Thursday, July 30, 2015

Extreme Oreo Brownies

We started a diet this week in our house. So naturally, we needed to go out with a bang over the weekend with one last big calorie splurge. Since dessert, especially ones loaded with cookies, frosting, brownies and chocolate syrup, are definitely not permitted in our diet, I thought Extreme Oreo Brownies would be the perfect indulgence.

I originally got this recipe idea after our good friends dropped off dinner and dessert to us earlier last week. Accompanying our tasty dinner were the most amazing Oreo brownies that my friend picked up from the pastry case at Harris Teeter. They were so ridiculously delicious that Matt and I polished them all off after dinner.

A few days later I had a craving for them again so I began a recipe search and found a similar recipe that I tweaked a bit to create Extreme Oreo Brownies...
These brownies really are extreme...extremely tasty! There's a fudgy layer, an oreo layer a fluffy layer and more.
Extreme Oreo Brownies
For the Brownies:

1 box favorite fudgy brownie mix + ingredients on back of box
15 Oreo cookies
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Fluffy White Frosting:

8 tablespoons vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup marshmallow creme (such as Fluff)
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups (or more) quartered Oreo Cookies

For the Topping:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons very hot water

Make the brownies: follow the directions on back of brownie box, adding in 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread until even. Place 15 Oreos evenly on top and press down lightly to cover with the batter. Bake according to boxed recipe, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on the counter, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Make the frosting: beat shortening and butter in a mixer. Mix in marshmallow creme and vanilla extract. Slowly mix in powdered sugar. Spread frosting evenly over top of the brownies. Top evenly with quartered Oreos.
Make the topping: melt the butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, then stir in the water to thin. Drizzle over the top of the frosting. Chill the frosted brownies for at least 1 hour until the frosting and topping sets. Remove from pan and slice into bars. 

Yield: 24-36 bars


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Shows to Binge Watch

Scary Mommy recently published the article The 20 Best Shows for New Moms to Binge Watch and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. These days I spend a lot of time on the couch feeding the little man or letting him nap on me so I've been filling my Netflix queue (what did we ever do before Netflix?!) with recommendations from friends.
During my maternity leave with Caroline I re-watched The Office from start to finish and loved it because I didn't have to think too hard or follow too closely and the episodes were short (and ridiculously funny). This time around I've been binge watching Parenthood and am addicted. It is so, so, so good and although I'm only on season 4 I am already angry that season 6 is not available on Netflix yet. Soooo, once I finish this series I am going to need a new show to replace it!

According to the article, the top 20 shows are listed below:
7. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
8. Weeds
14. *Friends
18. 30 Rock
19. Modern Family
20. *Buffy the Vampire Slayer  

*previously watched

If I had to add my own recommendations to this list I would also include...

1. Lost
2. Bloodline
4. Suits
6. Naked & Afraid
7. Breaking Bad 

So my question for you all is...which series should I binge watch next?! I can't decide! There are so many shows that I haven't seen before but part of me would also love to stroll down memory lane with Gilmore Girls or Buffy! 



Friday, July 24, 2015

8 Favorite Things in my Kitchen

I am always looking for the next kitchen tool, gadget or supply to make cooking a little easier. Over the years I've definitely accumulated a few "must haves" around the kitchen. Today I'll share 8 of my most favorite items (in no particular order)...

1. Rachael Ray Lazy Utensils: My mom gave me this lazy 2 piece set about 5 years ago for Christmas and I cannot even count the amount of times per week I use these clever cooking utensils. The silicone tools are designed with a notch to rest on the edge of your pot or pan to prevent drips and splatters on your countertop. You can also find the Lazy Spatula, Lazy Tongs, Lazy Slotted Spoons and other Lazy products in a variety of colors! 
2. MISTO Olive Oil Sprayer: No matter how careful I am I consistently overpour olive oil. My worst offense is usually when roasting vegetables. I miss some veggies completely and find little puddles of oil in random areas of the pan. The MISTO produces an even, pure mist and I love that I can fill the reusable mister bottle with my favorite oils, vinegars, lemon and limes juices. Not only does this mister make my meals a tad bit healthier, I have seen a significant savings too since I'm use far less olive oil than I used to. You can purchase a MISTO sprayer here or a set of two here. Or, if you're really patient you can usually find one cheaper at Marshalls or Homegoods.
3. BonJour Primo Latte Frother: I absolutely cannot make coffee at home without using this amazing frother gadget. Within just a few seconds I can whip up a delicious cappuccino or latte in the morning (for a lot less than a Starbucks latte)! This is also one of those gadgets that I find myself purchasing as a gift for the coffee lovers in my life!
4. KitchenAid Stand Mixer: We have the classic, basic version of this mixer and it's easily the most used item in our kitchen. The basic version comes with a 4.5 qt bowl which can be a tad bit small for some recipes so I recommend also picking up a 6 qt bowl if you use your mixer a ton.

5. Silver Dollar Pancake Pan: Four years later, this wedding registry item is still my number one favorite gift we received. With two pancake lovers in our house (Caroline and Matt), I use this pan almost every single weekend to cook up perfect silver dollar sized pancakes. Easy to use, easy to clean, easily the best pan in my collection. Our pan is from Crate and Barrel but you can also find it for the same price with free shipping here. There are also all sorts of themed versions (animals, holiday, smiley faces, bugs, monsters, etc.) of this pan here.

6. Parsley Plus All Purpose Cleaner: I have blogged about my love for Parsley Plus before here. I was addicted to the earth friendly product then and my addiction is still going strong years later. Parsley Plus All Purpose Cleaner makes your kitchen smell like a freshly planted an herb garden. I will never go back to toxic smelling cleaners especially with little ones now. You can use this cleaner pretty much on any surface - stone, hardwoods, linoleum, chrome, stainless steel, wood, bathroom, etc. You can purchase a bottle for $4 here, but if you become addicted like me you'll save a lot of money by purchasing 4 gallons at a time here (I split this bulk order with a friend). I know 4 gallons sounds insane, but I've been using this spray multiple times a day for almost 3 years now so bulk ordering is essential!

7. Electric Wine Opener: Not sure this one even needs an explanation. Another wedding gift we love and have gotten so much use out of over the years. With one charge this wine opener can remove up to 80 corks, includes a foil cutter that stores in the charging base and comes with a vacuum sealer.

8.  Silicone Muffin Tin: This full-sized muffin pan is my newest piece of bakeware and I don't know why it took me so long to buy one of these! It's 100% silicone so it doesn't rust, is non-stick and easy to clean. I've used this pan for so many recipes from cupcakes to egg poppers and so much more

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