Yes, I am wishing you a Happy New Year on January 14th... a bit late, and such a long time since my last post, but the wishes are just as sincere now as they were on the day! Many things have gone on since my last post, chiefly, work, work work... and some pretty awesome cooking too. It's flurrying outside today, and I have been so guilty about not posting... I hope you enjoy what I came up with!
We had a truly lovely Thanksgiving at our house this year, as has become the tradition for the Curtis/Suliman/Neal/McLenon/Hennessey house! We have basically kept all the traditions going that Tim's mom and aunts started many years ago, including pretty much all of the menu. I have cut back considerably on all the sugar that they used to use, and I have added a few twists from my life and Tim's favorites. (A quick side note here, have you ever spatch cooked your turkey?? I have now for 2 years running and I will never go back! More on that in the next post!) For Christmas we were off to New York for the Hennessey celebration. I have to say, I didn't cook much at all for Christmas, but I did make a genuine Irish fruit cake two months before hand, dutifully doused it with brandy every week or so, and brought it with us. That also was part of the New Years Day chocolate fondue I made. My brother Mark, sister in law Carie and their children John and Elsa came for a quick visit to my parents to see us, which was, as always, an utter delight! Family is so great to have around, and nothing beats it! The gift I was the most excited about was a Le Creuset oval dutch oven! I will admit, I asked Santa for it, but it was such a delight to actually unwrap it and take it home! I have already made a version of vegetarian chili topped with cornbread in it, and was so happy with it, I can't even describe it!
As for most people, January is usually a busy month for us, not just because it's the new year and we want to start everything fresh, but also because my father, sister and oldest niece all have birthday's a few days apart from each other. Today is my Dad's turn, and as I was talking to him this morning, he mentioned that, although it's not really possible, it would be so great to have us living nearer the kids. I have to admit, I agree with him. I would love to be able to have the kids drop by, and cook with them, or just sit and talk. As they (and we) get older, it's harder to have real ties and relationships to them, they're discovering who they are, and Aunt Bep (or Libet, or Elizabeth, depending upon the kids) may not be the hip happening person they want to be around all the time. So, my NYR (new years resolution) is to make the extra effort to be more there for the kiddies, all 8 of them!
How does that work it's way into this blog? Here's how! I was thinking today about what I would make if I had all the kids to myself and had to occupy them for a while? The kids range from almost 13 to almost 4 months... quite a spread! Most of the answers I came up with were either too simplistic for them (or at least for the older ones) or too complicated to do with masses of kids all at the same time. But, I did prevail. What do you think most kids would never pass up? I think brownies fits that bill to a tee! Now, I know some kids have dietary issues so please understand I am not allowing for that completely in this post. I will say that the recipe below will do fabulously well with the non-gluten flours on the market, and you can always use soy yogurt or apple sauce or pureed banana's to substitute for the sour cream or yogurt that I suggest... you get the picture though, it's fairly easy and as always, you can tweak this a million ways to suit your kids and their needs. My one and only insistence is that you NOT use carob. It's awful tasting and doesn't melt the way a decent chocolate does.... if that's the only option you have, leave the chocolate out or substitute a dried fruit or a nut that the kids like. Come to think of it, dried pineapple would be SO good in this! Hmmm... off to the kitchen!
Easy and Delicious Brownies
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (Hershey’s will do fine, or go for the good stuff)
1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt, or plain soy or coconut milk yogurt)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts of your choice or dried fruit or chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325°. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil or parchment paper so that 2 inches hang over two opposite sides.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a nonreactive pan or in the microwave. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and allow to cool slightly. Beat in cocoa powder and sugar until well blended. Add in sour cream and vanilla extract, then add each egg and beat to incorporate fully, then add the next egg. Combine flour and salt well, then slowly add to the chocolate mixture. Once fully combined, add in the nuts, fruit or chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until done. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan on wire rack.
Makes 16 brownies.