Wednesday, June 19, 2013

30 Days

As I start to type, I can't help but hear Europe's "The Final Countdown" in my head. In 30 days, I will no longer be a 20-something. This rapidly approaching date has left something looming over my head.

My 30x30 list.

I always waited until the last minute to do school projects. My Mom used to call me a procrastinator. My Dad called it "working well under pressure". That didn't really fade as I got older. Ryan's famous line is "why did you wait until an hour before bedtime to start this". When I first started my list, I felt like 6 months was plenty of time to conquer 30 things. Well, guess what? Six months kind of FLIES by. I've now had to accept the fact that there will probably be several items that just don't get checked off my list. However, this "final countdown" of sorts has also re-ignited my fire to power through as much of the list as possible and really try to enjoy the last 30 days of 20-dom.

So, I'm re-evaluating, re-focusing and hopefully I'll be making a hefty dent in the next month. It's officially crunch time.  Wish me luck!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Brownies Are A Need

I am a walking Sweet Tooth. (Yes, I just made that a title. Because it is.)

For as long as I can remember, I have been the type of person who just plain LOVES sweets. And sometimes I get an itch for a specific type of sweet that we don't have in the house. Which forces me to a) get creative or b) get over my craving. For the record, option "b" rarely happens.

A few weeks ago, I suddenly had an overwhelming craving for brownies. In that moment, brownies were not a want. Brownies were A NEED.  I will admit that despite my "Nothing From A Box" baking mentality, I've made brownies from a box more times than not. It's just so easy that way...and gosh darn-it if Betty Crocker hasn't nailed the box brownie. But alas, on this particular day, I didn't have a box brownie mix at my disposal so I dug out my old brownie recipe and crossed my fingers. Since I love baking, I try to make sure my pantry is always stocked with the basic baking essentials. So, I started pulling ingredients out of my pantry and soon realized I had all of the necessary pieces of the brownie making puzzle. Soon, brownies would be MINE!

Fudge-y Brownies
1/2 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (I used 1/8 tsp if I am baking with SALTED butter)
*If you like nuts in your brownies, add 1/2 c chopped nuts of your choice - but we are brownie purists in the Naslund house

Heat your oven to 350* and grease an 8x8 baking dish.

In a mixer, mix together the melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat the eggs with a fork, then add them into the butter/sugar/vanilla combo, mixing well.  In a separate mixing bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Slowly incorporate into the mixer, beating it on low until full combined, then on medium until all the dry ingredients are mixed in fully.

Pour into the baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed with no residual batter.

Yes, that is a LOT of "testing for batter" holes...but I really wanted those puppies to cool. ;)

After taking my brownies out of the oven and sampling a little piece of the corner (like I always do), I was reminded that this brownie recipe is one that really requires frosting. It just needs a little extra sweetness, plus frosting helps keep in the moisture. I started to dive back into the "baking shelf" portion of my pantry and soon realized that I didn't have a pertinent frosting ingredient. I was out of powdered sugar. Well, what a happy accident that was, because what came next has revolutionized my brownie making.

The Perfect Brownie Frosting (I named it, but I didn't create it. This round goes to google!)
1 c sugar
1/4 c cocoa
1/4 c butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients but vanilla in a sauce pan and bring to a boil on medium-low, stirring often. Let boil for about one minute. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Cool partially, then mix with a beater until it is a smooth, fluffy consistency. 

 Spread over the brownies!

I let them set for about 20 minutes before cutting into it. It was EXACTLY what I was craving. I served Ryan a piece and watched his eyes light up. The best (food) compliment ever is one that is paid with a full mouth - and that's exactly how Ryan delivered his "Babe, this is so good". ;)

You know those moments when you just COULD NOT wait the two seconds it would take to snap a pic BEFORE sticking a fork into dessert? Yeah. ^That.
I think it's safe to say I've officially ditched the box brownie...