911 Chocolate Brownies

Better and just as quick to make as any box mix without any of those fake ingredients. Guaranteed to satisfy any chocolate craving.

Better and just as quick to make as any box mix without any of those fake ingredients. Guaranteed to satisfy any chocolate craving.

You never know when and where a chocolate craving will strike but one thing I know is that when it hits, it’s hard to avoid or ignore. Having a well stocked pantry allows you to pull together some amazing brownies in no time. The ingredients needed for this recipe is as follows:

10 Tbs unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 Tbs instant espresso powder (optional but amazing)

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup AP flour

In a heat resistant bowl set over a pot of hot, simmering water, melt the butter, sugar, chocolate and salt together. Stir to combine. This can be done in the microwave as well, making sure to stir along the way to to burn the chocolate.

The mixture will look a bit gritty but don’t worry. Once the butter is all melted, remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Add 2 cold eggs one at a time mixing well after each. The mixture will be smooth and shiny now. Stir in the flour and combine well.

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Prepare a 8x8 metal pan with parchment or foil by lining a piece across the bottom and up two sides to create handles to lift when cooked. Grease the remaining part of the pan with butter to avoid sticking.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a tester comes out slightly clean and not raw looking.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a tester comes out slightly clean and not raw looking.

Can add optional add ins such as 1/2 cup chopped nuts, 1/2 cup chocolate chips mini marshmallows as I did or pretzels for a more salty sweet combo. Be creative or do nothing, these will be delicious any way to make them. Pour into prepared pan and bake as indicated. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting. I have no patience for the cooling time, so to speed things up I place the pan into my freezer which not only cools them but firms them up for easier slicing. After 10 minutes remove pan from freezer and lift out of pan from the pan lined “ears” . These will be chewy, rich and decadent for sure! Chocolate craving solved.

Pasta e Ceci

Rustic Italian cooking is easier than you may think. Ive learned these techniques since i was a kid hanging out with my Grandparents who migrated to the US in the early 1900’s. Old world recipes for the modern lifestyle.

Rustic Italian cooking is easier than you may think. Ive learned these techniques since i was a kid hanging out with my Grandparents who migrated to the US in the early 1900’s. Old world recipes for the modern lifestyle.

Typically the vegetables used in this recipe, carrot, onion, celery and garlic—lots of garlic were sautéed first in olive oil to soften then after cooking for about 20 minutes in the tomato sauce were removed and blended til smooth. Ive tried a new technique which keeps all the flavor and adds a bit of texture to an otherwise smooth sauce.

Ingredients and tools needed for this are:

Heavy bottom stockpot or dutch oven Plus small saucepan to precook noodles

Chefs knife

Mini chop

Pancetta or Bacon 3-4 slices

Garlic 3-4 cloves

Carrot 3

Onion 1/2

Celery 2-3 ribs

Cremini Mushrooms (optional)

Tomato puree 15 oz can

Can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) 1 15 oz can

Oregano 1 tsp

Salt and Pepper

Olive oil to drizzle over completed dish

Italian Parsley

Lemon squeeze

Parmesan Cheese (not from a green can)

Ditalini pasta 1 cup

In a mini chop add, 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped Celery ribs, 1/2 onion, 3 cloves garlic and 3-4 cremini mushrooms chopped. Puree and set aside.

Dice pancetta or 3-4 slices of bacon and place into hot stockpot

Render the fat and cook until crisp then add the pureed vegetables to the pot stirring to cook about 5 minutes. To this mixture, add I 15 oz can pureed tomatoes, unsalted preferred so that you can adjust your seasoning as needed. The pancetta or bacon may have enough salt already.

Add I 15 oz can chickpeas with the liquid to the tomato mixture, stir and let simmer for about 15 minutes to soften the chickpeas.

Meanwhile heat a salted pot of water to cook the pasta.

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Season with dried oregano and a few grinds of pepper. If the mixture seems too thick, add 1 can full of water; once the pasta is added, the mixture will thicken a bit more so better to be on the more liquid side than thicker. Rustic Italian cooking is all about look, feel, taste and adjustments. No fussy French stuff here.

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and add to the tomato mixture to simmer 5 minutes to absorb all the lovely flavors. Remember to taste and adjust salt, pepper as needed. If you want a little kick of spice, feel free to add a pinch of red pepper flakes.

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Serve with a shaving of parmesan cheese, diced Italian parsley, squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil.

Mangia!

