Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Better Than Boxed - Easier, too!

If your family is anything like ours, brownies are a common dessert staple. One thing I never realized, however, is how incredibly simple they are to make from scratch! I grew up buying desserts prepared from the store. Forget making things from scratch, if it didn't come from a box, we didn't have it.

Once I married my husband, he and I were determined to start making things from scratch, not only because we're true foodies at heart, but also because we wanted to make things healthier than stuffing our faces with a bunch of processed junk. This passion has continued to grow over the years and one of my main passions, aside from raising my children, is providing delicious meals (and desserts!) for them.

One of our favorites is brownies. It could be because the delicious chocolatey goodness, the perfectly salted background notes or the just how easy they are to throw together at a moments notice, but these babies truly are delicious. They're a pinch to whip up and are rarely ever are there any left overs. I often double the recipe to make extras for missionaries or friends who like to stop by unannounced. I definitely urge you to give these a try, they're divine.


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (You can also use 1 cup oil!)
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt (I use coarse kosher salt.)
*You can also add 1 cup chopped nuts, but I rarely have those on hand so they often get left out.*

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Using non-stick cooking spray, spray a 9x13" cake pan and set aside.

In a large bowl (I use my kitchenaid stand mixer.) mix together the oil OR butter, sugar and vanilla until combined. Mix in the eggs. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture and mix just until the flour is incorporated. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20-25min until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool just long enough to get some plates and forks, cut and enjoy.

Note: If you want perfect little squares of brownies, you'll need to let these cool completely before cutting and serving. If you could care less how they look, enjoy them warm. They are, however, incredible both ways and I rarely eat cold brownies. :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Positive Changes

Man. Life has moved so quickly. Changing as each day moves forward. It seems as if yesterday my husband and I were just married and it has been almost 9 years now. It seems as if yesterday we were spending the time worrying about whether or not we would have children and we happily have four children fast asleep up stairs. It is amazing how fast life can take turns in unexpected directions. Directions completely unforeseen and either totally unpleasant or blissfully beautiful.

Our life has been filled with blessings. We have had the chance to travel across the country. We have spent time rescuing animals. We have even been fortunate enough to foster an amazing little girl. We have been extremely blessed to have issues with infertility and have undergone tests and procedures to see what was "wrong" with us.We figured out the issues and were able to get pregnant, not once but three times, resulting in four of the most beautiful children that I have ever seen. My babies. We have somehow been covered in the blessings of watching our four children grow into the amazing little people that they are. Even if we were somehow kicking and screaming along the way. We are so grateful for each and every blessing that we're constantly graced with.

Things, however, have not always been peachy keen. In mid December, we received a call that my oldest brother in law committed suicide. We still don't want to share the details of it but needless to say, he was sick and obviously wasn't getting the help he needed. It didn't help the hurt. The pain of knowing that we didn't call as much as we should have or at all. The pain of knowing that we'll never be able to call him again. The pain of knowing how alone he must have felt and the guilt of knowing we were not there. I don't think that pain will ever go away.

That pain was quickly followed by the preterm labor of our last baby. An ambulance ride followed by a hospital stay, only to be sent home. Two hospital trips followed resulting in a further swollen belly and empty arms. Finally, January 13th rolled around and my water breaks. I was 3 weeks early and I knew that she had to come. She would only be given 24 hours before she would be evicted via c-section.

After a full 18 hours of labor, she never came. I was wheeled in for a c-section and almost an hour later, out she came. Emmie was born at nearly eight o'cock, weighing 7.5 pounds and was just over 20 inches long. She was chubby and she was perfect. Every ounce of pain that those last two months held were so extremely worth it. She was worth every single moment.

She is now almost a month old and while I have been nothing but sick, she is an angel. She sleeps so incredibly well and eats like a champ. She's quite easily the easiest baby in the world. She rarely cries and is often joked about being stolen when she is held by friends. I, however, cannot stop staring at her. My last little baby. My muffin cup. She is perfect in every way. I hope I can show her how much she is.

Then.... last week. We get a random knock at the door to basically tell us that the Mister fell on the ice, hit his head and was unconscious in the middle of the road.. the ambulance was called and next thing I know is that we're at the ER with scans being ordered and tests being run. Thankfully he only has a severe concussion and should return to "normal" after lots of rest. Normal, however, is dependent on who you ask. Several people we have talked to have never really returned to "normal". They still have issues with memory, fuzziness, focusing, vertigo, etc. That is primarily what the Mister is dealing with now so I hope he continues to heal. He's miserable.

See how life moves quickly? All in the blink of an eye. In lieu of all this craziness, I think I am going to change things around a bit. I need a new blog name to capture the life that I now live. Life with 3 princesses and a super hero. Here's to hoping I can continue to keep this little beauty updated with my gorgeous life's blessings. I owe myself that, right?