Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yia Yia's French Toast

I can't believe that I haven't blogged about our Yia Yia yet. The boys Yia Yia is my second mother. She was there for the birth of my sons, she's laughed and cried with me and shared her kitchen with me. I guess it started my first day of college. I was blessed to meet Meg. I won't call Meg my best friend because she's more like a sister to me now. She was that friend that I'd always wanted and she knows things about me that I haven't ever told anyone else. She's that special and loves me just the way I am. Meg told me lots of stories about her mom before I met her, mainly about her being Italian...Sicilian actually. Being 18 and not really knowing anything about Sicilian culture I had no idea what it meant when she would say things like, "well, ya know we're Sicilian" but I soon found out after my immersion into her family. Meg's family lives in the kitchen and Yia Yia's kitchen was the kitchen I had always wanted. Lots of people, music, wine, laughter, garlic, red pepper and lots of olive oil. EVERYTHING tastes better at Yia Yia's house and more importantly olive oil goes into everything so when I saw her FRY her french toast in olive I almost collapsed. I remember watching her thinking, "that stuff is going to nasty". I knew it was going to be a kitchen fail. Man, was I wrong. I remember eating her french toast for the first time and almost melting to the floors. It was crispy, soft inside and dusted with powdered sugar. It was was heaven. Although we don't get to see Meg and her family very often since we've moved they're always with us, especially when I pop open a bottle of wine, make zucchini sauce and of course make french toast.

French Toast

1 loaf of day old french or challah bread
olive oil for frying
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk (2% or whole)
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp. good vanilla
1 tsp. (scant) cinnamon

Have a prepared platter lined with paper towels ready for the french toast.  Combine eggs and milk then  whisk in sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and set aside. Cut bread into 1 in. slices (i like to use the ends for croutons) Add about 3 TBS of olive oil to a heated pan. Give the wet mixture another good whisk and dip a piece of bread into the mixture getting both sides a good soak. Immediately fry them in the pan browning them on both sides. Transfer to the lined platter and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. I will tell you, depending on the size of your loaf you may have to make another bowl of wet ingredients. Enjoy friends! I usually top it with some fresh fruit or a fruit compote. Yummy Yummy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Perfect Sugar Cookie

Since the holidays are here I've been a busy baker. I usually try new cookie recipes to prepare for our annual cookie exchange that we do every year. Some are complete failures like this lemon drop cookie I didn't even finish making on Sat and some are perfect. My sugar cookies always turn out perfectly. I'm not sure how it happens but I'll share the recipe and let me know if they're as perfect as I think they are :). I love these cookies because you can freeze or fridge the dough and you don't have to cute them. I switched up the recipe a little but using high quality vanilla and rolling them in sugar before I bake them. If you're really adventurous you can buy some baking crystals and sprinkle them on top instead of rolling them in sugar. I really hope you try these. The recipe is SO simple and it's been my "go to" recipe for the past 5 years. Try 'em out! Happy Baking! ~Danielle


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

2.In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3.Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dough Scares Me

As I was sifting through recipes in my own recipe collections over Thanksgiving, I realized that I had absolutely NO bread/classic pastry recipes. I love pastries and breads but they have always intimidated the hell out of me. Fresh baked bread is an art all unto it's self and I just never thought I had the nack for it. It takes a lot of patience and although I have patience for my 3 kids, I've been known to loose it in the kitchen. I guess I was feeling overly zealous for Thanksgiving and decided that I was going to make dinner rolls. To be perfectly honest I'm not a huge turkey and dressing fan and I'll head straight for the bread bowl and gravy dish at Thanksgiving dinner. So, naturally that would be the thing I would want to make. I read Ree Drummond's blog every day and her Parker House Rolls popped up. They, of course, looked absolutely delicious and I needed to try it. Fresh, double rising, dipped in butter...ahhh...HEAVEN!!! I'm not going to go into too much detail about the actual recipe because Ree does a great job on her blog. I will share some tips I think that are extremely helpful when dealing with breads and pastries. So here you go :)

1. Use exact ingredients! Baking is a science and if you don't follow the recipe, atleast for the first time, you'll end up screwing something up. after you've used the recipe a few times then you can experiement with different ingredients.

2. Before you get any ingredients out make sure and read through your recipe. Read them ALL!

3. Check your expiration dates on your baking soda and powder.

4. Patience pays off. If the directions say leave covered for 30 min...DO IT!

5. Watch your bread! Not all ovens are the same. 8 min. may be 10 min on your oven.

6. Think the recipe makes too much? Share it! Take it to neighbors or friends :)

7. No new recipes at holidays...try it out first! No one likes a "fail" on Thanksgiving or Christmas :)

8. Butter is better. When it comes to rolls use REAL butter.

9. Folded not flat. I took Ree's advice and folded my rolls. It gives them better demension and adds a spot for your butter :)

10. Don't be afraid (like I was) to try and make breads!! They're fun and much tastier than store bought stuff. yum yum...

Here's the link to the dinner rolls that Ree made. They take a long time to make but are definitely worth it. I've already had a couple of people ask for the recipe! As a side note, I think that next time I make them I'll add jalapeno and cheddar as well as maybe a little smokey inside and make kolaches.

