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.

This Week’s Dealsday at 99 Cents Only!

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HOW ‘BOUT THEM APPLES!

Today is Dealsday at the 99 Cents Only Stores! You can get an 8-pound bag of apples is just $0.99! This deal is apple-solutely sweet to the core. Limit one per bag household. Shop Dealsday in every store, while supplies last.

Not sure what to do with 8 pounds of apples? Here are a few of my favorite recipes:

 

Fall Recipe Round-Up!

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Thanksgiving in the US is just a few days away, and for most of us, it means cooking a HUGE feast to share with family or friends.

I wanted to share with you some of my family’s favorite fall recipes- They are all pretty tasty, and easy to make. Some are great for Thanksgiving dinner, and some are just tasty fall recipes.

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

11/18/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

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I didn’t make the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes I had hoped to make last week, but I am eyeing them for this week’s baking, in addition to chocolate chip cookies (always the kiddos favorite).

This week is starting off with a trip to the YMCA for yoga and some time at child watch. There is a lot going on over the next few weeks around here, so I’m trying to get us into a new routine with meal planning and getting more exercise for all of us.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. Last week I did a lot of veggie prep and I’ve got a bunch of bags of veggies in the freezer for meals this week.

  • Monday: breakfast for dinner: Everything bagels with various toppings (options will include scrambled eggs with cheese, avocado slices, bacon crumbles, sliced sharp cheddar, cream cheese), and smoothies.
  • Tuesday: Leftover Kale and Butternut Squash Risotto from Dinnerly (It made a HUGE amount). This time I’ll be adding bacon crumbles and serving it with fresh rolls.
  • Wednesday:  Chicken fajitas with onions and peppers, rice, and refried beans (quesadillas as the main dish for my vegetarian kiddo)
  • Thursday:  Veggie Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Friday:  Date Night (Dinner out- Woo)
  • Saturday:  Pizza time (also salad will be served)
  • Sunday:   Leftovers, as per usual

I had someone ask me how we always have enough of anything for leftovers. I always cook enough of the main dish for 6-8 servings, that way we have leftovers for lunches later in the week or leftover night. And really when you make stuff like soup, it’s hard to make a batch of soup that only feeds 4 people.

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

11/11/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

I haven’t gone to the grocery store for this week, and I’m holding off, as we’ve got all kinds of stuff in the kitchen. I’ll be making some chocolate peanut cupcakes this afternoon, and pumpkin donuts later this week.  And we’ve got two meals from Dinnerly to cook this week!

No school today, so I’m a little late in posting this. We slept in until 8:15. Ahhhh.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. I did a little meal prep over the weekend, chopped and bagged veggies soups and chili, and made cookies for the kids.

  • Monday: Birthday dinner for my dad with the fam
  • Tuesday: Kale and Butternut Squash Risotto (From Dinnerly)
  • Wednesday:  Grilled Cheese sandwiches and Soup
  • Thursday:  Coconut Curry Ramen with Jammy Eggs (Also from Dinnerly)
  • Friday: Pasta Free Lasagna (I have TONS of zucchini), garlic bread
  • Saturday:  Chicken and veggie stir fry with rice
  • Sunday:   Leftovers, as per usual

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

10/17/19 National Pasta Day!

d885edea4dac6850a5f9bdde459b5c86.jpgDid you know that 10/17/19 is National Pasta Day?

I didn’t. There aren’t tons of freebies. Like… None.

Olive Garden has some sort of shenanigans going on via Twitter, but ain’t nobody got time for that. IF you sign up for their email club, you can get a free app or dessert.

For those of us who don’t have time to chase deals, and want to eat a bowl of plain ‘skettis at home, here are some yummy pasta recipes to try:

The kids have requested Mac and Cheese for dinner- so we’re celebrating!