Friday, May 20, 2011

Mississippi Mud Brownies

The other day I was sitting in a mechanic shop waiting for Thad''s truck to get serviced. I knew that I had about an hour to wait and wondered how I would spend that hour. I looked over and on a magazine rack were Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living and Peoples magazine. Once I saw the magazines, I knew there was going to be plenty to keep me entertained. I started off with the Peoples magazine because, who can resist some salacious gossip? Next I moved on to Better Homes and Gardens and drooled over the gorgeous homes and great recipes. I am sure the receptionist could hear me taring out pages as I found some must try recipes. I then moved onto Southern Living and found some more great recipes. I tore out a page that read "Best-Ever Bar Cookies" and listed on the back side of the page I ripped out, were Mississippi Mud Brownies.

Now I know that it is Spring/Summer and that maybe I should have gone with a fruity treat but these looked too scrumptious to pass up. And after making the beauties I was not disappointed at all. They were amazing. There is something about a dense brownie, topped with marshmallows, toasted pecans and ooey gooey frosting that is hard to resist.

Mississippi Mud Brownies
1 (4 oz.) unsweetened chocolate baking bar
3/4 cup butter
cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 cups mini-marshmallows

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 in pan, set aside.

Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, set aside.

Using a microwave-safe bowl microwave chocolate and butter at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Once melted, whisk in sugar and eggs until well blended (I used a large spoon). Lastly stir in flour until completed mixed. Spread batter into greased 13 x 9-inch pan and place in oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Bake the brownies until a wooden pick or butter knife inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs

When there is about 5-10 minutes left in the baking of the brownies, start on the frosting.....

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (16 oz.) package sifted powdered sugar

Once done baking, remove the brownies from oven and place on a cooling rack. Immediately pour the marshmallows onto the warm brownies. Next place the toasted pecans on the brownies. Once pecans and marshmallows are added, pour the frosting onto the warm brownies, spreading frosting to the edges. Let brownies cool for 1 or more hours on wire rack. I find that if they sit overnight they set better and once cut come out prettier.

Brownies lovers, this recipe is for you, a chocolaty brownie with marshmallows, pecans and chocolate frosting, you can't go wrong, so give these try, you will not be disappointed.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday Mark!

Today is my brother-in-law's Mark's 30th birthday and although he is not here, we still are able to celebrate him and the man that he was and is. We have our happy birthday sign hanging on the mantle and cupcakes ready to eat.

Yesterday, Thad and many of Mark's family, friends and comrades walked 30 miles in honor of his birthday. It was so neat to see these men walking together, the whole way taking each step in honor of Mark. There were 5 rest stops and one of the stops was at the Forester residence. In honor of Mark's birthday I was in charge of making cupcakes for the walkers to eat. What a sight to see, all of the 35 walkers holding cupcakes and singing happy birthday to Mark.

I wanted to make the best cupcakes I could for Mark and I have found that the best yellow cake cupcake I can find is a dressed up yellow cake mix. Now I am not one for cake mixes and was raised to believe that in some way I was committing a sin using a boxed anything but in this case I feel that it is okay to do so. What dresses up this cake mix you ask? Yogurt/sour cream and pudding mix. Take my word on this one, I have looked long and hard for the most moist and light yellow cupcake recipe and this one is it. So give these a try and take my word for it.

Dressed Up Yellow Cake Cupcakes
1 box yellow cake mix (I use Betty Crocker)
1 package (3.4 oz) Jell-O Instant Vanilla Pudding
4 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I used yogurt)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Begin by setting the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9" cake rounds and set aside. Combine the cake mix, jello, eggs, yogurt, vegetable oil, water and rum extract. For mixing instructions follow the back of the cake box. Once completely mixed, I like to use an ice cream scooper to dish my batter into the cupcake pan to make a uniform cupcakes. I Fill the cupcakes about three-fourths full. Place cupcakes in the oven, letting them bake for about 13-20 minutes. Mine are usually perfect at 15 minutes.

Once done baking, take out of oven, remove from cupcake pan and cool completely. While cupcakes are cooling, start making this delicious buttermilk frosting....

Peggle's Buttermilk Frosting
1/3 cup butter (I usually overshoot on this measurement, more butter never hurts)
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
*I add 1-2 tablespoons more of milk to give it a creamier consistency.

This frosting is the best. So easy. Just mix all ingredients together until smooth and fluffy.

Once frosting is made and cupcakes are cooled, frost cupcakes with Peggle's Buttermilk frosting and then voila, you have the most moist and delicate cupcake in town.

Mark today we are missing you more than ever but we also know that you are not far from us. Love you Markie Mark and happy 30th birthday.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lavender Chocolate Chip Cookies at the Farmer's Market.....

It feels like forever since I have last posted. It has been a crazy month and I just got home from visiting my family in Utah yesterday. It is great to be home but also had a great time in Utah. One of the reason I went home to Utah for a few weeks was to help my mom. She was recently accepted into the Salt Lake City Farmer's Market. The Salt Lake City Farmer's Market is well known and hard to get into, so this is an amazing opportunity but also a lot of pressure to make sure she sells the best products.

What is she selling at the Salt Lake City Farmer's Market? Well my mom has over 1,000
lavender plants on a 5 acre farm in Millville, UT. She grows and harvests all her own lavender. With her lavender she makes field bundles, which are bundles that are put together when harvested (this bundle looks more rustic). She sales cleaned bundles which are neater in appearance, lavender infused apricot jelly, lavender infused honey, Herbs de Provence, culinary lavender, oatmeal lavender sea salt, lavender sachets made out of vintage hanker chiefs and napkins and lavender soap.

So this past Saturday we went and set up a table at the Logan Farmer's Market. She has sold there before and we wanted to see how well her lavender bouquets and products would sell. To our delight they were all a complete success. Since I was visiting, I thought I would use my baking skills and make some chocolate chip cookies using her culinary lavender and also sell them at the farmer's market.

I took a recipe that I love and is one of my very favorites for chocolate chip cookies called New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies (for the recipe click HERE) and incorporated lavender. The end results was nothing but a culinary delight. We packaged them pretty and sold them for $1 a piece. My nephew and the love of my life Max, was my main salesman and he sold them hard by offering every person who passed by a sample of a Lavender Chocolate Chip Cookie and they sold out.

Many people are surprised by the idea of using lavender in food but the lavender adds a neat flavor that is unlike any other herb in its taste, color and texture. The lavender adds a unique taste that is distinct and delicious.

Lavender Chocolate Chip Cookies

To make Lavender Chocolate Chip Cookies, follow the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe and after adding the chocolate chips, add just under a 1/8 cup of ground culinary lavender into your cookies. To grind lavender I use a mortar and pestle and grind up the lavender until it is as fine as possible, almost a powdery substance. Then add the lavender to the dough, mix until just blended and then you are ready to bake.

You will love this lavender treat, that will make you go back for seconds.

To learn more about lavender and to purchase lavender please visit The Purple Apple

Bon Appetit!