Monday, January 31, 2011

Spaghetti Casserole

It dawned on me yesterday that I really am a good ol' Minnesota gal.  I have lived here for almost 20 years, but I will finally admit that I love myself a good casserole.  This "casserole", if you can call it that - is yummy, jammed with flavor and tasted better than the classic plate of spaghetti.  That's just my opinion, though.  Let me also add that while I love homemade spaghetti sauce, I'm not afraid of a good jar from the grocery store!

On another note - I am starting a challenge today, hosted by Rosy and Tart.  The challenge: Find 10 recipes with less than 5 ingredients by February 14th.  So, I modified this recipe a bit to meet the requirements.  While you may see more than 5 ingredients, olive oil, salt and pepper do not count - whew! 

Welcome to Challenge Number One. 

Spaghetti Casserole
Original Recipe: Y'All Come Eat cookbook, pg. 29
Modified recipe by Kitchen Groovy

1 lb. uncooked spaghetti
1 lb. ground beef
1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used Classico: Spicy Tomato and Basil)
3/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
olive oil, for coating pan
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions; drain.

2. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the beef, cook about 5 minutes or until brown, breaking up with a fork as it cooks.  Add the salt and pepper.  Stir in the spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese and the cooked spaghetti.  Transfer to a baking dish or casserole dish.  Top evenly with mozzarella.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.


Doesn't it look mouth watering??  Can't wait to make it, can you??

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Peaches and Cream Muffins

I received a new cookbook this last Christmas from my wonderful mother-in-law and this is the first recipe I tried - on a cold, foggy, gloomy morning - this is a little ray of sunshine!

Peaches and Cream Muffins
Recipe from The Deen Brothers "Y'all Come Eat" cookbook, pg. 56

Nonstick cooking spray
2 C self-rising flour
1 C (2 sticks) unslated butter, melted
1 C sour cream
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 15 oz. can sliced peaches, drained and chopped into 1/4" pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat the cups of a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, butter, sour cream, sugar and vanilla.  Gently fold in the peaches.
3. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let muffins cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Serve immediately or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Make 1 CUP Self Rising Flour - (for the above recipe, you'll have to double the portions below)
1 C All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of Salt

Bon Appetit!!
Enjoy and live with gusto!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese with Octo-Dogs

I am a creature of habit, no doubt about it.  I tend to make the same lunch each day for Susie and I.  However, I do break away from the mold every now and again and make something fun and silly for us.  Earlier this week, I made this lunch which I found the idea in a fun kids' cookbook. 

Macaroni and Cheese with Octo-Dogs
Recipe from Cooking with Kids cookbook, pg. 138
Adapted by Carina Smith, Kitchen Groovy

Hot Dogs - as many as desired (I used 2)
Box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Frozen Corn, if desired
Gold Fish Crackers

Prepare mac and cheese, according to directions.  While boiling pasta, add corn. 

In the meantime, heat hot dogs in the microwave, about a minute.  To cut hot dogs, lay 1 hot dog on its side with one end facing you.  Starting 1" from one end of the hot dog, slice hot dog vertically in half.  Take 2 pieces, and cut those in half, which will leave you 4 pieces.  Cut each of those pieces in half and you will have 8 "legs". 

Arrange octo-dog on top of the mac and cheese on each plate.  Draw faces on the "heads" of octo-dogs with mustard.

Sprinkle with gold fish crackers.

This picture doesn't have gold fish crackers on it, but how cute it would be to add them!

Enjoy and live life with gusto!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Carina's Baked Salmon

I always shy away from making fish.  I am afraid I’ll cook it too long, and Rob is always afraid I won’t cook it long enough.  So, I rarely make fish for fear that it will be either overcooked or the opposite.  Where is that delicate balance of “just right”?? 
I decided to try a new method – steaming and tenting.  It is fool proof!  Basically, you prepare your fish fillets and bake them wrapped in aluminum foil.  Sure, you can use parchment paper – it yields the same results.  But, I prefer aluminum foil since you can get a tight close (thanks Giada for the tip!!!). While this is my own recipe, I did receive inspiration from Giada de Laurentis’ “Baked Salmon in Foil”.  It turned out wonderful!!  So, here is my recipe for Baked Salmon.
Carina’s Baked Salmon
4 6 to 8 oz. fillets of salmon
Olive Oil
2 Roma Tomatoes - diced (if desired - I only added to 2 fillets)
Fresh Rosemary - chopped
Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place each fillet on its own sheet of foil and turn to coat with the oil.  Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper, then top with diced tomatoes, rosemary and lemon juice.  Fold the sides of the foil over the fish, covering completely and seal the packets closed.

