Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fudgy Brownie Bites

    Ok, it is the start of a brand new year, possibly the last year of our existence as we know it according to the Maya, but the Maya didn't have Fudgy Brownie Bites. Maybe had they tasted these little bits of ecstasy, they would have had a more positive outlook for mankind. After all, who can be brooding and morose while eating fudgy chocolate?

    Seriously though, I came up with this recipe on an intense, and I do mean INTENSE, new year induced diet. Diet? Did I just write that. Yep. I did. You see I have this chocolate love affair. I simply must have it. So, instead of depriving myself of something I love so much, I cut these brownies into "brownie bites." These tiny little mmmmmmmm, alright you get my drift...I can have one or two of these a day and fulfill my lust for chocolate and still lose weight. Take that metabolism! These are easy to make, you don't even need to pull out the Kitchenaid or plug in your hand mixer, you just need a wooden spoon, (or if all you have is a fork...I won't tell..our little secret) and some arm muscle. Ooh, ooh.... don't forget to give them a nice little dusting of powdered sugar if you have any on hand. It makes them SO pretty! Bake these!

Fudgy Brownie Bites
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (unsweetened or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional- I HATE nuts in my chocolate, I prefer to leave these out.)
1tbsp powdered sugar


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan ( USE A 9x9 SQUARE BAKING PAN, I USE A GLASS PYREX) with parchment paper or foil, (I use foil) leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl on top of a medium sized pot of barely simmering water.

OK....Let's stop here for a moment. This takes some explaining. You can do it this way, and this is the way that I do it, it is called using a "double boiler." It is super easy. You just put 2-3 cups of water in a medium pot and boil it, then turn it down to a simmer and place your mixing bowl with the butter THAT HAS BEEN SLICED INTO SLICES, cocoa and sugar, on top of the pot. The heat from the steam will melt the butter while you stir it constantly. can melt the butter in the microwave and pour it into the cocoa and sugar pre-melted. You pick! Back to the directions.

  Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the pot and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour a little bit at a time and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon (arm strength (; )  Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely.
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into bite-size pieces and sprinkle powdered sugar over them.

Homemade Parmesan Croutons

    Alright, it is a given that this recipe might sound difficult, but when you realize exactly how pleasingly easy they are to make, and how delicious they taste, I doubt you will be buying store made croutons ever again. While cleaning up my kitchen the other day (which I hate to do by the way), I noticed we had an overstock of bread, all sorts of bread (hot dog buns, rolls, a loaf of Italian bread) that had not been used and I knew was going stale. Ordinarily if your bread goes stale you would throw it out, or maybe the "green" of you would feed it to the birds. I do neither. Sorry birds!
    I hate the idea of waste and I even try to come up with creative ways to turn leftovers from last night's dinner into a new recipe the next evening. So the idea of making croutons from leftover going stale bread, was right up my alley. I even employ my seven year old little girl to help, and she loves having an excuse to stick her hands in some olive oil and toss the "cootons" as my four year old boy calls them. Most of the ingredients to this recipe you probably already have in your spice rack and if you don't then you SHOULD! So next time you are tempted to throw out that old stale loaf or hot dog buns, think twice! Make croutons. They freeze perfectly too.


What you will need:

Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Bread, Basil, Oregano, Garlic Powder, Grated Parmesan Cheese

Homemade Parmesan Croutons
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups of bread (hot dog buns, hamburger buns, french loaf, etc..) cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

 In a large bowl, combine olive oil and spices. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Spread cubes on a cookie sheet pan; bake at 350ยบ for 8 minutes. Sprinkle croutons with Parmesan cheese and bake 7 minutes longer or until golden. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Easy Cheesy Love Grits...

        So first of all, I am a mom, and not a rich mom, you know like one of those "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" moms. You know what I am talking about. One of those moms who has a nanny, and a chef. One of those mommies who spends her day at the gym with her personal trainer, then goes to get a facial and massage, and wraps the day up with a nice blow out of her gorgeous, extension laden hair at her fave salon; One of those women you don't even know but sometimes...ok, more often than not fantasize about being. SIGH......No. I am a "Real" mom though. I am running low on funds. I am running low on relaxation, and I am running "Really" low on patience. I am the nanny, and the short order chef. I get most all of my exercise by chasing the little rugrats. I do make a point to let the steam from a pot of water that is boiling seep into my pores as I look down into it. That is as close as I get to a facial. (Gotta get the little luxuries where you can in this business.) I haven't had a massage for so long that I can barely remember it, but my four year old runs his monster truck over my back if I lay face down on the's no hot stone massage but it will do. My hair...let's not go there. My point: I am busy. I need for as many things to be easy as they can. That is why I love this recipe. It is ridiculously easy. I love grits, as any self respecting southern girl should, but more importantly my kiddos love grits. Pair grits with cheese and they are all in.
       I cook 3/4 of a cup of  these tasty little things in 3 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of butter, and a chicken bouillon cube dissolved into it. Cooking grits used to be a somewhat slow process. Now they make "Quick Cooking Grits" that tastes just as good as the old fashioned ones but take less time to cook. I bring the butter and water and bouillon cube to a boil, stir in the grits and turn the heat to low. Then I cover them up for about fifteen minutes. After they are cooked I let them sit on the stove for 3 hours. Yes 3 hours. When I come back they have molded to the pan, so I take a butter knife and run it around the sides of the pan and turn the pan over onto a plate. Then I have a grit mold. I use my heart cookie cutter (you can use any cookie cutter that floats your boat)  and punch out a couple of hearts, then regroup the leftover grits into a mold with my hands and cut out more.You can put them in a Tupperware container and place them in the fridge for single servings to serve for breakfast throughout the week. Or freeze them. Reheat them in the microwave for two minutes, top them with your kids favorite cheese and Voila...Easy, Cheesy, Love Grits. I give this to my children at least three times a week. They love it. It's easy and Delicious. Try it.

Easy, Cheesy, Love Grits

3/4 of a cup of Quick Cooking grits
3 cups of water
2 tbsp of butter
1 chicken bouillon cube
Generous dash of salt
Casserole blend shredded cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer.)