Enjoy friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! ~Danielle

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Opened Window

Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve tried to think of all the ways that it could be an asset to our family. Since my kids are basically my job these days it’s been a fine balance of writing, brainstorming and bouncing around ideas with my husband and friends. Some of this has taken time away from the kids but I like to think that it allows them to gain some independence plus I can put their butts to work in the kitchen :). I was feeling guilty the other day because I was writing and trying not to be distracted by James throwing dirt over our neighbor’s fence and I started to think that I couldn’t keep up! But, as always God opens windows and the next morning Lucas asked me to make pancakes. For some people that would be totally normal and some wouldn’t think anything of it. But you see, Lucas didn’t ask JUST to make pancakes he asked me to make MY pancakes. “Mommy will you make YOUR pancakes for me?? Please??” My heart melted like butter in a skillet. My big boy had had my pancakes so many times and liked them so much he wanted them…again. I, of course, made them with help from a bunch of tiny little hands and butts on the counters and I remembered why I wanted to start this blog in the first place. I wanted to inspire people by the little things that inspire me, little hands, butts on the counters, experiments and amazing successes. So this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for my blog. It’s allowed me to share my kitchen with others, get my kids involved in their food and it’s helps make our family and friends more united. So here is my pancake recipe in honor of my sweet boy. I’ve tried recipe after recipe and this is by far the best. No fail, fluffy pancakes. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine all the dry ingredients then add wet. Mix thoroughly (not too much or they’ll be rubbery, no one wants that).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chocolate Crackle Cookie

My husband and I have a holiday cookie exchange each year, well actually this is the 2nd year that we've had it, but it'll be something we will do every year. So, I go through recipes over and over and try to find the right one for the exchange. I found this on a random search at and this cookie is so good that I can't wait to share it at the party. I'm sharing it NOW! My husband and I aren't chocolate lovers but this is by far the best chocolate cookie we've ever had. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and the sugar crust is the perfect accent the the bitterness of the chocolate. If you haven't ever tried any of my recipes THIS IS THE ONE TO TRY!! This dough does well overnight so if you can mix it up in the evening and bake in the morning that's perfectly fine. You have to chill the dough for 3 hrs so make sure and make it early so you're not waiting till midnight to bake your cookies. The recipe itself is very straight forward and extremely easy. I didn't combine the dry and wet ingredients seperately. I creamed the wet ingredients together and then added the dry on top so I just had to use one bowl. I couldn't tell any difference when I made that change. If you're worried about lumps then you can sift the dry ingredients in. Would love to hear comments on if you liked this recipe! Bon Appetite!


1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 stick Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
OR 1 cup Crisco® Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar

PREPARATION DIRECTIONS:1.BEAT brown sugar, shortening and vanilla in large bowl at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs; beat well.

2.COMBINE flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Add to shortening mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill 3 hours.

3.HEAT oven to 375ºF. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar, then in powdered sugar to coat completely. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

4.BAKE 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kentucky Burbon Balls

I've been into balls lately LOL! I was watching a show last week on authentic Kentucky foods and a family on there made/sold Kentucky Burbon Balls. They seemed to easy to make! Butter, confectioners sugar, burbon and chocolate??? What could be better :) Ah yes... PECANS! I knew I could pull it off. So, I whipped up a batch last week and had Chris take them to work. They definitely were a hit. Thought I'd share this easy dessert that can be served with coffee after dinner or for a special holiday occasion. Don't be scared by truffles! You can do it! Bon Appetite!

p.s. i think my next endeavor will be to add orange extract and a few TBS of cocoa and make orange/chocolate truffles. mmm.....

1 cup chopped nuts (i used pecans, i like them more than walnuts)
5 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (16 ounce) package confectioners' sugar
18 ounces semisweet chocolate
1.Place the nuts in a sealable jar. Pour the bourbon over the nuts. Seal and allow to soak overnight.
2.Mix the butter and sugar; fold in the soaked nuts. Form into 3/4" balls and refrigerate overnight.
3.Line a tray with waxed paper. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over just-barely simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to avoid scorching. Roll the balls in the melted chocolate to coat; arrange on the prepared tray. Store in refrigerator until serving

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chocolate Balls

I wanted to post this recipe mainly because of the title. Chocolate Balls. It made me giggle. If anyone has ever tried to make truffles, they can either end in beauty or disaster so I found this recipe that is "trufflish" and super easy. To be quite honest, I haven't gotten a chance to try these out but it's such an easy recipe that I can just tell they're going to be PERFECT! I AM trying them today so I'll let everyone know how they turned out. We have friends over a lot and these seemed like the perfect, no mess dessert for entertaining. Thank you Costco magagzine for sharing them with me :)

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tbs cocoa
1 tsp almond, coffee or coconut liqueur
1 c. chopped chocolate, coconut or nonpareils (sprinkles)

mix condensed milk, cream and cocoa in a saucepan

cook over med heat for 5-10 min stirring constantly until it thickens and comes away from the bottom. remove from heat and add liqueur

let cool and with hands greased with butter, form mixutre into small 1 in. balls. roll the balls over the chocolate bits, nuts and coconut. makes 2 doz.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Conquering The Bird

I’ve cooked with chicken for all of my adult life. It’s pretty lame unless you dice it, grill it, smash and fill it with something, quarter it or use it for chicken stock. With that said, we ALWAYS end up eating it for at least one of our meals during the day. I’m really trying to cut down on our weekly grocery bills so instead of buying the huge pack of chicken breasts that we usually get at Costco for over $20, I got 2 whole chickens. At the time I was so certain that I was staying under budget that I didn’t really care how I’d figure out how to cook them but once I got home I quickly put the into the freezer for me to “think about”. Chris, my husband, told me, “You better not waste this chicken.” so I bit the bullet and decided to roast one. If anything, it would impress him and I like to impress my husband in the kitchen since he’s my first critic.

So I defrosted the chicken which took about two days. Since I’ve cooked a turkey before I should have realized how long it took to defrost, but the two days gave me time to think about how I was going to tackle the bird. In those two days I searched the internet for recipes on roasted chickens and my worry was that I was going to have a great looking roasted chicken (you know, the kind that you see at the supermarkets) but it was going to be dry and unseasoned. It seemed like there was A LOT of meat to season and with a bunch of skin on it, it just wouldn’t do the trick. Finally I found a recipe from Ina Garten (my favorite Food Network chef) that I thought would be perfect. It’s a roasted chicken stuffed with garlic, lemon and thyme.