Bake for about 25 minutes.

Funny story: when Cole was about 6 years old, he would charge how much he disliked salmon and would push it away every time I tried to feed it to him.  While visiting my dad years ago, he made salmon but we had the whole family pretend as though it was chicken and talk about how great the meal was.  Cole dug into it and heartily agreed how amazing the “chicken” was.  After he devoured a plate of seconds, we broke the news to him that it was actually salmon he was eating.  Ever since then, Cole has LOVED salmon!  I’m not a proponent of lying to kids, but it certainly worked that time!
Enjoy and live life with gusto!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Grated Parmesan

I'm a girl that can't resist a deal, so when I saw a "Buy One, Get One Free" offer on asparagus the other day, I just had to cash in.  We don't eat asparagus very often, because I have kids, and moms know it's challenging to get our kiddos to eat vegetables, let alone veggies like asparagus.  Even though it was a great deal for our bottom line, I knew it would be a hard sell on everyone ages 18 and younger.  Fortunately, 2 out of my 3 kids ate it without complaining - so to me, that equals success.  It actually has encouraged me to keep trying.  While I truly thought that most of the kids would dislike it, Camrie and Susie loved it (she is not a fan of asparagus), but Cole ate only one out of courtesy to me.  I will continue to work on him :-)

Remember, not everyone at the table will LOVE what you cook, but if the kids see you modeling how important vegetables are, sooner or later it will kick in.  I am sticking to this philosophy!

This recipe is a great one, and I am posting it anyway - even if there was 1 person who wasn't a fan!

Roasted Asparagus with Grated Parmesan
2 bunches of asparagus, trimmed
Grated Cheese - desired amount (I didn't measure, but I think I used about a 1/4 C)
Olive Oil
Salt (I like Kosher)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Hold an asparagus spear, and bend the bottom until the rough woody section snaps off.  Use that spear as a guide to line up the rest of the asparagus and use a knife to chop off the rest. 
Place asparagus in a 9x13 baking dish, coat with olive oil (I like to use quite a bit) and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast until tender - about 15 minutes. 

Enjoy and live life with gusto!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Tip of the Week: Grated Cheese

Last night, I was in the process of making dinner when I realized I was out of grated cheese.  Over the weekend, my husband decided to clean out the refrigerator and tossed out anything and everything that was over a week old.  Bless his heart for helping me out, but I didn't appreciate it so much while making dinner. 

I had a large container of shredded parmesan and reggiano cheese from Costco and knew that shredded cheese just wouldn't make the cut.  So, I decided to throw it in my food chopper and see if I can still get the grated consistency.  Absolute success! 

Need to turn shredded cheese into grated cheese?  Try throwing it in the food chopper.  It probably won't be as moist, but it was good enough when I needed it in a pinch.  Also, I would NOT recommend doing that with any soft cheeses. 

Related Tip: you can take blocks of hard cheese and throw those in a regular sized food processor for shredded or grated cheese, too (food chopper will not work with blocks of cheese).  It's a huge timesaver!!

Enjoy and live life with gusto!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Saturday Morning Banana Pecan Pancakes

My sister LOVES going to restaurants featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives when travelling.  Last summer, we found this cute little diner in Portland, OR called the Byways Cafe.  After receiving a few disgruntled looks by the local patrons when they saw 12 of us walking in (the joint only seats about 12!!), we took our spots and perused the menu.  Rob ordered Banana and Pecan Pancakes, and they WERE TO DIE FOR.  Seriously, it was a small pancake stack of heaven.  I have been trying to replicate it, and found this Tyler Florence recipe, which is the closest I have come.  This is perfect for lazy Saturday mornings, or "brinner" any night of the week.  Enjoy!

The original recipe is absolutely excellent, but to come close to what we ate The Byways Cafe, I used 1 C chopped pecans instead of 1/2 C of ground pecans.

