S’mores Brownies

Smores Brownies1

People ask me all the time:

“What do YOU like to cook?”

“What’s YOUR favorite recipe?”

“What’s the best thing you’ve ever made?”

And that’s why I’m here now. Not only to show you what I love to cook…but how YOU can make it too.

Okay. Maybe I swiped that little intro from the Food Network show, “The Best Thing I Ever Made.” (Great show, by the way. I wish they’d put out more new episodes of that and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” instead of the ‘game shows’ they keep just throwing at the wall and hoping that they’ll stick.) But it really is true that people do ask me those kinds of questions, especially when they find out that I have a food blog. I also get asked a lot of random questions about ingredients, dishes, recipes and other cooking related subjects that people need help with in their kitchens- like I’m the resident Julia Child, or something. It’s flattering, and most of the time, I really can give some kind of helpful advice.

But there is the left-field query that I have absolutely no clue how to answer-to which I quickly give an off the cuff reply based upon the .2 seconds I’ve had to actually consider it. Then I say a silent prayer that the advice  I’ve given won’t result in a ruined dish or in them burning their house down.

Don’t act like you haven’t done it too.

Smores Brownies3

But seriously though, the question “What’s the best thing you’ve ever made?” has always kinda been difficult for me to answer. The truth is, I’m a fan of ALL the food I cook, because I cook the way that I would like to eat. Pinpointing one or two dishes among them as favorites makes me draw a blank…

Most of the time.

Every once in a while, I’ll try out a new recipe and right after I try that first bite, I will LITERALLY let an audible “Oh my GOD!” slip out of my mouth out of sheer shock and disbelief of the nirvana that’s happening in my mouth. Sometimes, I do make a dish that is literally so delicious, so supremely perfect, that I just can’t believe it.

Smores Brownies6

These brownies were one of those dishes. It all started innocently enough. My older sister asked me to make her some brownies. Then my twin sister asked me to make her some. Then my Dad’s birthday came up and he wanted some. Well, since everyone was getting their own variations of brownies, I decided that I was getting left out, and thus  deserved some of my own too. Am I right? Am I RIGHT?

S’mores is one of my favorite ‘flavors’; I’ll eat it in just about any form. The thought of putting it in a brownie seemed like a tasty idea, so I clashed together a couple of ideas I’d seen on Food Network and the Rachael Ray magazine, and ended up with this dish of brownies.

Smores Brownies2

Guys.

I wasn’t prepared. I really wasn’t.

After I put that first bite in my mouth, it was suddenly like everything around me stopped. The world was on pause, and suddenly it was just me and the most flawless brownie I’ve ever had in my life. I actually think my eyes may have rolled back a little bit. Nothing else mattered. Every other brownie I’d had up to that point ceased to exist- they were just cheap imitations of the word.

I don’t know how to pick out what I love the most about these: the brownie itself is just so perfectly thick and balanced, with just enough chew to distinguish it from chocolate cake (boo for ‘cake brownies’), but not so dense that it’s like fudge (I don’t like overly rich brownies). It’s a perfect base for the other ingredients. The graham cracker crust on the bottom gives a texture to the smoothness of the brownies and is a wonderful ‘vanilla flavored’ compliment to the chocolate flavor of the brownie. And the marshmallows? Don’t get me started. They’re the sweet, gooey glue that gives the whole thing that campfire S’mores authenticity. Put together, they’re literally one of the best things I’ve eaten. No joke.

Smores Brownies5

The last time that I made the recipe for My Grandma’s Banana Pudding, my twin sister Jas said that it was so good that it almost made her want to start dancing. For some reason, that compliment really stuck with me- and not just because it buffed my ego. I started thinking about how interesting it was that food can literally give someone so much satisfaction and happiness that they want to start dancing. The more I thought about it, the more awesome I realized that was. Later for all these people that are demonizing certain foods as ‘bad’ or something we should be ashamed of for enjoying. Nowadays the world is filled with so much evil and unhappiness that I believe that we should grab onto all the things and people that make us happy and just embrace the heck out of it. 

If something that you cook for someone has the power to make them so happy they wanted to start dancing- then I say, make it. Spread some of that happiness around….even if it’s for yourself.

 I’m a huge fan of the Pharrell Williams song from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, “Happy”. To me, this song is just all kinds of awesome. I was listening to it the other day as I was writing this post and I suddenly had what I think is a pretty good/fun idea for the blog. From now on, whenever I post a recipe like these S’mores Brownies or My Grandma’s Banana Pudding– recipes that just make me, or the people in my life literally feel so ‘happy’ that we want to dance, I’ll be tagging the post with the Happy Stamp below. I also intend on creating a new section for it in my Recipe Index and updating it for the recipes that I’ve posted thus far. That way, anytime you guys need to find a recipe to cook that’s been tested and guaranteed to spread some happiness to a loved one, or even to yourself, you can find it here 😉

Layout 1

********************************************

S’mores Brownies

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine & Rachael Ray Magazine

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups, crushed graham crackers
  • 1 stick, plus 6 tbsp  butter, separated
  • 3/4 cup, plus 3 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 whole square graham cracker

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Coat the foil with cooking spray.