*On a side note, I invited Lucas into the kitchen to help me. I think having your children help is a great way to get them involved in cooking their food. It helps them create healthy food habits, learn where their food comes from, and it also shows, I think most importantly, that you are not perfect! Cooking is a learning process and everyone can mess up. Most children my son’s age think their parents are perfect so they strive to be as perfect as they are. Showing that you can have a struggle in the kitchen, make a mistake and still have a good time is GREAT modeling for your children.

This chicken, I have to say, is pretty easy and almost fool proof. The biggest struggle for me was not checking the meat too early so find something to do and don’t check the meat till the timer goes off. I also tweaked the recipe a little bit and didn’t cover my chicken with bacon like Ina did. I think there was enough fat in the skin to get us through the roasting. We didn’t need bacon to help us out. Basically, you clean your chicken, washing it inside and out, get all the giblets out then pat it dry with a paper towel and tie it up. Stuff the chicken with garlic (I didn’t have cloves, just minced so I used that), a quartered lemon, and a bunch of fresh thyme, butter the top, sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper and pop it in the oven for 90 min. The chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside, most and delicious on the inside and FULL of flavor. Chris and I are still practicing how to carve birds, but we got the meat off and everyone enjoyed it..including the boys. I reduced the juice and fat with a cup of Sauvignon Blanc to compliment the lemon flavor in the chicken and it was very tasty.
Please try this recipe! I have used the leftovers for chicken salad as well as quesadillas for the next day’s lunch. It’s easy, cheap and kind of fun to conquer a bird. Here’s Ina’s recipe Bon Appetite!
Roasted Chicken With Garlic, Lemon and Thyme


1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
4 lemons
3 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 pound sliced bacon (I omitted this!)
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, reserving enough thyme to garnish the chicken dish, 1 lemon, halved, and 2 halves of the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Cut 2 of the lemons in quarters and scatter the quarters and remaining garlic around the chicken. Lay the bacon slices over the chicken to cover.
Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Remove the bacon slices from the top of the chicken and set aside. Continue roasting the chicken for an additional 1/2 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the bottom of the pan. Add the wine and chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half.
Slice the chicken on a platter. Garnish the chicken platter with the bacon slices, roasted garlic, reserved thyme and 1 lemon, sliced. Serve with the gravy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

THE cake

Fern Gumber

Did you ever as a child have something so good that it lived on in your memory your entire life? I have. Fern Gumber’s Apple Cake. I’ve already discussed in an earlier post that I wasn’t a big chocolate fan growing up and if I could have one thing from my memories as a child it would be this cake that Mrs. Gumber would bring over every Christmas and Easter. People, lemme tell ya, It was THE cake, the cake that everyone in my family waited for every Christmas and Easter on bended knee. My parents met Fern and her husband Art at church one Sunday and they became close friends. They were very sweet and kind to our family and like good, southern friends do, they’d bring over this cake every Easter and Christmas and chit chat for a while on a Sunday afternoon. I would hear rumors here and there of when they’d come and I’d stare out the window waiting to see them and Mrs. Gumber carrying the cake inside. I’d never had anything like it before. The top of the cake had this apple cinnamon crust on top and the inside of the cake was moist and delicious, filled with apple bits that tasted as if the cinnamon and sugar gods had kissed each and every piece. I’m not sure if my mother just never asked for the recipe, I mean, I know I would, but poor Fern and Art passed away and we never figured out how she made it. I grew up and ever so often I’d remember the cake, the smell, the excitement of having our friends bring over something so yummy and thoughtful to us. I mean, we must have been pretty special to get a cake like that.

So, I got married, got pregnant, and got on bedrest. Not the best situation for someone who spends most of her time in the kitchen so I organized my recipe books, re wrote old recipe cards that were all tattered and torn, filled my brain with cooking shows and made my husband run out to get anything that sounded similar to what I was watching. One afternoon, I was really down and throwing a pretty big pity party for myself and sure enough Paula Deen comes on. I was sure I’d seen it before. I had her cookbooks, watched most of her shows so what was the big deal? In the preview I see something that looks very similar to Fern Gumber’s Apple Cake. NO WAY I thought. In the back of my mind this was a secret recipe that Fern pulled out of her “good southern woman’s recipe safe”, you know the ones that you hide behind pictures in the living room? This wasn’t a recipe that could be shared with the normal Joe’s and Sally’s of the world! But it was. It was THE cake. So, I pulled the recipe up on my laptop, saved it, and made it the week that I got taken off bedrest. The crusty top, the sugar/cinnamon kissed apple bits and the crunch of the coconut and walnuts. It was all there. I felt as if my recipe book had been complete. I’d found it. So now, every time I make the cake, I think of Fern, her visits and my excitement as a child. I make it every Christmas and love sharing it with my family. It’s so special to me and I an honored to share it, in her name before this upcoming holiday season. Thank you Fern for always making our seasons special and thank you Paula Deen for getting me out of my pity party.

• Butter, for greasing pan
• 2 cups sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
• 1/4 cup orange juice
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 3 cups peeled and finely chopped apples
• 1 cup shredded coconut
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup buttermilk
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease a tube pan.
For the cake: in a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, oil, orange juice, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract; and mix well. Fold apples, coconut, and pecans into batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours.
Shortly before the cake is done, make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the sugar, buttermilk, and baking soda, and bring to a good rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Pour the sauce over the hot cake in the pan as soon as you remove it from the oven. Let stand 1 hour, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Monday, October 4, 2010

From Corn to Clams

I was really excited to interview my friend A.M. I met her when I was a freshman in college at St. Edward’s (Go Hilltoppers) and she always had a great sense of humor so I knew that she would be PERFECT for the job. She’s been married for 5 years and grew up in Ohio. A.M. lived in Texas throughout college and then moved to Rhode Island when she got married. What A.M. didn't know, is that one of my favorite memories as a child was traveling up through New England and eating clam chowder and clam cakes on the sides of the road. New England has such amazing food and I'm jealous that she gets all that fresh seafood I hope you enjoy reading her interview as much as I did! Thank you so much A.M. for being a part of Salty Brownies! She’ll be sharing her favorite dessert soon!

