Playing with my food

Pumpkin love

I’ve been playing, enjoying a stretch of nesting. I can’t really get into cooking if I’m only passing through my kitchen. I need a little time to dig in and be inspired. Usually that involves a craving that needs satisfying or curiosity about a new recipe. I have to have enough time at home to justify the effort of shopping and cooking. Because, let’s face it, if we’re only passing through, leftovers are going to be a problem. You can’t fully engage in the kitchen and be on the run at the same time. The weeks we’re living in out-of-town clinic apartments do not inspire experiments; those weeks demand convenience. But home plus time equals satisfaction. And this week satisfaction is stirring a sauce and baking goodness.

I just made a delicious butternut squash lasagna. Yes, I’m continuing my affair with the butternut. It’s versatile and tasty. Who knew this would be my new favorite base for soups and hearty casseroles? The more I work with squash (should that be squashes? not sure about the plural form) the more I find to do with them. You can cook them almost any way…roast in the oven, simmer in water, steam, microwave.

And here’s my latest trick: you don’t have to de-seed before cooking. (If you’re simmering squash on the stove top for a soup, it’s probably best to de-seed and cube the squash first.) The minimalist method works well for oven roasting or microwaving. You can literally put a whole squash in the oven, crank the temp to 400 degrees, and bake away. Baking time will vary depending on size of squash. Check for tenderness after about 45 minutes. Cook longer if the squash does NOT pierce easily with a sharp knife. When the squash is tender, remove from heat, cool, then peel and remove seeds, reserving the cooked squash for your recipe.

I haven’t tried microwaving a butternut or acorn squash, but it works like a charm for the spaghetti variety. Just pierce the spaghetti squash a few times with a sharp knife to release steam during cooking. I microwave in increments of 3 to 4 minutes so I don’t over-cook. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the squash and the power of the microwave. The intricacies of prepping spaghetti squash are for another post, but I thought I’d throw in this cooking method as a freebie since I’m on the general subject.

Let me just add that if you’re looking to entertain yourself on a slow night, cook up one of these babies and then cut it open and begin to shred the squash with a fork. I’m probably going to regret admitting this, but I am fascinated with the process of turning spaghetti squash into something that looks just like pasta. Now you’re either going to feel sorry for me and wonder how spaghetti squash can be so exciting…or you’re going to check it out and be equally enthralled by the pasta-look-alike squash. Whichever it is, it can be your little secret.

Roasted lasagna beauty

Roasted lasagna beauty

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 3-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch chunks.
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic
1 small onion, diced
1 small yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh snipped rosemary
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
8 oz Ricotta
Shredded Mozzarella, about 2 cups
Fresh lasagna noodles or no-boil lasagna noodles
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 400.
Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.
Combine chopped squash, olive oil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and toss to coat.
Spread the squash in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Roast the squash in the oven for 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until soft.

(OR…just cook the squash whole in the oven as described above, and then peel and cube for the sauce after squash is baked.)

While the squash bakes, make the sauce.

Heat butter over in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add garlic, onion and bell pepper and cook until veggies are tender.
Whisk in flour.
Slowly add broth and milk and season with salt and pepper.
Cook and stir frequently until thickened and bubbly, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove squash from oven and reduce oven temperature to 375.

Add chopped butternut squash, rosemary and nutmeg into sauce. You can blend with an immersion blender if you want a smoother texture for the filling.

Butter a 3-quart casserole dish.
Spoon sauce over the bottom of prepared baking dish.
Layer three or four noodles on top of sauce.
Top noodles with a layer of Ricotta and shredded Mozzarella. Top with 1/3 of the Parmesan.
Ladle sauce on top of the noodles.
Repeat layering of noodles, sauce, Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses two more times.
Pour whipping cream over entire dish.
Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
Cover dish with foil.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly.
Uncover and continue to bake for 10 more minutes, or until top is lightly browned.
Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Cut and serve.

Ah, my new favorite comfort. So beautiful, so filling, so satisfying. This is a dish to look forward to all Monday long!

