Peanut Butter/Sunbutter Brownies

These pictures were taken from SmittenKitchen, where I got the recipe. I couldn’t get my pictures to turn out and these ones are beautiful, so here you go.

We are on a brownie kick, apparently.

Peanut butter brownies (in our case sunbutter brownies) were sounding so good and I stumbled across a fabulous recipe. I took them to a mommy gathering yesterday and I didn’t go home with any – so that is always a good sign.

I made half with the ganache and half without. It is good both ways but the ganache adds a nice touch and seems to give it the perfect balance. I prefer a lighter layer of ganache than showed in the picture, however. Very easy to throw together and they are full of yummy, yummy goodness. They are even better tasting the day after you make them. They are very rich so I’d cut them into small pieces. I love these stored cold in the refrigerator. It is the perfect balance of peanut buttery cholateyness.

Brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 3/4 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter/sunbutter

2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla exract

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I like milk chocolate chips)

*1/2 tsp salt (If you are using something like Jiff or Skippy you can omit this, only use if you are using a natural type peanut butter/sunbutter because they have less salt)

Ganache

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream (aka heavy whipping cream)

1 TBSP butter, softened

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350

-Butter 9 X 13 pan. Line with parchment paper and butter parchment (if you don’t have parchment just butter the pan)

-Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add peanut butter/sunbutter until it is incorporated.

-Beat in eggs, egg yolk, *salt and vanilla

-Reduce mixer to low and mix in flour until just combined. Mix in chocolate chips.

-Dough will resemble a cookie dough. Spread in pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (mine were done at 35). You want them golden but not overbaked or they’ll be too dry and crumbly. I’d say when the edges are a nice golden you can assume they are done.

-Cool completely with the pan on a wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours)

-To make Ganache: bring cream to a boil in a saucepan and pour over chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl and let stand one minute. Gently whisk in butter. Spread or drizzle over cooled brownies. Let ganache set and then cut and serve.

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Zucchini Brownies

Yep, that’s what I said! Zucchini Brownies. Yesterday I started craving some brownies and stumbled across Zucchini brownies and decided to give it a try. They are excellent! We tried them with and without the frosting. It is good both ways but better with frosting. Without frosting they are yummy but the sweetness is much more mild. They are nice and moist, the texture is perfect and I would never, ever guess they had zucchini in them if it weren’t for the fact that I put it in there myself. Mike ate two of them when he got home and didn’t say a thing, lol. I also didn’t tell him. Tee hee. Camden of course could care less. She watched me put it in there and for all she knows zucchini is always in brownies.

When you make these brownies be aware that the batter will be very dry and crumbly until you add the shredded zucchini. Don’t drain any of the liquid when you shred the zucchini throw it all in with the batter. Mix the batter with your hands, it is too hard to incorporate the ingredients with a spoon. Once the zucchini is in there it gets nice and moist and even more moist when you bake it. They aren’t dry at all. An easy way to get zucchini into the whole family. And unless you tell them no one will know it is in there.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 cups shredded zucchini (Peel first. I needed 4 zucchini to make 2 cups – my zucchini were fairly small)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Frosting:

6 TBSP cocoa (unsweetened)

1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter, melted

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9 by 13 baking pan. (I found it easier to line my pan with foil and use cooking spray on the foil. Then the brownies lifted right out of the pan and there was no problem with sticking.)

In a large bowl, mix the oil, sugars and vanilla until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and stir until mixed. Combine with sugar mixture and mix by hand (mixture will be VERY dry). Add in zucchini and mix by hand. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (longer if you are using a smaller pan) until brownies spring back when gently touched or when a toothpick or butter knife comes out clean.

To make the frosting: melt the butter and then add cocoa and stir, set aside and cool. In a medium bowl, blend powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir in cocoa mixture. Mix with hand mixer. Spread over cooled brownies.

Store brownies in the fridge if you frost them.

Zucchini Brownies with Frosting

Camden enjoying some frosting

Banana Bread Muffins with Honey

Here is a yummy banana bread muffin recipe that uses Honey instead of sugar. I have all ready adjusted the recipe to account for using honey vs sugar so you can make the muffins, as is, and don’t need to do anything about the liquid, etc.

