Sunday, May 16, 2010

The SWEETEST Brownie Recipe Ever.....

Brownies. We all love them. Or, well. At least I do. They're gooey, chocolatey goodness~period.

Really, need I say more?

I absolutely adore all holidays. I was raised that way. My wonderful mom had a way of making every holiday a special occasion. Somehow I've seemed to carry on that tradition with my family. Food. Decorations. It's always a party at our house. I will find a reason to celebrate. Just about anything!

Enter St. Patty's Day 2010. Since my amazing husband's grandmother came here from Ireland, we make absolutely certain that when St. Patrick's Day rolls around every year that we go all out. Everything is green. And dinner is always your standard Irish fare. You know--Corned beef, carrots, cabbage and mashed potatoes {instead of boiled potatoes~they go over better at our house}. Then comes dessert. My favorite. This past year I came across a recipe I just had to try for Mint Brownies.

Oh. My. Gosh. Hello?!?!?


Were {Are}.




I will no longer make brownies from a box again. You shouldn't either. Pinky promise?

These come out beyond amazing. They don't have that hard edge and gooey, almost under-cooked center.

Instead, they are perfectly moist. In fact, they cook evenly from the edges all the way to the center. And that's what makes them so SWEET!

I love them. And as I sit here blogging about them, my stomach is growling loudly. Very. Very. Loudly!!

Maybe. Just maybe. If time permits, I'll indulge and bake up a batch of these today.

You should too.

You'll be glad you did. And if you make them for your friends, family, and neighbors~they will not only thank you, they'll be begging you for this recipe. So be sure to include it!

Are you ready?

Here it is. The recipe for my all time favorite brownie. However, before I go on, I can't take all the credit for this truly great recipe. I need to thank one of my favorite cooking blogs, Our Best Bites for this. If you've never visited Our Best Bites website, do yourself a favor STOP whatever it is you're doing right now and click on the link--it's here on Everything Sweet for a reason. Because it's full of truly good recipes which are not only easy, but very tasty and super family friendly. Gotta love that. It's a sweet website.

And this is truly the sweetest brownie recipe....ever.....

Mint Brownies
Recipe by Our Best Bites

Brownies: 4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate (4oz)
1 C butter (2 sticks)
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Frosting: 2 C powdered sugar
4 T butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1-2 Tbs milk
green food coloring

Chocolate Glaze:
6 oz (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips ,you could also use dark
6 Tbs real butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil making sure the foil extends over the edges by at least one inch. Lightly spray with non-stick spray and set aside. Chop both unsweetened chocolate and two sticks of butter into chunks and place together in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. With an electric mixer or stand mixer beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla for 2 minutes. While egg mixture is beating, measure out flour and combine with baking powder. While mixer is running, slowly add melted chocolate and beat to combine. Turn beater speed to low and add in flour by spoonfuls. Mix just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a knife poked in center comes out clean. Cool completely on a metal rack. When brownies have cooled to room temperature, prepare frosting. Combine all frosting ingredients, starting with 1 1/2 tablespoon of milk, and beat until light and fluffy. Add more milk by teaspoonful as needed. Spread frosting evenly over brownies and then place brownies in fridge to chill. While brownies are chilling prepare chocolate glaze. Place chocolate chips and 6 tablespoons butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes and then carefully spread on top of the frosting layer. Return pan to fridge to cool. When chocolate has hardened, use edges of foil to remove entire brownie from pan. Cut into squares and serve.

**Note: I just love the brownie recipe itself. The mint layer of frosting is so refreshing. But not required. I was thinking of just making the brownies and frosting them with my famous peanut butter-chocolate buttercream. So. Very. Yummy.**

Now. Please. Whatever you do. Make these brownies today. It'll be the perfect way to start out your week.

The Trip of a Lifetime~A Sweet Adventure is in Store...

Oh. My. Gosh!!!!!!
I can't believe that in just two short days this is where I'll be.
In Ancient Civilization.
Taking in all the sites.
And being completely overwhelmed by how amazing it truly is.
I've only read about these places in history books back when I was a school girl.

This is the cruise ship that'll be chartering us from port to port. It's the Luxury 6~Star Regency Seven Seas. I've never been on a cruise before. This is not only going to be a first for both my husband and me~but a new experience in traveling altogether! I'm praying for smooth sailing. Literally!