My first memories in the kitchen were watching my mom bake cakes. She took a few cake decorating classes and then it evolved to an at home business. The tagline on my mom's business card was, "Cakes that Make Your Party Glowe"...this was a perfect name since her last name is Glowe! Anyway, getting back to my memories: I would watch and my mom in the kitchen and she would be talking about baking. She would say things like, "Great cake makers squeeze the frosting with a firm and steady hand from the top of the pastry bag." "Be sure to scrap the sides, you want all the batter in the cake." As a kid this advice made me sad because I always wanted to so badly to lick the mixing bowl and the mixers. ;-) Sometimes we would get to try our frosting skills on a plate if there was extra frosting left over from when she made the cakes.

Ahhh! Disasters in the kitchen. I think disasters make you a better cook. It means you are willing to experiment! One of my disasters was with My First Thanksgiving dinner that I decided to create for my brother and boyfriend. I was on Thanksgiving break from college staying with my brother. I went shopping and began reading the family recipe that my mom gave me. I was bugged out with the fact that you had to pull out the organs of the turkey before cooking the thing. I needed to put on rubber gloves and called my boyfriend over for support. GROSS. It ended up that I did not even get all the gizzards out. When we carved the turkey a heart was still in there! YUCK! Oh yeah, I burn meals about 3 times a year. This happens when I have too many things cooking at once or if I am on the phone with a friend or family member. Can anyone really multi-task? Maybe we all just say we can?

I like to think that I am still learning how to make a great meal...I like exploring new cuisines so I began a Gourmet Club with three other couples. We choose a theme and all take turns with what to bring to the dinner. We have been doing this for about 5 years. The way it works is one couple brings appetizers, another drinks and finally the dessert. The couple who chooses the theme and hosts creates the main course. Our gourmet club has a blog...I will send you the link and you can see the dinners that we have been successful on!

For the most part I love what everyone else loves when it comes to cooking. Some of my favorite cuisines are Thai, Asian, Tex Mex and Mexican.

No fear in trying to cook, I fear I won't have enough time to do a good job, then I try to take short cuts...not a good idea with a new recipe.

I asked my husband what people say about my cooking and he said, "They think you are a great baker!" That was a nice way to say....I am still learning to be a good cook and I have a feeling it is because my roots are in from the Midwest. The Midwest mentality towards food is to enjoy the flavors that the food. Generally, you do not need to spice it up. Just taste the flavor that is already there...maybe you add pepper. From a health standpoint our cholesterol is awesome, but from a taste standpoint we could improve our daily currently, I am using different low cal marinades and spices and I love it! Now, I know what Christopher Columbus was looking for keeps eating interesting.

Now, we are living in Rhode Island, to tell you the truth cooking here consists of chowder, lobster, scallops, shrimp, littlenecks etc. Popular dishes that people commonly have in RI are stuffed clams, better known as stuffed quahogs. I am not fond of fish smell in the house, so I have not ventured to cook these lovely sea creatures from scratch. I have happily bought pre-made New England dishes from the butcher/sea market and baked them. Maybe around Lent (No meat on Fridays) I will be more adventurous and try to cook some New England dishes.

My family menus are classic at the holidays- turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas, ham for Easter, My husband's family serve a seven fish meal on Christmas Eve, and since his mother is Italian they serve pasta with every holiday and a few times they had lamb at Easter. We don't have any kids yet, so we still are swapping turns at our mom and dad's places, so we still have the chance to establish what we will cook for our family.

I would love to cook for Curtis Stone, he is a celebrity chef that is easy on the eyes. The reason I would choose Curtis is because I would actually be secretly trying to get him to teach me his wicked mad skills. BRING THOSE SKILLS CURTIS! I would NOT want to ever meet or eat with Rachel Ray. I have a love/hate relationship with her. She gives great tips, but her personality is annoying, especially when she says EVOO!!! Aaaaaahhhhhh. What is so hard with saying, Extra Virgin Olive Oil? On a side note, there are websites that have hate groups on Rachel Ray. I am not the only one who finds her obnoxious.

One of my last meals would need to include a dessert called Strawberry Pretzel Dessert..sweet potatoes.....hmmmmm.....other than that I am not sure what else would be on the menu.

The Middle East sounds interesting when it comes to their cuisine. I would love to go there and try things blindly. I know that they make hummus and I love that!

Candles are in my freezer and batteries are in my fridge! If you have melted candles stuck in a glass holder you can freeze them and then the melted candle will pop out cleanly. (Sometimes you need to use a little force with a knife.) I have read that keeping your batteries in the fridge will keep them fresh and working better when you use them.

My guilty pleasure is licking the batter bowl or eating cookie dough! Yum!

Eating veggies was natural and easy for all of us in the family. I still load my plate with veggies today! I grew up eating a salad with every meal and loved it.

I don't like saying that I don't like certain foods because as time goes on I noticed that my palette changes and honestly I don't want to sound prejudice! ;-) Right now, I shy away from dark heavy beers- like guinness and on a day to day basis I stay away from pink ham. I find ham super salty. I mean who likes to retain water weight?

Recently, I mentioned to my husband that I love that he loves CHEESE. I think it makes our cooking relationship just work out so well. It would be hard to live with someone who doesn't love cheese. Cheese makes so many meals amazing. Chocolate is a side item for me...I like to dip things in chocolate or have nuts and chocolate but I am not a purest when it comes to chocolate.

