Thursday, September 16, 2010

Best Brownies Ever

I just posted yesterday, but I have to blog about the brownies I just made!  I've been trying to perfect the homemade brownie but can never seem to get them right.  They're usually too cake-y or too dry.  I almost decided to give up and stick to the tried and true, never fail you, Duncan Hines box... when I remembered a posting my friend Pam Neave wrote one time on her blog about how homemade brownies are her most favorite secret indulgence.  So I when I bumped into her at church on Sunday I told her my dilemma and asked her what recipe she uses!  She said that she actually has two different recipes that she loves, and one of them is from King Arthur Flour.  Really?!  I have some King Arthur Flour at home!

Lo and behold, on monday I conquered the homemade brownie...

I ended up using this recipe, but afterwards I saw the recipe I really wanted was on the back of my bag of flour!  (They're basically the same except for a couple of steps.)  I'll post the recipe here for you to try and enjoy.

The Best Fudge Brownies Ever (King Arthur Flour)
1 cup (8 oz.) butter                              1 Tbl. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar                                   4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa            1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp salt                                            2 cups (12 ounce bag) chocolate chips
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine.  Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just till it's hot, but not bubbling; it'll become shiny-looking as you stir it.  Heating the butter and sugar a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.  Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.

Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.  Add the eggs, beating till smooth; then add the flour and ships, beating till well combined.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the brownies for 28-30 mins, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out dry *I always allow for a little bit of batter towards the bottom of my toothpick to prevent over baking*.   The brownies should feel set both on the edges, and in the center.  Remove from the oven, and after 5 minutes, loosen the edges with a table knife; this helps prevent the brownies from sinking in the center as they cool.  Cool completely before cutting and serving.  Yield:  2 dozen brownies.

Andy testing out a brownie...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A much needed vacation... and Welcome Fall!

Here's a little shot from our vacation in Arizona last week...  pretty nice, huh?  We went to Scottsdale, AZ for 6 days for some much needed R&R.  We were SO thankful to the Lord for it.  As you can see, it seemed like we had the whole resort to ourselves!  We spent our days eating big, delicious breakfasts, laying out by the pool, praying, reading, playing tennis, going for walks, and driving around the area.  We both came back home feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually REFRESHED.  God is good! 

As you can see, too, the setting is absolutely gorgeous, and we were both overwhelmed by the fact that this area will be our home in 9 short months.  Our vacation choice was somewhat strategic--we wanted to get out to Arizona again before we move next June.  Our last trip there, which was over Easter, was good, but I still felt like I wanted more time there.  I've been praying and thinking a lot about our move over the summer, and I feel like God has just expanded my heart and grown my excitement about it all. Before my sadness of leaving Boston over shadowed my excitement for what's ahead; now I feel free to dream and get envisioned about moving to Tempe.  Here's a shot of just one of the beautiful desert sunsets we got to witness...

Wow!  The colors are just so vibrant and breathtaking.  We also enjoyed good food... like Old Tortilla Factory and In&Out burgers.  In & Out is probably my new favorite place to grab food.  I hope I am able to limit myself when we're out there.  Cheeseburgers are my favorite food, and theirs are JUST SO GOOD!  (as you can tell from the picture...)
Me savoring my last bite of cheeseburger.
The weekend before we left was our annual College Leaders' Retreat, which is a time when all the small group leaders in college ministry at our church can come back together after the summer and get re-envisioned for the year, get encouraged, worship and pray together, and just have some good fellowship.  Andy and I are section leaders in the college group, so we were there, too.  The retreat was in Limington, Maine--a litter further northwest from Kennebunkport.  It was great, as usual, and really fun to get excited for the upcoming year with the students.  We are believing for Boston College (and the other schools in Boston) to be changed by Jesus this year!  This past Sunday was our church's "kickoff sunday" and we already met tons of new BC students.  Andy and I are committed to pouring our lives out to see students' lives changed because this is what we have received in our own lives, so it's always exciting to see the ministry growing and developing.  And this is what we'll be doing out in Tempe at ASU, so we pray that our 5-6 years of experience in college ministry in Boston will serve us well out west :)

So, Fall is upon us!  (Ok, maybe not according to the calendar, but according to me!)  I LOVE LOVE LOVE autumn.  It is my favorite season by far.  I love the cozy smells, the changing leaves, apple picking, farms, apple cider, cider donuts, pumpkins, baking breads and muffins and cookies and pies, the crisp, autumn air, weekend football games... everything!  I added in that last one for Andy.  He is a diehard Jets fan (J-E-T-S, JETS JETS JETS!), and I am trying to learn more about the stinkin game so I can actually watch and understand the games with him.  haha!  And we're just beginning to see the change in weather a bit, too, which I love.  The weather has actually been really nice... in the 60s with blue skies.   I'm hoping we get to go apple picking in the next few weekends...maybe for my birthday?  But until then, I'll leave you with a picture from our apple picking adventure last year.