Monday, February 20, 2012

Knock You Out Brownies

I think it's safe to say I am enamored obsessed with chocolate.  It's a rare (and abysmal) day if I don't get my chocolate fix.  It just makes the day a little brighter - can I get an amen? Like my daily injection dose of coffee, things just aren't right until I've had some chocolate.  That's why I am completely in love with these guys.

They pretty much are spot on with combining all of my favorite things: marshmallow, chocolate, coffee, and peanut butter.  Sound a little disgusting?  Well, I will admit, I was pretty skeptical at first also, but they won me over with their decadent topping and soft texture.  So try them out before you knock 'em.  I have complete faith that these will knock you out with their amazing-ness.  

Knock You Out Brownies
Adapted slightly from Handle the Heat

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cups of your favorite cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, but you really don’t taste it; it’s just there to enhance the flavor)
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup of your favorite peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1 1/2 cups Rice Crispies

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and place in the microwave. Heat until mixture is warm and brown sugar is better dissolved.

Transfer the butter mixture to a large bowl then add the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring to incorporate after each addition. Finally, add the flour and half of the chocolate chips; mix to combine.

Transfer the batter to a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the marshmallows evenly over top of brownies. Return to the oven for 5 minutes more or until the marshmallows are puffed and softened but not browned [watch them like a hawk!]. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool on a rack.

After the marshmallow-brownies have cooled, heat the remaining chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, stirring frequently, until the chips have melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in rice crispies. Dollop the mixture over the marshmallow-topped brownies and spread evenly. Allow to cool completely before feeding to patient, empty bellies.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lasagna: Soup Style

I'm not sure if I've shared this with you all, but I love soup.  I mean I am borderline obsessed with the stuff! Give me soup for almost any meal and I am one happy girl.  I love it so much I will even eat it in the scorching summer heat.  I know, I know, I'm such a rebel.

Say hello to my new little friend.  It combines my love of all things soup with lasagna.  How could that ever be wrong?  I especially love it because I can have a lower calorie pasta for carb-loading the night before I embark on my long runs for half marathon training.  That's right people, you thought I forgot didn't you?  Well believe me, my legs and brain are far from forgetting.

In case you're curious (which you probably aren't so I'm sorry) this is what training looks like (for me at least)

Monday: 4 miles normal pace
Tuesday: 3.5 miles normal pace
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 4.5 miles easy
Friday: rest
Saturday: Long run [this week 8 miles] easy pace then I can die
Sunday: DIE rest

So that's a glimpse into my training schedule; so think of me when you're in your bed Saturday morning watching TV because I will be out slowly torturing myself as I run lap after lap after lap in the Rec Center.

Anyhow, back to the soup. It's actually pretty healthy but you probably wouldn't know that from the taste.  I think it tastes a bit like chili, but Mike just thinks it tastes great.  I'll let you all be the judge.

Lasagna Soup
Adapted slightly from

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 ounces broken whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 4 noodles)

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick saucepot or Dutch oven. Add the sausage, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, 8 – 10 minutes. 

Add the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended, about 20 minutes. Add the noodles; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens slightly and the noodles are tender, 10 – 12 minutes.  Add parmesan cheese to the pot. Dish up into heat proof bowls, top with mozzarella and put under broiler set on high for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  [Alternately, you can just dish the soup in bowls and put cheese on top – the heat from the soup will melt it just the same]

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marshmallow Hearts

Hello all you Valentine's out there! Hope you've all been extremely loved and blessed this Valentine's Day.   In celebration of v-day this year, I made some goodies for the youth group kids.  About once a month we have them over to our house for food, games and lots of good times.  So I made them this:

They are chocolate covered marshmallow hearts and they are delicious.  This was my first rodeo making marshmallows and if I had to sum it up in one word this would be it: sticky.  That aside, they're pretty stinking easy and delectable.  

