Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ken's Brownies

These. Are. Incredible.

I was at a party a couple weekends ago and had a blast at this backyard bash. I was mixing and mingling while the kiddies ran around and played under the stars as the night took us into one of the last warm evenings of the season.

Across the crowded room (well, actually the deck), I saw a platter of brownies sitting innocently on a picnic table. You all know my brownie weakness by now. You know I'm going over there.
I wandered over to said table and had a sampling.

Let me just say that these brownies surpassed all others. Scrap whatever recipes I have posted in the past. These are the most decadent little bars I have had yet. After wolfing down four in a row and wading through the gaggle of kids swarming the brownie tray, I fixated myself on making my way over to the person responsible for this creation. I still don't know whether to love or hate him since I really don't need another food addiction to add to the list. You know what? I didn't even need to plead with him or his wife in order for them to share the recipe. Nice people!

So, Ken, I thank you and curse you all in the same blog. Ursula, thanks for posting your husband's genius creation.

And since today is my birthday, I have whipped up a double batch of these babies. Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me! I get to eat these brownies guilt-free!

Ken's Decadent Brownies

1 cup butter, cubed
6oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (Ken used Swiss Lindt dark chocolate)
2cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 pkg. Skor toffee bits
1 cup semi-sweet choc. chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Line bottom of sides of a 13 X 9 inch baking pan with foil, overhang.

2) Combine butter and chocolate in saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and then eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt to make smooth batter.

3) Spread evenly in pan. Bake on middle rack in oven for 18 min. or until top is almonst set. Sprinkle Skor bits over top and return to oven. Bake 8-10mn more or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Place pan on a rack; sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Spread evenly. Let cool until chocolate is set.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Surviving Dinner Time

photo by Rumor Magazine

Did anyone else catch the premiere of this season's Survivor? It's really the only show I dedicate time to watch. My kids and I tuck ourselves into my big bed and settle in to pick our favourites.

This is the first year we're divided. My kids are cheering for the Young team (twenty-somethings who seem full-figured and empty-headed) while I root for my peers on the Over Forty Side. Go, old people, go! I already admire them for the strength they've shown by being able to leave their families behind for 38 days; something I would find the most taxing if I were ever to compete in Survivor (do they accept Canadians? I don't think they do...).

Even though the old folks lost the first challenge, I am still confident that brains will win over brawn. They show a fortitude that comes with their maturity. I'd love to see those young people pack school lunches, juggle a family's schedule and break up offspring's fighting and arguing -- all the while having no sleep due to the baby that was up all night. Survive that, twenty-somethings! Over 40s know real sacrifice!

And considering we've now survived the first two weeks back to school and our calenders are dotted with more red ink than those twenty-somethings' first term papers, I feel we all deserve an easy dinner that rewards us with the gift of time. So here's a quickie that will help you all survive next week.

photo by Just Eat Food

Green Bean and Chicken Casserole

1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
2 cups seasoned stuffing crumbs (like Stove Top)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" strips
2 cups frozen, cut green beans

Heat oven t o 350. Lightly spray glass casserole dish with cooking oil.

In small bowl, mix soup and milk until blended. In another bowl, prepare stuffing mix by mixing bread crumbs with seasoning packet. Mix in butter. In baking dish, layer chicken, green beans, soup mixture and top with stuffing mixture.

Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes until hot and bubbly and chicken is no longer pink.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Comfort Food

photo by Food Thinkers on flickr

Wow, I'm on a comfort food overload right now, and totally enjoying it. I love fall! Bike rides in the forest, family back into routine and a cozy home with its simmering aromas drifting through the kitchen. Love It! This week was all about corn chowder, homemade baked beans and a new favourite I want to share. I love it on its own with a seven grain salad on the side but it makes great sandwiches. Come to think of it, this would be a good filling in a soft taco too.

Slow Cooker Shredded Buffalo Chicken

4-6 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 bottle of Red Hot Sauce
1 package ranch salad dressing mix (the dry stuff)
2 tblsp. unsalted butter

Place first three ingredients in slow cooker and simmer on low for six or seven hours. Using two forks, shred the chicken completely until it mixes in well with the sauce. Stir in butter. Serve chicken on a fresh bun, soft taco or on its own.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seafood Chowder

Ah, Saturday. With the first week of school under their belts, my kids are taking full advantage of this morning to sleep in.

