Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Smore's Brownies

I am a smore's pig. When we drive up the canyon with family and friends to roast hot dogs and smore's, it is not unusual for me to embarrass myself. I say: a candy bar is a serving, so as many smore's as you need to make to use up the candy bar-is also a serving. The only problem with smore's is the highly inconvenient fact that it requires a fire pit, which we do not have in our backyard due to the hazard that is our son Owen. (Can you even imagine? Let's not.) 
These brownies are an excellent alternative when you need something portable, or when your Memorial Day is rained/snowed out because it is the worst spring EVER in Utah, yet you still want a summery treat.

Smore's Brownies

Makes 6 Tiffanie Hansen servings, or 12 for those who show restraint.

For the crust:
1 1/2 sleeves graham crackers, crushed
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

For the brownie layer:
Favorite brownie mix, (I use a family-size mix) made according to directions
1 cup chocolate chips

1 bag large marshmallows-each marshmallow cut in half horizontally

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease the sides of a 9 x 13 pan. Mix ingredients for crust, and press firmly (make sure it's evenly firm) into the pan. Bake 10 minutes, and remove from oven.
Meanwhile, mix up your brownie mix, adding the chocolate chips. Pour the batter over the crust, and return to oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. Let the brownies cool to room temp.
When ready to serve, preheat the broiler. Cover the brownies with the marshmallows, and place under broiler for 1-3 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Watch carefully-they brown quickly. When cutting these, I found it helpful to grease the knife with a little butter, since the marshmallows are sticky.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Key Lime Grilled Chicken

This is my favorite grilled chicken recipe of all time for two reasons: it includes butter; and it includes lime. Also, it includes butter. Do I need to say more? No. I do not. But I'm going to. There is no marinating required here, it calls for 4 ingredients (one of which is butter) and it's ready in the time it takes to grill your chicken. Plus, the recipe includes butter.

For the key lime sauce:

1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
1/4 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
1/4 cup chili sauce (if you've never bought this before, it's at the grocery store by the ketchup)
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt

For the chicken:

4 lbs. chicken pieces
1 Tbl. seasoning salt

Prepare your grill. Rub chicken with seasoning salt, and place on the grill. While chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the lime juice, chili sauce, and seasoning salt, and cook for 1 minute.
Take the sauce out to the grill and baste the chicken a few times until chicken is cooked through. (I used breasts that were on the small side, and they only took around 6 minutes a side. For large thick pieces, plan on 18-22 minutes per side.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Filling

I've enjoyed a lot of those Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies in my day. Such as: two Wednesdays ago. Also: in High School by the boxful. Unfortunately, they are made of corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and a few other ingredients that may not technically be food. I am pretty much the last person to get preachy about organic eating (I frequent the McDonalds Playplace weekly), but I figure-if I can make a better version at home, with real food-perhaps I'll feel better about serving it to my children for breakfast.

For the Oatmeal Cookies:

Makes 16 sandwiches

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups old-fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon to blend. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar together for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until well combined, scraping down the sides as necessary. 
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Mix in the oats at low speed.
Drop the batter in rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets. Bake 9-10 minutes. (I always slightly underbake my cookies to make sure they stay soft and chewy.)

*I wouldn't use this recipe for regular Oatmeal Cookies, since they are so thin. But when used for sandwich cookies, thick ones are harder to eat.

For the filling:

4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 a block)
4 Tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Cream butter and cream cheese until combined and smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Strawberry Tea Biscuits

My Best Girl and Daughter, Dylan and I decided to have a tea party this morning due to the following: She doesn't have school all week for kindergarten end-of-year assessments; Owen was going to preschool, and we could therefore have a pleasant tea party without requesting anyone to step off of the table; and it was another depressing cozy rainy morning. 

A little introduction to Dyllie, for those who don't know her:

At age 5 (6 this August), she is my oldest. Interests include: playing with friends; bossing Owen; taking gymnastics (we are trying to convince Dad that the many thousands of dollars and hours training would be completely reasonable for her to qualify for the Utah Ute's gymnastics team someday); playing with friends; discovering ever higher decibels using her "whining voice"; playing soccer; maintaining an excitement for entering the 1st grade, even though this means she will no longer eat lunch with her mother and I will miss her desperately; changing her clothes 5 times a day; playing with friends; making giant messes in her bedroom that typically consist of clothes and tiny cut-up pieces of paper ("they're my special CRAFTS, mom!"); inventing songs whose title and sole lyrics are everyday sentences, such as: "We Need a Pink Hair Tie for My Hair", or the classic: "Two Special Band-aids on a Hill"; and playing with friends.

I thought about how I would make these all the way home from Owen's preschool, and I thought they turned out super yummy. Dyllie agreed. And then she asked if she could call a friend.

