Brownie Batter Truffles

A while back, I stumbled on a recipe for brownie batter and decided to pass it by.  I like cookie dough and all, but this wasn’t doing it for me.  The author had scooped some into an ice cream cone, topped it with both chocolate sauce and sprinkles.  Perhaps it was the idea of just eating it with a spoon, because while I like cookie dough, I usually prefer it in something — ice cream, bar treats, and truffles.  Then my mind started working — why not make Brownie Batter Truffles?  I liked this idea much better; after all, a truffle is much more civilized than just sitting down with a bowl and a spoon.

Here’s how you make the brownie batter:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles
  • dipping chocolate

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the flour on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake for five minutes just to kill any bacteria. Set aside and allow to cool.
  • Cream together butter and sugars.
  • Mix in cocoa powder.
  • Mix in milk and vanilla.
  • Finally, mix in flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles.

  • Using a small scoop, make the balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  • Place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

  • Melt your chocolate in the microwave on 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted.
  • Dip the balls in the melted chocolate using two forks, allowing the excess to drip off, place them back on the cookie sheet, and top with a few sprinkles

I called in QC and asked him to take just a little taste.

I got a loud, “YUM”, and then he shoved the whole thing in his mouth.

 

Link to original recipe

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Chicken Jalapeno Popper Pasta

I’m sure I’ve mentioned how much I love Gray’s school, Agathos Classical School.  It’s this amazing place filled with gifted and loving teachers, wonderful families, and kids that soak up knowledge by the buckets full.

Gray’s teacher this year, Mrs. Marler, reminds me a lot of my sister — fun but no-nonsense, straight forward but with a kind heart, and filled with a passion for sharing knowledge with little minds.  Recently at the school picnic, Mrs. Marler and I were talking and somehow we got on the subject of how summer Beth is way more fun than school Beth, and by the time she gets home from school, she’s out of steam and doesn’t even want to think about dinner.  So, I offered to make something on Monday that she could just throw it in the oven when they get home from school.  (Now I cannot take credit for this idea.  I remembered another parent doing the same sort of thing for the Vice Principal, so I stole the idea from her.)

Chicken Jalapeno Popper Pasta
Ingredients
  • 1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to the package and drained
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup bacon, crumbled
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
  • ¼ cup diced jalapeno
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup half and half
  • 2½ cups cooked and chopped chicken
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl add cream cheese, bacon, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and jalapeno. Mix well.
  4. Stir in cream and half and half.
  5. Add pasta and mix well.
  6. Stir in chicken.
  7. Pour mixture into baking dish.
  8. Spread bread crumbs over pasta and dot with little pieces of butter.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.

So after school on Monday, I delivered this pasta along with salad, homemade bread, and brownies.  All three of her girls happened to be in her class, and they seemed quite pleased with the menu.

Whenever I do something like this, I typically double the recipe so that we have the same thing for dinner as well.  I’d never made this recipe before and was a bit nervous about letting them be guinea pigs, but I think my selection was a good one.  Matt and Gray both raved about the pasta, and I’d definitely eat it again!

But the best part of the whole thing was helping someone.  The smile on their faces as I made the delivery, the special hug, and the nice text the next morning made the little bit of extra effort and cost so worthwhile.  Bless someone with a meal……you’ll receive a bigger blessing in return.

6 Layer Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow and Malt Frostings

I require three cakes for my birthday.  For those of you that know me, this will not come as a surprise.  The tradition started years ago when my employer, my parents, and Matt would each get me a cake.  Now that I am a freelancer, I am my own employer so it only makes sense that I should either purchase myself or make myself a cake.  This is called “Barb Logic”.

This year, my parents bought me an ice cream cake from Cold Stone, and Matt’s family got me a double chocolate layer cake from a local bakery.  The third cake simply had to be an over-the-top masterpiece, and it seems that I’m not the only person that does this sort of thing.  The author of the blog, browneyedbaker.com, where I found this recipe also made it for herself for her birthday.  Great minds think alike.