Went to the movie store last night and rummaged through the $9.99 bargain bin and grabbed a few DVDs. I was able to scavenge and scoop up Cocoon (Brian Dennehy), Overboard (Goldie Hawn) and Best in Show (Eugine Levy) among others. It's hard to find movies that cater to our entire family so I felt pretty lucky. We all hunkered down later that night with junk-food and blankets and enjoyed some down time.

This time of year also gets me in the mood for comfort foods. This recipe reflects just that. Seafood Chowder without the heavy use of cream so you can indulge guilt free! Enjoy.

photo by koko's kitchen on flickr

Seafood Chowder

1/4 lb. frozen scallops
1 can of crab (or lobster) meat
2 cups organic chicken broth

Place the above in a saucepan on high heat. Bring to boil then simmer on medium for a few minutes. Spoon out seafood and reserve liquid.


Melt 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot on stove.

Add to pot:
4 large potatoes; chopped
2 large carrots; chopped
1 large onion; chopped
4 stalks celery; chopped
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. prepared garlic

Sprinkle the above with 1/2 cup flour. Stir and cook for a couple minutes. Add 6 cups chicken broth, stirring constantly. Add reserved seafood liquid. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low heat.

When potatoes are tender add:
1 1/2 cups skim milk
reserved seafood

Now grab your spoons and go fishing :)

movie reel photo by jasonrubacky on flickr

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bitter-Sweet September

photo by classendesign on flickr

It is with great sadness that I find myself at the tail-end of the last long weekend of the summer. What a wonderful ride this season has been.

Time is such a hard thing to come by for families and I loved having more of it. Time around the pool, on road trips, on beaches. Time to hear about the year my kids had at school and to take in their perspectives on life. Funny how last summer's life jackets and sandals all of a sudden are too small; as if I blinked and my kids all grew up that much more when I wasn't looking.

Of course, this time also comes with more sibling fighting, more mess, more chaos in the house. Yet, my heart is always heavy that first day back to school - the kids adorned with newly pressed, clean clothes (albeit temporary), backpacks carrying freshly sharpened pencils and blank papers; the tools that will soon spill out sums, essays and secret notes hoping to make their way to friends on the other side of the classroom.

Even though it can be challenging living alongside my kids' antics all day and every day for two full months, the house is eerily quiet after their departure into the new school year. A quiet that sinks into my heart until I get that phone call from my best friend and sister-in-law who knows I need a bit of cheering up every Tuesday after the September long weekend.

As the week rolls on and I find myself revisiting the freedom that school can bring, I ease into my old/new routine and start to value two little words that have erased themselves from my mind over the last 60 days; like chalk being erased from a black board: Alone Time. So even though I start the week off on a lonely note, I know the euphoria of having more choice in my days will come soon thereafter. Such as:

  • Uninterrupted phone calls
  • Last minute bike rides
  • Working and Thinking with no interruptions!!
  • Talking to my husband without censoring our conversations
  • A clean house
  • Less Refereeing
  • A break from daytime drumming and electric guitars

Until the bliss of the above sinks in, I only see the commitment of packed lunches, signing permission slips and having every weeknight filled with the social calendars of five people.

And those backpacks that carry off my children will eventually return home for another summer, ten short months from now. Their owners a little taller, smarter, older. Each of their shiny new pencils will be sharpened down to a stub. And I'll find them at the bottom of each backpack, curiously wondering about all the secrets they were privy to throughout the year.

Yep, summer will come and I'll have the gift of time with each of them again -- as if these warmer months magically enable us to freeze time and pretend that they're not really growing up on us as fast as they really are.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Caramilk Brownies

photo by me*

*Sorry, Darryl! But you asked for a picture. Good luck with your diet! You can always make the black bean brownies as a consolation. Sad replacement, I know. Good luck :)

Ooey, gooey, soft and chewy! These brownies are incredibly awesome. A big hit for anyone hankering for something chocolatey and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! No nuts or icing though. You don't want anything messing around with the heart of this decadent treat.

Caramilk Brownies

8 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups white sugar
6 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups white flour
4-6 Caramilk bars (or Skor if your name is Angie!)

Melt chocolate along with butter in double boiler on stove. Cool and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease an 11" x 13" pan (if you don't have one, use a 9" x 13").
Mix together sugar, eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour. Once combined, mix in chocolate/butter mixture and blend until combined. Stir in Caramilk pieces (or Skor for Angie).

Spread in pan and bake 20-25 minutes (depending on size of pan) or until toothpick in center comes out somewhat clean (not entirely clean - you want some gooey-ness in there!).

Most importantly: protect these with your life. When these babies come out of the oven, the attack on them is fierce!

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