2. Mix the crushed graham crackers, 6 tbsp melted butter, 3 tbsp sugar together and press onto the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden, about 8 minutes; cool.

3. Melt 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips and 1 stick butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring. Off the heat, whisk in 3/4 cup each light brown sugar and granulated sugar; cool slightly.

4. Whisk in 4 eggs, one at a time, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

5. Stir in 1 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread in the pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

6. Remove brownies from oven and turn on broiler. Spread marshmallows and milk chocolate chips  over top of brownies and place back in oven. Bake until marshmallows melt and just begin to brown, about 1 minute.

7. Break whole graham cracker into shards. Remove brownies from oven and press graham cracker pieces into melted marshmallows.

8. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes.  Run hot water over a metal knife to make slicing the brownies easier and less messy.

Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispies1

12 Days of Christmas {Treats}

Did you know….

1.  In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Tiny Tim was originally going to be called ‘Little Fred. ‘Dickens had two brothers called ‘Fred,’ Frederick and Alfred, the latter of whom died young. He probably altered the name to ‘Tiny Tim’ because the alliteration made the name catchier. (Although I can appreciate the connection to his family, I gotta say that ‘Tiny Tim’ sounds better than ‘Little Fred’).

2.  Harper Lee’s friend gave her a year’s wages for Christmas, on condition that she give up work and write. She wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. (You want my opinion? That was a huge waste of money. That’s right. I’ve never been a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird. I don’t even know if I can really explain the reason, I just didn’t like it.)

3.  There is a species of snail called Ba humbugi. The Fijian snail is named after Scrooge’s famous exclamation in A Christmas Carol, although Scrooge only utters the words ‘Bah, humbug!’ twice in the whole story (though he exclaims ‘Humbug!’ a number of times). (Umm….okay. I’ve got nothing else to say about this one.)

(Source: The Huffington Post)

Rice Krispies4

Rice Krispie Treats. I know some of you are probably thinking that they don’t really count as a ‘Christmas’ goodie, considering they’re available in stores year-round. My sister Ashley disagrees with you though. When I was planning what I would post for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Christmas Treats series for the blog, she suggested I make some of these for her (she’s a fan). After thinking about it for a minute or two, I agreed…so I guess I disagree with you too. These most definitely count as Christmas Treats.

Rice Krispies2You may be able to buy these in stores, but I do think that they’re worthwhile to make on your own. I’m not exactly sure why, but they do taste different…and better than the pre-made treats. It probably has to do with the freshness of the marshmallows (as ‘fresh’ as processed marshmallows can be anyway) and butter. They didn’t last long in my house. If you’ve never had homemade rice krispie treats, then I’m very sorry for you. They’re not only very tasty, they’re also RIDICULOUSLY easy to make. As in less-than-10-minutes-easy. You’re welcome.

Rice Krispies3

This time, I’m giving you guys two very strong, very emphatic recommendations for the price of one. The first I don’t think really needs much of an introduction or justification. I mean, who DIDN’T grow up listening to this book being read to them at Christmastime?  Who DIDN’T grow up watching the cartoon narrated by Boris Karloff?  Hearing him sing “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” is worth watching the movie in an of itself, but I just love the traditional animation given to the Whos. This movie brings back so many memories and feelings of nostalgia for me. I watch it every year, at least twice at Christmas.

I still remember the first time I saw the second movie poster in the hallway of a movie theater as I was coming out of another movie (I don’t even remember what was now). I flipped out. I was so excited, guys. Without knowing a single thing about the script or story line, I made up my mind that I HAD to see it. I went in with super high expectations- and by the time I went out, I didn’t find myself disappointed. I don’t care what the critics had to say about this movie- it’s good. It just is. Never in a million years would I have though about giving the Grinch a back story explaining why he hated Christmas, where he even came from, or why he was living alone with a dog at the top of a mountain. Luckily someone else did. I won’t spoil it just in case there are some people who haven’t seen the movie- I will say though, that it’s a very creative idea (you may even shed a few tears). Jim Carrey stars as the Grinch. I will admit: Even beneath all that makeup and the Grinch suit- you will DEFINITELY know that Jim Carrey is in there. Like every other major comedian out there, he has his own trademark ‘schtick’. He takes the part and makes it his own. I’ve always been a Jim Carrey fan though, so I don’t mind when he goes into ‘character.’ It doesn’t ever take away from the story or other acting- it could just be due to how the script was written, but I couldn’t really see anyone else playing this part. Plus, according to IMdb:  “The prosthetic make-up Jim Carrey wore took 3 hours to apply. Carrey felt so horribly confined and uncomfortable in the latex skin he needed counseling from a Navy SEAL who taught him torture-resistance techniques.”

I think he deserves props for that alone, wouldn’t you agree?

*************************************************

Rice Krispie Treats

Recipe Courtesy of Kraftrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 pkg (10-1/2 oz.) JET PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
  • 6 cups KELLOGS RICE KRISPIES Cereal

Directions

1. Melt butter in large saucepan on low heat. Add marshmallows; cook until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

2. Add cereal; mix well.

3. Press onto bottom of 13×9-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cool completely. Cut into 12 squares.

****************************************************