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a mildly sweet bread enlightened by raisins and caraway seeds. A favorite teatime treat or anytime snack alone or slathered with European salted butter, jam or honey. Toasted or not, you'll be hooked. I am happy to share my adapted version from a long-time family recipe. 

 

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Prep time @ 15 minutes Cook time @ 45 minutes Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

In a medium size mixing bowl add dry ingredients:

4 1/4 cup AP flour

3/4 cup Granulated sugar

2 Tbs Caraway seeds (optional but flavorful)

1 Tsp Baking soda

1 Tsp salt

Traditional soda bread has raisins either golden or sundried. I like to use a mix of both in addition to adding dried cranberries, dried blueberries and anything else I may have on hand. In past loaves, I've added diced dried pineapple, mango, papaya and more. It's totally up to you for the traditional and non-traditional options. The other option is to plump or not to plump your raisins. In this batch, my raisins seemed a bit dry so I placed them in a bowl and covered them with warm water and a splash of Irish whiskey. Why not give them a punch of subtle flavor! Let them soak for about 15 minutes before draining and make sure to squeeze out all the excess liquid with a cloth before adding to your mixture.

1 cup raisins or dried fruit of your choice (set aside)

3 Tbs Melted unsalted butter (reserve 1 Tbs to brush onto the loaves before baking)

1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk

2 Large Eggs

In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk and the eggs, mix well. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Before combining the two, add 2 Tbs melted butter and the raisins. Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber scraper as much as possible. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and incorporated about 4 minutes and a few turns of the dough. You'll feel it come together. This makes 1 large loaf or 2 individual loaves as I like to make and give away to a friend or family member. 

 

 

Brush the tops of the loaves with the remaining 1 Tbs of butter and sprinkle with sugar (optional)

Brush the tops of the loaves with the remaining 1 Tbs of butter and sprinkle with sugar (optional)

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Bless this Bread

With a sharp knife, cut a X across the top of each loaf.

Place loaves on baking mat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Check each loaf with a tester in the center to make sure it is cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer loaves to a rack. Slice and serve warm from the oven with butter and jam.

 

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Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

This soup was inspired by my guilty, but not so healthy, pleasure of Chicken Pad Thai. One of my favorite dishes but not exactly on the low calorie, low carb list by any means. I gotta tell you that this recipe, as most of mine, was created in a organic and rustic manner by trying to incorporate flavors from one dish to recreate it into another. Typically my go-to chicken soup is the one my family, well mostly my kids, request which is Chicken Tortilla Soup. A soup I can whip up rather quickly these days but with the new year, I needed a new dish to add to my menu planning. If you like the heat of thai curry and coconut, you'll be just as pleased with this soup as I am. The best part is that once you create the base broth, you can add whatever veggies and ingredients to suit your tastes. I will give you my version and encourage you to play around with other add-ins or swap-outs once you feel comfortable with the process. 

To begin, let's make your shopping list:  -Snow peas (3/4 cup halved)  -Red onion (1/2)  -Red bell pepper (1)  -Carrots (2)  -Cilantro (1/2 cup)  -Ginger root piece (1 Tbs diced)  -Garlic (2 cloves)  -Red curry paste (3 Tbs)  -Box (32 oz) Unsalted chicken broth  -1 can (14-15oz) Coconut milk   -Rotisserie chicken   -Pad Thai noodles  -Lime (1)  -Avocado (1)   

To begin, let's make your shopping list:

-Snow peas (3/4 cup halved)

-Red onion (1/2)

-Red bell pepper (1)

-Carrots (2)

-Cilantro (1/2 cup)

-Ginger root piece (1 Tbs diced)

-Garlic (2 cloves)

-Red curry paste (3 Tbs)

-Box (32 oz) Unsalted chicken broth

-1 can (14-15oz) Coconut milk 

-Rotisserie chicken 

-Pad Thai noodles

-Lime (1)

-Avocado (1)

 

Prepping and organization will make the cooking process seamless. Cut your red onion in half and thinly slice one half of it and set aside. Peel and dice garlic and ginger root and set aside. Slice the snow peas into 1/2 or 1/3 depending on size. Julienne red bell pepper and carrots. roughly chop @ 1/2 cup cilantro.    

Prepping and organization will make the cooking process seamless. Cut your red onion in half and thinly slice one half of it and set aside. Peel and dice garlic and ginger root and set aside. Slice the snow peas into 1/2 or 1/3 depending on size. Julienne red bell pepper and carrots. roughly chop @ 1/2 cup cilantro. 

