we grated.  This tool is very useful for large projects, slicing up even three potatoes is not always a blast, but can be done in seconds with this attachment, and since everything is dishwasher safe, you don’t even have to hand wash the knife!

The other tool we purchase was a meat grinder.  We were both kind of on the fence about this one.  However, I was sold when I found out it also did nuts and Jacob likes toys anyway.  I found out recently in an environmentalism class I’m taking that there can be meat from as many as 200 cows in one hamburger patty, also they are all the leftover pieces from other cuts of meat, yippee right?  Well, the first part is not so important if everything is cooked thoroughly, but the second part: who want’s the dregs of any animal? This way we can grind our own meat, and almost any cut would be better than all random pieces, or at least we think so.

Our third attachment, that my parents are lending us since they have a stone mill is a grain mill.  The wheat I must say, is incomparable to my parents, however we are able to use wheat berries as flour and that is the whole point.  There is a lot of bran, and when replacing wheat flour with white flour in recipes one must start in small increments and maybe increase the added flour to a third of the flour or so.  Never more than a half for normal recipes.  But wheat in cookies give them such a body.  My husband can just blow through a pile of cookies, but with just a little bit of wheat they sink in faster.  More filling, less food, sounds like a plan!

I feel like all of our attachments add to our kitchen experience.  They even help us get excited about exploring the little known (to us) world of cooking.  They also help us remove ourselves from pre-prepared foods, why should I make scalloped potatoes in a box if I have a slicer that will do all the hard work for me and my family can eat real potatoes.

Even though we had to pay a larger amount than, say, a box grater or a hand slicer, it uses the power of a machine we already own.  We just aren’t ready to buy a food processor and the need for one is diminished with these tools.

(As a side note: we do own a box grater, I don’t think it is replacable by a machine, zesting would be quite difficult on the machine, and sometimes one just doesn’t want to get out all the tools to grate enough cheese for one salad.)

Fried Rice

March 4, 2009

Today, with some left over rice and extra ham from hash browns earlier this week I was able to throw together a pan full of fried rice.  I thought I would share the way I made it.


  • Tablespoon of canola oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 cups of rice
  • 1 cup of cooked ham, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 eggs

Cook the 2 vegetables, until cooked enough to eat, tender but not browned.  Add the rice and add following ingredients and stir until heated thoroughly.  Add the peas and warm them.  Lastly create a doughnut hole in the rice so that the pan is visible in the middle of the rice.  Crack and scramble the 2 eggs in the middle of the rice, mix in only after the egg is fully cooked.  Mix the eggs evenly throughout the rice mixture.

Many different vegetables may be used for this recipe and any kind of cooked meat is also fine; this recipe is very versatile.  You can try different kinds or vary the amounts to suit your family.

This is a good main dish for a few people or a side for strips of meat.  This would also be amazing with some egg rolls, yum!