Better than the Box Brownies

Ever since I was a kid, I loved to bake from scatch. I've tried the packaged cookie doughs, and even the dry mix cookies that all you have to do is add an egg and water, but no matter what homemade cookies are FAR better. On the opposite end of the spectrum however, are brownies. I've tried dozens of made from scratch recipes and am always disappointed. Well this last week my husband was craving some brownies and I was shocked that I didn't have a box on hand (I'm one of those that has at least 5 boxes in my food storage for the last minute go-to treat). So I went to the internet scouring website after website for something that was easy and had ingredients that I had in my cupboard. I happened upon FoodNetwork.com and Alton Brown had a brownie recipe that seemed too easy to be true, or good. But what the heck, I thought, I'll try it out. So I did and the day has come that I can say to the masses, that I have found a brownie recipe that is way better than the box mix!! They are chewy, and fudgy, and rich, and everything you'd ever want in a brownie, but something more. I can't name what it is, but every person that had one was amazed and asked for the recipe. So as promised, here you go.

Better than the Box Brownies
Source: Alton Brown

4 Eggs
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
8 oz Butter, melted
1 1/4 cups Cocoa, sifted
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon Course Salt

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees
2. Beat the eggs on medium speed until they are light yellow and a bit frothy. Beat in the sugars until combined.
3. Add in the remaining ingredients.
4. Pour into a greased/floured 8" pan.
5. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with some crumbs on it.
6. Let cool for at least 15 minutes and enjoy every last crumb, these won't last long!


Banana Split Pancakes

I know I might seem obsessed with banana split items recently. That's because I am. I just love the combination of bananas, chocolate, vanilla and maraschino cherries. These pancakes started out innocently enough as some overripe bananas. (Don't so many banana food items start out that way?) I wanted more instant gratification than banana bread, so I decided on banana pancakes. The pancakes by themselves are plain delicious. You can really taste the banana flavor and they taste so good plain or with maple syrup and peanut butter. Mmmm. Plus, with so much mashed banana in the recipe they have very little oil and could almost past as healthy.

Until I came across the idea of putting ice cream on them, that is.

Our neighbors have waffles with ice cream and strawberries every Saturday morning. When they told me this I thought it was the weirdest thing until I tried it, and then I realized that you can put ice cream on just about everything and it works. On the banana pancakes it gets soft and melty and makes the pancakes taste something like bananas foster. With chocolate syrup, of course. And maraschino cherries. So more like a fancy banana split. It was one of those great ideas that I was almost sad for having because I ruined a perfectly healthy breakfast. And I loved every minute of it.

Banana Split Pancakes


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, mashed
Vanilla ice cream
Chocolate syrup
Maraschino cherries


1. Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and bananas.

2. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy.

3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-low heat. (These pancakes turn out better when cooked slower on lower heat that regular pancakes so the insides get a chance to cook before the bottom burns.) Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides.

4. Serve pancakes hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and maraschino cherries on top.    

Yield: 8-10 pancakes        

Recipe Source: Pancake recipe adapted from allrecipes.com


Slow Cooker Caribbean Pot Roast

I love my slow cooker. It's what I imagine it would be like to have a personal chef with dinner waiting for me when I get home from work. ("Ahh, thank you, Gerard. That osso bucco you prepared was divine. Check the maid's quarters to see if she wants the leftovers.") Since that isn't going to happen at least until my husband is done with school, I content myself with the wonders of the slow cooker making food for me. I make all kinds of soups and stews and shredded meat dishes in there, but I usually steer clear of pot roast. I tried it a few times, and although the recipes were a breeze to set up, the roast always seemed to come out salty, dry, and a little boring. Not liking the feeling of failure every time I tried to cook pot roast, eventually I just gave up. Then I ran across this recipe (and a sale on chuck roast at the grocery store) and decided to give it another go. 

I finally cooked a good pot roast.

