Better-than-boxed Brownies

Yep, another re-publish from Tasteful Diversions. Next week it’ll be a new one, I promise. 

To follow up last week’s lemonade recipe, I give you brownies. Specifically, I’m publishing these two recipes close together because one of my very favorite summertime combos is brownies and lemonade.

I avoided making brownies from scratch for years because not only were they WAAAAY too much effort (double boiler? No thank you very much!) but they also never came out fudgy like I like them. Then I stumbled across this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated which is only slightly more work than making from a box (no double boiler!) AND makes the fudgiest brownies I’ve ever had.

Better-than-boxed Brownies
Print Recipe
These brownies are perfect every time...dense and fudgy on the inside with a lovely crisp top. (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, March & April 2010)
Servings Prep Time
12 ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Better-than-boxed Brownies
Print Recipe
These brownies are perfect every time...dense and fudgy on the inside with a lovely crisp top. (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, March & April 2010)
Servings Prep Time
12 ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line 13×9 pan with foil; spray lightly with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk cocoa and boiling water together until smooth.
  4. Add in unsweetened chocolate and continue to whisk until chocolate is melted.
  5. Whisk in melted butter and oil. [CI notes at this point that the mixture may look curdled; I have not had this issue.]
  6. Whisk in eggs, yolks, and vanilla.
  7. Whisk in sugar.
  8. Stir in flour and salt [CI indicates a rubber spatula for this part; I use a wooden spoon and it seems to work fine] until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  9. Fold in chips.
  10. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350° 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs).
  11. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan on a rack for 1 1/2hrs.
  12. Using foil, remove brownies from pan and place on rack to cool another hour before serving.*
Recipe Notes

*Okay, look, this is 2 1/2 hours of cooling time. I don’t know about you, but there is no chance in hell that fresh brownies are going to get that much alone time at my house. I usually make it about 45 minutes before I start cutting.

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Tasty Tuesday: Aw, Lemon!

Originally published on Tasteful Diversions June 14, 2011.

Lemonade pitcher and glassAs a child of the 80s, I’ve always been about convenience and speed. Powdered drink mixes always seemed like the easiest way to get a nice refreshing pitcher of lemonade, and it tasted okay. When my kids got old enough to start eating and drinking real food, I started looking at the ingredients in foods and resolved to make from scratch as much as possible. Sometimes this is an utter failure. For instance, one of the few things The Girl will eat are chicken fingers. She will not eat any other form of chicken, even if I’ve made it look just like the prepackaged chicken fingers. I heartily wish that she had never been introduced to the pre-made crap, but it happened and I’m sure eventually we’ll get her to start eating something else. Maybe when she goes to college.

But I digress. I started looking for a lemonade recipe last year — I figured it would be a pain, but worth it to keep the chemicals going into the kids down to a minimum. I was surprised — and a little annoyed at myself for not figuring it out earlier — to find out how incredibly easy it is…almost as easy as fixing one of the powdered mixes. It’s so easy, in fact, that I almost feel silly writing up the recipe.

Lemonade
Print Recipe
Quick and easy lemonade from scratch.
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts (about) 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts (about) 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Lemonade
Print Recipe
Quick and easy lemonade from scratch.
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts (about) 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts (about) 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: quarts (about)
Instructions
  1. Combine boiling water and sugar.
  2. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved (the water will become clear again — yay! You’ve just made simple syrup!).
  3. Stir in lemon juice.
  4. Put ice in pitcher.
  5. Add half the cold water.
  6. Pour in lemon juice mixture.
  7. Top off with remaining cold water.
  8. Stir.
  9. Serve over ice.
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In Which I Go All Fangirl

You know how sometimes you read a bunch of stuff by someone and you agree with pretty much all of it and think they’re totally awesome-sauce and then you get a chance to not just meet them but take a class (or two) from them and you try not to build it up too much because how could they possibly live up to that but then you can’t help but build it up and you’re totally prepared to be disappointed and then they somehow WILDLY exceed even your ridiculously high expectations?

Amy Herzog is just that amazing (and very gracious about posing for a selfie with me):

amy herzog and me
Amy with her very professional and friendly smile, me with my OMGSQUEEE fangirl face.

I took two classes with her this weekend at the 1st annual Kent Needle Arts Retreat: Knit to Flatter and Mastering Mindful Modifications. I learned a TON, especially in the first class. (The second class was math-ier, which because of my job I actually have a pretty good handle on. But if you don’t spend all day playing with pattern numbers, she will walk you through what you need to know very gently and painlessly. Highly recommended. Also, it was nice to have my methods confirmed. 🙂 )

Knit to Flatter was all about how to choose the right shapes for your body, and how to emphasize (or not) the body parts you choose. This was 3 hours of listening to someone talk about bodies and body image and fit and how clothes work…all things that can be very uncomfortable to think about, much less talk about. But Amy manages to come at these topics in such a way that it feels really good to think about your body and what it is you expect from it and how to live with it and in it.

It’s not about camouflage, and it’s not about trying to make yourself look like someone you’re not. It’s about how to choose clothes and shapes that show off the parts of you that you like, and visually reshape the parts of you that maybe you’re not so fond of. It’s about looking at yourself honestly and not hating what you see, because we all have things we like and don’t like and want others to see differently. It’s incredible and eye-opening, is what it is. I walked out of that class feeling better about my body than I have in a very long time, maybe ever.

Thank you, Amy, for sharing your insights and techniques, and for letting me go all fangirl there at the end.

Amy Herzog has a website here — check out her books and also the awesome CustomFit site, where you can skip the math-y bits of customizing sweaters for your body’s needs. Have I mentioned that Amy is super amazing?

