Brownies & Blogging

Sorry it’s been a little while since my last post. I got pretty sick for a few weeks and was not able to eat solid foods, so cooking was the last thing on my mind!  I’m am doing better now, although it might have left me lactose intolerant (NOoOO!!)  But we’re waiting a few more days to test it again.

ANYWAY, I have some exciting news for the blog. Last week I was adopted! lol. I am participating in somthing called Adopt A Blogger, where a veteran food blogger adopts a newbie blogger and mentors them to help them improve their Blog. I’m so excited! My Mentor is Jo from “The Adventures of Kitchen Girl” If you’ve got a minute, pop over to her site. It’s very inspiring! I can’t wait to learn lots from her!

And now for the food! Did someone say brownies??

 Wilton has a new line that is focused around brownies. I bought Wilton’s brownie book, along with a few molds and cutters to play around with. Lately, the folks at the Hub’s office have been whining that I hadn’t sent them any goodies in awhile. So I figured this was a good opportunity to try my hand at some brownies. Now I confess, I went with boxed brownies this go round, BUT I did whip up some different frosting’s from scratch 😉 Next go round I will give it a try doing everything from scratch.

 

Fudge Brownies

 

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So I started with a box of basic brownies (actually I made two boxes)  and put them in this mini loaf pan.

 

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After baking, I popped them out and allowed them to cool completely

 

 

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Then I iced them with a nice fudge icing. I LOVE icing on my brownies. Let me tell you this icing is Divine.  It was light chocolaty and not too sweet!  which is very important for a brownie. But this one was perfect. It sets ok, but I’m still on the lookout for a nice thick fudgy icing. One that I would be more comfortable decorating.  But as for taste, this one is awesome.

Here’s the recipe I used:

Baker’s Chocolate Frosting (recipe by Bakers’ Chocolate)

4 Squares of Bakers Unsweetened Chocolate

1 lb (or 4 cups) of confectioners sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick)  butter or margerine (softened)

2 tsp Vanilla

1/3 cup of millk

 

Microwave chocolate for 1 1/2 min, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. In a mixing bowl, Mix Chocolate, sugar, butter, and Vanilla. Gradually add milk while beating on low speed until well blended. If desired, thin icing with more milk one tsp at a time until desired consistancy.

 

 

Mint Grasshopper Brownies

 

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I also ran across a box of mint brownies in the store and new insantly what I wanted to do with them. I saw these in the Wilton brownie book, so I combined the two ideas

I started with the box of  mint brownies, and made them in Wiltons mini square molds. The jury is still out on that mold, as they were difficult to remove them. The best way I have found is to freeze the brownies and then pop them out, but thats VERY time consuming if you only have one pan. Next time I make these I will just bake a pan and cut out the squares myself.

when they were cool I whipped up a batch of mint icing and spread on top.

That recipe is here:

Mint Filling (recipe by Wilton)

3 Tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1/4 tsp mint extract

green icing color

 

Beat butter, sugar, and milk with mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in mint flavoring and icing color. Spread over cooled brownies and chill until set

 

Super easy!

 

Then I drizzled them with chocolate (this chocolate happened to come with the box of brownies, but you could make your own)

For some of them I just stopped there

 

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For the others I topped them with Chopped up Andes Candies to take that mint flavor to the extreme. You can find pre-chopped Andes in the store ( I got these at walmart) but for a greener look I suggest cutting some up yourself, as the pre-chopped ones look kind of dingy. I would prefer a greener prettier color, but it got the job done.

 

My oldest is a die hard mint fan and I think he almost passed out once or twice while eating some of these. Hmmmm these might make me some good bribes if I use them right 😉

All in all very easy recipes, and at them end of the day, you get to eat BROWNIES!

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Broccoli Cheese Garlic Crossants, and the Winner!