The end result was moist and flavorful. The sauce was delicious and different, with a little sweetness and a great combination of flavors. Have you ever had a meat recipe with cinnamon in it before? Trust me, it's pretty tasty. I also like that the roast cooks along with sweet potatoes instead of the regular Idaho potatoes for an interesting twist.

In case you have leftovers, like my husband and I did, I find that reheating most big cuts of meat can dry them out unless it is done quickly, so I like to cut the roast into small pieces and cook it in a skillet with the leftover sauce from the roast and some quick cooking veggies, like peas. Garbanzo beans are a delicious addition, too. Then I just serve the whole thing over rice and voila, it's like Gerard cooked me a brand new meal.

Slow Cooker Caribbean Pot Roast


3 medium sweet potatoes, quartered
3 large carrots, sliced (or a handful of baby carrots)
1 boneless beef chuck roast (2.5-3 lb)
1 T canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T all-purpose flour
1 T sugar
1T brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp grated orange peel
3/4 tsp baking cocoa
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

1. Place potatoes and carrots in a 5-6 quart slow cooker. In a skillet, brown meat in oil over medium high heat. Transfer meat to slow cooker.

2. In the same skillet, saute onion in drippings until tender. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Combine next 11 ingredients; stir in tomato sauce. Add to skillet; heat through. Pour over beef.

3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until beef and vegetables are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe source: Taste of Home Healthy Cooking Dec/Jan 2011


Pressure Cooker Mexican-Style Chicken and Rice

This is most magical recipe I've made in the pressure cooker yet. Chicken, rice and seasonings all go in the pressure cooker at the same time, and 14 minutes later you have moist chicken and spicy mexican-style rice all cooked perfectly and ready to eat. 

Do you ever call your mom to tell her when you've made something truly wonderful in the kitchen because you want to share the recipe right then? Maybe I'm the only weirdo that does, but I can tell you that I called her after I made this recipe. The conversation went something like, "Mom, try this recipe in your pressure cooker. It's amazing. The chicken is so moist and tastes so good with the rice. Except maybe cut down the cumin and chili powder for you and dad." Yep, we're fascinating folks. I'd share more of the conversation but I wouldn't want to stimulate your brain too much on a Monday morning. The point is, though, that this is a recipe worth keeping and sharing. 

I feel a little bad even sharing such a magical recipe because unlike the other pressure cooker recipes that I've shared, I don't even dare to attempt to figure out some modifications so you can on the stovetop with a regular saucepan. So if you are pressure cooker-less, I'm sorry. 

Because this recipe is really good.   

Pressure Cooker Mexican-Style Chicken and Rice


4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 oz each) trimmed
salt and pepper
4 tsp vegetable oil
2 onions, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced (I use one because I'm a wimp)
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 cup water
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups long-grain white rice
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (15.5 oz) can pinto beans, rinsed
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
4 scallions, sliced thin
Lime wedges (for serving)

1. Dry the chicken with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the chicken lightly on both sides, about 3 minutes, then transfer to a clean plate.

2. Add the remaining 2 tsp oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, jalapenos, cumin, and chili powder. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in the water, scraping up any browned bits, then pour into the pressure cooker.

3. Stir the broth and rice into the pressure cooker. Arrange the chicken on top of the rice and press lightly to partially submerge. Sprinkle the tomatoes over the chicken (do not stir). Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Cook for exactly 4 minutes (6 minutes in my electric pressure cooker) adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain high pressure.

4. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 8 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure. Carefully remove the lid, allowing the steam to escape away fro you. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil.

5. Stir in the beans and cilantro into the rice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Replace the lid (do not lock) and let the rice sit off the heat until it is completely tender, about 2 minutes. Slice the chicken 1/2 inch thick. Transfer the rice to a serving platter. Arrange the chicken slices over the rice and sprinkle with the scallions. Serve with lime wedges. 

