Archive for March, 2011

Fudgy Brownies

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Wow – it’s been a LONG time since I’ve updated the blog. (Good thing this is a team effort!) I don’t think I’ve had a dreamless night in months; there’s always something to think about. When I’m not thinking about work, I’m thinking about the wedding and vice versa. Between those two things, I’ve been a crazy person…

Here’s the good news for me and the fam: the wedding is basically completely planned. Darrell and I just need to plan the ceremony and complete our premarital counseling, which we start next weekend. Very exciting! It’s just an easy (hopefully fast) 7-month countdown from here…

Here’s the good news for y’all: I can share some of the most fun pieces, which also happen to be things that fellow foodies will appreciate! As you may have determined by reading the blog, we’re a family that loves our desserts. It’s basically all I ever want, and there was never any question that I would have a wedding cake. (The cake, btw, is going to be wonderful. Two kinds: carrot cake with cream cheese and pecan filling and white cake with fresh peach filling. Peaches and pecans are both local to Fredericksburg, so it’s perfect!) So, me…cake…yes.

But, when Darrell and I started talking about a groom’s cake, things got weird. Darrell is not what I would call a “kindred dessert spirit.” He could basically take it or leave it…(I guess opposites really do attract?)…with one exception. Brownies and ice cream. In fact, these very brownies. When these are hot from the oven and served with a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream…they cannot be beat. It’s become one of the few dessert moments we can share. Naturally, this is very special to us/me.

And so…at the wedding…in place of a groom’s cake…drumroll please…we’ll be having an ice cream sundae bar with these brownies and our favorite chocolate chip cookies!!!! Do you love it?! We LOVE it. So fun, and so US.

I can promise you, from this Type A personality (who would not be serving them at her wedding if they weren’t *perfect*), these brownies are legitimately amazing. They’re the best consistency – dense, fudgy, moist, chocolaty, gooey, rich…

Gather Up:  
5 ounces (140 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons (15 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
¾ cup (95 grams) flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (125 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan.

Melt the chocolate and the butter in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan filled with an inch or two of simmering water.

Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder and the sugar.

Whisk in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the flour, salt and chocolate chips until blended.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with a few moist clumps clinging to it.

Let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe from Joy Of Baking

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

I still make goodie bags for my kid’s birthdays.  I can’t seem to shake the habit that every celebration needs a little something extra…a little treat to take home…a  little bauble that keeps the party going…

This week it was College Girl’s birthday and cookies became the obvious choice! Mostly because I know her housemates love cookies, but also because the chocolate birthday cake I made over the weekend was hardly the stuff of triumphant leftovers. (I say this because of a sinkhole that appeared in its center and was subsequently artfully filled with frosting by Working Girl!) Sigh… What is it with me and cakes???

But these cookies saved the day, and they are definitely worthy of any girl’s midnight snacking binge!  They are kind of crispy, kind of chewy, and the oatmeal chocolate chip combination is a classic! (In the meantime I have seen some “never-fail” “best-ever” cake recipes on some of your blogs, and believe me, I am taking note!)

Gather Up:
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups oats
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg on medium speed until well blended.

Add oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake 10-11 minutes until turning golden brown. Let sit for a minute and then remove to a cooling rack.

Makes 3 ½ dozen cookies.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Monday, March 21st, 2011

I have to tell you that the combination of beef and pork gives richness to this sauce that cannot be beat. And with two kinds of pork – please…

I had a houseful of people at the end of spring break, so I went to my stack of crowd-tastic recipes and pulled this one out. Across the top I had written one word – “Amazing”, (and I had underlined it!)

Everyone loved it, everyone ate a huge bowlful and everyone was almost too full for chocolate cake…almost. This sauce reduces down to a thick heavenly pot of deliciousness, and is worth every second of effort, (and the rather long ingredient list).

Just wishing I could fix the way my cake rounds always sink in the middle after they cool… Then I could have snapped a picture of that too!!!

Gather Up:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 strips thick cut bacon, chopped
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
¾ cup diced carrots
¾ cup diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon oregano
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 pound ground beef
¾ pound ground pork
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
14 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup beef stock
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 pounds spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until browned and fat rendered.

Add the onions, carrots and celery, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cinnamon and nutmeg, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Increase heat to high; add the ground beef and the ground pork and cook, stirring, until no longer pink.

