Brownie Thumbprints with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

Can I just rant a little bit? Is that ok? We recently bought a new MacBook pro, since our old one was getting pretty ragged. The “genius” at the Apple store suggested a retina display; especially since I do so much photo editing. Ok, fine, sure. Retina display it is. Can I just ask- WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT THIS???? My pictures are blurry/pixel-y. My pictures that I work so hard to ensure are as close to perfect as I can get them. My food that I style so carefully and get placed just right. They. Are. Blurry. Not when they’re giant, mind you. Just after I resize them to fit on my blog. So anyone else who owns a computer with retina display will see my pictures as blurry. What a load of you-know-what!

Do you see that photo above? I worked really hard on that photo. I was SO happy with that photo. Until I resized it and now it looks like doo-doo. Joel has explained it to me a floppity-gillion times, but I still can’t wrap my tiny, technologically-challenged brain around it. In fact, he’ll probably get annoyed with me after reading this post, and explain it to me all over again, but I’m MAD, people! I don’t care how awesome retina display is- I hate it! Anything that makes my hard-earned photos blurry is NOT a good thing! So THERE! Suck it, Joel! Suck it, Michael! And suck it, anyone else who tries to tell me how great retina display is!

Phew. Ok, I feel so much better. Are you still with me? Am I down to my last 3 readers?? Don’t worry, I’ll talk about food now, I promise.

Brownie Thumbprints with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting 5

How about some soft, chewy, brownie-like cookies topped with a decadent, fudgy frosting? Sound good? Well, they are! They’re awesome, in fact. I wanted to make a rich, chocolaty cookie the other night for a party and these popped into my head. I used two of my favorite components- the Levain Bakery’s Giant Double Chocolate Cookies and Hershey’s Perfect Chocolate Frosting. What a combo!!  Since I left the chocolate chunks out of the cookies, the texture and taste was more like a homemade brownie – dark, chewy, and fudgy. Smear a little of that awesome chocolate frosting on top and WOWEE, what a cookie!

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Needless to say, these were a big hit at the party. Luckily, there were some left over, so Joel and I could enjoy them over the next couple of days!

Brownie Thumbprints with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350˚.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Mix in the cocoa powder until well blended.  Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead briefly by hand to be sure the ingredients are well combined. Using a cookie scoop or small spoon, scoop out the dough and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place on the cookie sheet and flatten slightly using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and gently press the back of a teaspoon into the top of each cookie to make an indentation (that’s where the frosting will go). Cool completely.

For the Frosting**
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
splash milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir melted butter into cocoa. Add powdered sugar, then milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. (Makes approximately 1 cup frosting)

Using a spoon, place a small dollop of frosting on each cooled cookie. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

**feel free to double the frosting recipe if you prefer lots of frosting on your cookies. Keep in mind, however, these are very rich and don’t need too much.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original idea; cookie recipe from Levain Bakery; frosting recipe from Hershey’s.

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P.S. I must apologize for my outburst earlier. When I first wrote this post, there was a full moon occuring. Say what you will, but it just does something to me, y’all.  That same night, I lost my temper because my pen wasn’t working. My pen, people. *sigh*

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Oven-Baked Meatballs…

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I don’t know how you do yours, but when I used to make meatballs, I made them in a frying pan. They sputtered like crazy, I had to turn them 4 or 5 times, then I would still worry about them being done on the inside. And when I was finished cooking all those meatballs (in batches, mind you), I had grease all over my kitchen. Not ideal. And honestly, my meatballs weren’t ever that great. They were usually pretty tough from over-cooking. Finally, I got wise! I watched Nigella Lawson bake her meatballs in the oven and the lightbulb went off! Thanks Nigella! For years now, I’ve been doing them this way. SOOOOO much better!

Oven-Baked Meatballs

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, using your hands, mix all ingredients until combined. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until outsides are nicely browned. Serve with spaghetti, noodles, sandwiches, pizzas, soups, and more!

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

**Amy’s tip: make a bunch of these and freeze them! They freeze beautifully and it’s so easy to grab a few from the freezer on a busy weeknight! Try rolling them into different sizes (mini-size for soups and pizzas and jumbo-size for spaghetti and meatball subs)!

