Something for Saturday: Fishbowl Flowers

fishbowl flowers 3

Just a little something for Saturday.

fishbowl flowers 2

The other day, I snipped the heads off a bunch of flowers to shape them into the number that coincided with the length of time our Reese Evelyn has been with us, and a pretty little impromptu monthly photo shoot began.  I was left with a good amount of these now partial blooms, still so vibrant and alive, and I wanted to find a way to salvage them.  So, I threw them into a big fish bowl and filled with water.  It has only been a full three days, but this fishbowl full of flowers still looks bright and charming in whatever room I move it to that needs a little cheering up.  When I grab a bouquet from the store and there are a few that don’t quite fit in the vase with the rest, or if there are some stragglers that don’t look as desirable, I’m sure I’ll come back to this fishbowl every time.

fishbowl flowers

Happy Saturday!

In The Kitchen: Chewy, Fudgy Brownies From Scratch

brownie trio close up

You are about to find out the secret to something seriously sweet…from scratch.

I have always been intimidated by homemade brownie recipes, relying on the boxed mix for convenience and what I thought were the same results.  But this one from Sally’s Baking Addiction, has proven to be just as simple, with no mixer required, and tastes a thousand times better (by my calculations).  If you like thick, fudge-like brownies that are gooey and chewy and, did I mention fudge-like?…then these are for you.  Even my husband, who prefers the stale, three-day-old brownie, the more well-done corner pieces, tried this batch and has been converted.  Each bite of one of these reminds me of the chocolate fudge that I’ve watched being churned by hand each summer in Cape May.  And being that during this season of Lent, I am limiting myself to sweets on Sundays only, this recipe may make an appearance every weekend until Easter.  This will definitely become a favorite recipe to keep on hand and I bet you will be less likely to reach for the boxed brownie mix next time you are in the supermarket.

brownie bite close up

I usually like to make slight changes to recipes that I find online or in a magazine, putting my own spin on someone else’s creation, but these were just too good to mess with.

brownie bowl birds eye

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 8 ounces coarsely chopped quality semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

brownie ingredients in bowl

The exact recipe, including the ingredient list and instructions, were taken from the blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction.  Check out all of the other amazing, mouth-watering desserts that she shares on her blog HERE.

brownie batter

If you want to elevate these brownies even more, then make this milk chocolate frosting, also found on the blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction.  The recipe for this frosting is so easy and so delicious that I plan on using it for cupcakes as well.

Milk Chocolate Frosting (optional)

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

brownies by three on plate

Instructions:

1.     Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Or melt in a medium microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments, stirring after each, in the microwave. Remove from the heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, and allow to slightly cool for 10 minutes.

2.     Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×9 inch square baking pan* with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.

3.     Whisk the granulated and brown sugars into the cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips.

4.     Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-36 minutes or until the brownies begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with only a few moist crumbs when the brownies are done. All ovens are different, so keep an eye on them after 30 minutes and use the toothpick test to see when yours are finished.

5.     Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Once cooled, lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into squares. For neat squares, I use a very sharp knife and wipe it clean with a paper towel after each cut.

For the optional frosting:

1.     Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps.  Set aside.

2.     With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes.  Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla.  Beat on low speed after each addition.  Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes.  Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.  Frost the brownies before or after cutting into squares, whichever you prefer.

 

brownie tower

Grab a glass of milk and enjoy!

My Life Lately {As Told Through Photos}

She has arrived!  Another beautiful baby girl has been added to our family and I quickly realized how much I forgot about life with a newborn.  Much of it is on auto-pilot: the constant feedings, the diaper changes in between, the even rotation of rocking, then tummy time, then swing, then back to rocking.  And some of it had simply slipped away from my collection of memories of being a new mom all together.  How it makes sense for time to pass so quickly with a toddler between the music classes and gym classes, and swim lessons, story time at the library, and the park, but with a newborn, time is warped.  Things happen in a sort of slow motion, yet move at lightning speed.  Hours manage to vanish that were spent just staring at an unfamiliar set of fingers and toes.  Nighttime comes without warning.  And before I can keep track of whether it is a weekday or a weekend, my youngest daughter is a whole month old.  Thankful for all of these photos I have been trying to snap somewhere amidst watching the fluttering of teeny tiny eyelashes and folding equally teeny tiny piles of laundry.

bench photo

{Soaking in the last days as a family of three}

baby reese is born

{And then we were four}

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{Sisters}

ipad in hospital

{This is life}

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{Keeping cozy despite these freezing temps}

my girls

{Pretty damn good feeling right here}

daddy and his littlest lady

{Daddy and his littlest lady}

tv time

{Attempting to squeeze in a little reality TV}

these two

{These two make my heart so happy}

life with reese

{No place I’d rather be}

all dressed up

{All dressed up and nowhere to go}

teeny tiny feet

{Teeny tiny feet}

Have a great week!

 

Red Wine Roundup: Pinot Noir

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a good glass of red wine.  But years ago, when I developed a taste for wine, I usually stuck to Merlot or Cabernet, simply because they were the first bottles I had tried, and I didn’t veer off course for a long time.  Over the past few years, and after having expanded my wine library and palate, my preference has become, Pinot Noir.  This wine is lighter and sweeter, and smoother overall.  And tends to pair well with mostly any dish.  Here is a roundup of some of my favorite and affordable bottles to savor lately.  (And all of them listed below are under $50).

pinot noir roundup{Average prices, in order from lowest to highest, clockwise from top left: Mark West – $12, Hanging Vine – $12, La Crema – $20, MacMurray – $22, Belle Glos – $40, Flowers – $45}

Enjoy!