A favorite recipe...Strawberry Pretzel Dessert...I will have to get it from my mom! Look to the blog in the future and I will give Danielle the post.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Casserole Queen

I don’t ever remember my mother making a casserole in my entire life. It probably had to do with the fact that she’d have to make ten of them to feed our entire family. Maybe more if my brothers were home from college. Anyway, I always just thought that casseroles were just a bunch of stuff you’d find on a regular dinner plate all mashed together and sprinkled with cheese. I guess half of that is kind of true, but now that I’ve broken the casserole barrier in my house I’ve found that I can make a damn good casserole. I’ve learned that casseroles may not be a gourmet meal fit for a queen, but you know what? It’s the fellowship, not the food sometimes. My sisters are my best critics. They shoot me straight, and you know what? They love this casserole! Well…at least a few of them :) I have to say, the last time that I made this, last Monday actually, I didn’t have any milk so I added a cup of sour cream instead of a cup of milk and it was BETTER THAN EVER! Make it with love people.

Chicken and Rice Casserole

2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 small onion, minced
1 cup milk (substitute a cup of sour cream for a creamy switch up!)
2 eggs
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, plus extra for top
4 cups of brown rice
4 large chicken breasts diced
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a large casserole dish.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, saute onions with 2 tablespoons of butter and cayenne until translucent add diced chicken and cook thoroughly. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk and eggs.
Add the cheese, rice, parsley, thyme, basil and chicken and combine well. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into prepared casserole dish and top with extra shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes and serve piping hot.

Monday, September 20, 2010

In A Purple Kind of Mood

I’ve always kind of battled with eggplant. It’s no enemy like bananas are, but they’re just weird to me. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Why does it soak up all of my EVOO like a sponge and get all brown like my stupid bananas? I dunno, it sounds like a cool vegetable to like and maybe order at a restaurant to impress people. *mmm..yes, I’ll be having the eggplant*. It’s beautifully purple and has a cool little green stem thingy on top. Plus, if you froze it you could probably use it to roll out your pastry dough. So I’ve really tried to enjoy eggplant over the years. My best friend’s mother is Sicilian and she can make anything taste good just by looking at it so her eggplant is always amazing. (Rosalie is her name and I’ll have to do another separate post about her. She’s the most amazing cook I’ve ever met.)

Well, I regularly read “Organic Soul” which is a blog about all things organic, mainly recipes and what not, but last week there was an eggplant recipe. It sparked my interest because it was a “stuffed” eggplant that had beef in it along with spinach, mushrooms, onions and fresh herbs. Thought it sounded pretty yummy. My husband and I don’t cook with ground beef, so I switched that out with ground turkey and it worked out perfectly. How’d they turn out you might ask? Well, they looked gorgeous. I sprinkled them with a little Pecorino Romano cheese since I had a fresh brick of it in the cheese drawer but that wasn’t in the recipe either. I have to say they’re quite tasty! The recipe is a bit labor intensive but I prepared my veggies and meat ahead of time so that cut some of the time. I hope you try these “Eggplant Boats”. I served them with some organic, whole wheat pasta and a nice glass of red wine. Enjoy!

Stuffed Eggplant
1 large eggplant
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped (optional, I used extra spinach)
1 cup spinach, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
salt/ pepper
1 pound of ground organic turkey
¼ cup tomato paste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Remove pulp leaving ½ inch of the outer shell. Dice the pulp.
3. Sauté the onions, garlic and meat until almost done, add the mushrooms, diced eggplant pulp, spinach, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and continue to sauté an additional 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and remove from stove.
4. Brush the inside of the eggplant shell with olive oil
5. Spoon mixture into eggplant shell and drizzle olive oil on top. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
6. Top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bananas Were The Enemy

I've never been a fan of bananas. They bruise, they get mushy and brown, and they have those weird stringy things that are attached to them when you pull off the peel. To be perfectly honest, they really gross me out. So when I had my first sone Lucas, I never bought bananas. It was stupid now that I think of it because it's the easiest snack in the world to give them but I can't peel bananas with out gagging...literally. Just ask my husband. So one day someone offered Lucas a banana when he was probably 18 mo's old. He, of course, LOVED the banana. This began my struggle with the long yellow fruit.

Lucas is 5 now and he has 2 younger brothers so we always have bananas around. I thought by this time they wouldn't me grossed out anymore, but they do. If my husband Chris is around I make him peel them. Unfortunately, my kids taste buds go in and out of banana phases and you never know if they'll love them or hate them. So, sometimes we have yucky brown bananas sitting on the top of my nice, clean granite countertops. Eyesores! I had to come up with a disposal plan. I can't just throw them away, I'd feel extremely guilty about wasting the food. Ain't no way I'm eating yellow banana much less a brown mushy one. Then, I remembered my granny. She'd always make banana bread. This may seem like an easy idea for most of you but to me I hated bananas so much that I couldn't even imagine putting them into anything I'd actually eat. Since I love baking I figured "what the hell" and try it. Just once.

I built up the nerve to make banana bread. My husband LOVES it and his mother would always send us home with a loaf, so I knew that I'd get some major brownies points. The first instruction was to mush up 3-4 mushy bananas. It was gross but I accomplished it. I was proud of myself. I'd conquered the bananas and turned them into this lovely smelling loaf of yummy goodness that I actually loved. The smell filled my house and even my kids mentioned that something was smelling REALLY good in the kitchen! I was so proud of myself and I dare say that my banana bread now tops my mother in laws. Sounds like a challenge is the cards! :)

Here's the recipe for all of you that need a good one. I can't remember for the life of me where I got it but it's really good and REALLY easy! Happy baking everyone!

Banana Bread Recipe: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place oven rack to middle position. Butter and flour (or spray with a non stick vegetable/flour spray) the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Set aside.
Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Let cool and then chop coarsely.
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients (banana mixture) into the dry ingredients just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. (The important thing is not to over mix the batter. You do not want it smooth. Over mixing the batter will yield tough, rubbery bread.) Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. This bread can be frozen.
Makes 1 - 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf.

