Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Baker's One Bowl Brownies from Scratch


A ways back my friend Nancy from high school was talking about the best brownies - made using the Baker's recipe. I recently happened across it again, and I figured I'd give it a go this weekend. I've never made brownies from scratch. I've always used the box. I will not be using the box any more because these brownies are tops. They're also super easy and require one bowl just like if you were using a brownie mix. MFD is on board. After eating one of these he said, "Steph? Duncan Hines can suck it." Did you hear that Duncan Hines? He's serious.

Ingredients
4 oz bar (or four 1 oz each pieces) Baker's unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 c. (1.5 sticks) butter
2 c. sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour

1 c. chopped nuts, optional, or peanut butter, cream cheese, nutella to swirl through - all optional

FYI, the ingredients in the mix of a box of Duncan Hines chewy fudge brownies before you add anything:
Sugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour [Enriched With Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Malted Barley Flour), Powdered Sugar (Sugar, Corn Starch), Cocoa Powder Processed With Alkali, Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil). Contains 2% Or Less Of: Wheat Starch, Dextrose, Salt, Cornstarch, Artificial Flavor, Carrageenan, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate).

For not much more work, I might as well go with the straightforward six ingredients that I recognize.

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwave-safe bowl on high for two minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Stir sugar into chocolate. Mix in eggs and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour and nuts if using. Spread in greased 13 x 9-inch pan. If you're adding a swirl, now's the time.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Cool in pan; cut into squares. Makes 24 fudgy brownies. 

Note: When using glass baking dish, bake at 325°F. For cake-like brownies, stir in 1/2 cup milk with eggs; use 1 1/2 cups flour.

Go ahead, lick the bowl. Maybe take a photo of yourself doing it with dirty hair and no makeup while you're at it so you can share it with the world at large. No? Just me?
Try them from scratch. You won't be sorry. Thanks again to Nancy for the recipe!

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Haikuesday
Brownies from Heaven.
Fudgy chocolate goodness.
Fat Albert nods, sighs.
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Tomorrow is October 1. I'll be damned. September's nothing more than a fart in the wind.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Food Theme starts tomorrow. What's your goal? Are you trying new recipes? Trying to eat more or less of something? Bringing your lunch to work? Tasting a new to you food? You choose your goal around the food theme, then share your results the first Thursday in November.

October Wallet Watch starts tomorrow too! Batten down the hatches. 
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Monday, September 29, 2014

TWTW - first official one of fall

1. Friday night involved Brother's Pizza, purging bins and baskets, trips to Marburn Curtain and AC Moore, washing window treatments, and some more decor updates (plaque & vases from The Magnolia Market - thanks for the intro Lauren- and Philly neighborhood typography from Paris Photo Shop).
2. Saturday morning errands - car wash, Target, groceries - and some more stuff around the house while Geege stood guard.
3. Weekly food prep: sausage/egg/cheese muffins for breakfasts, veggie noodle soup for lunch, greek yogurt/celery/red peppers for snacks, homemade meatballs and a pot of sauce for dinner with pasta/garlic bread/salad, baked salmon with steamed veggies and sweet potatoes (will make mid-week). Oh, and delicious brownies from scratch. See them here in all their glory tomorrow.
4. Amanda's 35th birthday celebration at Pinsetters in Merchantsville. She was kind enough to share her cake with other September babies - Russell, MFD, and Debbie.
5. Sunday involved hellish yard cleanup beginning at 9:30 a.m. This included shed purging, furniture rearranging, major stick cleanup, slip sliding away in dog poop the dogs dropped like a mine AFTER I cleaned up the rest of the poop, and my favorite: discovery of a spider hotel housing adults and babies and 2987428384 resultant spider bites. I was like a woman possessed with a shovel trying to get them the hell away from me. The dogs were tired like they did the heavy lifting and bending and spider war waging. Then I read magazines, re-hydrated, and itched my bites for an hour before finally heading inside at 2:45.
6. Last minute invite to dinner at my Mom's with some family. It was a nice night to sit outside, share a meal and shoot the shit.

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On Mondays I'm doing a picture linkup called Picture Practice with Kelli at Just Beachy. If you'd like to participate, here are the prompts through December. Share on your blog, or if you don't blog on Twitter or Instagram every Monday with the hashtag #PicturePractice. This is my photo for the prompt what makes me happy. It was hard to choose, because I could make a mile long list of the things that make me happy. So many things, friends. So many things. I hope you can too. So I'll choose one of the things that makes me the happiest, yet is also one of the simplest - relaxing at home with MFD and the dogs. We're going and doing and working and all the things all the time, so I really appreciate time down time I have at home. Preferably in a clean house, because I can't really relax in a dirty one.

Today, my cousin Tyler's birthday. Happy happy! Tomorrrow, baker's one bowl brownies. Today is also National Coffee Day, a day they made up for us who obsess about coffee. Anywho DD is giving out free medium iced or hot dark roast coffees. I got one because free is for me! You should too if you like coffee and free things. Tomorrrow, baker's one bowl brownies.

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Linking up with B Loved Boston for Weekending.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

October Wallet Watch - The Rules

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The rules for the October Wallet Watch are that you make your own rules. Hey ohhhh.

Really, you need to watch your wallet. I can't watch it for you. I need to watch my own. This is not a spending freeze unless you want it to be. Otherwise, this is a wallet watch. In the wallet watch, you make the rules - maybe you want to spend $10 less on coffee, $20 less at the grocery store,  pay off $50 more on a bill, save a certain amount for the holidays, or see how little you can spend period. Your watch, your rules.

Whatever goals you set for yourself, be realistic. Make changes to your spending habits for the next month that can work for you so you don't hate me and yourself by Halloween.

