I am not a big fan of this time of year so I try to find joy wherever I can. This video of people dancing to the always brilliant Perfume Genius was today’s moment of hope and happiness. There may be wreaths on graves, but it’s offset by the power of movement on mood.
Check out Perfume Genius on Bandcamp where you can buy his music.
Hooooooo doesn’t love a good brownie? Especially brownies that have a blondie layer and lots of M & M’s? Owl bet these fun, cheerful brownies will make all your brownie lovers smile.
Double Decker Confetti Brownies
3⁄4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1⁄2 cups flour, divided
2 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup M & M’s semi-sweet chocolate baking bits, divided (I couldn’t find the bits so used regular size)
1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and set aside.
2. Cream together 3/4 cup butter and both sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and stir to blend. Divide batter in half.
4. Mix together the cocoa powder and melted butter then stir into one half of the dough. Spread this cocoa dough evenly into the prepared pan (It may not spread to all corners and that is ok).
5. Stir remaining 1/4 flour and 1/2 cup M & M’s into remaining dough then spread evenly over the cocoa dough in the pan.
6. Sprinkle top with remaining M & M’s.
7. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until edges start to pull away from sides of the pan. Cool completely then
cut into bars.
I made this S’mores Ice Cream Cake for my birthday this past week. Since there are only 2 of us home at the moment, I thought an ice cream cake would be sensible. We could keep leftovers in the freezer and not worry about finishing a whole cake between us two.
Vanilla ice cream and graham cracker is a really delicious combination. Add that easy-breezy bittersweet chocolate shell and s’mores garnish and you’ve got a fun and easy dessert.
S’mores Ice Cream Cake
1 (1.5-quart) container vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
1 sleeve graham crackers (you won’t need them all)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 milk chocolate bar, separated into individual pieces
4-8 marshmallows, lightly toasted
Chocolate Shell (recipe follows)
1. Using a blunt dinner knife, cut three slices into the ice cream lengthwise (wide enough for an entire graham cracker).
2. Gently press a graham cracker into each opening and fill in any gaps with smaller pieces of graham crackers. (About 5 graham crackers).
3. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs on top of the ice cream and gently press.
4. Put the top back onto the ice cream container and place in the freezer until frozen solid, at least 1 hour.
5. Take the lid off the ice cream and place your serving plate on top of the container (the serving plate will be upside down) and then flip the plate and container over.
6. Carefully run a sharp paring knife along the perimeter of the bottom of the container and gently lift off the bottom of the container. Cut the container that’s around the sides of the ice cream with the knife or scissors then gently pull the container away from the ice cream.
7. Spoon the chocolate shell over the ice cream cake. (Don’t pour it all at once or it may slide off.
8. Place pieces of graham cracker, milk chocolate and toasted marshmallow onto the top of the cake and serve immediately.
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. In a small, microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate and the oil. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted completely. Set aside but be sure the chocolate is still liquid before you finish the cake.
Serve these cute little guys for a festive Halloween dinner. They are quick, easy and fun.
Jack O’ Lantern Cheeseburgers
4 Hamburger buns
1-1/2 lb ground beef
4 American cheese slices
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Hamburger toppings of your choice
1. Preheat a heavy skillet over medium high heat.
2. While the skillet is preheating, carve a Jack o’ lantern face into each slice of American cheese.
3. In a large bowl, combine beef, salt, and pepper. Mix with hands to combine, then divide meat into quarters. Press each quarter into a patty shape, about ¾ inch thick. Make a slight indentation in the middle of each patty which will help keep their shape during cooking.
5. Place burgers in the skillet, cooking 4-5 minutes on each side until burgers have reached the desired doneness. Remove from heat.
6. Set the cheese on top of the burger, allowing to melt slightly. Serve open-faced so your Jack O’Lantern can see you smile before you eat it.
Pasta With Corn And Kale…. and mushrooms and asparagus and garlic and butter. It’s a winning combination of fresh and earthy flavors.
Pasta With Corn And Kale
6 ears of corn
1 pound campanelle or fusilli pasta
1 pound thin asparagus, cut into short lengths
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms (such as shiitake and cremini), sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bunches Tuscan kale, stems removed, leaves cut into strips
2 bunches green onions (white and light green parts), chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Freshly ground pepper and Parmesan cheese to serve
1. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and transfer to a bowl.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil then add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Add the asparagus for the last few minutes of cooking time. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain.
3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add half of the mushrooms in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, stir and continue cooking until tender, about 5 more minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a large bowl. Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pot and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Transfer to the bowl.
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the garlic and pepper flakes to the pot. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is soft, about 1 minute. Stir in the kale and season with salt. Cover and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the corn kernels, mushrooms, green onions and butter. Cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is heated through, about 2 minutes.
5. Add the pasta and asparagus and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the pot. Cook, stirring, until heated through, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan, if you like.