Recipe Source: Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook


Banana Split Cupcakes

These have all the best flavors of a banana split - banana, chocolate, maraschino cherries and creamy vanilla - in cupcake form. (If you're a nuts person, you're on your own here.) A staple in my recipe box for years, my sister and I discovered this recipe during our weekly "get together and make completely bad for you food" sessions we used to have when we lived close to each other. Since this was before the era of chai-bacon-chocolate-latte cupcakes with dulche de leche-cinnamon-ginger frosting we were just amazed by the idea of rolling all the flavors of a banana split into a cupcake. Fast forward many years and it's still a great combination, and one that kids and adults both enjoy. The recipe is easy to whip up and makes a heck of a lot of banana split cupcakes. Which is good because a good portion of mine tend to get eaten even by me before they are frosted. And after. And for breakfast. And for pre-dinner snacks . . .

Banana Split Cupcakes


1 (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix, divided
1 cup water
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
3 eggs
1 cup chopped drained maraschino cherries
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 1/2 cups prepared vanilla frosting*
1 cup marshmallow Fluff (Fluff works the best and doesn't make the frosting runny)
30 whole maraschino cherries, drained and patted dry

*I'm not in the frosting tub fan club, so if you have time I would highly suggest substituting your favorite vanilla frosting here. Cook's Country has a great frosting recipe that mykitchencafe describes wonderfully here.


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 30 regular-size (2 1/2 inch) muffin cups with paper muffin cup liners.
2. Reserve 2 T cake mix in a small bowl. Combine remaining cake mix, water, bananas and eggs in a large bowl. Beat at low speed of an electric mixer until moistened, about 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Pat chopped cherries dry with a paper towel (I try to squeeze a lot of moisture out here) and combine with reserved cake mix in small bowl. Stir chopped cherry mixture and 1 cup chocolate chips into batter.
3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
4. Combine frosting and marshmallow fluff in medium bowl until well blended. Frost each cupcake with frosting mixture.

Yield: About 30 cupcakes

Recipe source: Adapted from 100 Best Bake Sale Recipes


Creamy Lemon Nut Bars

I will be the first to admit that when it comes to desserts there should always be some sort of chocolate involved so when I made these little ditties for a party I was having I was not at ALL excited. I've never enjoyed lemon bars and felt like why would this recipe be any different. Well everybody, this one IS different and it's because of two added ingredients that make them a little less ordinary and more extraordinary. Cream cheese in the filling, and pecans in the crust. I know your pallet is having a hard time imagining it right? Well just make these and tell me I'm wrong...I dare you! ;o)

Creamy Lemon Nut Bars
Source: Kraft Food & Family

1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/3 cup Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 3/4 cupsFlour, divided
1/3 cup Pecans, chopped
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1 tbsp grated Lemon peel
1 tbsp Powdered sugar, for sprinkling on top

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Line a 9x13" pan with foil and spray.
3. Mix butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until combined.
4. Gradually stir in 1 1/2 cps of the flour and the pecans
5. Press dough firmly into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes
6. Beat cream cheese and granulated sugar on high until well blended and add remaining 1/4 cup flour and eggs. Beat well.
7. Stir in lemon juice and peel. Pour over baked crust and bake for 30 minutes.
8. Let cool completely and sprinkle with the tablespoon of powdered sugar.



Southwestern Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I ate a sandwich, apple and yogurt for lunch every day when I was in grad school. It was easy, cheap, and made grocery shopping quick. I never even got sick of it, surprisingly enough. There's something comforting about a food routine, I think. Or maybe I'm just crazy. Have you ever eaten the same thing for breakfast or lunch for months on end? Or years?