Fortunately, everyone I've talked to who aren't cruise virgins, like myself, absolutely rave about them! I'm hoping I come home doing the same thing! Gushing about how luxurious cruises are the only way to travel. I'll get back to you on that in two weeks.

This is going to be a truly interesting and exciting Odyssey where we'll cross five seas--The Aegean, Adriatic, Mediterranean, and the Sea of Crete. All the while, we'll be visiting four countries. It's going to be an incredible adventure! One that I know we'll never forget!

We'll be visiting Athens, Turkey, Santorini, Croatia and Venice, Italy.

I've dreamt of going to Italy my entire life~now that dream will become a reality in no time at all! Who said dreams don't come true?

Until then~I still need to pack. And tie up all the loose ends at home before I embark on this journey of a lifetime. I'm excited~and can't wait to share all of our enthralling experiences with each of you!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Snails are Sweet~According to Megan!

School is still in session.  For 5 more weeks.  Which means, Megan is still waking up at the crack of dawn to catch the bus. Early on she was always crazy excited to see the bus! Now, not so much! In fact, I have to actually pull her out of bed just about every morning now.  And the sad part, she cries.  Megan is tired. And feeling a bit "sluggish" if you will.

Today she did much better!!  She even announced with great excitement, "Bus is coming"! And there was NOT a single tear shed!  

When the bus arrived, we opened the door to head out.  A burst of cool, fresh Spring air washed over us.  Ahhhhhhh.......  It woke us both up!!  

While running out to the bus, Megan managed to kick a snail. I told her, "Oh, know! You kicked that snail back there!"  She immediately stopped in her tracks.  Said, "Huh, oh!" Made a 180 degree turn and ran back to the snail.  

Once she got back to where Mr. Snail had planted himself, she bent down to him and said, very sincerely "I'm sorry!" 

Before we go on I should mention that Mr. Snail survived the kick and didn't sustain any injuries.  He did, however get a bit scared.  And as a result, retracted up into the safety of his shell.

Moving on.  

After Megan apologized, she was still a bit concerned about Mr. Snail's well-being and picked him up.  She turned him over and looked inside.  And there he was safe inside his shell.  

While looking at Mr. Snail all tucked up, Megan said very sweetly, "Oh!! He's sleeping".

Why of course.  Who would wake up so early? Only little girls who have to catch a school bus!

No harm done.  Mr. Snail was perfectly fine.  Why, he was in dreamland.

Just one thing.

I'm wondering if Megan didn't think it was just any old snail. Because if there's one thing I know about my sweet Megan, it's that she loves the Nick Cartoon, SpongeBob! And SpongeBob happens to have a pet snail named, Gary.  

Here's the question:

Did Megan think it was Gary the snail?


Does Megan have a greater love for all snails now because SpongeBob has one as a pet? 


Is it just that big heart of hers that seems to love everyone and everything?  

I'm thinking, by her reaction, it's the later.  Megan was very sincere and seemed very concerned. Hmmm???  I know how much she loves that Nick Cartoon and I'm certain she'd never want to hurt Gary.

Regardless of her motive, there's one thing I know for a fact.  Megan brings joy into our lives everyday through the little things she does.  This story of Mr. Snail is just one of the many examples.  It's the little things we typically overlook, which Megan does not.  Instead, she brings them to our attention.  

I don't like snails.  They eat my pretty flowers.  But it was such a beautiful sight seeing how someone could be so kind to a pest.  

Here's another lesson Megan taught today~Perhaps we all could stand to be a little nicer and a bit more thoughtful, even to those we may consider "pests" {just like those little pesky gastropods}.  Taking time out of our busy day to do more nice things for others, will not only bless their lives, but will simply make us each better people.

Side Note:  It's possible Megan somehow knew that gastropods have unusually long life spans. Did you know, they can live up to 10 years!  There are even reports of some living as long as 25! Maybe she wanted to make sure this young snail had a full life ahead of him~eating all my plants and flowers!! Sweet, huh?

This whole snail encounter lasted 2 short minutes. Tops.  And really, more than anything, it made me laugh!  Especially when Megan declared that Mr. Snail was asleep.  Because I am sure that is exactly what she wanted to be doing.  Sleeping.