My dinner

October dinner

What’s a yummy dinner without a little sweet treat to finish? This recipe for brownies is tried and true. I just adapted a favorite dessert to make individual bites. I made 1/2 recipe of Hershey’s Fudge Pie, then scooped spoonfuls of batter into a silicone pan. Little tastes of heaven! I have ideas for this little jewel. I can think of lots of recipes that would be perfect to make with this shape. I’m not always a fan of silicone baking, but this is a winner.

I’ve shared this recipe before, but in case you missed it, here it is, in all its glorious chocolatey-ness.

Hershey’s Fudge Brownie Pie, or “Brownies Bites”

Reward for a Monday

Reward for a Monday

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch pie pan.
Beat eggs; blend in sugar and melted butter. Stir in flour, cocoa and salt. Stir in vanilla and nuts.
Pour into prepared pie pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until almost set. (Pie will not test done in center). Cool; cut into wedges.
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Ugly Chocolate Cake

I’m craving chocolate. And not just any chocolate. I need chocolate cake. And not just any chocolate cake. I need the Ugly Chocolate Cake, aka, Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake. Yep, the one off the back of the Hershey‘s Cocoa box. No upscale dark and expensive chocolate need apply for this job. But I promise you, somehow, unbelievably, the chocolate flavor in this cake is so good…well, one slice just won’t do the trick. You’ll need a little more, and maybe a little more after that. This cake is that good. This is a dense, moist, solid cake. No lighter than air texture here…this one has body, it has presence. And it has frosting. The frosting is just as wonderful as the cake. Well, make it and see for yourself.

Oh, and the “Ugly” title came from baking this at high altitudes, when we lived in the foothills above Denver. I always had trouble with getting the cake to turn out picture perfect, so we began calling my creation the “Ugly Chocolate Cake” because there was always a bit of frosting camouflage needed to make the layers look just right on the cake stand. But it was a label given with affection, and since the looks didn’t affect the taste, no one minded if the name wasn’t elegant.

You can get this off the back of the cocoa box, but why would you? I can tell you, that print is pretty small! So save yourself some squinting, and just copy from here:

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

Chocolate goodness!

Chocolate goodness!

Skill Level: Beginner Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

“PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING (recipe follows)

Directions

1 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2 Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3 Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

VARIATIONS:
ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

“PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Enjoy!

 

My new favorite food

As I’ve mentioned recently, we’re having a real summer here in SE Alaska! This was from last week, but today’s weather looked just like this. (On my phone, anyway…it was a little less sunny in reality. But no rain!)  If you know the Pacific Northwest, and SE Alaska, Summertime!you know how rare it is to have a week of sunshine in the forecast. Even more rare to have multiple weeks like that. And while we’ve had a few rainy days here and there, this is a summer to celebrate!

With summer comes grilling, and we’ve done a lot of that this month. I’ve been trying new recipes and decided to experiment with pizza on the grill. I’ve read about it, thought about it, and now, I’ve tried it. Let me tell you, it’s my new favorite thing. Worth doing, and so easy I wonder why I haven’t tried it before.

So here’s the way to do it:

There are lots of recipes to choose from. Here’s one I like:

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups (11 ounces) all-purpose flour*
3/4 cup (6 ounces) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) olive oil

*Substitute Whole Wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour, if desired.

Method:

Mix all of the ingredients to make a soft, supple dough. Knead for 5 minutes, divide the dough in half, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let rest and relax for 15 minutes (or for up to an hour or so; work it into your schedule as you see fit).

Grease two 12″ squares of parchment paper. Use your greased fingers to press each piece of dough on the parchment into an 11″ to 12″ circle about 1/8″ thick. Brush or spray the crusts with olive oil, and let them rest for about 30 minutes, while you pre-heat your grill.

To make grilled pizza: Be prepared to grill your pizza within 15 minutes of shaping it; you don’t want it to rise too much. So, make sure your barbecue grill is heated (or cooled) to medium-hot by the time the dough is ready to grill.

Set the rack 3″ to 4″ above the fire. Take one circle of dough, on its parchment, and swiftly but carefully turn it (dough down, parchment on top) onto the grill. Peel off the parchment.