Sour oranges, also known as Seville oranges, are a very acidic fruit. Adding some lemon juice to orange juice concentrate in this recipe for Sour Orange Pie, gives you that sour orange flavor.
It’s really good.
The animal cracker cookie crust is a lovely change from the ubiquitous graham cracker crust and contrasts nicely with the tangy pie filling. Put some orange-scented whipped cream on top to tie it all together.
Sour Orange Pie
Animal Cracker Crust (recipe follows)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
6 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed ( such as Minute Maid Original)
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 pinch salt
Orange Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
1. Whisk orange juice concentrate, egg yolks, lemon juice, both zests and salt in a bowl until fully combined. Pour filling into cooled crust.
2. Bake pie until center jiggles slightly when shaken, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely.
3. Refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 3 hours or cover with greased plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
4. Slice chilled pie and serve with whipped cream.
Any adoptees out there? This new song by Liv Slingerland will surely resonate with you. It certainly made me feel such compassion for this young woman who learned in her early twenties that she was adopted. “An Entire Lifetime” clearly acknowledges the pain she is in.
“I’m looking for a loving grasp
As I am falling fast”
Check out Liv Slingerland on her Website. You can buy her music on Bandcamp.
Today I joined the Empty Nest club. Never, ever wanted to be a member.
I spent the last few weeks getting one son off for his senior year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and my daughter moved in to her apartment in Columbus, Ohio where she will start post graduate studies at The Ohio State University. (That is a looooooooong drive from our home in Norwich, VT!). Today I said goodbye to my youngest son, who is also off to UW-Madison to begin his freshman year.
I’m doing better than I thought…but it has only been 5 hours. lol. The first thing I did when I got home was to come here, which is one of my very happy places.
Speaking of happy, this Blueberry Cream Pie is very cheerful. It’s so easy, too. Just make a graham cracker crust and pack it with a thick, lemon scented blueberry filling. The creamy topping has cheesecake vibes and looks so festive piped onto the cake with some reserved blueberry filling swirled in.
1. Spread blueberry filling evenly over bottom of pie crust.
2. Fit large pastry bag with large closed star tip.
3. Use a small spatula or butter knife to “paint” 3 vertical stripes of the reserved blueberry mixture up sides of pastry bag. (You could also omit the pastry bag and just spoon the topping on the pie and swirl in the blueberry mixture with a knife).
4. Fill pastry bag with topping and pipe rosettes over surface of pie, covering filling as much as possible.
5. Refrigerate pie for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
Graham Cracker Crust
12 whole graham crackers (6.5 oz) broken into pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 325℉.
2. Process cracker pieces in food processor until finely ground. Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Add melted butter and pulse until combined.
3. Transfer crumbs to 9-inch pie plate and press into bottom and up the sides.
4. Bake until crust begins to brown, about 16 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 pounds fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan until well combined.
2. Process 2 cups of the blueberries in food processor until smooth. Stir into sugar mixture until combined. (The original recipe then calls for pressing the mixture through a sieve to get a smooth purée. I started to do that, but it was a lot of work and I don’t think it really matters since you are going to stir the remaining whole berries in).
3. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens.
4. Off heat, whisk in lemon juice. Reserve 2 tablespoons of blueberry mixture for piping. Stir remaining blueberries into remaining mixture in saucepan.
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream cheese, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.
2. With mixer running, slowly pour in cream and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
There I am searching for some funny Buffalo chicken content when I came across these ridiculous ‘Birds With Arms’ gifs. Mesmerizing and stupid…just my kind of thing.
Dinner should be mesmerizing and most definitely NOT stupid. In these sweltering times, dinner should also be quick, easy, and yummy.
This Buffalo Chicken Salad is just the thing for a hot, busy night. It’s got all of the flavors of a Buffalo wing basket served up on a bed of lettuce. The original recipe called for just the ranch dressing. To please both camps of wing lovers, blue cheese can be added, too.
Buffalo Chicken Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons hot sauce such as Frank’s
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bunch romaine lettuce, chopped (about 5 cups)
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup fat-free ranch salad dressing
Blue cheese crumbles
1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken in batches until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
2. Transfer cooked chicken to a bowl. Stir in hot sauce and pepper.
3. Return chicken mixture to skillet and stir in butter until it melts.
4. On a large platter, combine lettuce, celery and carrots. Top with chicken. Serve with dressing and blue cheese crumbles.
You’re going to have to be in the worst mood not to smile at this cheerful little ditty by London-based band MFC Chicken. Someone make this guy a meal.
Check out MFC Chicken on Bandcamp where you can buy their music. They have so many quirky, hilarious and catchy tunes…I highly recommend a few minutes of your time. “Fuck You, Me” is another of my favorites by them.
These songs are up for listening purposes and only for a short period of time. Like what you hear? Then please support the artist and buy the music. If you're an artist or label who wants the song taken down, please let me know.