Banana and Pecan Pancakes with Maple Butter
·         Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and finely ground (not chopped)
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 bananas, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch circles
  • Maple Butter, recipe follows
  • Confectioners' sugar, to garnish
  • Candied Pecans, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla together so they are well combined. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and stir with a spoon to get rid of the lumps. Fold in the pecans, most of the melted butter and whisk until batter is smooth. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium low heat and swirl around a little melted butter to keep the pancakes from sticking. Using a ladle pour the batter into the pan, see Cook's note*
Cook the pancakes on 1 side until they are set and then lightly press the bananas into the batter. When small bubbles appear on the uncooked surface, flip the pancakes and cook until golden on both sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer pancakes to a warming plate in the oven while you make the rest.
To serve, slice the maple-honey butter, layer it between the stack of pancakes and place in the oven to melt for 1 1/2 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and candied pecans.
*Cook's note: The trick to perfect round pancakes is pouring all the batter in the same spot and letting it roll out to a complete circle.
Maple Butter:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 C maple syrup
2 T honey
1 piece parchment or greaseproof paper
In a mixing bowl, using a spatula mash the butter with the maple syrup and honey until well blended. Roll it up in the paper, like a tube and twist the ends. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Enjoy and live life with gusto!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Deceptively Delicious - Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

This dinner is a family favorite - after a busy night of running around, this is a delectable meal that tastes like it took a long time to prepare.  The peppery flavor of the shrimp is well balanced by the lemony taste of the noodles.  It's rare when I find a meal that everyone in the family loves, so of course, when I do - it's natural that I would want to share it with you!!

For just the 5 of us, I cut the recipe in half.  Stick with the original portions if you want leftovers, or if you are serving a crowd.

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi
- Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook

Vegetable Oil
Kosher Salt
1 1/2 pounds linguine
6 T unsalted butter
5 T good olive oil
3 T minced garlic (9 cloves)
2 pounds large shrimp (about 32 shrimp), peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 C chopped fresh parsley
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 T of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7-10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in another large (12") heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic.  Saute for 1 minute - be careful, the garlic burns easily!  Add the shrimp, 1 T of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes.  Toss to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot.  Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Enjoy and live life with gusto!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Delicious Chicken Patties

On Monday, I posted this cool little tip about burger patty molds.  I loved the fact that I didn’t get my hands, my counter or my cutting board dirty (of course, I washed them anyway!).  As promised, here is the recipe for Chicken Patty Burgers courtesy of the great Guy Fieri. 

I must say that I am not a huge fan of chicken or turkey burgers – if not made right, they can be quite dry so I tend to shy away from making them at home.  However, this recipe intrigued me due to all the juicy ingredients included.  I did adjust to my own tastes – for example, I replaced the olives with mushrooms and omitted the artichokes.  I think mushrooms hold moisture better than olives.  And next time, I will add less onions. 

Susie loved the burger (but again, there were too many onions so she ate around it) but even more importantly, it passed the “Hubby Test”.  My husband, I'm sure like many men out there, loves a good and greasy  red meat burger.  He is skeptical anytime I try to go “all healthy” on him.  But, he tried it and loved it so that was good enough for me!  Added bonus: in addition to taste, it’s packed with veggies!

Another tip: I recommend serving with mayo instead of ketchup and mustard.


Chicken Patties
·         Cook Time:10 min
·         Level: Easy
·         Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 ounces olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4 tablespoons diced black olives
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced artichoke hearts
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Toasted sesame buns
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato

In a medium saute pan over medium heat add, 1-ounce oil and all raw vegetables and saute until translucent. Remove and cool.
Add veggies to raw chicken and mix thoroughly. Add all dry ingredients and egg. Thoroughly mix all ingredients and form into 4 patties. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
In same saute pan add remaining 1-ounce olive oil, and cook patties 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Serve with ketchup and mustard on toasted sesame buns with lettuce and tomato.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dinner Party - 5:16

This past weekend, my 16 year old daughter celebrated her birthday with her friends.  She decided to celebrate by having them all over for a sleep over – paired with a nice dinner in our formal dining room, and yes, with lit candles. 
On the menu:
-          Shrimp Alfredo with farfalle pasta
-          Homemade pumpkin pie
I was in charge of making dinner – and she really wanted to make the pie with her friends.  Of course, I was ALL OVER making dinner for this group of up and coming sophisticated young women.  Up and coming sophisticated young women??  Wow, I can’t believe I just said that!!  But, they really are. 

Camrie was very adamant about having her friends join in and make her all-time favorite dessert and that I was to sit back and take my hands off the wheel.  I was totally fine with that . . . until I actually sat back and took my hands off the wheel.  What a surreal experience to see this group of “up and coming, sophisticated young women” take charge in the kitchen, relating to one another very much in the same way that I relate to my own girlfriends.  It literally brought tears to my eyes, and it brings tears to my eyes again just writing about it. 

Being that I have kids that range from as young as 5 years old to 16 years old - I feel like I have an unusual perspective that I can share with you.  I can see the challenge of sharing my kitchen with my 5 year old – and I know that a lot of moms with young children can relate - but at the same time I can see the benefit it reaps many years later with my teenager.