Reduce heat and add the tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes.

Add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan until half the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef stock, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until thick and flavorful, about 1 ½ hours.

Add the cream, butter and parsley and simmer for 2 more minutes. Discard the bay leaves and taste for seasoning. Remove from heat to rest. Cover.

Bring a huge pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles, drain and transfer to a very large serving dish. Add the sauce, tossing with tongs to coat. Work ½ cup of the cheese in with tongs and toss to blend. Serve, with extra cheese for topping.  

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse.

Flour’s Famous Banana Bread

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

I am slightly less crazed this week, and banana bread is part of the reason why… In the midst of wedding planning bumps, broken appliances (dishwasher, still…), traveling husbands, unnecessary weight gain (ahem…stress equals sweets) and sibling squabbles (don’t ask!) I took a deep breath and retreated to the kitchen to beat sugar and eggs with a whisk for 10 minutes by hand.

Because that is the way that Joanne Chang does it… And somewhere around minute four, right after my shoulder really began to ache, I remembered a quote by Jon Bloom: “Just because we cannot control trouble does not mean trouble is in control”.

Indeed. So why do I always focus on the trouble? (Minute six – Working Girl is marrying a wonderful guy and their life together will amount to far more than the sum total of our wedding plans… Minute eight – stuff breaks, and the people who fill our home are way more important than the stuff that is in it… Minute ten – do what you can, do it the best you can, and then trust God with the rest!)

And occasionally make banana bread! Everyone loves it, everyone knows it and everyone can do it! At the Flour Bakery in Boston (which I believe now has multiple locations), the banana bread has achieved a somewhat cult status. So when the recipe was published naturally I tucked it away for just such a moment as this!

It is a deliriously moist and delicious bread, and it keeps beautifully for several days. I plan to ration the slices as best I can, and I further resolve to keep better notes so those pesky little details do not get away from me!

Gather Up:
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
 ½ cup oil
3 ½ bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.

In a large bowl beat the sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk in the oil. Add the mashed bananas, crème fraiche and vanilla.

Fold in dry ingredients and nuts.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan briefly, and then turn out onto cooling rack.

Recipe from Chef Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery in Boston.

Gingered Pecan Oatmeal Crisps

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

I have been a little overwhelmed lately by the wedding plans for Working Girl and her darling fiancée… There are so many details, so many items to track down, and so many decisions to make… Today via text message and twitpic my niece picked out her bridesmaid dress! So things continue to progress, and I continue to tell myself not to stress…

I also have been reading drafts of an essay on Peter Pan that College Girl is writing, spending the past week immersed in the finer points of JM Barrie’s life… Did you know that Peter Pan was originally quite a dark adult story about a spirit who erects tombstones for children who get “lost” in his “garden?” (Yes, showing up in later versions as the Lost Boys!)  Today the paper was submitted, and I asked her to send me the final draft because I cannot quit thinking about it…never grow up, indeed…

And in more mundane news my dishwasher is broken. And the only repairman in Austin who does warranty work on my brand of machine has (understandably) disappeared because his young daughter broke her leg… The kitchen has slowed to a crawl as I search for new and imaginative ways to cook dinner without pans or dishes or utensils…(finding a new cooking strategy is kind of a full time job…) Today I broke down and baked – we may not have a hot dinner, but we have cookies!!!

Gather Up:
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
¾ cup toasted pecan halves
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons ground crystallized ginger
½ teaspoon fine salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

Grind oatmeal and pecan pieces in a food processor until they resemble cornmeal. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, ginger, salt and baking soda together in a bowl. Stir in the oat and pecan mixture.

Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and smooth. Gradually add the sugar and the brown sugar and continue beating until well combined. Add the vanilla and the egg.

Stir in the dry ingredients. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and pack the dough into the bottom of the pan. Gently press to level the dough and cover top with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until completely firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Unwrap dough and slice it in half lengthwise. Slice each log into ¼ inch slices and place 1 inch apart on baking pans. Bake until just beginning to turn golden, about 10-11 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack. Cookies will crisp as they cool. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 1 week.

 Recipe adapted from Food Network.

Welcome to Like Mother Like gal, stay at home mom, college student. Just 3 girls who love to eat and are dedicated to doing it the old-fashioned way! Plan, shop, cook, bake, clean, sleep, repeat. Hope you enjoy - we are so glad you are here!
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