These days, I'm usually packing leftovers for lunch. There are some advantages to having a finicky eater spouse, and one is that he usually doesn't fight me for leftovers. (Of course, few people would dare fight with me for food anyway.) This is one of my favorites as a leftover/lunch meal. It keeps well for a few days, fills me up and isn't heavy, which is good because greasy food at lunch makes me want to nap during the afternoon at work. Even more than usual. The sour cream with lime and cilantro is my favorite part, but the chicken/bean/rice mixture is great on its own and has a nice mix of flavors and textures. To be completely honest, I only eat this in a lettuce wrap about half the time. The other half of the time I stir in torn romaine and some tortilla chips and eat it with a fork like a salad. Eating it this way means it's much less likely that I end up with a lapful of chicken and beans when my piece of lettuce inevitably breaks. Either way, it's great, light, refreshing and fast to prepare. Definitely a winner in my book. 

Southwestern Chicken Lettuce Wraps


1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
3/4 cup fresh salsa
1/3 cup chopped green onion (about 3)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
12 iceberg lettuce leaves
Spicy Chipotle Dipping Sauce (See below)


1. Place rice in a large bowl. Stir in chicken and next three ingredients. Spoon chicken mixture evenly in center of lettuce leaves. Fold in edges of leaves, roll up and secure with wooden picks. Serve with Spicy Chipotle Dipping Sauce.

Yield: 6 servings

Spicy Chipotle Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 T chopped cilantro
1 T fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp ground chipotle chile pepper (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Recipe Source: adapted from Cooking Light's Fresh Food Fast Weeknight Meals


Sweet-and-Sour Baked Chicken

Happy Valentine's Day! Have you had your fill of conversation hearts and chocolates? Given my high tolerance for all things sugar, I try to start on the Valentine's candy as soon as they put it out in the stores so that I can get my fill. After two months of cinnamon candy hearts I am happy to announce that I am thoroughly sugared out now. Give me a couple weeks and I'll be ready for Easter candy. 

In case you sick of sweets like I am, I decided to post a healthy, easy meal instead of a decadent dessert. This is one of the few things that my husband has requested to eat as leftovers. Twice in a row. Even given the option of having Pizza Rolls instead. Trust me, that's big. It includes some very non-traditional ingredients that somehow combine to make a great tasting sweet and sour sauce that is nice and thick. I love that I didn't have to go searching through the Asian food section of the grocery store for any weird ingredients for it, too. (Though by now with all the recipes I like to try I probably own everything in that section anyway.) The recipe as written only uses a pound of chicken breasts, but I double the sauce and triple the amount of chicken to make more. (You'll want a 9x13" dish if you do this, unless you want to cram everything in one and have it take 1 1/2 hours to cook. Not that I'm speaking from experience. . . ) 

Sweet-and-Sour Bake Chicken


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, all visible fat removed, cut into 1/2-inch strips
8 1/2 ounce can pineapple chunks in their own juice
1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce
2 T light brown sugar
2 T rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2 T frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 T cornstarch
2 T water
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into thin strips (1 cup)


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Put in an 8 inch square nonstick baking pan and set aside.
3. Drain juice from pineapple into a small saucepan and set pineapple aside. Put pan over medium heat and whisk in cranberry sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, orange juice concentrate, soy sauce and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until cranberry sauce has melted.
4. Put cornstarch in a cup or small bowl. Add water, whisking to dissolve. Whisk into juice mixture. 
5. Increase heat to medium-high and cook for 3 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
6. Add pineapple chunks and pour over chicken.
7. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Add bell pepper and baste chicken with sauce. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
8. Serve over rice.

Recipe Source: The New American Heart Association Cookbook


Grapefruit Avocado Salad

You might not think of grapefruit and avocado as good friends, but they are. They get along great together. Grapefruit brings a sour-sweet juiciness to the friendship, and avocado answers with a creamy mildness that isn't overpowered by the grapefruit. Put them in a salad together and you can have the taste of summer in the dead of winter. And about this time of winter a little taste of summer is more than welcome. I've tried this salad with three or four different salad dressings, and by far my favorite is a honey-lemon dressing that adds just enough sweetness to balance the grapefruit but not drown it out. I've made this salad with fresh grapefruit that I cut and section myself (I'm including pictures on how to do this at the end of the post), but I have to admit that half the time I'm lazy and buy it pre-sectioned in a jar in the produce section of the grocery story. Even cutting the grapefruit myself, the preparation time for both the salad and the dressing is minimal, but the end result is impressive and delicious. 