Strawberry Tea Biscuits

Makes 6 large biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing
1 cup strawberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until texture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining (if you don't have a pastry blender, just use your fingers to rub in the butter).
Pour in buttermilk; using a rubber spatula, fold buttermilk into the dough, working in all directions and incorporating crumbs at the bottom of the bowl, until the dough just comes together. Fold in strawberries. The dough will be slightly sticky.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With floured fingers, gently pat the dough into a round about 1 inch thick, pressing in any loose bits. Using a biscuit cutter (or cookie cutter, or the top of a drinking glass), cut out biscuits as close together as possible.
Place biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart on an unlined baking sheet. Generously brush the tops with buttermilk. Bake until biscuits are golden and flecked with brown spots, 18-20 minutes.

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
milk as needed

Add milk 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring, until you reach desired consistency. Drizzle with spoon over the hot biscuits.

 A special treat for those who scrolled down through the whole recipe:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cowboy Caviar

Have you ever eaten real caviar? I tasted it at my cousin's house, and it caused me to gag in a very violent and unattractive manner in front of my extended family. Fortunately, this Cowboy Caviar has nothing to do with the eggs of fish.

I got this recipe while on a road trip to Southern Utah a couple weekends ago. It was a road trip that included: an average of 42 miles per hour for 300 miles; a pee accident in a carseat; the beautiful wedding of one of my best and oldest friends; the throwing of my cell phone into the hotel toilet; 

since we were pretty used to the kids' whining by then, we did a few small hikes in Zion's National Park; the eating of a delicious bbq chicken pizza at Wild Cat Willie's in Springdale (where the entrance to Zion's Park is), where they 
happened to have a cookbook for sale sitting on our table.

You should know that I am a hoarder of cookbooks. Unfortunately, my husband does not appreciate stacks of cookbooks in our kitchen and living room, and has decided to no longer support my collection. He did, however, support the picture-taking with his iphone of the best-looking recipes.

This is the first recipe I tried, and I thought it was fab. Perfect for a potluck-bbq, or, as we did today, sharing-with-a-neighbor-as-an-afternoon-snack-while-watching-the-kids-ride-bikes- since the-sun-is-finally-shining-event.

Cowboy Caviar

1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 can corn, drained (or fresh or frozen)
1 large avacado, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
juice of ½ a lemon
salt and pepper to tast

1 bag tortilla chips

Dump everything into a bowl; mix; snarf with the chips.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Double Crust Strawberry Pie

I have two issues with traditional strawberry pie (the one with a single crust, filling of whole strawberries coated in mystery syrup, with a few squirts of "whip cream" on top): firstly, the mystery syrup tastes nothing of strawberries; secondly, this pie is not eaten with ice cream, as all fruit pies should be.

I got this recipe from my Magnolia Bakery cookbook, and I love that it's baked in the traditional fruit pie way. I told Josh I was planning on making it over the weekend, and he was sickened that I was going to cook strawberries. He ate his whole slice. I took it up to my parents' house, and my brother who abhors cooked fruit of any nature also snarfed his slice. So don't let this new method deter you, friends-it's Strawberry Pie with Ice Cream Time at last!

For the Crust:

I always use the Martha Stewart recipe for Pate Brisee, but I give you permission to use premade.


2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
With eh machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 Tablespoon at a time.
Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece f plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month, thaw in refrigerator before using.

For the Filling:

5 cups fresh strawberries, cut in half
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup quick-cooking minute tapioca (if you've never bought this before, it's in the store by the jell-o. It's the perfect thickener for this recipe)
1 teaspoon vanilla


1 Tablespoon milk
1 Tablespoon sugar

To make the Pie:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (You turn it down slightly when it's time to put the pie in.) 
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the filling. Let stand for 15 minutes while you prepare the crust.
Roll out the first disk, and place it in a 9 inch pie dish. 
Pour in the filling. 
Roll out top crust, and top the pie.
Crimp edges together, brush the crust with milk, and sprinkle with sugar. Cut a few slits in the center of the pie with the tip of a knife. 
Place on a baking sheet, and lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 60-70 minutes. Let cool for at least 2 hours.
And most importantly: serve with ice cream!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Perfect and Easy Chocolate Cake

Have you ever eaten an entire cake by yourself? I have. But before you start thinking of therapy clinics to recommend to me, you should know that it took me a couple of days, and is therefore completely normal. Plus, Josh already looked into those and I refused. Furthermore, it was during the Holidays.

I use this cake recipe for the chocolate wedding cakes I do, and I always get more compliments than when I make one from scratch. It's perfectly moist, dense and chocolaty. (Unlike plain cake mix, which I think is too fluffy and dry. Although, I think about cake an abnormal amount-plenty of people like cake mix. I won't judge.) Plus, it's 100 times easier-no separate bowls, no sifting-just dump and mix.

The chocolate buttercream recipe is from my More From Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, which I have found to be pretty much as valuable as scripture. It has earned me a lot of repeat business and referrals with my cakes, and it is probably the most life-changing frosting I know of. And I am very familiar with frosting.

What you need for the cake:

1 box chocolate cake mix (any brand, any type of chocolate-this time I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate  Fudge)
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream (I used light since I'm on a diet. A very special diet that includes daily treats, but unfortunately does not include actual weight loss.)

