Chocolate in the heart of wintertime. There is something special, yet completely crucial about having chocolate in the bleak mid-winter. It is an inexpensive luxury that we should not live without. My mouth is watering as I go over the photos for this post. I think I will have to make another batch of these brownies very soon. This may be old news to some of you, but to me it was a pleasant surprise–making brownies from scratch is not that difficult or time-consuming! I am not someone to shy away from cooking and baking from scratch–I love to do it when I have the time, and I often make the time–but for some reason, I always made brownies from a box mix. I guess I imagined making brownies from scratch took forever, or that I needed a double boiler to melt the chocolate, or that it made a huge mess. But really, this recipe is not that much more time-consuming than using a mix, it doesn’t make a huge mess, and this way, you know exactly what is in your brownies–just the basic ingredients many of us have on hand, plus that magic ingredient–chocolate. No food cheers me up like chocolate does, and this time of year, many of us can use a bit of extra cheer! Though I have made some changes, the recipe I am using is adapted from Susan Branch’s “From the Heart of the Home: Autumn,” an inspiring cookbook my cousin gave me years ago. I feel that making a special batch of brownies is a treat we can offer to those we love, and a way we can treat ourselves too. I am taking this pan of brownies over to Angie’s blog, The Novice Gardener, where part 2 of a very special celebration is taking place. She has been coordinating Fiesta Friday for one whole year, and the connections she has fostered through this link party are incredible. The bloggers who take part in this are kind, supportive, and not least of all, talented. I love to look at their photos and read their posts. This week’s celebration is co-hosted by Nancy from Feasting with Friends, and Selma, from Selma’s Table. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
Rich, Chocolate Brownies with Powdered Sugar and Cinnamon
2 ounces (2 squares) of unsweetened chocolate (baker’s chocolate)
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla
powdered sugar and ground cinnamon to sprinkle on the top
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with butter. In a large saucepan, gently melt the chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring often. Stir the rest of the ingredients into the pan, in the order they appear above, until everything is well combined. With a wooden spoon or a spatula, scrape the batter into the baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes in your preheated oven. Allow the brownies to cool, and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Enjoy!
We all need easy, quick, recipes we can turn to when time is tight, but we still want something fun and festive. For me, this Parmesan crisp recipe is one of those I look to when I need a quick, yet delicious appetizer or snack. These crisps are so easy to make, and they taste so good! The savory Parmesan cheese, the rich flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes, and the lively chives and black pepper all come together to form an appetizer bursting with flavor. And if you are staying away from carbohydrates or gluten, this is a snack you can munch on without worries. My daughter originally found the basic recipe for these crisps on the back of a Parmesan cheese package, and being major cheese-lovers, we tried it. We have since created our own variations, with the sun-dried tomatoes and chives version being my favorite. However, my son is not crazy about the sun-dried tomatoes or the chives, so I like to make a few of the crisps with just the Parmesan cheese and a hint of black pepper for those who prefer a more basic approach. I am taking this appetizer over to Angie’s blog The Novice Gardener, where there is a big celebration going on. Though I am relatively new to the Fiesta Friday link parties, she has been successfully coordinating these events for a full year. I have come across some wonderful food blogs, and have met really interesting and kind bloggers from all over this country and world through this process. The one-year celebration is graciously hosted by Hilda from Along the Grapevine and Julianna from Foodie on Board. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend filled with fresh air, good food and good company!
Baked Parmesan Crisps with Chives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash, pat dry, and finely chop the chives. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Shred the Parmesan cheese to make 2 cups, or if using pre-shredded cheese, measure 2 cups into a bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon, spoon the Parmesan cheese onto the baking sheet a tablespoon at a time, creating about 8 mounds of Parmesan cheese per baking sheet (place the mounds evenly on the baking sheet, allowing the cheese room to spread as it bakes). Place small pieces of sun-dried tomatoes on each cheese mound, and then sprinkle with chives and a bit of black pepper. Bake in your preheated oven for 6 to eight minutes. Allow the crisps to cool for a couple of minutes, then gently move them to a serving plate. Continue until all the cheese is used. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
It is an ongoing goal and challenge to use food wisely. When I see a piece of fruit in the fruit bowl getting a little too ripe, I feel like I need to do something with it. Of course, this is a good problem to have–too much food–much better than the opposite problem–but I want to continually learn to use the food I have in ways that taste delicious and give us good energy. Sometimes it is hard to plan or predict how much food to buy at a time–who knew my kids would go through a big bag of pretzels in two days, yet ignore the pears? I guess I should have known! Anyway, this spiced pear bread is a tasty way to use a very ripe pear–the juicier the pear, the moister the bread. And it is a more nourishing snack than a plate full of pretzels! (Pretzels have their place too, but variety is a good thing). The cinnamon, cloves, and orange rind add to this bread’s subtle, sweet flavor, and it tastes great just sliced on its own or with a little butter or cream cheese on it. Add a steaming cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and it’s even better. I based this recipe on one I found in my Dr. Cookie Cookbook by Marvin Wayne and Stephen Yarnall, though I made some changes. Isn’t that the beauty of recipes, that they are always evolving with the years and with the people who use them. I am taking this bread over to Angie’s blog at The Novice Gardener for the Fiesta Friday link party. I always find inspiring ideas there! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
2-3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce–if your pear is very juicy, lean towards 2 tablespoons, if not so juicy, use 3
1 teaspoon orange rind (you may also you lemon rind)
1 cup finely chopped unpeeled pear (about one pear)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt, and set aside. In another mixing bowl, vigorously stir the eggs, brown sugar, and oil until smooth. (You can use an electric mixer if you want, but I did not find it necessary as long as I stirred it really well). Add the honey, applesauce, orange or lemon rind, and stir well again. Then, gently stir the flour mixture and the pear into the batter until just combined. Scrape the combined batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake in your oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. It’s okay if the crust cracks a little. Cool the bread in the loaf pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out of the pan onto the wire rack and cool completely. Enjoy!