 

THE WINNER:   First of all I am behind in announcing the winner of the Jewel Tone Measuring cups. The Winner is Jennifer Herring!   Yay! Congrats Jennifer, I will be in touch with you to get your snail mail addy to get these purty things off to you!  I learned a few things after this first give-away. First of all people love free stuff! I had more hits than I’ve ever had while running this contest. Second, measuring cups are a little boring. lol. Out of all the visits, not many people commented to participate.  And that’s ok! I know that a single set of measuring cups isn’t very sexy. So this little trial lets me know that people ARE out there reading and they want bigger and more excited prizes! Not to worry. I knew it would most likely go that way. I wanted to start off small to see what the turn out would be. Soooooo, more exciting giveaways coming soon! 😉

 

Now for today’s recipe.Today’s recipe is easy!!! Have you noticed I like easy yet? 😉  I must confess, I am running out of food in the house. We are going out of town this weekend and so I have put off grocery shopping and doing my best to scrounge up meals with whatever is left in the house. Lunches are the hardest for me. I’m not sure why. I guess I tend to lean toward lunches that don’t take much time or ingredients to prepare. And its getting Booooooring! I was soooo craving something that took more than two ingredients today. So I scrounged around in my fridge and found a lone can of croissants. This peaked my interest. I then found the remains of a bag of frozen broccoli. My tongue started to tingle! Oh whats that? Cheese? alright! We’ve got ourselves a meal! Lets go!

 

So I made Broccoli cheese garlic croissants. I don’t claim to be the first to ever try this, just think of it as a nifty reminder if you ever get the hankering for “complicated flavor but super easy to cook” !

 

let us begin……

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First I steamed my broccoli in the microwave.

 

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open a can of croissants and pull apart the pieces.  Lay out one piece on a plate

 

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Spoon some of your cooked broccoli onto the croissant at the widest point

 

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sprinkle on some cheese. Here I used a mixed blend

 

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Go on, really dump it on 😉

 

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Now at the widest end start to roll it all up. because of the heat of the cooked broccoli, the pastry will be soft and pliable and easier to pull over the broccoli

 

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Place in a greased baking dish

 

 

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Repeat process until all pastries are used. Now I almost stopped here, but I got to thinking, this needs something…

 

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so melt you some butter and brush it all over the tops of each pastry

 

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Now lightly sprinkle some garlic powder across the tops. Trust me!

 

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Pop them in the oven for about 10 min at 350, until they are golden brown…..

 

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LIKE THIS. oooohhh let me tell you the warm garlic butter smell alone is enough to make your mouth water. Not only did the garlic add so much to the taste, but it also provides a purty golden brown color on top. These would be great as hor’ derv’s for parties, as appetisers, or even a meal! (like I did 🙂  )

 

Now eat and enjoy!! I can not tell you how this deliciousness brought me to my knees today! It’s that mmmmm mmmmm GOOD! light, flaky, buttery cheesy, oooooooh!

 

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Hope you will try it!

 

 

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Spring Nests and A Giveaway!

 

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Here’s a fun and easy recipes that the kids can help with! These are cute little Birds nests, great for spring or Easter! Oh and keep reading, the first giveaway is today!  But more on that later, lets get creating!

 

 

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The Cast & Crew:

Marshmallow cream, creamy peanut butter, Chow Mein Noodles, Butter, Plain M&Ms, and Peanut M&Ms

 

 

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Start with 1 cup of plain m&ms.  Admire how pretty they are.  Think about snagging one or two. Be thankful that there are more than one cup in a bag of M&Ms and help yourself to the bag.

 

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Now with the 1 cup that you saved Chop each candy in half. If you’ve got yourself a nice sharp butcher knife its actually pretty easy to do.

 

 

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This is what they will look like when when they are all chopped up. Its a good thing I don’t bleed chocolate. Set m&ms aside for now.

 

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Now Scoop out a 7 oz jar of marshmallow cream. Try not to get it on you, boy is this stuff sticky. (isn’t my spatula purty?? I LOVE cooking with color!)

 

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Dump all of  the cream into a mixing bowl

 

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Now find a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Isn’t this one pretty? do you like it? Well read on. (do you see where this is going?)

 

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Scoop  out 1/4 cup of Creamy peanut butter

 

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and toss it into your mixing bowl as well.

