The Simple Life…of Brownies

Pregnancy; 37 weeks: Your baby is now considered “full term,” even though your due date is three weeks away….

Much of the next several weeks will be a waiting game. I have started spending my time napping and cooking now that all the other preparations for the bundle of joy are more or less taken care of. The napping thing is actually a new addition to my activity list. Almost like clockwork, 37 weeks hit and brought with it a new type of tired. It’s no longer strictly the physical, my body can’t take it anymore tired. This is a new level of exhausted, can’t keep my eyes open, how will I last another second type of tired.

After having left work early yesterday and napping nearly all afternoon I felt worthless. When I was finally able to pull myself up off the couch I took a look around…this is what met my eyes; one more load of baby clothes to wash, dishes in the sink, vacuuming to do and nothing prepped in the fridge for dinner. And even after my nap, I really had very little energy to tackle anything. I decided making some brownies would have to be enough.

My dearest baber used some of his…simple cooking skills to whip up a grilled cheese sandwich for my dinner. It was quite yummy! And I pulled together the ingredients for my favorite brownie recipe. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, and to my very satisfied love, a brownie should be dense, rich and fudgey. Not cakey. Last week I poured over dozens and dozens of websites and brownie recipes and found the perfect one.

This recipe snagged my attention because the title was just so…simple and straightforward. The ingredient list was minimal and the only dishes needed to make them are a mixing bowl, spoon, a few measuring spoons and a sauce pan. That means that immediately this recipe is a success on part one of my success scale; simple and easy clean up.

This wonderful recipe is as follows from the Good Life Eats website;

Simplest Homemade Fudgey Brownies

12 Tablespoons Salted Butter

1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar

2/3 Cup Cocoa Powder

1/2-1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla, Orange or Peppermint Extract, optional

3 Large Eggs

1 Cup Flour

A heaping 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chunks, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Set a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Next, add the granulated sugar and your extract of choice. Stir well. remove pan from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl and whisk in with the eggs until well combined. Stir in the flour and chocolate chunks, but do not beat.

Pour batter into the previously prepared baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Now a few tips for making brownies;

1. under bake a little, I usually pull them out of the oven at about 25 minutes.

2. Use room temperature eggs (This one I owe all to the Barefoot Contessa)

3. When stirring in the flour, don’t overmix. Stir just enough so all the flour is incorporated.

4. cut with a pizza cutter…produces much more smooth edges.

Now, the most important thing about this recipe; how does it rate on the Dearest Stomach Scale? He swears constantly that he doesn’t like baked goods and he absolutely loves these brownies. He definitely prefers them made with chocolate chunks which I omitted this time around. The first time I made them I used a Ghirardeli Evening Dream 60% cacao chocolate bar.

Mother-to-be Tested; Dearest Approved

Nesting; Verb, is a term used typically in reference to a pregnant woman or even an animal that is pregnant. What it means is the person is experience an uncontrollable urge to clean their house and prepare for the baby.

With the date for the arrival of our little bundle of joy just 3 short weeks away, I’ve been constantly nesting. The entire apartment has never looked so great and the laundry is always done. Part of this nesting experience has heavily involved moving about the kitchen cooking, chopping, baking, testing new recipes, modifying well used recipes…Honestly, about 85% of my time is spent in the kitchen these days.

The success of this time spent with the culinary tasks I set myself up with is measured by the satisfaction I feel when I’m met with the approval of my dearest BF and his stomach. The second scale on which I measure this success is the ease with which the recipe is prepared and how extensive the clean up process is.

The recipe for tonight’s dinner? It came from the Heart Smart Recipes booklet I got from the health fair at work several weeks ago.

Beef Stroganoff With Portabella Mushrooms

2 Tbsp. Margarine, divided

4 Green onions, chopped

8 oz. portabella mushrooms, sliced

1 lb. lean beef sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick, cut into thin, bite size slices

1 (10 1/2 oz.) Can fat-free beef gravy

2 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup low-fat sour cream

8 oz. egg noodles, cooked

Melt 1 tablespoon margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and saute until tender. Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Wipe skillet clean and add remaining 1 tablespoon margarine. Heat until sizzling over high heat. Add beef strips and stir-fry 2 minutes or until browned. Stir in gravy and vinegar and bring to a boil. Add onions and mushrooms. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Serve over hot cooked egg noodles. Yield: 4 servings.

Success? Yes ma’am! Now, I used butter rather than margarine because I like the flavor better and come on, I’ve got to make Mrs. Paula Dean proud! I also used a can of 14 1/2 oz. beef gravy and increased all the other ingredients slightly so as to produce extras for my dearest BF to take to work for lunch. The recipe was simple, took only about 40 minutes, used minimal dishes and was absolutely delicious!

My love enjoyed a giant bowl and I left the kitchen with all but the serving bowl and eating dishes cleaned. The recipe produced plenty of leftovers and, if given the instructions and the already prepared ingredients, I do believe my dearest could reproduce a delicious dinner all on his own while I cared for the baby. Definitely keeping this recipe on hand!