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Ice Cream Sundae Brownies

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Yeah, I thought it was about time for something sweet 🙂

This recipe is super easy because it uses – shhh – a box mix. Yeah, yeah. I know. “But, Arya, didn’t you say that you wanted to make things from scratch? Learn how to be self sufficient in the kitchen – remember? You know, the whole point of your blog?”

Shh. We’re forgetting that part momentarily…

Because while I was spending the usual hours (and I do mean hours…those food sites are addicting. Seriously. I need a support group or something – Hi, I’m Arya and I’m addicted to food blogs…) browsing various sites, I stumbled upon this recipe from Picky Palate (a fantastic site!), and I had to try it.

I mean, seriously. It combines two of my favorite desserts (well, actually, every dessert I’ve tried so far is my favorite dessert. But, hey, why leave one out? This way they’re all included in my ever-hungry stomach!)  – ice cream and brownies!

I overbaked mine a tad (lesson learned – don’t do that!), but it was still quite good. This was a dense, sweet brownie 🙂 I didn’t really taste the ice cream at all, but the brownie tasted sweeter, so I suppose that’s where it’s from. The chocolate melted and made pleasant pools of gooey chocolate scattered throughout.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering..camera status is still bad. Sigh. Only I could completely break a camera in the first couple of days. So, looks like it’ll be iPad pictures until I get around to getting it fixed (sorry!).

Recipe fits a 9×13 pan.

Rating – 6.8/10

Difficulty Level – Easy

Total Time: 50 min (Prep Time=10 min, Cook Time=40 min)

Ingredients

  • 1 box Brownie Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup canola or vegetable oil
  • Heaping 1/2 Cup of your favorite Ice Cream (I used Haagen Dazs vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 Cups chocolate chips OR 9 squares of chocolate/2 bars of chocolate (i.e., Hershey)
  • 1/4 Cup chilled hot fudge topping

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350˚F

2) In a large bowl, mix the brownie mix, eggs, and oil (no water).

3) Scoop in ice cream, chocolate chips/chocolate chunks and hot fudge; mix until combined.

4) Pour into greased 9×13 baking dish

5) Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes clean from center. (don’t overbake, though!)

Enjoy! Optional: put some homemade rice krispies on top! It makes the brownie that much better!

Basic Meatballs

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I feel like a lot of the recipes I’ve blogged have had simple names.

Oh well.

Anyway, it’s about time for some savory! I was getting a bit tired of the nonstop sweets! Wow. I never thought I’d say that…

These meatballs were okay. They were a bit plain…but other than that they were decent. They made a nice addition to an otherwise plain meal of spaghetti and -gasp- jar sauce. Yeah, yeah. Sacrilege and all that. But I’m a bit lazy, and I think it tastes pretty good 🙂 Plus…I don’t think I’m ready yet for the esteemed meat sauce.

This recipe only has four steps. Seriously. And one of those steps is preheating the oven. All you need to do is combine them, mix ’em, and form spheres. Super easy!

I still have yet to get breadcrumbs, so I used dried oats. I highly suggest using breadcrumbs – those will add that much-needed spice and will probably transform this recipe 🙂

Recipe from Food Network.

Rating – 7/10

Difficulty Level – Easy

Total Time – 30 min (Prep Time=15 min, Cook Time=15 min)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425˚F

2) Mix beef and Worcestershire, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

3) Roll meat into 1 1/2 inch medium-sized meatballs and place on nonstick cookie sheet or a cookie sheet greased with extra-virgin olive oil.

4) Bake balls 12 to 15 minutes, until no longer pink.

Simple Banana Bread

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In my journey in learning how to cook, I’m determined to hit all the staples. So, banana bread it is!

Now, I was a little hesitant to do this because of DeborahAnother baked good after the last disaster? But I decided to anyway. Because I’m a rebel like that. ;P Anyway, I modified the recipe just a tad. I got rid of the nuts and added a bit of cinnamon 🙂

And I think it’s safe to say that I’ve finally conquered Deborah. Success! 😀 This was the first thing I’ve made so far that I’ve really enjoyed. Seriously. It has just the right amount of sugar. You can’t really taste the cinnamon, but somehow that’s okay 🙂 The crust is deliciously crunchy and sweet and provides a delightful contrast to the sweet inside. Mm.