 

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And there it is, becomeing friends with the marshmallow cream. Hello cream, we’re going to be great friends!

 

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Now melt 1 3/4 TBS of butter. Ya ya i know, it would have been easier if the recipe just called for two, but guess what! We get to MELT the butter instead of just softening it! which means when we put it in the microwave its OK when you forget about it and it melts completely! Umm wait, please tell me I’m not the only one that does that?? Alas the butter you are currently looking at was my second try (I really did forget the first one and it was boiling before I remembered it.) Sigh. its ok though, I ended up finding a use for it anyway, you’ll see later on.

 

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Pour your melted butter into your mixing bowl

 

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beat well until everything is mixed completely

 

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like this.  well except for that sneaky peanut butter on the side who didn’t feel like making friends today.  He will be punished later.

 

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Now get out your 2 1/2 cups of chow mein noodles. Good news! that actually equaled one can perfectly! Thank you Recipe Gods! (or whomever)

 

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Pour chow mien noodles into your cream mixture

 

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Now pour in your m&ms. hey no snagging, you still have the bag. Umm you still have the bag right? You didn’t eat them all already did you? DID YOU?? See my bag is right…..wait……… lets move on…

 

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Now we are going to HAND mix everything together carefully. Some will break and thats ok. I forgive you. Its will be a little tricky at first to get it all mixed but it will get there.

 

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You may stop when everything is evenly coated. You have my permission

 

Now grease up a pan with butter. I have no idea where this picture went. I think my camera ate it because I didn’t share the m&ms. Remember that first batch of butter that I “oopsed!” Well it had cooled off by now so I used some of that! Handy right? Yea I ment to do that! ha ha!

moving on…

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Using a tablespoon scoop out some of the mixture and plop it on the buttered pan. You can also use wax paper instead of butter if you wish

 

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NOW comes the messy Uhh I mean FUN! yea fun part!  Useing buttered hands (the other thing i was able to use my extra butter for!) Anyway, useing buttered (& CLEAN) hands, shape the drops of mixture into roung “nests” and put a dent in the middle of each one

 

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So you have a pan that might look like this, well the nests anyway, maybe not so much the pan, yes its an old pan, but hey be nice, its been very good to me! They didn’t mean to  point and laugh at you pan, really they didn’t.

 

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Now here is where you “lay” your eggs into your nests (snicker) ok maybe it was lame.  Take three of your peanut m&Ms and place them in the dents of each nest. you’ll need to work pretty quickly, as once the mixture starts to dry the M&Ms won’t stick well

 

 

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Now you let them set to harden. Really you need to stick them into the fridge for a little while for that to happen. Personally I would store them in covered containers in the fridge until they are ready to be eaten. After they’ve been out awhile they soften and start to fall apart again.

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And there you have it! cute little spring nests!

Well I hope yours ended up being cuter than mine anyway, lol.

 

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In review, I think next time I might try things a bit differently. Though my kids adored them, I’m not much for all the chow mien, I would like to try it with broken up pretzel sticks next time, and maybe a little less marshmallow cream so that it would be a little more “brown” nests. However I am not sure it would even work with less, as it may not be enough cream to hold it all together. I’ll be sure to update this post if I ever do find out! Or feel free to let me know if you try it! 🙂

 

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Ok ok now for the good part. Since you made it THIS far. See these cute measuring cups in their pretty jeweled colors and big bold measurements? I just love cooking with color! and Welllllll I happen to have a brand new set to give to one lucky reader!  So here’s the deal. This site gets a lot of readers, but you wouldn’t know it by the comments section. You can practically hear the crickets chirping in there! So lets liven things up. If you’d like a chance to win these fun pretty cups, just leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite m&m color is. See, easy , fun, and ya might win something! Be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner! The winner will be drawn with a randomizer and I will post the lucky winner on this site, and mail them to ya strait away! I know its a small prize, but it’s something fun to get us going since this is a pretty new site. I plan to have more giveaways in the future, and hopefully they will be bigger and better!  

so who’s in?? Contest will close at 9:00 PM CST on Saturday April 4th. So hurry!  🙂