Banana Bread Recipe:
1 cup (115 grams) walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
1 3/4 cups (230 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ripe large bananas (approximately 1 pound or 454 grams), mashed well (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Southwestern Shepherd's Pie

Here's a yummy recipe that Jeff and Michelle shared with me. I've made it tons of times and it gets better EVERY time! :)

Southwestern Shepherd's Pie
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped green jalapeño
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup cooked corn
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño; cook for 2 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high; add beef and brown for 5 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste and spices; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; simmer until liquid reduces, 15 minutes. Add corn, beans, and 4 tablespoons cilantro. Spoon into a 9x9-inch baking dish.

3. Place sweet potatoes in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain; mash with butter and milk. Spread mash over the meat mixture. Bake in a 400°F oven until brown, 30 minutes. Garnish with more cilantro.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Was God Playing a Joke on Us?

A True Brownie Story

Brownie. Brownies. Chocolate goodness. Everyone in my family loves chocolate. Dark Chocolate, semi sweet chocolate, chocolate dipped bacon, chocolate dipped chocolate. Everyone loved chocolate but me. Brownies are the epitome of chocolate so of course they were made very regularly at my house growing up and they always make me think of my sister Ellen. Ellen, who still loves chocolate, loves brownies and always baked them. I’d eat them of course, I mean, they’re sweet! I’d rather have had some sort of non chocolate dessert but they were fine. I didn’t really have a choice. Ellen never believed that I didn’t like chocolate. I’m not sure my mother did either but I was not a fan. I’m not sure if Ellen just couldn’t wrap her mind around it or if she really thought I was trying to pull wool over her eyes but in all seriousness….I was NOT a chocolate fan as a child. Not a fan. So this is a story about a brownie disaster involving my sister Ellen. I can giggle about it now but at the time I thought I was in a heap of trouble. I promised my mother I’d blog about this story so here it goes.

It was summer time and the East Texas heat was killer. It was one of those days where you could see the heat coming off of the pavement in waves that made everything look blurry in the distance. We had a huge house with 2 AC unit and my parents, who I believe were trying to get us not to watch too much TV, didn’t like turning the AC on in the part of the house that had the TV in it so instead of sweating our poor little tails off watching TV we always decided to swim first, then bake, and finally partake in our yummy goodness. Mama had a strict schedule back in the day. She’d start in the morning with breakfast and then clean from room to room. The kitchen was usually the first thing to get cleaned then the floors so once those things were taken care of you better not screw it up with dirty feet or dishes. Mama had dropped us off at the pool that morning then picked us up and what did Ellen want to make? Of course, brownies.

Mama had already cleaned, I mean sheesh, she had probably been cleaning the whole time we were lounging at the pool and I’m pretty positive she didn’t want two girls in her kitchen messing things all up and getting things dirty again. But we asked, kind of begged for a little bit and finally mama said something to the extent of , “listen, I’ve cleaned the floors and kitchen already so if you mess it up I’ll be upset”. That’s all she had to say, we knew we had to be careful in that kitchen! So we got home and got our things together for the kitchen. Eggs, check. Oil, check. Water, yup. Box of chocolate brownie mix, check. Since I hated brownies I was positive that Ellen would let me enjoy the one fun part of the brownie baking process, pouring in the mix. I’m not sure why it was so exciting but I guess when you’re twelve those things can really rile you up. Ellen gave me her well practiced “hell no” face and then the sass came out. She snatched up that brownie mix bag then I snatched it back. We were crazy. After about ten seconds of pulling back and forth, fighting over who was going to do the ever so important “brownie mix pour” the darn bag split open and brownie mix soared all over my mother’s pristine kitchen counters, floors and daughters.

For a moment I felt like it was the end of the world. My mother’s floors? She just told us to be careful about the stupid floors and of all things, brownie mix? Was God playing a joke on us? We didn’t even have a plan of action here, all hope had been lost. The white flag had been drawn and I could see mama coming through the fire place room to our kitchen. The time had come. She came into the kitchen and saw the floors and the counters and started laughing at us. Really? You’re going to laugh at us? I was completely confused. First of all my sister and I were arguing which didn’t bode well in our home. Secondly, we were in her kitchen making food she told us to be careful about making. Lastly, we had failed at those directions. So, why was she laughing? I guess now that I’m a mom I understand. She wasn’t really laughing out of nervousness or anxiety. She was laughing at us. We looked like idiots and she knew that we were so scared out of our pants for making a huge mess and she knew that the kitchen would be cleaner than before after we were finished. I love my mom for laughing at us. She could have done much worse. We baked more brownies that day. My sister, mother and I enjoyed them very much.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Norman Rockwall

When I started interviewing people for Salty Brownies I knew that I wanted to interview our friend Jeff. First of all I knew that he has a passion for cooking and secondly he’s a hoot to chat with. He’s from Iowa, like most of my husband’s family, and we’ve been blessed to become really good friends with him and his fiancé Michelle, who is actually one of Chris’ cousins from Iowa. When I married my husband I kind of giggled about all his family being from Iowa. I’d been there, there’s lots of corn. An absurd amount of corn, but even though it’s a big staple in people’s diets up there, they make some MEAN corn and I love it up there now. Chris’ family, the beautiful state and yes, the corn.

What were your first memories in the kitchen?

Mom cooking. Wearing an apron. Listening to the radio. Whistling away. It was a regular Norman Rockwell.

Any stories of amazing turnouts or disasters?

The most ambitious meal I ever made was pan seared Bay Scallops on a bed of white beans, bacon, and spinach. I had never cooked scallops before, so I was worried. End of the day, I was quite impressed with myself. Another amazing turnout was a Southwest Sheppards pie. It was spicy and used sweet potatoes instead of white ones. Kind of a flyer, but it was delicioso.
Disaster. Pretty much anytime I try to cook fish. When the smoke clears the apartment reeks and I’m usually on my way to McDonalds. I make the worst tilapia you’ll ever taste.

