This month my dad turned 90! What a milestone birthday. With Covid going on, I couldn’t make my annual March trip to visit and celebrate with my family in Lebanon. But, I did get to make this brownie cake.
I’m calling it a brownie cake only because I decorated it like a cake and it photographed like a cake for my Instagram feed. I used the brownie recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home cookbook. It was my first time using it, and it is absolutely delicious. The brownies had a nice crusty surface and were incredibly moist and fudge-like on the inside.
I made 2 changes to the Moosewood Restaurant recipe: I used 7 tablespoons of pasteurized egg whites instead of the 2 eggs they called for, and I added 1/2 a cup of mini chocolate chips. Using mini chocolate chips ensures that the chocolate chips don’t sink to the bottom of the batter.
For the icing, I used a cream cheese frosting because I wanted to elevate the icing on the brownies, and I wanted to have a white background for the decorated cake. I colored some of the icing a teal blue and I used green M&Ms to make the number 90. To give the cake a festive look, I added sprinkles on the side of the brownie, and curled ribbons around the cake. It’s that simple.
Here’s the recipe for the brownies and the cream cheese frosting. The frosting is enough to ice two brownie pans, so if you feel like making half of the frosting recipe, go ahead. I have not made that small of a batch of frosting, but you decide.
Line and spray an 8 by 8 inch pan with 2 rectangular pieces of parchment paper, for easy removal
Chop chocolate pieces into smaller pieces, if you don’t have mini chips on hand. I’ve used the Hershey’s chocolate chunks, chopped up, and they make for a rich, gooey brownie
Consider various toppings, like cut up Reese’s peanut butter cups or Cadbury Mini Eggs that you crush into smaller pieces in a plastic bag
Practice on a dish or the counter, if you’re going to decorate using chocolate pieces to make a number. Some numbers are harder to make than others!!
Extra-Chocolatey Fudge Brownies
(adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home Cookbook)
1/2 c butter
3 oz of unsweetened chocolate squares
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs or 7 Tablespoons of pasteurized egg whites
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line an 8 by 8 inch square pan with 2 rectangular pieces of parchment paper, so that each side of the pan is covered
Chop up the 3 chocolate squares and chop up the butter into 1 Tablespoon pieces
Melt the chocolate and butter over a LOW simmering double boiler until just combined and smooth
Remove from heat and add sugar and vanilla. Stir well
Add eggs; stir in flour
Spread into pan and bake for 22-25 minutes, depending on how gooey you like your brownies. Brownies are done when the top is not wet or glistening
Cool and remove from pan using the parchment paper overhang
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 c butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T cream
2 to 2 1/2 c icing sugar
Cream butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth
Add the cream and icing sugar, one cup at a time, and beat well after each cup
Keep adding icing sugar until you get the consistency you desire, either for spreading or for piping
Bruschetta technically refers to grilled bread that is brushed with olive oil, garlic, and salt…but, in North America, we refer to it as the combination of the bread topped with fresh chopped tomatoes and basil! It’s an appetizer that tastes best with in-season tomatoes and fresh basil.
Recently, I decided to add some beans to the chopped tomato mixture, because I wanted to add protein, and it was delicious. As part of a blogger collaboration on recipes featuring beans, I’m sharing my Bruschetta with Tomatoes & Beans. It’s TOOTally simple and fresh! And, our theme is #ispilledthebeans. Starting January 26th, you can look for that hashtag and my post on Instagram, where you’ll be able to see the other fun recipes my blogger friends are sharing. Follow this link to the 10 easy & delicious bean recipes. Continue reading →
As my youngest daughter always says, we all know that the holidays are coming, but not all of us are great at planning ahead for them!
This year, the holidays are different due to the pandemic. It’s just not the same, thinking about a virtual Christmas Eve mass and a virtual gift opening with local and distant family members.
Shopping for gifts isn’t the same, either. Some of us are in lockdown and are shopping virtually or doing curb-side pickup. Some of us are ordering online. And, some of us just want to be able to see and touch what we’re getting. That’s why I’m writing this blog post with places that are one-stop shopping experiences, and that are likely open for in-person shopping in your area.
For me, drugstores, specialty food stores, and hardware stores are the perfect places to find something for almost everyone on your list. This way, you can minimize outings and maximize your time.
One of the fastest, healthiest, and most filling snacks my daughter and I make is the 1-1-1 smoothie. We make it for breakfast, and for mid-morning or late-afternoon snack times. It’s so easy and delicious.
Here’s why it’s called a 1-1-1 smoothie: we use 1 cup of high-protein milk, 1 frozen banana, and 1 cup of fruit.
The reason this smoothie is filling is because we use high protein milk. We love the Fairlife brand of milk. High protein milk is cold-filtered and results in milk that is 50% more protein and 50% less sugar than regular milk. It’s also lactose-free.
If you’re looking for a snack that is high in fiber, tasty, and portable, then you’re going to love my Oat Bran Cereal & Fruit Bars! BTW, I have been meaning to share these for years now. You can probably tell that from the style of photos taken during my early blogging days. And, bonus, you can make these in gluten-free and vegan versions by checking the variations at the end of this post.