We are relishing all things carb this week because we will be looking to go on a gluten free diet for awhile which is going to very tough and I’m not really looking forward to it. More about the gluten free stuff later.

These muffins are so good just by themselves and a bit of butter but my friend Lisa had the killer suggestion of topping them with cream cheese frosting which then converts them into something evil and just as good as any cupcake. :) For cream cheese frosting just throw some plain cream cheese in a bowl, a bit of butter, some powdered sugar and vanilla and whip. No need to measure but if you want an actual recipe here is a good one.

Banana Bread Muffins with Honey

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup raw honey (or regular but raw tastes better)

3 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp oil (vegetable or coconut)

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 325. Throw all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until mixed. Don’t overmix. Line muffin pan with muffin liners or grease pan. Fill to rim of liner or of muffin pan. Makes about a dozen muffins or if you want smaller muffins can make about a dozen and a half. Bake for about 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on them. When they are golden and a toothpick or butter knife comes out clean they are done. Transfer muffins to wire rack to cool.

*These would be even better with a cup of chopped nuts but we don’t do nuts in our house.

The Last Shed of Babyhood – Weaning Party Part II

I experienced a lot of emotions today. I felt more than I expected to feel but then again you never know what to expect when you journey through each passage from babyhood. With each breath they take and every night that passes you assist them in leaving you, in shedding any memory of their constant dependence, until one day they stand free.

Today, we celebrated a big passage for Camden. We celebrated her weaning off of the breast (at almost three years old that makes Camden and I very rare in America). It was her final hold on babyhood and she has officially let it go. We’ve lightly attempted weaning her a couple of times but she was never ready before. With her personality type I figured it may be best to go cold turkey. She doesn’t do well with dragging things out. So, Tuesday morning while we were getting ready to wake up I broached the subject like I have been for about the last 6 months. This time I could sense that she was ready. I asked her if she wanted to make this the last time we nursed and she said yes. I told her that if she wanted to be finished we could celebrate with a “weaning party” the next day.

So we had our last nursing session. I tried to memorize it. Tried to make it special. Tried to lock it deep in my heart so I would never forget. She lingered a lot longer than normal and in the end said a very dramatic good-bye to each one. It suits her, she is a very dramatic girl.

We moved forward a lot smoother than I had expected. She fell asleep in the car while doing an errand and I was able to transfer her to her bed just fine. That night she went to bed easily. She did ask for “nee nee” once but I reminded her that she was done and that we’d have her party in the morning. No tears, no protest. Wow, this might be it.

Next morning she shows up in my bedroom and hops into bed. “Can I have just oooonnneee nee nee?” she asks. “We’re all done with nee nee.” I say. “Today is your weaning party!” She smiles and says “hooray!” She looks at me with puppy dog eyes. “Just a little bit of nee nee?” I smile back, “how about some chocolate milk?” She dashes off the bed, “Ok!” Hmm, this is really working. No tears yet.

We get some breakfast and set off to make her a cake for her party. This is where I enter the point of no return. I have officially crossed over from one of those mainstream people trying to be crunchy (hippie) to someone who will never be accepted as mainstream again. I am most definitely, 100%, without a doubt, one of those people. Today, I made my daughter a cake in the shape of breasts. If it weren’t for the fact that it was my own daughter I would be shaking my own head at myself. Who does that? Well, me I guess. As long as I don’t have to smell and I can shave I guess I will consent that I am a “hippie” as my husband so adamently tries to convince me. He tries as best as he can to stay in his mainstream world and rolls his eyes at mine every now and again. Oh well, he’s coming this way whether he likes it or not. Mwha ha ha.

Yes, she is baking and babywearing at the same time. That’s my girl!

While the cake is baking and I’m cleaning up Mariah Carey is playing in the background. Camden is dancing and asks me to join her. The song “You’ll Always Be My Baby” is playing. As I’m dancing like a fool I realize that the words are amazingly representative of my current emotions and I fight back the urge to tear up as we spin out of control in the playroom. It is hard not to want to wrap up that moment and repeat it over and over.