After 1 minute, turn it over; it should be stiff enough to turn quite easily (if not, your grill isn’t hot enough). Layer with toppings. This is not the time to pile on the meat, cheese, veggies, etc. Since the pizza will be cooking very briefly, it’s better to top with just a minimal amount of stuff: thinly sliced veggies, a thin layer of cheese, etc.

Bake an additional 5 minutes or so, with the cover on (if your grill has a cover), or until the filling is hot and the cheese is melting. Adjust the temperature of the grill if the bottom is browning too quickly. And, move the pizza around on the grill if one side or the other starts to get too brown on the bottom. Repeat the grilling process with the other pizza.

We like veggie pizza. Marinated artichoke hearts, fresh sliced tomatoes, basil, mushrooms, peppers, red onion, salt and pepper over all, and top with a blend of shredded mozzarella and shaved parmesan…perfection! The pizza dough “bakes” up so light and airy on the grill it’s like eating something from a gourmet wood-fired pizzeria. The veggies get just slightly cooked so they taste incredibly fresh and keep a little of their crunchiness. The whole thing is warm and satisfying to eat, and so fast. I’m seriously thinking of making this again for the third time this week. Haven’t had my fill yet!

Confessions from a cookie monster

I’ve been good for a long time. I rarely buy junk food: chips, sodas, cookies, all those things that get their taste from sugar, fat, and artificial flavoring. They aren’t good for you, and I’m usually strong enough to avoid them.  But I had a major downfall this week. So here’s what happened.

Had an event I needed to take a little treat for, and in a very uncharacteristic choice for me, I stopped by the grocery to pick up something rather than bake a dessert myself.  What can I say? I don’t always have to be in the kitchen! I was strolling around the bakery looking for a likely treat when I spotted them: the Lofthouse Sugar Cookies. You know those fat, soft, white sugar cookies with the really bright frosting? They aren’t the most beautiful cookies I’ve seen. But I love the soft texture and the just right mix of the frosting and the cookie. So I bought a tray of them.

Downfall of the diet

Then…no event! Ended up being rescheduled. And now I was home, facing these cookies, just watching them watching me. I decided to have just one. Of course they wouldn’t keep for another week, so no need to save them all. My back up plan: take them into work, which is a frequent option for me when I’m in baking mode. But somehow, I walked out every day this week without those cookies. And every day, I’ve had another one. Ok, twice I had two for dessert. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to have enough left to take into work at this point.

I comfort myself. I can’t remember the last time I bought cookies. I certainly don’t know the last time I ate a whole batch by myself in one week. Maybe this is a once in a lifetime behavior? I’ll just finish these off and then I’ll be done with this episode. That’s the plan. Don’t bring them in the house, they can’t stare at me from my kitchen counter if I don’t buy them first.

Ok, it’s everyone for themselves. I tried to save myself, but it looks like I’m going down with the ship…er, cookie. I can’t ignore them. They call to me. Just try them, see if you’re any stronger. I dare you. I double dare you! These cookies are evil! And delicious. And addicting. And fattening.

Sorry, I know there are lots of world issues occurring. I’m just having a moment here. I’ll pull myself together and give up being self absorbed shortly. I just have one more to go and then I’m finished. I can throw the evidence…box…away, and go buy myself the makings for a week of salads.

No standing on the scales until next week. By then, I hope the salads will have erased the cookies. It works that way, doesn’t it?

Perfect Biscuits; or, how to follow directions

Southern Living Buttermilk Biscuits

I grew up in the South. I had grandmothers who cooked; a mom, aunts, cousins, a mother-in-law who are all stars in the kitchen. And I don’t do too badly myself, in some areas. But I’ve always been defeated by biscuits. I know, they’re such a Southern staple…tragic that I couldn’t produce a successful version of that breakfast icon.

Over the years I’ve collected a variety of recipes, each promising to be the best, the fluffiest, the epitome of biscuitness. And every time I’ve tried a new recipe, I’ve had another disappointment.