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

1 large grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
2 large avocados
15 oz mixed greens

Cut avocado into slices just before serving. Top mixed greens with grapefruit sections and avocado. Dress with Honey-Lemon dressing and serve.

Yield - 6-8 servings

Honey-Lemon Salad Dressing
(Makes 1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

   1. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the lemon zest and honey. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Recipe Source: adapted from Food and Wine

How to section a grapefruit:

Cut the top and bottom off the grapefruit . . .

And then cut away the peel from the sides. Make sure you cut off all the white membrane because it is sour.

Next, cut each section out by cutting along each membrane.

Repeat several more times, and you're done!


Raspberry Chocolate Cookies

I've always thought of Valentine's Day as a woman's holiday. Do you really think there would be as much of the color pink, red roses and dark chocolate associated with it if it weren't? To be clear, I'm not complaining. Being a woman, I love this time of year and the excuses to eat more chocolate and go out to dinner. 

And to make cookies like this. 

Raspberry and chocolate is one of the best dessert combinations I can think of, and both flavors shine through in these cookies. Even days after baking they are so soft they are almost bendable, and rolling them in sugar gives them a beautiful sparkle. I made several batches of these cookies for my husband's cousin's wedding reception and they were the favorite of the night. In fact, the few leftover cookies seemed to mysteriously disappear at the end of the night. :) Whether Valentine's Day is a holiday you love or hate, take some time this year to make these as a treat for yourself or someone you love.

Raspberry Chocolate Cookies


1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp raspberry extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups turbinado or demerara sugar (for rolling)


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and raspberry extracts and then the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Combine the salt, cocoa, flour, baking powder and baking soda and gradually stir into the creamed mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1 1/2 T sized balls and roll in turbadino (or demerara) sugar. Place on a baking sheet and flatten cookies slightly with the bottom of a drinking glass.

4. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are puffy and the tops are cracked, but still soft. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen


Festive Rice with Fruits and Nuts

This might be my new favorite rice dish. For one, chopped nuts in rice is a combination like peas and carrots. They just go together. The flavor of nuts goes so well with the naturally nutty flavor of rice, and provides just enough crunch and texture. The dried fruit provides a little sweetness, and using different kinds of fruit it keeps every bite different and interesting. Using basmati rice means even the rice itself lends great flavor. And, layers of taste aside, it's fast and easy to make. Yes, it is a pressure cooker recipe, which means "incredibly fast to cook", but even the preparation time is minimal. The recipe comes from Lorna Sass, the pressure cooking maven with an extensive collection of cookbooks that are almost required reading for people who own a pressure cooker. I've yet to find a Lorna Sass recipe that I dislike, and this one might be my favorite so far. For those who haven't been convinced yet that they need a pressure cooker, I'm including stovetop cooking suggestions.

Festive Rice with Fruits and Nuts


1T butter (unsalted) or oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain basmati rice
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/4 cups water (2 2/3 cups water for stovetop cooking)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup mixed chopped dried fruits, such as figs, dates and apricots
1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, pecans, almonds or walnuts, whole or coarsely chopped


1. Heat the butter in a 4 quart or larger cooker (or large saucepan) over high heat. Stir in the rice, allspice and cinnamon, taking care to coat rice with butter. Stir in the water and salt. 

2. For pressure cooker, lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally for 6 minutes before quick-releasing remaining pressure. (For my electric pressure cooker I cooked 6 minutes under high pressure with 2 minutes of natural release before quick releasing pressure.) Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape. 

    For stovetop cooking, bring rice and water to a boil, cover pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes over low heat, or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. 

3. Quickly stir in the dried fruits and adjust the seasonings. Immediately cover and let steam until fruits are hot and rice is tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss in the nuts and serve. 