If you have young kids, I would encourage you to take one meal a week per child – maybe it’s lunch – and encourage them to make a meal with you.  Don’t overwhelm yourself – or your child – but keep it simple.  Ask them to help you make a smiley face on their sandwich with mustard.  Or, have them take their raisins and make shapes on their plate. 

If your kids are older, ask them to join you in making dinner.  Very much like doing their own laundry, cooking is a life skill they will have to carry with them their entire lives – whether they like it or not.

You never know – maybe it will lead them to enjoying some culinary fun with their friends as adolescents or teenagers down the road. 

Oh, and the recipe for the Alfredo?  Just bowtie pasta, sauteed shrimp and a jar of Classico Alfredo sauce topped with shredded parmesan cheese.  Easy dinner!

Whatever you do, Live life with gusto!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Tip of the Week: Burger Patty Molds

One of my favorite - among many - shows on Food Network is Guy's Big Bite.  I love his boisterous personality, but he also loves to cook with a range of spices in every day type food that I can serve my family.  I actually keep FN or HGTV on the TV for most of the day as "background noise" and honestly, I do that as it's the two channels that I can count on that will not air anything inappropriate for my 5 year old's impressionable eyes and ears.

Last Friday, as I went about my daily household chores, I watched Guy Fieri make chicken patty burgers and his method of making them is what caught my eye.  After mixing all ingredients in a bowl, he put them into a mold so his hands - or his counter - didn't get dirty.  Genius! 

I decided to try it over the weekend - with huge success!  I don't think it's too early in the year for burgers, right??!!

Here is what I used:

Wooden Spoon (any spoon will do)
Small Round Container (I used a leftover container I purchased Blue Cheese in)
Plastic Wrap

Line your container with plastic wrap.  Leave several inches (roughly 6") as an overlay on both sides.
Scoop burger mix into the container - press down so mix fill empty space in container.
Wrap plastic wrap to cover. 
Take out of container - voila!  You have your burger patty - ready to go!!!

By the way, the chicken patties were delicious - recipe to come later this week!!  Perfect for football watching!

Friday, January 14, 2011

January: Time to Look Ahead

Monday, January 17th is Martin Luther King Day - but did you know that it is also "National Abandon Your Resolution" Day?  I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of making a list of New Year's Resolutions.  However, I am a big fan of goal setting.  Just a slight change in perspective, but it works for me.

Last Friday, Rob and I set our annual date to determine our goals for the upcoming year.  We always go to a restaurant - sometimes fancy, sometimes ultra casual.  This year, Green Mill was the lucky host.  They have the best Desert Fire Pasta.  I always have my little file folder with me carrying our spreadsheet of goals - go ahead, poke fun but it's the accountant in me!  We enjoy a nice meal, better conversation, then we go to work. 

Here is a sampling of what we discuss - and just as important, we set deadlines for each goal:
- tackling yard projects
- financial goals
- exercise routines and how many 5 or 10k's we'll run this year
- clothing expenditures (if Rob needs a new suit or how much to budget for school clothes in August)

Why do we do this and does it work?  I know like many of today's families, Rob and I feel like our schedules run our lives vs. the other way around.  I know - very bad philosophy, but it is what it is.  So, we like to use this time to take control of what the next year will look like.  Additionally, it allows us to re-connect and discuss what we both value. 

Our objective is to keep each goal attainable - no one likes to look back on the past year and feel like they have failed.  With that said, there are times we just didn't make that goal - for a variety of reasons.  We have to be kind to ourselves, too!  But, we re-adjust going forward.

On top of this fun annual event for us, we have yet another excuse to go out on a date and enjoy good food at a local restaurant :-)  Nothing wrong with that!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Taking Turns: Taking it to the Dinner Table

Not only do my kids vary in age, but they range so far from each other in personality, including their taste in food.  Camrie has a more sophisticated pallette and loves sushi and authentic Italian food while Cole has more pedestrian taste and favors more meat and starches such as potatoes or rice, or americana type fare such as buffalo wings, pizza, burgers.  He hates things with sauce - I honestly don't know how you eat anything without sauce!  But that is my sweet 14 year old. 

As a parent who aims relentlessly at keeping the dinner hour a happy one, cooking meals that makes everyone happy is like trying to find a pearl in a bank of snow.  I know, the analogy is a bad one - but it just won't happen!  I recently came to terms with this - yes, it took me many, many years of trying to please everyone.  It was a slow journey, but am now appreciating - not condemning - their varying tastes in cuisine. 