Recipe:

Cake

  • 2½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups strong black coffee, hot
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 4½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Toasted Marshmallow Filling

  • 16 large marshmallows
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (7½-ounce) jar Marshmallow Fluff

Malted Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup Ovaltine Classic
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • ½ cup heavy cream

 

  • Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).
  • Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
  • Make the Toasted Marshmallow Filling: Place the marshmallows on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on the lowest rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until nice and brown on top, keeping an eye on them the entire time so they don’t burn. Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until the other side is golden brown.
  • Beat the butter and powdered sugar on low-speed until blended together, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract and increase the speed to medium-high; beat for 3 minutes. Stop the mixer, add the Marshmallow Fluff and toasted marshmallows, and mix on the lowest speed for about 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Make the Malted Chocolate Frosting: Beat the butter and powdered sugar on low-speed until blended together, about 1 minute. Add the Ovaltine, vanilla and salt, and continue to beat on low until well combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream and beat on medium-high speed for another minute.
  • Assemble the Cake: Slice each cake layer in half horizontally so you have six cake layers. Place your first layer face-up on a cake plate and cover with one-third of the Toasted Marshmallow Frosting. Place another cake layer face-up and cover with about ¾ to 1 cup of Malted Chocolate Frosting. Repeat, alternating marshmallow and chocolate filling layers, until you come to your cake final layer, which you will place face-down. Frost the entire outside of cake with the remaining Malted Chocolate Frosting.

On a side note – I snapped the photo right after I put the cake together.  As the day went on, it continued to lean and before I knew it, it looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Thankfully crooked cakes taste just as good as straight ones!  I highly recommend this cake.  It’s super moist and incredibly rich, and it’s the perfect masterpiece for an over-the-top birthday girl with crazy logic.

3 Musketeers Pie

The boy loves 3 Musketeer Bars, and as a result, I’ve used them in all kinds of recipes: 3 Musketeer Cupcakes, 3 Musketeer Brownies, and homemade 3 Musketeer Bars.  I thought I’d run out of ideas on ways to incorporate my child’s favorite candy bar into a dessert until I stumbled on to a recipe for a 3 Musketeers Pie!  What luck.

This pie really leaves an impression; it’s so silky, smooth, and rich, and it’s like the inside of a 3 Musketeers bar, only creamier.  You know, I made it just two weeks ago for a “Puttin’ on the Dog” dinner, and it’s all I remember from that meal.  I couldn’t begin to tell you what else I served that night.  I loved it.  But Gray and Matt, that’s a different story.  They both thought it was too rich; but seriously, what do they know.  I’d make it again in a heartbeat!

3 Musketeers Pie courtesy of simplybudgeted.com

  • 2 packages 3 Musketeers Unwrapped Bites
  • 8 ounce softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup powder sugar
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip
  • Oreo Pie Shell

Place 3 Musketeers Bites into a food processor and process until it comes together into a smooth ball.  Mix this with the cream cheese, powder sugar, and Cool Whip until smooth.  Pour into the pie shell and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  When ready to serve, pull out of refrigerator, cut into slices, garnish as you’d like (I drizzled hot fudge and added whip cream), and devour!  That’s what I did, and after that I finished off Gray’s piece.

 

Baptism Cake

A few weeks ago, Gray was baptized by Matt’s dad.

But before we scheduled the event, we had to make sure everyone could attend — my parents, my sister and her family, Matt’s parents, Matt’s sister and her family, and Matt’s brother.  This was important because, according to Gray, there needed to be a party afterwards.  I had to agree; if ever a boy deserved a party, it was after being baptized.  And there had to be cake…..and cupcakes…..and Kaysie had to make them.  I was surprised he didn’t ask for chicken pot pie too.  No worries there either, his Papaw showed up with one.

The day prior, Kaysie arrived with her mom and dad prepared to get to work.  I baked the cupcakes and cakes earlier in the day so that they would be cooled and ready for her to decorate.  It was an all afternoon affair, and Gray was in and out of the kitchen, making suggestions, and of course, testing the product.

Kaysie and my mom have become experts at cake decorating.  They took a class together last summer (I think), and now they tackle all kinds of cake projects together.  They make a great team, and they both swear by the Wilton Buttercream Icing recipe when it comes to decorating cakes.

Check out the final product.

It was a day of celebrating with good food, family, and lots of cake.  The boy was floating on air.

And when it was bedtime, I sent him upstairs to take a shower.  “But I don’t want to wash it off,” he replied.  Oh the sweetness of that moment with my 10 year old boy will last me a lifetime.

 

Baked Angel Hair with Eggplant

When the boys are gone, I make the food that I like.  This dish, which is basically puff pastry stuffed with pasta, is one of my all-time favorite dishes ever, but while Matt will eat it, he doesn’t love it.  So in my never ending desire to wow my husband with food he loves, I only make this when he’s gone.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that I haven’t made this since we moved from North Carolina.  When Gray saw some leftovers in the fridge, he asked what it was — mostly because of the crust.  If I hadn’t used spicy sausage, I bet he’d be a fan of this one given that he’s such a fan of chicken pot pie — and not because of the filling.

