Family Recipe: Cocoa Brownies

01389.jpgI love this brownie recipe- it is so versatile, and if you bake at all, you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry.

This recipe is so frugal, so much less than the $3-$5 for a brownie mix.

You can add chocolate chips, mint and chocolate chips (my kids favorite), and they are so moist and rich, there is no need for frosting!

Cocoa Brownies (makes 1 8×8 or 9×9 pan)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. shortening or room temp. butter ( DO NOT USE SPREAD/MARGARINE/OLEO*)
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T. Vanilla
  • 2 T. Milk
  • 2/3 c. AP Flour
  • 1/2 c. Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • Optional: 1/2 c. chopped nuts, chocolate chips, mint/chocolate chips, peanut butter chips (your choice)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 inch baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the fat (shortening/butter) with an electric mixer until it’s fluffy, approximately 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and beat until combined.
  4. Add one egg at a time until combined well.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in any mix-ins (nuts or chips).
  6. Pour into the greased baking dish and bake 20-30 minutes. 20 for 8×8, 30 for 9×9.

Substitutions

  • If you are Gluten Free, you can use 1 for 1 GF flour
  • To make the dish dairy-free, use your favorite dairy-free milk.
  • The reason that spread/margarine/oleo isn’t used is because of its high water content. It will give the brownies a watery/smooshy texture.

Frugal, Tasty Meals with Dinnerly!

To facilitate this review, the awesome folks at Dinnerly provided our family with 3 meals (4-6 servings each). I received no financial compensation to write this review- All opinions are my own.

I’ve reviewed dinner/meal kits before, and my complaint is always that they are so expensive, upwards of $10 per person, per meal. At that point, I better be going out to dinner, and I am not washing dishes! Secondly, the meals are usually not child-friendly, especially if you have a kid on the spectrum (like we do), who also happens to be a vegetarian.

Enter Dinnerly! At $4.49 per adult-sized serving, Dinnerly is so much less expensive than other meal kits. But how? digital recipe cards instead of paper, fewer ingredients per dish (which means less chopping and cleaning), simple packaging, and no fancy marketing campaigns.

The big kid and I looked at the website and he chose two meat-free recipes, and I chose one with meat.

  • Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous
  • Coconut Curry Ramen with Snow Peas & Jammy Eggs
  • Baked Squash & Kale Risotto with Parmesan

recipeWhat I really like is that the recipe tells you what is in the kit for your recipe, and what you will need from your own kitchen (and trust me, it’s nothing special or fancy).

The directions are great for those who don’t have a lot of cooking experience. My 8-year-old was able to read the steps and follow them. He helped me cook the Risotto, and he measured, stirred, poured, and ripped up the kale into bite-sized pieces.

The 4-6 adult-sized servings are pretty generous, by the way. With every meal, there were closer to 7 servings. I always serve side dishes with the main dish. Most nights we had salad or some kind of veggie side dish. When we had ramen, I picked up a bag of pork potstickers from 99 Cents Only for the grown-ups, and also made a miso dressing coleslaw. If you want to stretch meals further, I suggest adding sides, or maybe sneaking in some extra veggies (I added 1 cup of peeled, diced crook-neck squash to the Mediterranean Meatball Stew).

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Tamari Sauce for Ramen

Some of the recipes needed a little “kick”- especially the ramen- so we added ginger, red chili flakes, and a bay leaf to the broth. BUT, since everyone has different levels of spice tolerance, Dinnerly Kits are a great place to start if you want to explore different flavors and cultures without having the buy a bunch of new and/or different spices. For example, the ramen kit comes with two of these cute little packages of Tamari sauce. I did clean one of them out when I was done and now it’s in the kid’s toy kitchen.

Everything is pre-measured and ready to go, even the spices. This is another reason I love Dinnerly- It cuts down on food waste.

75557570_10157525826901061_3062456495460319232_n75443029_10157525826876061_5954310997228388352_nThe veggies are all super fresh and ready to be cut up! The risotto came with two little cubes of parmesan cheese, that my 8-year-old grated and sprinkled like a pro!

I made the Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous and took it to a friend for a night in. It was cheaper, healthier, and tastier than stopping to grab takeout. It was so tasty and filling.

If you want to check out Dinnerly, they have been nice enough to create a promo code just for my readers! The code to use at check out is hewesfamily15, and it’s active through the first week of December and only valid for first-time users. The coupon code is worth 15% off! To get started, visit Dinnerly here.

I think Dinnerly would also make a great gift for a family that just has a baby,  or someone who might need a little love.

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Butternut Squash & Kale Risotto
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Coconut Curry Ramen
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Meatball Stew and Cous Cous

Recipe: Pesto Chicken Bake

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That’s Basil, the key ingredient in Pesto

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a couple weeks, but with summer vacation and the kids needing to see me, talk to me, touch me every.moment.of.the.day….. I’ve been a little behind.

This is so easy, so tasty, and so cheesy. And it works with almost every dietary restriction:

If you are vegetarian but omit the chicken.

If you are Gluten-free, substitute GF pasta for what’s the recipe.

If you are vegan, use your favorite vegan “cheese”. And remember to check the pesto- sometimes commercially made pesto contains cheese!

Pesto Chicken Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Pesto (I Like Costco’s Pesto) If you want to make it yourself, I like this recipe.
  • 1 Box Farfalle Pasta. I like Banza– It’s made with chickpea flour and is high in protein.
  • 1 T. Butter or Olive Oil
  • 2 C. chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces. You can also use rotisserie chicken.
  • 2 c. cheese, divided- I like Italian Blend

 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a baking dish with spray release and set aside.
  3. Cook pasta per box directions, drain pasta and toss with butter/oil.
  4. Mix Pesto, pasta, cooked chicken and 1 cup of cheese together.
  5. Pour mixture into baking dish.
  6. Top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is bubbly and browned (approximately 20 minutes).
  8. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving with crusty bread and a green salad.

Serves 6-8 as a main dish or 8-10 as a side. This is a great dish for potlucks!

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Yum! 

Pumpkin Baked Donuts!

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We love donuts. BUT, we don’t love that they are fried and dipped in sugary frosting (ok, some of us do… the kids).

After hearing hubs and Henry complain about neeeeeeding donuts, I rummaged through the cupboard and came up with:

Similar to my 3 ingredient chocolate cake, I set in motion to make some tasty donuts.

I grease my silicone baking dishes. I use a little butter.

All you do is mix the cake mix with the pumpkin and add spices to taste (usually 1t. cinnamon and a few dashes of ginger and nutmeg).

Pour into the donut “holes” (about 1/2 full) and bake per the mix directions for cupcakes.

Most cake mixes make 12 donuts. I let the donuts sit in the pan until they are cool, them take them out and do batch #2.

If you NEED glaze, mix:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 1 T. soft butter
  • 1t. vanilla (you could use maple extract if you wanted to make it UBER FALL)
  • 1T. milk

Whisk all together and drizzle over the donuts.

This recipe is easy peezy pumpkin squeezy! It’s totally kid approved as well, which is why there are no after photos.It goes great with a PSL or other fall themed coffee beverage,