Anything that you love that most people think isn't good at all?

Ice Cream. I know most people can’t stand the stuff, but I find it to be delicious.

What are you afraid of cooking and what's your best dish?

Omelets. They intimidate the pants off me. I think I’ve made 1 presentable omelet in my life. Coinsidently, I make some mean scrambled eggs with cheese and ham!

What do people say about your cooking?

Work in progress. Michelle says I’m better than I think I am. I don’t get too crazy. But things usually turn out pretty well. I hope to eventually graduate to a blow torch and liquid nitrogen….but I think that’s a way down the road yet.

Anything special that people make in your part of the country?

Corn on the cob, loaded with butter, Cajun spices, salt and pepper. Num. Nothing makes me feel more like I’m at home than getting after a couple ears of corn.

What are your family holiday menus like?

Ham and Turkey. Sometimes ma would throw in a lasagna to keep things interesting. Cranberries, potatoes (sweet and normal both) green bean casserole, rolls, and this ridiculous pistachio jello type thing that had chunks of God knows what in it. It always reminded me of Aunt Bethany’s jello mold in Christmas Vacation. She makes it every year without fail, and every year it’s the only thing I don’t have.

Describe a holiday meal at your house

Chaos. Lots of yelling. Panic from my mother. But in the end, a spread like you couldn’t believe. The woman makes the best turkey gravy in the world. That stuff goes on EVERYTHING at our Thanksgiving table.

Who do you like to cook for or if you could cook for anyone who would it be?

I would love nothing more than to have dinner with Michael Jordan, Dave Matthews and Albert Pujols. Brats and Steaks sounds about right.

What would be your last meal?

Filet, tempura vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes from Sidney Street Café in St. Louis.

If you could eat anywhere in the world where would it be?

The food in Paris was pretty darned good. Looking forward to our honeymoon in Ireland and sampling lots of fish n’ chips, Sheppard Pies and the like.

Anything that's in your freezer or fridge that would surprise anyone?

Worcestershire sauce. Not really a surprise. But I couldn’t think of anything and Worcestershire is fun to say.

What's your guilty pleasure when it comes to cooking or baking?

Sampling. Maybe a little too much sometimes.

When did you eat your veggies?

Sparingly for the first 25 years of life. Michelle has turned me on to them though. Broccoli and Cauliflower are my favorites. Being from Iowa, corn was obviously always a staple. And I’m coming around on peppers. Especially banana and red. Yummy.

Are there any foods that you don't like at all?

Waterchestnuts. Ehh. Worthless. No flavor, just awkward crunching when you don’t expect it. The dammed things are opaque, so they sneak up on you. They’re like a bad tasting ninja.

Cheese or Chocolate?

Chocolate covered cheese.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I'm going to begin to interview people about their kitchens very soon! I thought it would be really interesting to hear some other people's stories about what inspires them to cook and bake. Funny stories or complete disasters either way, it'll be great! If you're interested in being interviewed please let me know. I'd love to chat with you. I recently went to my mother's house to visit with my sister from Chicago. My mom had bought some tamales from a woman from her church...DELICIOUS!! I've decided it's going to be my next kitchen adventure. I hear it's an all day even. Disaster or materpiece?? I dunno...we shall see :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Your Pizza Dinner

A great way to get your kids and other family members in the kitchen is to have a pizza night. My husband doesn't like to cook and my kids are little so getting everyone in the kitchen together can be a challenge. But, our pizza dinner nights have really brought us together in a fun way. It gives us something to chat about while working on a meal together. I personally do not like store bought, pre made pizza dough, I think it tastes funny. Take a trip to your local Whole Foods, Sprouts or Central Market and they'll usually sell their extra pizza dough. I buy mine at Sprouts Farmer's Market for $1.50 a bag. While you're there pick up some good cheeses and toppings. Get your family in the kitchen and have them make their own pizzas. It's easy, fast and yummy! The pizza dough makes all the difference and you'll be proud of your handiwork at the end.

The Incident

I have no shame in saying that I truly love pizza. My first memories of dating my husband Chris usually involved a 12 am pizza delivery from Gumby’s in Austin or Tuesday’s buy one get on free pizza rolls from Double Daves. By midnight we’d get our second wind and we’d stay up talking in my dorm room till the sun came up. He became my best friend during those long nights with our pizza in hand. My other best friend Meg told me stories about her life in Rome and the fresh pizza that she could buy everyday…I’d listen as she’d describe this pizza. Pizza in Italy everyday? Sounds good to me! I’ve had New York pizza and pizza from Chicago and seriously I’d eat both all day long if I had the chance. I think I’ve even dreamt about pizza a few time. There’s just something about it Ahhh….pizza…. It's something that everyone can enjoy. So here’s my pizza story. I’m still apologizing to my mother about it.

My sister and I had made a pizza for ourselves one evening. We were young, maybe I was in middle school and my sister Ellen was a few years older. She was definitely the boss of me so I’d try to follow her every move, you know, make the sister proud. After making pizza one evening we were sitting together eating, chatting, and there it was, staring me in the face. The last pizza slice. There was no way in hell that I was going to let my sister eat that slice of pizza. Didn’t care who she was. I racked my brain thinking of how I could make that slice MINE. So, in an instant, and no forethought of course, I picked up that beautiful slice of yummy goodness and licked the crap out of it right in front of my sister. I knew that it would gross her out. I laughed inside. I knew I’d have to pay for it later, but something, probably my sassiness, made me do it. The pizza slice was mine. So, I set the victory slice down so I could finish the last bit of pizza that I had on my plate. About 30 seconds into my triumph my mom walked by and eyed the pizza. She picked up my victory piece and ate it. She ate my licked piece of pizza right in front of us. We tried to hide the “oh shit” look on our faces, and I guess we did a pretty good job because she didn’t find out but the panic set in. We discussed if we should tell her and we decided against it. Finally after about 10 years the guilt was too much. We broke down and told her. She of course, being the mother that she was, didn’t care. She was hungry and it was pizza for goodness sake.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Serving With Love

Older sisters are special to me not just because I have so many of them, but because they hold a lot of wisdom. Even though I was usually bouncing, cart wheeling, breaking something or needing stitches I actually watched them carefully when I was little and secretly wanted to be just like them. To me they were and are all smart, witty, well spoken and well educated. They taught me how to do all kinds of things besides cook and bake. They taught me how to harmonize, memorize, cartwheel, play basketball, read, jump rope, take tests and shave my legs. They taught me how to be kind and patient, how to control my laughter at church, how to be a mother, and how to treat my children with respect and love and still discipline them. This post is from my sister Anne. I remember that she taught me what color blush to wear. Light pink.