On a side note – my camera is here! I love it. Seriously. You can tell I love it by the smears of fingerprints already present all over the viewing screen! Whoops. Oh well. I’ve used it with love 😀 But it’s much easier to use than the iPad. Much smaller. Before I’d have to balance that huge thing in the crook of my arm while still stirring with the same hand. Plus, I had the constant worry of accidentally dropping the thing. ‘Course, I still have that worry – but at least the camera comes with a wrist strap!

Recipe from Food Network.

Rating – 9/10

Difficulty Level – Easy

Total Time: 1 hr 40 min (Prep Time=25 min, Cook Time=1 hr 15 min)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350˚F and lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

2) In a large bowl (You’ll need a big one. I made the mistake of using a medium sized one and promptly got the flour all over my shirt from a bout of all-too-rigorous mixing), combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and set it aside for later.

3) With a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for around 4-5 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream (I had no idea what that meant. Light and fluffy? Mine kind of looked like soup. I decided to redefine light and fluffy as soup. It worked. Oh, and note: original recipe said to use an electric mixer to do the whipping. I have no idea how to use one. I decided to use my arms and did it by hand).

4)  Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cinnamon (as you can see by the picture, I meant to measure it out nicely into the spoon. The cinnamon did not agree, so it decided to throw itself down. I’m guessing that’s around 1/4 teaspoon, but when I tasted the bread the cinnamon taste was hardly noticeable, so I increased the amount to 1/2 teaspoon on the recipe. Feel free to leave it out if you don’t like cinnamon).

6) Mix in the dry ingredients. Don’t over blend.

7) Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture.

8) Fold in the mashed bananas.

9) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Make sure there aren’t any air bubbles by rapping it on the counter. (My pan was glass, so it wasn’t about to do any rapping. So I kind of just shook it around in the air. Good enough)

10) Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning.

11) Cool the bread in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing from pan. Enjoy!

Meatloaf Shmeatloaf

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I almost didn’t post this, considering my complete mess ups and the meatloaf’s completely unphotogenic qualities unique appearance. So I threw an overlay on top. Yay for rainbow-bubbled meatloaf! Not.

Well.

I suppose I had mentally prepared myself for this moment.

I mean, in my journey towards kitchen proficiency..this was bound to happen.

Yes, dear readers – it finally happened.

I completely bungled up a recipe. Sigh.

But it turned out alright, considering that I completely forgot the egg and tomatoes. I mean – those are major ingredients! How did I forget them? Arghh. And I wondered why the meatloaf was so crumbly!

I suppose I can only speculate what it should have tasted like – probably fantastic. The sauce was alright – a little sweet though. The meat was decent, and the bits of vegetables were a pleasant addition. The recipe is from Food Network. Try making it – the correct way with egg + the canned tomatoes!

The recipe makes around 4-5 servings

Rating: 5/10

Difficulty Level: Easy

Total Time: 1 hr 10 min (Prep Time=10 min, Cook Time=1 hr)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

Topping:

  • 1/3 cup ketchup (I used a bit more than that)
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Prepare all ingredients.

2) Mix until combined (don’t over mix – this results in a tough meatloaf)

3) Put ingredients in a baking dish and shape into a loaf

4) Prepare the sauce and put it on the loaf

5) Bake for 1 hour, or until internal temperature of meat is 160˚F

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Are you drooling yet? 🙂

So, in my journey in becoming a decent cook, I’ve been hitting all the basics. The next post is another comfort food staple ;D

Chocolate chip cookies. Mm…crumbly, buttery goodness with dotted velvety rich chocolate morsels. Yum. After turning to my trusty google, I settled on another recipe from allrecipes.com. This was actually pretty good. I altered the recipe only a very tiny bit (the only major thing was to omit the walnuts. I’m sure with the nuts the cookies would be that much better, but I’m allergic to them so 😦 ). The batter was very easy to whip up, although there was a bit of stress involved to the butter – I’d read countless comments warning not to let the butter get too warm! In my head, I guess I was imagining some sort of OHMYGAWDAPOCALYPSE caused by rampant, oozing butter. Looking back, I’ll concede that maybe my concerns were a lot little unfounded. Anyway.