 

Peel ginger easily by using a spoon to scrape off the skin. Dice/mince your garlic and ginger.

Peel ginger easily by using a spoon to scrape off the skin. Dice/mince your garlic and ginger.

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Heat stockpot on medium heat before adding 1 Tbs vegetable oil. Once pot and oil are heated, add sliced onion and sauce until soft and translucent about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir as not to burn. Once you get a fragrant aroma (about 1-2 minutes) from the garlic and ginger, turn the heat to medium low and add in the chili paste stirring to combine and not to burn. Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

Heat stockpot on medium heat before adding 1 Tbs vegetable oil. Once pot and oil are heated, add sliced onion and sauce until soft and translucent about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir as not to burn. Once you get a fragrant aroma (about 1-2 minutes) from the garlic and ginger, turn the heat to medium low and add in the chili paste stirring to combine and not to burn. Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

Add the garlic and ginger and stir as not to burn. Once you get a fragrant aroma (about 1-2 minutes) from the garlic and ginger, turn the heat to medium low and add in the chili paste stirring to combine and not to burn. Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

Add the garlic and ginger and stir as not to burn. Once you get a fragrant aroma (about 1-2 minutes) from the garlic and ginger, turn the heat to medium low and add in the chili paste stirring to combine and not to burn. Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

Once the broth mixture has come to the low boil, add the coconut milk, stirring to combine and bring back to temperature. Add shredded chicken, noodles and vegetable at this point. Let the mixture simmer on low until veggies are heated(about 10 minutes) and the flavors are absorbed into the noodles. 

Once the broth mixture has come to the low boil, add the coconut milk, stirring to combine and bring back to temperature. Add shredded chicken, noodles and vegetable at this point. Let the mixture simmer on low until veggies are heated(about 10 minutes) and the flavors are absorbed into the noodles. 

Scoop into bowls, add a squeeze of lime and a lime wedge, slices of avocado and top with chopped cilantro. This dish is sure to become a new addition to your menu. I hope you enjoy it.   Bon Appetite!

Scoop into bowls, add a squeeze of lime and a lime wedge, slices of avocado and top with chopped cilantro. This dish is sure to become a new addition to your menu. I hope you enjoy it. 

Bon Appetite!

Always make sure to stay safe at clean up time, especially when hand-washing your kitchen knives. We created the Skrub Knife Cleaner to protect home cooks from senseless injuries. Available here and on amazon prime. No more cuts!

Always make sure to stay safe at clean up time, especially when hand-washing your kitchen knives. We created the Skrub Knife Cleaner to protect home cooks from senseless injuries. Available here and on amazon prime. No more cuts!

Apple Clafoutis

What is a Clafoutis you say? pronounced {klafu tis} is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally cherries, arranges in a buttered dish and covered with a flan-like batter. I first had one while in the French countryside at a beautiful farmhouse-style boutique hotel while on my honeymoon. As with many things French, I fell in love with it. A variety of seasonal fruit can be adapted to this recipe as I have done here with apples. Depending on the fruit you select, you may need to adapt the flavorings. I like the combo of vanilla and almond extracts but certainly can stick to just vanilla. Fairly simple to put together with a few panty ingredients and an absolute delight to serve with a cup of coffee or dessert wine.

 

Start with 3 Apples (honey crisp, granny smith, braeburn) a hearty baking apple.

Start with 3 Apples (honey crisp, granny smith, braeburn) a hearty baking apple.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a mixing bowl or blender combine the following:

3/4 Cup milk or cream

3 Large eggs

1/2 Cup Granulated sugar

2 Tbs melted, unsalted butter

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

1/2 Tsp Almond extract (optional)

Blend well to dissolve the sugar

To the wet mixture add:

3/4 Cup AP Flour

1/2 Tsp Salt

Blend well again to eliminate any lumps of flour and set aside.

Peel and core your apples and slice them very thinly (1/4" or less) A mandolin would come in handy at this stage.

In a heavy bottom pie dish or cast iron skillet, melt 1 Tbs butter 

After butter is completely melted, arrange your apple slices to cover the bottom of the dish or skillet. Pour your batter over the top of the apples and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

 

Select a hearty baking apple such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn

Select a hearty baking apple such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn

You will not be disappointed by this delightfully light apple dessert. A perfect finish to any dinner party. Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream to finish.

 

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