Ravioli, canned, one gallon. Liver, well done. Fish sticks, baked. When I met my husband I told him that I did not like Italian food, steak or seafood. I had them all in the above forms growing up and none were very good. My husband introduced me to crab stuffed ravioli, ribeyes and pacific salmon. When friends, (especially my Italian friends) talked of the food of their childhood and looked at me expectantly, I always politely said, “my mom isn’t a very good cook”. They would look at me sympathetically.

Now that I have a few grey hairs of my own and two children, I am in awe of my mother’s abilities. She fed 14 kids on my dad’s salary when today many people insist on a two family income as a necessity. The same hands who served me ravioli fed my baby so I could sleep and weaned my second daughter from the bottle. Those same hands make, at 75, 3 meals a day from scratch for my brother who is on a medically prescribed, no salt diet. Those same hands brought me tea in bed on my last visit home. Now, when people talk of food from their childhood, I always tell them that my mother was and is a great cook, the best. She always served us love.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Easy Peasy

When I gave birth to our third son almost three months ago I was blessed to have dinners brought to us for two whole weeks by my amazing moms group. We ate, and ate, and ate. It was wonderful. The most memorable thing that I can remember from those 2 weeks, with the exception of our brand new baby of course, were these brownies that one of the mothers brought us. They were divine...I couldn't put my finger on what was exactly in them but Chris and I kept eating them all night thinking we'd figure it out. At the following MOPS meeting I had to ask her and I couldn't believe my ears. Thank you Misty for the AMAZING brownie recipe!!

Misty's Amazing Brownies

1 pkg of your fav brownie mix
1 large symphony bar (use the almond toffee one it's the best)

Yes seriously that's all the ingredients

Prepare the brownie mix as directed on the box and preheat oven to whatever the box says...I'm guessing 350. Lay 1/2 of the brownie mixture on the bottom of your pan then break apart the symphony bar and lay it evenly on top of the brownie mix. Cover the candybar layer with the remaning brownie mix and bake as directed on the box.

Bake, Eat, Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Table To Be Proud Of

My journey began when I was little. My mother always let me cook with her in the kitchen. I’d sit right next to the stove top on the counter watching her make Mac and Cheese with egg noodles. It actually sounds kind of dangerous now that I have kids, but I was never stupid enough to touch anything. I have to be honest, It wasn’t the best Mac and Cheese, but I loved sitting on the counter and feeling the steam from the pots come at me when someone would open the back door. My mom would always be humming or singing “Up Up and Away In My Beautiful Balloon” or some other silly song that has been stuck in my head the past twenty years. She’d let me bake anything I wanted even when I was little. I was usually baking with my sisters and would argue with them about how I really didn't like chocolate. It wouldn’t be fair to say that my family had a sweet tooth. It was more like we were just sweet all over from the desserts we made. Anytime people would come home they’d pick up something sweet from Collin’s Street Bakery or my mother would have made her “Puffy Oatmeal Cookies”. I’m still trying to figure our why the heck they were puffy. We ate them though because there was love in those cookies.

We have a really big family and by the time I came around everyone was either coming in or going out with the exception of a couple brothers and sisters but I distinctly remember our kitchen when everyone would come home from school. It was full and when it got too full my mom would kick a few people out. She’d usually start with Daddy if he was in there sneaking in ice cream after dinner. He loves ice cream after dinner. Then one by one we’d have to get out of there because it just got too packed.

Daddy and my brothers built a huge round table with a lazy susan on top so we could all have dinners together. It was a table that all of my other brothers and sisters could fit around. To some that sounds funny, but I’m the youngest of 14 so it was quite a table. I remember watching that food on the lazy susan go around and around while people discussed important things. School, work, religion, politics. It was like a merry go round of food and CSPAN all rolled into one. My mother, usually never sitting down to eat, would always put the dessert right in the middle of the lazy susan. I never ate any of her vegetables or the liver that Daddy liked her to cook for that matter but I sure has hell ate her cake. It never looked like it would turn out when she was making it, but somehow, it was always delicious.


There are so many things that happen in a kitchen, sounds, smells, mishaps, disasters but most importantly fellowship. My greatest memories have been in kitchens. Making Jesus’ birthday cake for Christmas with my mother and sisters, watching my dad make the only thing I’ve ever seen him cook, egg sandwiches. Gross. I remember smelling my aunt Lois’ candied pecans and cookies, my Granny always having cold crisp cranberry juice ready for me when I visited and watching my aunt Polly make gooseberry cobbler just for my my dad and me. No one else liked it, especially my mother, but I can still remember the sugar sprinkled on top and eating it with vanilla ice cream. I can still feel the tang of those gooseberries. Hits you right in the back of the throat. What’s a kitchen without friends and family to make all those memories with? So this is a blog about just that, my kitchen, your kitchens. It’s about the stories and food that go in and out of our kitchens everyday, season to season, year to year. This all started because I told my sister I wanted to make a cookbook. Who know's what it will turn into? Here's what I do know. It’s about the food that’s good, some really good, and some that's really bad. Everyone’s journey isn’t the same but everyone needs to eat.