Recipe source: Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass


Gourmet Chocolate Covered Popcorn

A few months ago Nicole requested that I post the Chocolate Covered Popcorn that I made for her wedding reception (which was absolutely gorgeous!!). Well I immediately thought what a wonderful idea that would be and tried to figure out an excuse to make it. ie: invited to a fancy dinner party, have a fancy dinner party at my house, etc. etc. Well it took a few months and I've finally decided that a dinner party doesn't have to be fancy to warrant something as decadent and wonderful as Gourmet Chocolate Covered Popcorn! So on Saturday some friends invited us over and asked that I bring dessert. *DING-DING* guess what I knew I'd bring?!? Yep, GCCP (if you are into texting acronyms which I'm totally not ;p) ).

It's really the easiest thing thing the world to make but be ready, you WILL impress the crowds by making it!! So Enjoy!

Gourmet Chocolate Covered Popcorn

Heat Oven To 350 Published 02/04/2011
Gourmet Chocolate Covered Popcorn


  • 2-3 quarts air popped popcorn (do not substitute for buttered microwave popcorn)
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (melted)
  • table salt
  • 16 ounces chocolate (milk, dark, semi-sweet - your preference)
  • 16 ounces white almond bark
  • coarse salt


  1. Toss popped popcorn with butter in a paper grocery bag or in a large bowl (or divide among two bowls.) Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  2. Spread the popcorn out on a couple large sheets of wax paper, or on some sheet pans lined with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave using medium power and frequent stirring to prevent burning. Drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn
  4. Melt the almond bark in a double boiler or on low power with frequent stirring in the microwave. Drizzle on top of the popcorn. Sprinkle with some coarse salt to taste.
  5. Let popcorn sit until chocolate has hardened, then break into smaller clumps and eat.
Yield: 10-15 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 10 min


English Muffin Brie Boat

I love when improvising in the kitchen leads to the discovery of a great recipe. And I love it even more when it isn't even me doing the improvising but I still get to enjoy the great recipe that resulted from it. This recipe comes from our friend Ben, who is a wonderful cook. He had made a batch of some English muffin bread and only had one loaf pan available to cook it in. He decided to cook the second half of the bread in an 8" springform pan. That happy accident made the perfect base for a brie boat, which is basically a hollowed out bread bowl with melted brie inside. If any of you have had melted brie before, you know it's up there with whipped cream and cream cheese as dairy foods that just shouldn't exist they are so sinfully good. I'm not sure where the boat part of the name comes from, but it's one of my favorite parts of the recipe. I just imagine sailing in a sea of brie.

Once the bread is made, it's a breeze to put together, plus you get to practice your carving skills when you hollow the bread out.

You can decide if you want to leave the white rind on the brie or not. I'm not a fan of it, so I cut it off. Cube the brie and scatter in the bread pit you just made.

Bake until the cheese in melted, add some cheddar and bake some more and you're done! This recipe is great as an appetizer, side dish, (super bowl snack perhaps?) or whatever you can use as an excuse for making it. It tastes great by itself, dipped in pizza sauce, or even with a little red pepper jelly

English Muffin Brie Boat

1/2 English Muffin Bread recipe, baked in a 8" springform pan or pie dish for about 20 minutes
8 oz wheel brie cheese
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Pizza sauce for dipping

Cut out the center of the loaf to make a bowl. Do this by running the knife blade at about a 30 degree angle, pointed to the inside of the loaf, rotating the loaf until the top can be lifted out. Cut the brie into cubes and distribute within the bowl (remove the rind if desired). Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the brie starts to bubble. Add the cheddar cheese to the top of the bread around the outside of the brie. Return to the oven and bake until the cheddar is melted and bubbling. Remove from the oven, allow to cool about 5 minutes. Cut and serve with side bowls of spaghetti sauce. 

Recipe Source: ben-kt.momillett.org

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