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Secret Ingredient Fruit Salad…

Secret Ingredient Fruit Salad

Well, after making this (about 80 times now), I can tell you my fruit salad will never be the same! I used to struggle with fruit salads. Unless it was this version, they were just “ok” to me, but never something I’d go out of my way to make or eat. Who knew all it takes is one little secret ingredient to make your fruit salad sing?! :)

My sister told me about this little “tip” a long time ago and thought it sounded disgusting. I imagined overly-sweet, gloppy fruit salad. Not appetizing. However, one evening, I had some really under-ripe, really “blah” nectarines that I wanted to make a fruit salad with, only, they had basically zero taste. I remembered a box of vanilla pudding mix in my pantry and tossed in a small spoonful. WOW, what a difference! It brought out all kinds of flavor from the sad little nectarines, added a faint sweetness, and made everything taste deliciously ‘vanilla-y’ . We inhaled this fruit salad, then I proceeded to make it again, and again, and again.

Secret Ingredient Fruit Salad

2 nectarines or peaches, cut up into chunks
1/2 pint blueberries
handful green grapes, cut into halves
1/2 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tablespoon instant vanilla pudding mix **

Toss fruit and pudding mix. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.

**feel free to use more pudding mix if you like it really ‘vanilla-y’. I prefer just a hint.

Recipe source: my sister’s coworker

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Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia…

Tortilla Crusted Tilapia

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to preparing fish, I usually find myself in a bit of a rut. I do the same things over and over again. For some reason, I have trouble thinking outside the box when it comes to fish. We do LOVE fish, though, so naturally, I was excited to find this recipe. It’s unusual (to us, anyway), quick, and super flavorful. Cassidy loved it and Joel and I loved it. This one will definitely stay in the dinner rotation for sure!

Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia

5 tilapia pieces
7 corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
1 teaspoon lime juice
5 or 6 tortilla chips
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Put all of the ingredients (except egg and tilapia) in a food processor or blender and pulse a few times, until you have a bread crumb-like consistency. Put mixture in a shallow platter or large plate.

Dip the fish into the beaten egg and then into the tortilla mixture.
Place each one on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until fish is flaky and tender. Serves 5.

Recipe source: Raining Hot Coupons

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Pumpkin Mini Bundts with Cinnamon Glaze

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I’m an extremely dramatic person. Those of you who know me or gave birth to me (hi, mom!) know this for a fact. I bring the drama wherever I go. Not necessarily always in a bad way- sometimes I’m just very dramatically funny, or loud, or goofy (drama’s not always a bad thing, you know.). However, sometimes it can be a bad thing; like on days when something goes wrong or something disappointing happens, I totally succumb to the drama and immerse myself in a could of moodiness instead of accepting what happened and simply moving on. I walk around in a fog. Just for the record- that’s not a good thing. It’s one of the characteristics I most dislike in myself. There’s always that little voice in my head saying, “just move on, Amy. There’s still so much to be happy about!”; but it’s so much easier to be dramatic. Slowly but surely, I’m trying to fix this.

Like today, for instance. I had sort of a rough morning, but chose to rise above the drama and just move on. Know what I did? I lit a pumpkin-scented candle, put on some music, and baked these pumpkin mini bundts with my baby girl (she mostly just sat in the floor and played with a whisk). And it really helped!! I pulled them out of the oven and realized I hadn’t felt sorry for myself or dwelt on the bad news at all! Nothing like a little fall baking to pull you out of a slump!

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Now, let’s talk about these mini bundts! Aren’t they just adorable?! And so easy- all I did was take the recipe for my pumpkin pound cake (with a couple of tiny tweaks), bake it into mini bundts, and whip up a quick and easy cinnamon glaze! The house smells amazing and my blues are long gone! :) I’ll be honest with you, I actually had to level off the bottoms of these because they rose quite a bit during baking, but that was no biggie- Cassidy loved snacking on the bottoms!

Pumpkin Mini Bundts

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Pumpkin Mini Bundts with Cinnamon Glaze

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt, and pudding mix; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition. Batter will be thick.

Transfer to 2 greased mini bundt pans (if you don’t have 2 pans, just bake one pan at a time). Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. If cakes rose too much during baking (as mine did), simply level off with a sharp knife and save the bottoms for snacking!). Makes 24 mini bunts.

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
splash milk

Mix all ingredients together until glaze reaches a thick consistency; just make sure it’s still runny enough to drizzle. Drizzle over cakes and serve.