TBT: Clay That Goes Away

TBT, or Throwback Thursday for those of you not on Facebook or Twitter, will feature old posts from Tasteful Diversions and maybe even A Frayed Knot Knits.

This post was from the Make’n’Tell I tried to do last February (I ended up flaming out in the middle of the month 🙁 ). I had completely forgotten we did this — but now I remember that we had a ton of fun with it. And, easy clean up! Originally published 02/09/14.

I saw this pin a while back for making clay with cornstarch and dishsoap, and I actually meant to make it for the  kids on one of our many snow days, but kept forgetting. Today Becky was looking for something artsy to do, so I decided to throw this together for her.

The artist at work
The artist at work

Ours didn’t ever get ropy like the picture, but was more the consistency of paper clay. I think she found it a little frustrating to work with but it held her attention for  20 or 30 minutes, and I think it was also a good introduction to impermanent art. See, Becky’s a lot like I am, and channels her creativity into making “things”. Making something useless or impermanent is almost anathema to us. So I think that sometimes pushing ourselves into doing that — even though it’s frustrating — is a good thing.

Freeky Good Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bitten CookieEver since Kit discovered he’s wildly gluten intolerant, I’ve been trying to recreate his favorite foods. The thing he always requested the most before he went all freeky* were my chocolate chip cookies.

The first thing I tried was just throwing in some gluten free all purpose flour mix. It turns out one of the flours used in most GF AP flour blends is tapioca…which makes my throat start to close up. So that’s no good. Also, the texture wasn’t great. Then I played around with a bunch of other combinations and found a mix of rice flours and oat flour that made a decent tasting but very crumbly cookie.

For Father’s Day last year, we got him a bunch of gluten free cookbooks, including one that had amaranth flour in just about every recipe for doughy things. It was also the only GF source I’d seen that didn’t recommend xanthan gum for everything chewy. (If you don’t know what xanthan gum actually is, go have a look. I’ll wait. Gross, right? Oh and bonus, if you’re sensitive to xanthan gum, which isn’t uncommon, it gives you the same symptoms as being glutened.) The only drawback to amaranth flour is that it tastes like dirt. Literal dirt from the ground. If you’ve ever had to clean something very, very dusty and gotten that taste in your mouth, that’s the taste of amaranth.

So I played a little more. Coconut flour was promising, but does have a strong coconut flavor. I happen to like coconut, but it’s not the flavor profile I was going for. I went back to the oat, which was nice, but you could still taste the amaranth under it. I added a little coconut back in, and bingo! Good taste, good chew, good cookie.

I was, frankly, shocked the first time I bit into one of these. It’s not a good gluten free cookie. It’s a good cookie, that happens to be gluten free. I am super proud of these. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

gfcc_plate

 

*Being gluten free sucks pretty hard. In an effort to lighten it up, we started calling it being a gluten freek. It turns out we are not the only clever ones — there are several blogs who use the term, and even a couple of gluten free beers.

Freeky Good Chocolate Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gluten Free version
Servings Prep Time
48 cookies 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
11 minutes per sheet 2 minutes per sheet
Servings Prep Time
48 cookies 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
11 minutes per sheet 2 minutes per sheet
Freeky Good Chocolate Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gluten Free version
Servings Prep Time
48 cookies 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
11 minutes per sheet 2 minutes per sheet
Servings Prep Time
48 cookies 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
11 minutes per sheet 2 minutes per sheet
Ingredients
Servings: cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  3. In mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugars.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until smooth.
  5. Add half of each flour, the baking soda, and the salt, mixing until fully incorporated. (If you prefer to do this more traditionally, you can mix together all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add that mix half at a time. I just prefer not to dirty another bowl, because I am lazy and I haven't noticed it makes any difference at all in the final product.)
  6. Add the rest of the flours and mix thoroughly.
  7. Fold chocolate chips into dough, distributing as evenly as possible. (I like to use a wooden spoon for this, but whatever works is fine.)
  8. Scoop dough onto lined cookie sheet in teaspoonfuls. (You can use one of those fancy cookie scooper things if that's your bag, but I just use a regular kitchen spoon.)
  9. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until slightly brown and no longer wet looking on top.
  10. Let cool on sheet for 2 minutes.
  11. Transfer to cooling rack.
Recipe Notes

* Some people who have celiac cannot tolerate oats, even those labeled gluten free. If that is the case for you or your freek, I recommend using 1/2 cup of brown rice flour and a 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour in place of the oat flour.

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This is why I can’t have nice things

I’ve been live for less than 24 hours and already the damn thing’s broke (as you can see). It’s some weird issue with uploading images. I’m working on fixing it. Also cursing at WP a lot, because this seems to be a frequently occurring issue over many versions of WP. Sigh. Grrr.

A Brand New Day…

selfie…and I’m feeling good. Relaunching, rebranding, regenerating. Rebirth. I’ve been on a long hiatus from blogging and designing and generally sharing myself with the world,  and after much thought and deliberation it turns out I’m really missing those things from my life. I’ve tried, a couple of times, to pick up where I left off, and that’s just not working for me. So, here we are. A new name, a new blog, a fresh start (though I will be doing some recycling of content from the old blog).

Just like over at Tasteful Diversions, here you’ll find recipes, patterns, crafts, and assorted ramblings on various subjects. I’ll be bringing back Tasty Tuesdays (first up, a seriously kick-ass gluten free chocolate chip cookie…actually, it’s a kick-ass chocolate chip cookie recipe that happens to be gluten free) and Found It on the Internet Fridays. And I’ll be trying out some new stuff, too. Join me, won’t you?