I used to try to find meals that would please everyone and was always disappointed.  There was always something that someone didn't like.  So, I changed my approach.  Now, I find meals that are favorites of each person in the family, and make that meal once per week.  This very idea is so simple, yet it took me years to discover!!  Maybe you've already figured that out, and to you - I tip my hat.

There were a few lessons our family learned through this process:
1) I learned that I just cannot please everyone at once.  That expectation was unrealistic! 
2) My kids learned that they may not always like what is placed in front of them, but they should attempt to put a polite dent in it.  After all, our home will not be the only place where food is placed in front of them that they are "not crazy about".  Think: friend's homes, future in-law's homes, etc!  But, out of courtesy to the one who made it, they should eat - unless it's totally disgusting and they just can't scarf it down.  To that I coach my kids: tell the cook they just had a huge meal somewhere else and really can't eat any more! 
3) Each of us is valued and I want to show how much they are valued by making something they enjoy.  While Cole may eat something he doesn't like one night, hopefully he will realize that he is making a small sacrifice for his sister who loves the meal and that another day, she will do the same for him.
4) Who knows - they may someday appreciate the meal they once didn't like! 

Don't misunderstand: we don't make our kids eat the food placed in front of them.  I have vivid and disturbing memories of my parents forcing me to eat everything on my plate.  The idea is to bring a better understanding and respect of dinner and of our fellow family members.  Thirty years later, I still feel guilty about not ever making it in the "Clean Plate Club". 

So, tonight - I will be making Susie's absolutely favorite meal.  This child would eat it every day if she could - Lord knows she asks for it every day!  Camrie and Cole are not big fans of this, but they tend to eat more rice these nights than any other night, but out of respect to the rest of the family - they politely take a few bites. 

Chicken and Cheese and Brocolli Casserole
1 pkg Chicken Breasts, bone in, skin on - cooked and shredded 
        (I use a Costco rotisserie chicken - it's much faster & cost effective!)
1 C Your Favorite Mayonnaise (I prefer Kraft Real Mayo)
1-2 bunches of brocolli, cut up
2 cans Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
3 C Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Curry Powder - to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl: mix soup, mayo & curry powder (be very generous with the curry).
In a 9x13 dish, spread chicken along bottom.  Then layer brocolli.  Pour soup mixture over the chicken & brocolli.  Spread and smooth.
Top with cheddar cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes.  Top over rice.

Note: this is a very "saucy" recipe and recognize not all kids are going to like this.  Or - maybe everyone in your family will love it, it's a very Minnesota casserole! 

Also, this notion of "taking turns" may not be easily adapted into the family.  It's hard to introduce new ideas to those (i.e. toddlers!) who are not open to this type of idea.  It took a while for my kids to understand this concept.  However, be patient - be realistic - don't give up! 


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Brownies: A Delectable Thank You Gift

Late yesterday evening, my three kids and I sat around the dinner table doing our usual routine of going over our best and worst events during the day, when all of a sudden we heard a snow blower start up.  Now, this IS Minnesota and hearing the "RRRR, RRRR, RRRR" of a snow blower is not unusual.  What caught our attention was how close it was in proximity to where we were sitting!  After all of us immediately abandoned our spots, we peeked out the front window to see our neighbor, Mr. Nelson, snow blowing our drive way for us.  I love it that our neighbors are exactly that - in both definition and spirit . . . what a guy!! 

So - of course, our first question after "WHO IS THAT???", was "What should we make him?" - of course, the answer was brownies!  This is a favorite among everyone in our house - and I picked up this recipe several years ago after watching Picabo Street make these on The Martha Stewart show.  I have found this to be incredibly moist and chocolatey. 

If you are looking for an amazingly sweet & rich dessert to enjoy for yourselves, try this.  Or - why not bring a plate of brownies over to your neighbor?  Whatever you do, I challenge you to Enjoy Life with a Side of Brownies :-) 

Double Chocolate Brownies

6T unsalted butter
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 C unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 C sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8" square dish with parchment paper, leaving a 2" overhang on 2 sides.  Coat with cooking spray.
2. Melt butter, chocolate and cocoa in a heatproof bowl (I use a double boiler).  Remove from heat.  Stir until smooth.  Let cool slightly.
3. Whisk flour, baking powder & salt in a medium bowl; set aside.  Put eggs, sugar and vanilla into an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Beat until pale (about 4 minutes).  Beat in chocolate mixture.  Add flour mixture - beat until combined.
4. Pour in pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Let cool for 15 minutes.  Lift out of pan and transfer to a wire rack.  Let cool completely.