Last weekend I was doing a little internet surfing and stumbled across a classic Southern Living recipe for buttermilk biscuits. The photos looked so amazing, I decided to give it one more try. And I produced perfection! I’ve probably even made this recipe, or something very similar, before. So what was the variable this time? Well, for the first time ever, I baked the biscuits at the temperature the recipe specified! I know right now you’re thinking, why would you not bake at the temperature the recipe gives?

I like lightly browned breads, nothing too crisp or crusty. So I’ve always baked at a lower temperature, thinking that would keep my biscuits from browning too much. But when I actually baked them at 450 degrees, they puffed up to an amazing height. To my surprise, they were lightly browned on the exterior and were the perfect pillowy texture on the inside.

There are times that it is good to think outside the box. There are times when it is good to make your own rules, to do what works for you. But there are also times when following the rules pays off. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel for some things. Biscuit recipes work as they’re written. Math works according to known formulas. Sometimes the best course is to see what has worked for others and to copy what has been successful. That doesn’t mean you don’t have creativity or ability to be original. It may mean that you are smart enough and humble enough to recognize that others may know a thing or two. That you may not always have the best answer, the best idea.

The trick is to know what strategy to use for the given situation. From now on, if I’m making biscuits, I’m going to trust the recipe and “bake as directed.” How many times I’ve read that instruction, and how frequently I have not baked as directed! And what else have I mis-managed because I didn’t follow the directions? On the other hand, there are situations in life that demand that I listen to my heart, that I follow my instincts.

Maybe that’s the challenge for each of us…when to conform and when to stand up and follow our on path. I don’t have all the answers. A lot of the big questions of life are complex, and there may not even be one “right” answer for some things. But I’ve learned that’s not the case for baking biscuits. It’s good to follow the recipe. It’s good to follow directions.

Perfect Southern Living Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 2 1/4 cups self-rising soft-wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • Self-rising soft-wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Preparation

  • 1. Cut butter with a sharp knife or pastry blender into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle butter slices over flour in a large bowl. Toss butter with flour. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. Cover and chill 10 minutes. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  • 2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. With floured hands, press or pat dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Sprinkle top of dough with additional flour. Fold dough over onto itself in 3 sections, starting with 1 short end. (Fold dough rectangle as if folding a letter-size piece of paper.) Repeat entire process 2 more times, beginning with pressing into a 3/4-inch-thick dough rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches).
  • 3. Press or pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 2-inch round cutter, and place, side by side, on a parchment paper-lined or lightly greased jelly-roll pan. (Dough rounds should touch.)
  • 4. Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; brush with 2 Tbsp. melted butter.

Enjoy! And don’t under-bake!

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky toffee pudding

Yum! Sticky Toffee Pudding

Recipe of the Week

Ok, I don’t really post a weekly recipe, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?

This recipe came to me from a dear friend, Ann, who is a wonderful cook of Southern heritage (no disrespect to other regions of the US, but I must say, all the Southern cooks I know are skilled and accomplished in the kitchen). Ann is a shining star in that area, and she has been a source of many family favorites through the years of our friendship. My famous cinnamon rolls (famous among my friends) are really Ann’s…and I am always happy to give credit to her.

But cinnamon rolls are for another day. Today’s little jewel is Sticky Toffee Pudding, possibly my favorite dessert in the world next to decadent chocolate cake. And there’s a secret ingredient: dates! Don’t be put off by that if you’re not a date fan. They dissolve beautifully. Make a game of asking family or guests what fruit is in the pudding. My bet is that no one will even know there’s fruit in the dessert, much less guess what it is.