As I’m still learning how to cook, I have yet to figure out how to use the electric mixer (ugh). So, when the recipe said to cream some of the ingredients, I was at a loss. Back to google! I ended up first trying to use a metal fork, but soon gave up with that. Then I went with a metal spoon (a wooden spoon would work even better!). It took a bit longer, but eventually it worked 🙂

To soften the butter, I turned to google (again. Are you sensing a trend? ;D). I hadn’t planned ahead at all As my right as a unprepared artistically creative cook, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies as a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing, and thus hadn’t thought to soften the butter on the countertop for an hour. There was no way I was going to wait that long, so I looked it up and decided to cut it up into chunks. Then I let it sit for around 8 minutes (it’s summer! It’s hot), and it softened 🙂

Be warned – this batter makes a lot. The recipe only says it makes 24 cookies, but I actually had to make 3 batches (each with around 12 cookies). There were a lot. I had to walk to my friends’ houses (without warning) and just shoved them in their faces. I cannot be trusted with cookies. Also, this batter creates very thick, almost-cakey cookies. If you want a more crunchy cookie, put a smaller amount on the pan and sort of mush them so they’ll be wider. In my first batch, I put way too much, so they almost ended up looking like muffin tops. They were still yummy, but the texture was a bit off. My second and third batches were perfect though!

Rating: 7.5/10

Difficulty Level: Easy

Total Time: 35 minutes (Prep Time=20 min, Cook Time=15 min)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350˚F (175˚C)

2) Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth.

As I said, I had to do it by hand. It first looked kind of clumpy, so I switched to a spoon.

Ta da! 🙂

3) Beat in the eggs.

4) Stir in the vanilla.

5) Dissolve baking soda in hot water (I ended up microwaving it in a mug). Add it to the batter along with salt.

6) Stir in flour and chocolate chips.

7) Drop in small dollops onto the baking sheet.

8) Bake for about 10-15 minutes (I needed 15) or until golden-brown.

Simple Fettuccine Alfredo

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Well, it’s officially the weekend! Time for relaxation, fun, and of course…lots of food!

So, my friend’s been requesting this dish for a while now – it’s one of his favorites! Be warned though – this is definitely a dish to avoid if you want to be healthy! I googled several recipes for settling on one. I modified it just a tad! It turned out okay – a bit bland though. Next time I’ll try substituting the garlic powder for a bit of fresh minced garlic (put in the melted butter). I’d also add some cooked broccoli + chicken at the last step (when you add the cheese) to make the dish that much better 🙂 I would also add a bit more cheese.

Overall, it was a bit too bland/tasteless. Honestly, it felt like I was just eating plain noodles with some milk. If something’s going to be that many calories, it better taste pretty amazing! I’ll keep looking for a fantastic alfredo recipe 🙂

Note: Sorry for picture qualities! I’ve been taking pictures with my iPad – it’s a temporary thing, don’t worry! 😀 I’ve been searching for a good, not-too-expensive (sub $300, preferably around the $200 and under mark) digital camera – any suggestions? 🙂

Recipe courtesy of Food.com

Rating: 6/10

Difficulty Level: Easy

Total Time: 25 minutes (Prep Time=0 minutes, Cook Time=25 minutes)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 pint half and half
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 2/3 grated parmesan cheese (I ended up using just a tiny bit more than that)

Directions

1) In a large saucepan, melt butter

2) When butter is melted, add the 2 tablespoons cream cheese

3) When the cream cheese softens + is easily spread, add the half and half.

4) Season to taste with garlic powder, salt, pepper

5) Simmer for 15-25 minutes over low heat (I ended up doing 25 minutes so the sauce would thicken enough). Stir constantly (I stirred for about 30 seconds every 3-5 minutes)

6) Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese

7) Serve over hot fettuccine noodles

“Best Brownies”

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So, today I was completely craving brownies. Like, full out I NEED IT NOW OR I WILL DIEEE (okay, maybe not that bad – but hey, it was close!). So, I did what any other person would do – I turned to google. After looking up several recipes and reading their reviews, I settled on the basic brownie from Allrecipes.com. I’m still very much a novice (and when I say novice, I completely mean novice) baker, so I left the recipe mostly alone. I’ve just doubled it (so it would fit a 9×13 pan) and changed the salt amount a teensy bit (I lowered it). The brownies turned out to be…well, they were alright. They had a strong dark chocolate taste (I’m more of a milk chocolate girl, so maybe that’s it!), but other than that they were a teensy bit bland. However, they did have that crackly crust! The recipe came with a frosting recipe, but I chose not to make that.

Rating: 6.5/10

Difficulty Level: Easy

  • 1 cup butter (two sticks)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 1 cup butter. Pour butter into a heat-proof bowl and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Make sure to stir slowly (I did it by hand). Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes (I baked mine for 25 minutes – next time I would try 23/24 minutes)