Baked Angel Hair with Eggplant

  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 Japanese eggplants (about 2 pounds total), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound mild Italian turkey sausage (I used spicy), casings removed
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta
  • 1 pound mozzarella, diced
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 (17 1/4-ounce) package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the eggplant and toss to coat in the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute the eggplant until it is golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium. Add half of the garlic and saute until it is tender, about 2 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant mixture to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining 1/4 cup oil and the remaining eggplant and garlic.

Add the sausage and wine to the same frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the wine evaporates and the sausage is brown, breaking the sausage into pieces with the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage, marinara sauce, and crushed red pepper to the eggplant mixture, and toss to combine.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the angel hair and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until pasta is still slightly crunchy and under cooked. Drain. Toss the angel hair with the eggplant mixture. Cool completely. Add the mozzarella and Parmesan and toss to combine.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out 1 pastry sheet on a floured surface to a 13 1/2-inch square. Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan, allowing the excess pastry to hang over the rim. Spoon the pasta mixture into the pan. Place the second pastry sheet atop the pasta filling. Pinch the edges of the pastry sheets together to seal. Trim the overhanging pastry edges to about 1-inch. Fold the pastry edges in to form a decorative border. Cut a slit in the center of the top pastry to allow the steam to escape.

Bake until the pastry is brown and puffed on top, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes. Remove the pan sides and serve.

Drive In Movie Night

We are strategically located out in the middle of nowhere; it takes a little over 20 minutes to get just about anywhere – school, the gym, the grocery – but it takes a mere 18 minutes to get to the drive in!  It had been several years since our last trip to the Highway 50 Drive In, and I’m not exactly what caused Matt to look and see what was playing, but I’m certainly glad he did.  We saw Cars 3 (loved it) and Wonder Woman (didn’t love it) and had a terrific time snuggled in the back of the truck with pillows, blankets, games, and snacks.

When I was telling Matt the menu I’d chosen, I could tell he was less than thrilled.  “But I want bar-type food,” he said.  “How in the world am I going to serve fancy burgers and cheese fries at a drive in?” I replied.  “They don’t allow grills or fryers there, and the food would be cold and soggy if I made it at home and then packed it up to eat there.”  Perhaps it was that I tried to make the menu somewhat healthy with a fattening dessert, but give me some credit here because I did pack real Coke and Doritos too.

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (I used thin chicken breasts)
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 ciabatta rolls halved as for sandwiches (I used sub rolls)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons Sun-Dried Tomato Spread
  • 6 tablespoons pesto (I skipped this part because Matt’s not a big fan)
  • 6 slices fresh mozzarella

Lay out the chicken thighs and sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper.  Heat grill to medium. When the grill is up to temperature, lay out the chicken thighs. Grill the thighs, turning a couple of times, for 10-12 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches 165°F. Just before removing the chicken from the grill, lay out one slice of mozzarella over each chicken thigh. While that begins to melt, drizzle olive oil over the cut sides of the ciabatta rolls and lay them directly on the grill. When the cheese is hot all the way through, use a spatula to transfer the thighs and toasted rolls to a platter.  Spread 1 tablespoon of the Sun-Dried Tomato spread on the bottom, half of each roll, then 1 tablespoon of the pesto on the top half of each roll. Use a spatula to transfer one chicken thigh, melted cheese side up onto each roll’s bottom half. Position the top half, pesto side down, on the chicken. If desired, slice the sandwich in half on the diagonal. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.

 

 

Pasta Salad

  • 8 ounces spiral pasta
  • 8 ounces green beans
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 cups baby arugula (I used spinach)
  • 2 ounces feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding green beans during last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and run under cold water to cool.  Using a vegetable peeler, remove 3 strips of zest from lemon; thinly slice. In a large bowl, squeeze 2 tablespoon lemon juice. Whisk in olive oil, Parmesan, mustard, Worcestershire, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Add pasta, green beans, and lemon zest and toss to coat. Fold in arugula and feta.

Double Layer Brownie

Brownie Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Fudge Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 7 ounces marshmallow fluff
  • 12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 13×9-inch pan. Melt chocolate and butter in small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until completely melted; cool.  Beat sugar and eggs in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Stir in flour, walnuts, and vanilla. Spread evenly in prepared pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes or just until set. Do not over bake.

Meanwhile, prepare Fudge Topping.  Combine sugar, butter and milk in large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add remaining ingredients except for the walnuts. Beat until smooth.  Remove brownies from oven. Immediately pour topping evenly over hot brownies. Cool in pan on wire rack. Place in freezer until firm. Cut into 1-inch squares.

Everything was delicious – especially the brownies!  But of course we still had to hit the concession stand for hot buttered popcorn.  And next time, I’ll try harder at the bar-type food.  I don’t think I can make nachos work, but I could try taco dip.  That’s pretty close.