The kids seemed to like them a lot too.  The process is pretty easy; if you've ever made divinity, marshmallows are divinity's close cousin and just as simple! Beware though, these will definitley more than satiate your sweet tooth, it might just give you a cavity - these babies are sa-weet, but worth the while! 

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows
Adapted slightly from here

powdered sugar, for coating pan
2/3 c. water, divided
3 (1/4 oz.) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
Candy melts, almond bark or your favorite chocolate chips

Lightly spray the inside of an 9'' x 13'' pan with cooking spray. Generously coat with powdered sugar and set aside.
Pour 1/3 cup of the water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and stir briefly to incorporate. Let stand for about 5 minutes, or until the gelatin has softened.
In a saucepan, off the heat, combine the remaining 1/3 cup of water and the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Clip a candy thermometer on the inside of the pan, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom. Cook the mixture without stirring until it reaches 240°.

With your mixer on low speed, very carefully add the hot syrup to the softened gelatin. Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium-high. The mixture will start out clear, but quickly turns very white. Beat for about 8 minutes, or until the marshmallow gets very thick and sticky, and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, it will look stringy.

Spread the mixture into the prepared pan using a lightly oiled spatula. With wet hands, press the batter evenly into the corners of the pan. Just keep rewetting your hands to help with the stickiness. Set aside for at least 1 hour, or until the mixture is firm and cool.

Run a wet knife around the edge of the cooled pan to loosen the marshmallow. Remove the marshmallow from the pan, onto a sheet of parchment paper.

Dip your small shaped cookie cutter (Mine was a little too large for my liking, I would suggest the smaller, the better) into a shallow bowl of water and then cut the slab of marshmallow into heart shapes.  It helps to dip the heart cutter into the water in between cuts. Repeat this process until the whole slab of marshmallow is cut.

In the top bowl of a double boiler, soften chosen method of coating (choc. chips, candy melts, etc.)  Begin stirring the chocolate until melted to a liquid consistency (if using chocolate chips, I would suggest using a touch of shortening to make it a bit smoother; just add it in the pot and melt along with the chocolate).  Dip one side of the marshmallows into the chocolate.  Lay un-dipped side back on the parchment paper until chocolate is hardened.  Repeat until entire marshmallow is covered in chocolate and serve to the ones you love!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Boy Flowers

Every year millions of flowers are bought for Valentine's day, but if you're a girl like me, you often wonder "What can I get the guy in my life? Obviously flowers are so easy to get me, but what is the boy equivalent to flowers?"  Well I have the answer for you.  Finally, after 23 years of life, I have figured out boy flowers.

Ta-da! I give you boy flowers! Inspiration smacked me straight in the face Friday when I was walking through a local grocery store and saw a similar replica.  I thought, "What a genius idea for Mike!" Then I looked at the price tag - $20.  "Yeesh! No way that would break the V-day gift budget combined with what I already got him".  Then a blinding revelation came over me I could make one similar if not better than theirs and cheaper!  And so I did.

It was fairly simply and customizable because it has all of his favorites! Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in how brilliant I was that I failed to take pictures of the process so I'll break it down for you.

Some sort of boxed item (I chose popcorn but it could be something like snack cakes, etc.)
Something to weight the box down (I had some decorative rock lying around but rice, beans would probably work well too)
tissue paper, 1-2 sheets
hot glue
wooden skewers (lollipop sticks or floral sticks would probably work well too)
CANDY! Lots of candy!

All in all this cost me about half of the grocery store's price.

1. Empty the box of its contents
2. Put weights in the empty box - about 3/4 full
3.  Attach skewers to the back of the candy/goodies you purchsed
4.  Stick skewers into weighted box; adjust height if necessary
(I tried hot glueing the skewers to the side of the box and it was a big fail but hats of to you if you get that to work! You have great hot glueing skills I do not possess!)
5. Insert tissue paper to cover up the skewers that are showing - hot glue in place if necessary
6. Surprise someone you love with all their favorites!