These Oat Bran Cereal & Fruit Bars are delicious. They’re sweet and a slightly heartier version of rice cereal treats with the added fruits and nuts. The base is made with marshmallows and your choice of butter, including vegan butter. Add any high-in-fiber oat bran cereal (I use Nature’s Path Multigrain Oat Bran Flakes) and 2 cups of other mix-ins, including your choice of dried fruits, almonds, coconut flakes, and pumpkin seeds/pepitas.
I’ve made these bars with all kinds of bran cereal, including using combinations of bran buds and oat bran flakes. This recipe is a great way to use up the last bit of cereal in a box and the last of any dried fruits on hand. Think of these bars as a ‘clean out the closet’ dessert option. Continue reading →
No-bake cheesecakes are a perfect summer dessert: they use ingredients you regularly have at home, don’t require an oven, and are easy to decorate with in-season summer fruits!
This recipe has been around for a long time. I remember it from when I was a kid, and I see it all the time on the Internet. It’s got a graham cracker crust that is topped with a cream cheese, condensed milk, and lemon/lime juice and zest. That’s it. Place it in the freezer or fridge to set, and top with whatever berries you have on hand. You can also top with cherry pie filling.
I make this no-bake cheesecake in a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. It’s easier and more presentable if you use a springform pan, but you can use a regular pie plate or dish. You can even buy a ready-made crust from the store.
If you find yourself craving those large, decorated chocolate chip cookie cakes you can get at the mall, then you’ll love this post about making one for a celebratory occasion or as a gift for someone special.
I love classic-sized chocolate chip cookies as much as anyone else, but making a huge chocolate chip as a cookie cake is truly something fun and different. I can thank the Covid-19 pandemic for inspiring me to make chocolate chip cookie cakes as gifts. My daughter and I have made them for Canada Day, as graduation gifts, and as hostess gifts. You can check out my last post (click here) on making graduation day memorable with lots of desserts, including this cookie cake.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been bittersweet celebrating my daughter’s graduation from high school, but we’ve done our best to celebrate in many ways, including making as many sweet treats as possible!
We love dessert in our family and, yes, we understand the need to balance healthy food with yummy treats. But, what I”m sharing today is purely sugar based! The best part about making these celebratory desserts was searching for some of the ideas, choosing a theme (pink and blue), and decorating the house.
We received a lawn banner from the school and bought and received balloons as gifts. We decorated inside with balloons, garland, and streamers on archways in the house. And, one night I spent quite a bit of time going through old photos of the first day of school, group school photos, and other fun school and family moments. I put these on poster boards in the hallway and put up a long ‘congratulations’ banner underneath the boards. She absolutely loved this idea and the photos and boards are still up!
We were still in the ‘shelter at home’ phase when my daughter had her virtual graduation, so it was a nuclear family celebration. My daughter helped me make and decorate these dessert menu items, and we had a lot of fun decorating and catching up together.
I always have energy balls or squares on hand because they’re the perfect snack right before a workout! Sometimes you don’t have time to eat something that takes a lot of prep time before you go for a run or before you head out the door. These chocolate almond bites are perfect as a grab-and-go healthy option.
BTW, you can also check out my recipe for Vegan Chocolate Fudge that I have shared in the past. The ‘fudge’ recipe is date-based whereas the recipe I’m sharing today is made with almond flour.
I’ve tried making energy balls with almond flour in the past and I love the texture and taste of almond flour, so I was very pleased when I came up with this recipe with the addition of cocoa powder.
What I like about making energy balls is the different ways you can ‘dress’ up these treats. Here, I’ve topped them with sea salt, peanuts, and slivered almonds. I highly recommend topping them with either peanuts or almonds so everyone knows that these energy balls contain nuts! Plus, it’s a fun way to decorate these bites and to make them presentable for gifting.
Eid Mubarak to all of my friends and followers celebrating this week! Today marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. And, it’s time to celebrate with lots of traditional desserts, like Qatayef!
I grew up in Saudi Arabia where I was lucky enough to experience all of the activities, sights, sounds, and tastes of Ramadan. The night life in the souks was incredible, full of music, open shops, lots of fun foods, and lots of staying up late. One Ramadan night my brother was invited to hang out in a tent under the stars in the desert and I will always remember his description of how magical that experience was.
When I was a kid, Ramadan fell during the hottest months of the year but, because it’s a lunar holiday, it moves back about 11 days a year. That means that it takes about 33 years for Ramadan to complete its cycle and that some years it’s easier to fast than others. For example, the winter months are easier in that the days are shorter, and the summer months are the hardest.
There are many traditions around Ramadan, including the daily Iftar, which is the meal eaten after sunset when breaking the fast for the day. Iftar is a meal often shared with family and friends and there is always lots of food. I loved being invited to my friends’ homes for Iftar and just hanging out. In the Middle East, it’s very common to be invited to business Iftar meals as well. You always wonder what the host will serve and you almost always hope it includes qatayef!
Qatayef are similar to a pancake stuffed with cheese or nuts or ashta (a type of cream). Qatayef are traditionally fried and served with simple syrup and a sprinkling of nuts on top. The qatayef I’m sharing here are not fried because I wanted to keep things light. If you want them fried, shallow fry them in a pan or bake them in the oven after brushing them with some oil. I stuffed these qatayef with a mixture of crushed walnuts, sugar, and orange blossom water.