Fudgin’ Fantastic

Fudgin’ Fantastic Brownie Recipe

brownie batter

Pardon my French, but these brownies are so fudge-tastically sweet AND they are super easy to bake.  I found the recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook.  I adapted it to make it more my own, while maintaining the chocolate, fudgy texture, so the recipe is a mix of directions from the book and from me.  I don’t have a 9-inch square baking pan, so as you can see, I improvised with a smaller glass pan and a heart shaped pan.  You can make almost anything work in the kitchen if you know how to improvise and work with what you’ve got.  Because of the two pans, my brownies were thinner than I would have normally made them, but they were so delicious, I couldn’t stop eating them.  I’d have to go back and cut just a little more…and a little bit more.  I actually froze the heart pan, and the frozen brownie makes a good late night snack, although I planned to let it thaw and bring it to a friend’s house.  I think it would also be great chopped into small brownie bites and mixed in with ice cream to be served, maybe even with hot fudge.  So many options!!

Preheat oven to 325° and prepare a 9 inch baking pan (or two smaller pans) with butter or non-stick baking spray

Ingredients:

1 and 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

a pinch of salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter cut into pieces (about tablespoon size pieces, or a little smaller)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream (I only had 1/2 a cup so I substituted with 1/2 a cup of plain yogurt, and I added a heaping tablespoon of coconut oil – I could taste the addition of coconut oil and I loved it)

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

For the topping:

an additional 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup white chocolate or peanut butter chips (or butterscotch, or dark chocolate…take your pick!)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Directions:

1) Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer on slow (I found out that hand-held beaters do NOT work as well because there’s not a low enough speed, so if you’re lacking a mixer, like me, just mix by hand, the good ol’ fashioned baking way).

2) Add the butter pieces and continue to mix until the butter reduces to the size of peas, for about 2 minutes.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix, combining any loose flour.

3) Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined (the batter will still look very dry).

4) Mix in sour cream and coconut oil until the batter is evenly combined and no longer a dry consistency.

brownie batters

5) Lastly, stir in the 2 cups chocolate chips and spread into your prepared pan.  Stop and lick the spoon.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.  My brownies cooked in 35-40 minutes because they were thinner.  Let them cool completely before adding the topping

baked brownies

For the topping: Melt the semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave with a couple drops of vegetable oil until smooth, and drizzle over the brownies with a fork.  Repeat the process with peanut butter chips or white chocolate chips.  I chose peanut butter chips, and it made the brownies taste like amazing Reese’s fudge.  On my heart brownie, I spread melted semisweet chips only, for the any nut allergy friends I might want to share it with.

brownie pan heart pan

Enjoy the sweet eats and share with your chocoholic friends!

Chelsea

Source: Klivans, Elinor.  “Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies With Dark and White Drizzle.”  The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook.  San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2008.  Print.

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I Love Lamp

I love lamp, just as much as I love Anchorman, Steve Carrell, and his character, Brick.  If you don’t love Anchorman, then shame on you.  But I really, really love this copper Scoop Table Lamp I bought at West Elm.

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The lamp was $69 + tax, although I can’t find it shopping online so it may only be in stores.  The shop I went to had the same lamp in silver, too.  For my room, I like the look of mixing different metallics.  The tissue box cover is something I bought at an estate sale for a dollar recently, and the green sand hourglass was about $9.99 at TJ Maxx, I think.  Here’s what the set up looks like on my little, black desk with the lamp turned on, and the three animal mounts are from Home Goods:

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Walking into West Elm made me feel like I wanted to give up all my possessions and move into the store permanently, everything was gorgeous and awesome, very chic.  There were these big fluffy pillows, and the pillow inserts were only $25.99, but the lamb’s fur pillow cases were around $160.00 each.  I wanted two of them, but instead I limited myself to a few valuable purchases.  The lamp was something I needed, the Lucite skull was too cool to pass up on, and the soft purple and cream throw blanket was so enticing on a cold day like today.  Next on my “to buy” list are these amazing wine bottle toppers, in the spirit of my metallic theme:

wine toppers

I’m dying to get these so I can display and serve wine with these gems. These Geo Bottle Stoppers cost $49, I decided to wait until a day I feel like treating myself.  Aren’t they fun?  I now know I can find anything and everything home related at West Elm and it will be fun and stylish, too.  I came across lots of things that would make perfect gifts for birthdays and special occasions.  The throw blanket I bought was on sale for $24.99 marked down from $60, and the skull was $19.00.  If you’ve never been to West Elm and you like to shop or decorate spaces, check it out.

Happy shopping,

Chelsea

How To Be Happy

I’m no expert, and I know that, but I’ve found that certain things make me feel so much lighter and happier every day while I’m going through my routine, so I thought it might help to share them.

During yoga one morning, my instructor told us to lift the corners of our mouths into a smile and to find a peaceful happiness in our practice, and she said that yoga isn’t about straining or forcing your body into results.  My face was clenched and we were twisting in a pose, so when I started to smile, I relaxed completely and I was able to enjoy the moment.  Now, whenever I’m feeling tense at work, or any time I get stressed, I remind myself to smile.  The act of smiling changes my attitude and my demeanor so positively that I think it’s one of the best ways to turn a bad day around.  Yoga is also one of the best ways.  It teaches you to let things go and live in the present.  Breathing deeply and being attentive to your body and mind is the best care for yourself.  I think it also helps you focus on what is important by clearing your mind of all your daily troubles.

People post yoga videos on Youtube and people without a gym membership, like me, can watch them for free and follow the videos in their own homes.  I stumbled upon an awesome Youtube yoga video by a girl named Adriene, and she shared something insightful that I think about all the time.  The pose is lying on your back with your knees in towards your armpits, holding on to your feet in “happy baby” pose.  She told us to roll forward and backward, and she laughed and said this part of the practice reminds her to have a sense of humor in life because it makes you look and feel like a ridiculous child.  I’ve ruminated over it many times when something small happens during the day that I would have normally overlooked, but instead I laugh out loud and enjoy it.  I think about it again later and laugh again at some of the small, funny things that happen, but usually get passed by.  Instead of getting frustrated at people’s quirkiness or stressed about little problems, I feel entertained and much more pleasant.  Finding humor in little things is freeing.  Like getting stuck walking home in the rain, or noticing someone furiously picking their nose on the train.  Just laugh and think, “Isn’t life interesting, and aren’t I so lucky to have a front row seat?” Be lighthearted and be compassionate towards others and you’ll be happy with yourself, or at least that’s what I’m discovering.

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Finding happiness and working towards inner peace together,

Chelsea

Easy Pasta Bites

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Pasta Bites

This recipe makes for a quick, easy, and delicious appetizer, snack, or dinner.  It starts with buying a box of Trader Joe’s Arancini Bites from the freezer section of Trader Joe’s and picking up your favorite pasta sauce, my choice is Prego because it also functions as a pizza sauce.  Arancini are an Italian snack made by rolling balls of cheese and Arborio rice in breadcrumbs, and then they are served with marinara sauce and some parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking pan with aluminum foil 

Serving size is 2 bites, and the box comes with 12 pasta bites – 120 calories/serving 

Bake for 12-16 minutes, serve with 1/2 cup of pasta sauce per serving, a pinch of parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of garlic salt. 

Happy snacking,

Chelsea

My dinner:

pasta bites 2