Just dump everything into a bowl and mix until combined. Pour into two 9 inch round pans that have been greased and floured (the baking sprays with flour work great). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

*And guess what: you can use this recipe for any flavor of cake mix-just switch out the pudding flavor.

What you need for the Chocolate Buttercream:

3 sticks butter, softened
2 Tablespoons milk
9 oz. semisweet chocolate (I use chocolate chips and they work great-1 1/2 cups), melted and cooled to lukewarm temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat on low speed until creamy and of desired consistency. Before tasting the buttercream, I recommend sitting down. Or, if your kitchen permits, laying down.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Homemade Angel Food Cake with Berries and Creme Anglaise

It seems to me that people fall into 2 categories of dessert preferences: fruit desserts (me), or chocolate desserts (also me). This is a perfect spring or summer time dessert for the fruit people.

Homemade Angel Food cake is cinchy to make, and a million times better in taste and texture than store-bought. It is also virtually fat-free, so what better way to serve it than drizzled in a creamy custard sauce? I will tell you there is no better way. Whipped cream is of course delicious, but it's been done. The atrocity of Cool Whip will receive only this mention.

For the Angel Food Cake you need:

 1 cup cake flour (spooned and leveled)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour and salt in a sieve set over a bowl; sift into bowl, and set aside. With a mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. (I forgot to take a picture of the soft-peaks-just imagine the top of an ice-cream sundae. With hotfudge. And nuts. And whip cream.)
    Continue to beat, gradually adding sugar; beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

     Add vanilla; beat to combine.
  2. Gently transfer egg-white mixture to a large, wide bowl. In four batches, using the sieve again, sift flour mixture over
    egg-white mixture. While turning the bowl, use a rubber spatula to fold in the mixture by cutting down the center and coming
    up the sides.
  3. Gently spoon batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan with a removable bottom; smooth top. Cut a knife or small spatula
    through batter to release air bubbles. Bake until cake is golden and springs back when lightly pressed, 35 to 40 minutes.
    Invert pan; let cool in pan, 1 hour. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and around the tube to release cake, and unmold. Use knife to release cake from bottom of pan, and remove.

    *A tip for the cake: I didn't use a tube pan with a removable bottom, and it worked fine; after you run your knife around the edges, gently lift the the cake sides with a small spatula all the way around. It might take a couple rounds, but it will come right out.

    For the Creme Anglaise:

    1. 2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
    2. 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
    3. 1/2 cup sugar
    4. 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

    1. Set a large fine strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of cold water.
    2. In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half and vanilla bean and cook over moderately low heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes.
    3. In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks just until combined. Whisk in half of the hot half-and-half in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately strain the sauce into the bowl in the cold water bath to stop the cooking. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce. Serve right away or refrigerate until chilled.

    *A couple tips for the Creme Anglaise: I am not a millionaire, and therefore do not have vanilla beans. I used regular vanilla, and it works great. (If you must know, it was imitation vanilla. I sent my husband to the store the day I needed some, and he's a cheapy. I mean frugal.) Also, it's not a super thick sauce-so don't cook it past the time it can coat the back of a spoon. Otherwise, you risk cooking the eggs too much and it curdles.

    For the Berries:

    4 cups of berries, chopped or lightly mashed
    1/4-1/2 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of your berries

    Mix and let sit 15-30 minutes to macerate.

    Serves 8 

    I will now be retiring to the bathroom to clean it, lest Josh gets home and begins to have unfavorable opinions about my blog project.

    Later this week: Mother's Day Dessert Idea #2

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Son Owen

This is Owen, age 3 and a half, my middle child. 

He looks adorable, right? Well. He's not completely normal. 

When asked what his hobbies are, he replies, "Knife-ez, shooteen duns, swoords, an' wighturs." (That's lighters, friends. Lighters.) As his mother I would add: climbing on inappropriate objects, jumping from unsafe heights, and being destructive. Librarians cringe when he walks (or gallops) into the library. I receive unsolicited advice from strangers about him on a daily basis.  Maybe some of you are thinking, "He sounds like a fairly normal boy to me-maybe a little hyper." Read on, friends. 

My first mistake in this incident I would like to document is that I took all 3 of my offspring to the grocery store. Not that my choice completely relates to the incident, but a mistake nevertheless.

Secondly, I sent Owen into the public restroom without parental supervision while I checked out.

I should also note that he entered the restroom chewing a delicious stick of strawberry gum I had given him in the van on our way to the store as a bribe. 

As I was loading the groceries into my cart, he excitedly walked up to me and said, "Look mom! I dot a new piece-a dum!" "Uh....what?!!", I asked in horror, since there is basically no acceptable way of acquiring a piece of gum in a restroom. "From da TOI-WET!", he replied, marveling at his good fortune. FROM. THE TOILET. AT WINCO (while a wonderfully cheap place to shop, it is not exactly known for customer cleanliness).
He doesn't yet seem to be coming down with a fever, but death is certainly imminent. Please pray for him. And for me. And for the future of our society with him in it.

Tomorrow: Idea #1 for Mother's Day dessert.