From beginning to finish it took me about 30 minutes! Easy peasy and Mike was SUPER surprised; I've actually never seen him look so shocked! Enjoy all the V-day festivities!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Yet Another Wreath

Well friends, the day is drawing nearer, yes that both beloved and cursed day known as Valentine's Day.  For some it's a great day, some it's a sad day and for others we just don't care.  

I kind of fall into that later category, not because I don't have reason to celebrate, but more so because my husband is so wonderful that I don't need a day to make him pay attention to me, treat me special or give me quality time: he's pretty stinking fantastic at doing that already.  (Yes, cue the sickening awwww's).  All that aside though, I still like to do some decorations for Valentine's day pretty much like all other holidays.

 Voila! Valentine's Day wreath.  I went with just the colors because well, there's a lot of hearts floating around during V-Day and I needed a little cheer without the heart shape.

The close up.  I'll be honest, it was a bit time consuming.  It took me about two nights to do this even with the aid of a circle cutter, but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Especially since when I first began it I kept envisioning a wreath that looked like V-day just exploded everywhere. Thankfully it didn't end up like that.

I normally would try to explain to you how I managed to do this, but honestly, this site does a much better job than I would.  

Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent towards Valentine's Day, you should definitely do something special for yourself or someone you love and enjoy it nonetheless! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cornflake Chicken

The first meal I ever made for Mike when we were dating was cornflake chicken with mashed potatoes - a Hartman family favorite.  I took him to the store with me, bought the ingredients, and then asked him to guess what we were making.  He has zero ideas and was a little afraid to admit he was scared of what this meal would hold.  Finally, I let him in on the secret and although he was still skeptical, he was more willing to try whatever I was concocting. 

However, when we got to making the mashed potatoes all heck broke loose. I boiled the potatoes per usual and began to put them in the mixture when this happened:

       "What are you doing with those potatoes?" - Mike
       "I'm going to mash them..." - Me
       "With the mixer?" - Mike
       "Yes. Is that a problem?" - Me
       "Well where's your masher?" - Mike
       "I don't use a masher! That's too much work and they don't get creamy like I like them." -Me
       "Well I don't know about this..." -Mike...

His constitution had reached its breaking point.  This whole meal was just weird including the lady with the mixer making mashed potatoes.  So I interjected:

"Why don't you just let me make dinner and if you don't like it fine, but just try it first."

Well guess what folks, he ate it, loved it and even married me later despite it.  Believe it or not he commented that the mashed potatoes were excellent! Who would have thought?

So here it is: Cornflake Chicken:

It is a fantastically delicious and pretty speedy weeknight meal.  Full of tons of great things like butter - yes, I sound a bit like Paula Deen, I know.  Problem is, there's not a great recipe for this - I always just kind of make it up.  So I've tried to compile an actual recipe for anyone else who wants to try it! Sadly there's not mashed potato recipe this time.  That's another of those I-just-put-whatever-sounds-good-into-the-pot kind of recipes. Maybe someday soon. 

Cornflake Chicken:

1 stick of butter, melted
1 packet of ranch mix (you can find it by the salad dressing)
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup parmesan cheese - nothing fancy, just the stuff you buy in the can
4 cups-ish cornflakes, finely crunched (*yes, that's the technical word.  This is best done with your hands.  You don't want it too big or too small)
1/2 T garlic powder
2 t italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 grease or spray oil a 9x13 baking sheet or cake pan.  Mix the crunched cornflakes, italian seasoning, garlic powder, ranch mix, and parmesan cheese together in a large bowl.  Take one piece of chicken, coat in the butter evenly the transfer to the cornflake mixture.  Repeat - you want a double coating to get a really great crunch.  Repeat for every piece of chicken.

When all piece of chicken are coated, place in the oven for 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Serve to skeptical boyfriends, loving husbands, or anyone else you so choose!