Once you set your rules, live by them. Write down any expenditures that aren't in your budget, grab the button and report in on your experience on Wednesday, November 5. Bloggers, link up your posts. Non-bloggers, prepare to share your list of wallet watch victories, failures, and reflections in the comments here or on Facebook or twitter.


In my quest to update my wardrobe from my socks/underwear/bras on up, I have burned quite a hole in reserves. Thus this time around my wallet watch is happening to curb shopping and not go overboard in the wardrobe upgrade. I'm not looking to curb spending on outings/meals/coffee out - all of those have remained at acceptable levels.

My parameters:
1. Wallet watch lasts from October 1 - October 31.
2. Do not purchase any shoes, apparel, or accessories. Exception: shoes and jewelry for Stephen & Aubrey's wedding if I need to (not sure if anything I have will work yet or not).
3. Just say no to beauty products or makeup unless something runs out and there is not a feasible substitute.
4. Stay within budget for all outings: I have events every Saturday in October and one Sunday.
5. I can use giftcards on whatever I please.
6. I must share how I did honestly on Wednesday, November 5.

Are you joining me? What are your parameters?


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Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Five: Roles I Play in my Relationship

In keeping with the marriage theme this week since yesterday was our wedding anniversary, today I'm talking about roles I play in my marriage.


1. The Schedule Keeper - If you want to know if we can make it, you should probably just ask me. If you ask MFD,  he'll say I think so and then text or call me immediately to see if we're actually free, already booked, or have planned to not be free (AKA do nothing at home).
1a. The Vacation Planner - This is number one's little sister. Once the destination is picked, I make all of the arrangements and check in with him for opinions on restaurants, excursions, make sure his must dos made the list, etc.

2. The Detail Person - I'm concerned with how things go on a day to day basis and what we're doing/seeing/spending/saving now (which translates into The Bookkeeper). MFD is the big picture guy. That's an important balance to have, we remind each other of things the other one does not consider.

3. The Straight Man - In our comedy duo, MFD is the genial funny man and I'm the one who delivers the sarcastic line. We play well off one another.

4. The Hard Ass - When someone needs to be the heavy (with a company, about service, with someone who's being an asshole) or when someone needs to be told no...that's me. This week's shit list included Comcast and Verizon.

5. The Cook - We're actually both good cooks, but I end up doing most of it for various reasons including scheduling and the fact that I like to plan and prep ahead in regards to meals. I also really enjoy it. MFD typically makes a meal when he's seen it on TV and has a burning desire to make it. In that case he'll go out and do all of his own shopping for it as well.

What roles do you play in your relationship?

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday Thoughts - anniversary edition

1. Four years ago today, we were doing this. September is also the month we met in 1989 at Neshaminy Junior and the month we started dating in 2002. We've known each other a long time and born witness to the very best and worst of each other. The fourth year of our marriage has seen each of us weather the most individual challenges, which have brought about a lot of change and resulted in a big upswing for us as a couple. I'm grateful for the hard times that have made us stronger, the sense of humor that exists in our home always, and the love. Happy anniversary MFD!
2. Our fourth year of marriage has been full and pretty fun.
Sept - on our anniversary in 2013, Oct - Halloween, Nov - Thanksgiving, Dec - one of the many snow storms, Jan - New Year's Day, Feb - Mexico for the Van Riojas wedding, Mar - heading out, April - in Cape May, May - Memorial Day Covered Bridge Touring, June - Salem for the ShO'connor wedding, July - at Lori & Jacks, Aug - OCNJ, Sept - Lake Michigan
3. One week from today (Oct 2) is the linkup for Choose Your Own Adventure Goal Challenge for September - fitness. Commit to finishing strong! Then link up and let us know how you did next week. Non bloggers, be prepared to share your story in comments/on twitter/FB. Looking ahead, the theme for October is FOOD. Start thinking on your goals within the theme of food!

4. Since I'm a challengeful mofo, I'm also doing an October Wallet Watch. A few people have expressed interest in joining me, get your rules ready! If you're new here, look out for a Saturday post detailing the October Wallet Watch. To read my recap on my last wallet watch, click here.

5. Happy birthday to one of my BFFs, Amanda, who was kind enough to give me some recommendations for yesterday's September Recommendations post.

6. The Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. Let's discuss. This has been on my wish list for over five years and I've never pulled the trigger. It's the last item I could possibly want in the kitchen. What's stopping me? A) Since I've made it so far without it, would I use it enough to justify the price? I cook a lot and bake some. B) I could make room for storage but don't want it on my counter top. C) Is my main desire for one because I can get it in an awesome color? SO...Kitchenaid pros and cons? If you have one, how do you use it?  Help a sister out.
Image via Amazon
7. Are you familiar with The Marshalls Law? I beat it this week! I went back to get the one remaining matching mirror and it was there. I like the pseudo symmetry - it can't be level or the mirror next to the window will look weird, and I didn't want to move the one near the door.
8. Is Vegas on your list? Check out these 10 fascinating Vegas facts from Iva @ Why I'm Cray. You may also want to check out her latest edition of GTFO. She's sharing eight facts that made me shiver. Iva has a way of putting it out there that makes me want more while hiding my eyes sometimes. NUMBER FIVE. I am legitimately dying.

9.Things I loved on the Internet this week: Emma Watson's UN speech on feminism (edited to add: I originally had Emma Stone's...I always confuse them, thanks to Laura for tipping me off to my error), this freaking hilarious dog video, and 10 Things Only Your Childhood Best Friend Understands . I sent this link to my girls immediately, feeling nostalgic and fortunate to still have these friendships.

10. Ecard of the week, marriage edition - truth. My favorite is when MFD calls me at work because he can't find something.
Check out this sweet giveaway I'm taking part in over at Martinis & Bikinis:
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Fall Style Link Up
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