The first thing to know about this dessert is that it is not a pudding. This is a recipe of English origin, and the English seem to label many things “pudding” that would not be a pudding to an American…just a little clarification going in so no one is surprised by the result. But believe me, you won’t be sorry this is not the traditional American pudding…just ignore the name and proceed as directed. This is a moist and delicious cake with the best and easiest-to-make caramel sauce I’ve ever had. In fact, the sauce alone is worth making. I use it for other desserts that need a little extra love in the form of gooey-buttery-brown sugar decadence. It keeps well in the fridge and reheats like a charm. And it dresses up anything, from a plain pound cake to a bowl of fresh fruit; perfect for ice cream too. Thank you, Ann!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Pudding Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. ¾ cup chopped pitted dates
  4. 1 ¼ cup boiling water
  5. 1 tsp baking soda
  6. ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  7. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  8. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  9. 1 tsp vanilla

Toffee Sauce Ingredients:

  1. ½ cup unsalted butter
  2. ½ cup heavy cream
  3. 1 cup packed light brown sugar

Topping:

1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Directions for pudding:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan, or square baking dish of similar size. Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside. Finely chop dates if you purchased whole dates. (You can purchase these pitted and whole, or already chopped, either option works.) Place dates in a bowl and add the boiling water and baking soda. Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and blend into butter/sugar. Gradually blend in the flour mixture. Gently fold date mixture into the batter, and pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake until the pudding is set and firm on top, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven to wire rack. Cool in pan.

Directions for sauce:

Combine the butter, ½ cup of heavy cream, and the brown sugar in a small heavy saucepan. Heat mixture to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil over medium heat until mixture is thickened, about 8 minutes.

To serve:

Preheat oven broiler. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the sauce over the pudding and spread evenly over the top. Place pudding under the broiler until the topping is bubbly, about 1 minute. Portion pudding into dessert dishes, drizzle with additional toffee sauce and top with a spoonful of whipped cream.

Delicious!

Soft Sugar Cookies

I’ve been on a baking holiday recently. Rob isn’t much of a sweet eater, and I’ve been trying to be good….no baking treats to eat all by myself! But getting a Christmas box ready to mail to our daughter-in-law, Becca, stationed in Iraq, demanded a home-made addition. I tried a new sugar cookie recipe, and I think I have a new favorite. Some sugar cookie recipes are too eggy for my taste, or bake too crispy. These are soft and chewy, and have a great flavor. You can roll the dough if you want, or use a scoop and flatten method for uniform cookies perfect for gift packages.

Ingredients

Method

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine flour, salt and baking powder and set aside. Cream butter, 1 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Using cookie scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheet. Flatten rounded cookies to 3/4 inch discs, then sprinkle with granulated, turbinado, or colored sugar, as desired. Bake cookies approximately 15 minutes, or until just done enough to hold shape. I don’t let these brown. Remove cookie sheet from oven and let cookies cool for a couple of minutes before removing to cooling rack. The cookies should still have a soft chewy texture when cooled. Enjoy!

Best Fudgy Brownies

These are the BEST fudgy brownies!

Ok, I know this is going to be hard to believe for brownie lovers, like me, who are ever in search of the perfect brownie recipe. But I think I finally have my favorite for a basic fudgy brownie. No cream cheese here, no peanut butter, no additional exotic flavors…just good old-fashioned chocolate nuttiness. And the best part…no expensive or hard-to-find chocolate required. And since this recipe is made from scratch and standard pantry/fridge items, you don’t have to remember to pick up a mix to have these decadent chewy morsels any night of the week. The process is simple too: all you need is a bowl and whisk.

You won’t BELIEVE how basic this recipe is:

  1.  2 eggs
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted (I use salted or unsalted, whatever I have on hand)
  4. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  5. 1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa powder
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
  7. 1 or 2 tsp vanilla extract (use ONLY real vanilla extract, makes a big difference)
  8. 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

 Method:

  1. Butter or spray with baking spray an 8” x 8” baking pan, or you can also use an 8” pie dish for these if you want to serve the brownies in pie shaped wedges.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees ( I like my brownies a little under-baked, so my trick is to bake these in a slightly cooler oven, 325 degrees).
  3. Beat eggs; blend in sugar and melted butter. Stir in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add vanilla extract and chopped nuts.
  4. Pour into a prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until ALMOST set. Brownies will not test done in center. Cool for a few minutes, or as long as you can stand to wait; cut into squares or wedges. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 6 to 8, depending on how generously brownies are cut.

 Recipe can be doubled if preparing for a larger group.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think.