Fudge Brownies

August 31, 2010 10:38 by Suzy

For any "bring a dish" type of gathering, brownies are always a good choice.  Chocolate fudgy goodness in a portable package...you can't go wrong!

I will admit, I usually go the mix route when making brownies.  Ghiradelli makes a good mix, so that has been my standard brownie...until now.  The King Arthur Flour baking blog featured these Fudge Brownies the other day, and brownies will never be the same.  My neighbors will be eternally grateful.

Fudge Brownies
adapted from King Arthur Flour website

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup KAF Double Dutch Dark Cocoa (I didn't have this, so I used Hershey Special Dark cocoa)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon KAF espresso powder (I didn't have this either, so I used Starbucks Via Italian Roast instant coffee)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9"x13" pan.

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar. 

Return to heat and cook until hot but not boiling (110 to 120 degrees).

Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Add the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla and mix.  The KAF recipe says to beat until smooth, but mine was very thick at this point; almost a paste, so I just mixed as well as I could until it was combined.  Add the hot melted butter/sugar mixture and stir until smooth.  Note in the photo above that those are bubbles, not lumps.  Trust me, it was smoooooth!

Stir in the flour and chocolate chips and mix until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs stuck to it.  Don't overbake; the edges should be set but the center may look a little moist (but not gooey).

Cool in pan on wire rack.  Cool completely before cutting.

Serve with some vanilla ice cream, if you happen to have some around.  I highly recommend it.  Try not to eat the whole pan yourself.

How to Can Fresh Tomatoes

August 18, 2010 11:49 by Suzy

Before you pass over this blog post, thinking "Ha! I could never can tomatoes, or anything else! It's too complicated! Besides, store-bought canned tomatoes are the same, right?" allow me to say this to you:


So now that we've got that out of the way, let's get to it...

Home-Canned Tomatoes
adapted from the UGA's Home Food Preservation website

First of all, you will need some quart jars and lids. Most grocery and discount stores have them. Be sure you get both the LIDS (the flat circle part) and the RINGS. You don't need to sterilize the jars; just wash them well (the dishwasher works great) and keep them clean and dry until you use them. I usually leave them in the dishwasher until I'm ready.

You will also need canning tools like these...jar lifter, magnet lid lifter (not required but very helpful) and a plastic pusher/measurer thingy (also not required but nice to have).

Next, get your tomatoes. If you don't have home-grown tomatoes, go to your local farmer's market and get some.

Wash them well.

Get a big pot of water boiling. Blanch tomatoes for 30-60 seconds, remove and cool. Working over a bowl (so you catch the juices), peel and core the tomatoes. I usually cut the big ones in half or quarters.

Now get your canning pot about half-full of water and boiling. The pot needs to be tall enough so the jars can be covered with at least 1" of water. It also needs to have a lid. On another burner, bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer, and put in your lids and rings.

Now put 1 teaspoon salt (optional) and 2 tablespoons bottled (not fresh) lemon juice into each jar. If you have fresh thyme, you can also put a sprig or two in there if you want.

Fill the jars with tomatoes, using the plastic pusher thingy to pack them in and get some juice. Leave 1/2" headspace in the top of each jar; use the plastic measuring thingy for this as well.

Wipe clean the rims of each jar. Use the magnet lid lifter to put a lid on each jar, and screw a ring on each. Don't screw the rings on too tightly.

Using the jar lifter, carefully place the jars into the canning pot. Add more boiling water as needed so the water level is 1" above the jars. Cover pot and boil for 85 minutes (check the UGA website above to confirm the cooking time for your elevation).

After 85 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the jars in the pot for 5 minutes.  Remove the jars and place on a towel to cool 12-24 hours. Don't worry if the tomatoes seem to have separated from the liquid. Once the jars are cool, check the seals (if the lids pop up when you push them, it didn't seal). Keep any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use them first. Remove rings, date the jars and store in a cool dry place away from light.

Now, whenever you make chili, spaghetti sauce, or anything that needs tomatoes, you have a little bit of summer in your pantry!

Sunday Pot Roast

August 15, 2010 22:54 by Suzy

More comfort food...this is super easy and makes your house smell heavenly. JD said it smelled like Christmas. Not bad for a random Sunday in August.

Sunday Pot Roast
adapted from BigOven.com

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 pound boneless rump roast
3 onions, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons paprika
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups red wine
2-3 cups beef broth
2 pounds small potatoes
8 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat olive oil in large oven-safe pot over medium-high heat.

Pat roast dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Brown roast on all sides in pot. Remove and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium; add onions and stir. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes.

Add paprika, bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, thyme and garlic. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add wine and 1 1/2 cups broth. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes, carrots, and roast to pan. Add enough broth so the liquid just covers the roast and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Cover pot with foil and then cover tightly with lid. Place in oven for 2 1/2 hours. Remove from oven, uncover, and carefully turn over roast. Replace foil and lid and put back in oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until meat and vegetables are very tender.

Remove roast (it may fall apart on you; that's a good sign!). Put on plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Remove potatoes and carrots to deep platter; cover. Bring remaining liquid in pot to a boil; reduce until it is at the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slice roast (or cut into chunks if it's falling apart) and put on platter with vegetables. Drizzle with sauce and serve.

Crispy Peanut Butter Bars

August 8, 2010 20:41 by Suzy

Ready for something incredibly rich, decadent, and sinful? Yes, please. Want it to feature one of the universe's best combinations...chocolate and peanut butter? Gimme. Take a look at these...

I am making myself sick on them right now. You need to make these. Trust me. You will thank me later.

Crispy Peanut Butter Bars
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 3/4 cups crispy rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Peanut Butter Layer:
5 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Dark Chocolate Icing:
3 ounces good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter

Spray an 8" square pan with non-stick spray.

Put the crispy rice cereal in a large bowl.

Put 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Carefully add 1/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons corn syrup. Be careful not to let the sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan. Gently stir with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to cook, without stirring, until it reaches 235 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in melted butter and baking soda.

Pour over the cereal and mix well until the cereal is evenly coated, then pour into the prepared pan. Use a buttered rubber spatula to press cereal evenly to the bottom of the pan. Set aside to cool at room temperature.

In medium bowl, combine the semi-sweet chocolate and peanut butter. Heat in microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted.

Stir to combine and pour over the cereal in the pan. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.

In small bowl, combine the dark chocolate, corn syrup and butter. Heat in microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted. Stir to combine and pour over peanut butter layer in pan. Tilt pan to evenly cover the peanut butter layer. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Cut into 16 squares. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

My OpenSky Shop is Coming!

August 3, 2010 16:55 by Suzy

I am so excited about a new feature that will soon be added to my blog...my OpenSky Shop!  Any product that I absolutely love (whether a new discovery or a long-time favorite) can be featured and sold from my OpenSky Shop!  My partnership with OpenSky allows me to share products that I love, use and recommend with my readers and provide a safe, easy way to purchase them.  The great thing about OpenSky is that they will work with all kinds of product suppliers, from big nationally-known brands to small mom-and-pop shops to creative artisans with truly unique items.  OpenSky is creating quite the buzz with this latest expansion, and has been featured on ABC's Good Morning America and the Los Angeles Times

So how cool is that?  My OpenSky Shop will launch on August 10, so be sure to keep an eye on the Countdown Clock below so you don't miss it!  I plan to include any and all products mentioned in my blog posts, so if you were wondering, "Where can I get one of those great Snuffle-Bumpkin-a-Bobs that Suzy mentioned?" this will be the place.  I am thrilled to be a part of the OpenSky community and can't wait to launch my shop!