Recipe source: adapted from a Sing For Your Supper recipe; originally adapted from Taste of Home

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photo

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Cheesy Squash Casserole…

Squash Casserole

Mmmm, gooey, cheesy goodness. My mom always used to fix squash like this we when were growing up. It usually accompanied fried okra and potatoes, cornbread, and fresh, sliced tomatoes. One of my all-time favorite meals. I believe this recipe originally came from my dad’s grandmother. So simple and comforting…and only 5 ingredients! The BEST way to eat summer squash, in my opinion! :)

Cheesy Squash Casserole

5-6 summer squashes, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
half an onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
5 or 6 saltine crackers, crushed
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for top

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the squash and onion in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until squash is tender. Drain.
Stir in the butter, cracker crumbs, and 1/3 cup cheese. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with a little more cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cheese is melty and gooey. Serves 4-6.

Recipe source: my great-grandmother

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Vacation Photos (part 2)…

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*sigh* Until next time, Galveston!

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Crockpot Brown Sugar Baked Beans…

Crockpot Brown Sugar Baked Beans

Just in time for Labor Day weekend, here’s a knock-out recipe for baked beans! I have a feeling these will make yet another appearance at our get together this weekend! Enjoy the holiday!

Crockpot Brown Sugar Baked Beans

3 (28 ounce) cans pork and beans
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
5 slices bacon

Mix first 7 ingredients in a crockpot. Stir until combined and arrange the bacon strips on top. Cover and cook on low for 3-5 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon strips before serving.

Recipe source: a mixture of my mom’s recipe and a recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff

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Vacation Photos (part 1)

Howdy folks! I told you we were gearing up to take our very first family vacation. Well, it happened last weekend. And surprisingly…it rocked. Every aspect of it was wonderful (except for the hellish car trip home…that made us both rethink this whole parenting thing). Here are a few pictures from our trip to Galveston, Tx. (all photos are unedited. Frankly, I’m just too lazy…)

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first time on the beach- she was terrified of the sand!

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Needless to say, she slept VERY well each night…

More pictures to come soon! :)

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Funfetti Sandwich Cookies…

Funfetti Sandwich Cookies 3

Well, friends, the time has finally come for our little family of 3 to take the plunge and do something highly stressful, chaotic, yet very important and hopefully very memorable…

…take our first vacation. That’s right. Very soon, we’ll load up our little CR-V and head for the Texas coast. We’ll be renting a small condo on the beach for 3 nights and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t totally nervous.

What if I forget the blankie/paci/sippy cups?
What if Cassidy hates the beach?
What if she’s not able to sleep in the pack-n-play at night?
What if I don’t properly sunscreen her and she gets sunburned?
What if she steps on a jelly fish?
What if a creepy sunken ship washes up on shore and my worst nightmare comes to life??

Ok, so that last one is probably a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. I’m a vacation-stresser anyway (meaning, I usually ruin our vacations with my constant worrying that something will go wrong, when what I don’t realize is that my worrying IS the something that goes wrong.), so naturally when a 19 month-old is involved, I take the stressing to a whole new level. However, I’ve done a good bit of researching tips for taking toddlers to the beach and I feel like I’ve got most of my bases covered, at least. So I guess we’ll just cross our fingers and hope for the best! :)

Funfetti Sandwich Cookies 2

Now, onto these cookies! Who doesn’t love sandwich cookies, right? Soft, chewy cookies filled with sweet, buttery frosting? Yes, please! Our music minister and his family recently celebrated 10 years of service at our church- that’s a big deal! So the church threw them a little party and the choir volunteered to bake cookies. I didn’t want to bake just ANY old cookies for Matt and Caryn, and I decided nothing screams ‘celebration’ like funfetti, so these funfetti sandwich cookies were born! They disappeared pretty quickly, too, so I guess people liked them! Caryn, Matt- if you’re reading this, congratulations again! We love you!

Funfetti Sandwich Cookies

Funfetti Sandwich Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Colorful sprinkles

For the buttercream:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
pinch salt
splash milk (optional)
yellow food coloring

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

Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla and almond extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated. Slowly stir in the sprinkles.

Using a teaspoon or small cookie scoop, scoop out the dough, roll into balls, and place on the baking sheets; press down gently to flatten slightly.

Bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Cool completely.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar a little at a time until desired consistency is reached (it should be fairly think, but easily spread or piped.). Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract and salt. If icing is too thick, stir in a little milk. Gently stir in as much food coloring as you want to make it the desired color of yellow.

Pipe or spread the buttercream on half of the cookies; place other half of the cookies on top to make sandwiches. Makes approximately 17-20 sandwich cookies.

Recipe source: cookie recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan; buttercream is a Sing For Your Supper original

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