Anyway, I finish the cake and then it is time to get Camden down for a nap. Hmm. Normally she falls asleep nursing or falls asleep in the car while I’m doing errands and then I transfer her to her bed. I don’t have time to do errands because I have to get the house clean before the party. I attempt to utilitze the bedtime routine for naptime. I read her some stories and sing her a song and tell her it is time to go to sleep. She looks at me incredulously. “I want nee nee.” Crap. Here comes the breakdown. I take a deep breath and put on a happy face. “We’re having your weaning party today!” I remind her happily. “Would you like water or Kix?” She stares at me for a minute. “I don’t want a nap.” Phew. This turned into a battle for naptime and not nursing. I was able to convince her that I would set the timer and she could come out when it went beep, beep (an old method we used to teach her how to go to sleep by herself). It worked. She was out within 15 minutes.

She woke up from her nap happy as can be and was excited for her party. We got ready to go and met a few of our friends at the local Children’s Museum. It was our first time ever going and the kids had a blast.

After the fun at the museum we headed back to our house and ate snacks and had cake. I placed 3 candles on the cake. One candle to represent each year of our nursing relationship (we are just shy of 3 years). One of my friends convinced me that the cake needed nipples. We added some hippie M&M’s (dye free). Wow. The cake reminds me of the Friends episode where Rachel has a bakery make her daughter’s first Birthday cake in the shape of a bunny with her daughter’s picture on it. Except the bakery screws up and puts her daughter’s picture on a cake in the shape of a penis. All I could think of was Joey’s line of “is it bad that I want to eat this?” LOL.

After the cake, we celebrated by painting Camden’s and my friend’s daughters fingernails. A very big girl thing to do that would solidify her passage to being a big girl. She received gifts from our friends of fingernail polish and a fairy skirt for dress up. It was a wonderful day and I am thankful that I have friends that are weird enough to want to celebrate it with us. :)

This evening Camden went to sleep without any struggles. It looks like the weaning will be official. I am both relieved and a little achy to hold onto this last stage of babyhood. It’s hard knowing that your baby is ready to move on. I do my best to know when to step aside and let her find her way. I try to trust her enough to let me know when to nudge her forward and when to grab her hand again. So far she knows herself better than I ever could and to me that means I’m doing something right.

Here is a link to our first attempt at a weaning party.

The Best Oatmeal Cookies Ever

Oh My Stinkin Delicious


Ok, I have to share this because I am dying in oatmeal cookie heaven over here. After many disappointing oatmeal cookie recipes and hours of reading later I have finally found the perfect oatmeal cookie recipe for my family. I looked at a ton of recipes online and combined a few of them for a great combination. The cookies are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. They keep their shape and best of all they are SOOOOOO Good!The secret is the raisins. You have to soak them. I don’t even like raisins. In fact, I typically really DISLIKE raisins. But I decided to brave it and I can’t believe how good they are! You have to try it with the raisins (even if you normally hate them, you’ll see). I added chocolate chips to ours but they are totally not necessary. We had to omit the nuts because of nut allergies in our house but they would rock with some chopped pecans or walnuts. These cookies make your house smell soooo good.

Recipe:
1 cup butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 TBSP (yes tablespoon) vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinammon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 cups oatmeal (quick cooking or old fashioned, not instant)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

To prep: The key is to soak the raisins. This makes all the difference in the world. Beat eggs and vanilla together and then add the raisins, stir. Soak for an hour or two. I just walked by a few times and stirred it while I waited.

Directions:

Preheat to 350 F

Cream butter and sugars with mixer. In a seperate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinammon, ginger & nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients until well blended. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix well. Now add in the egg & raisin mixture (I used my hands). Then add oatmeal and chocolate chips/nuts and combine well. Form into balls on cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 2-5 minutes or until firm enough to transfer to wire rack.

Made about 2 1/2 dozen cookies for me and I made them pretty big. You could get 4 dozen if you make them small.

 

UPDATE: Cooking time will vary depending on your oven. Since we’ve moved to a new house I have needed to up the cooking time to around 12-13 minutes. Just keep an eye on the cookies. Also, there are lots of great suggestions in the comments for great variations so be sure to take a look.