Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chocolate Mint Brownies Recipe

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Today my husband is preparing his traditional Irish-American feast for our family.  He put the corned beef in the crock pot this morning and later will glaze it with a honey orange glaze before he serves it with boiled potatoes and cabbage and Irish Soda Bread.  Desert is always left up to me on St. Paddy's Day and I usually go the green route rather than the Irish route.  In the past, I've made Shamrock Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Pistachio Cake, and last year my daughter baked a chocolate layer cake with Mint Icing.

This year I prepared a recipe that my mom is famous for, Cream De Mint Brownies or Chocolate Mint Brownies.  When we lived in Maryland and were planning to visit Meemaw, my kids would always request a pan of her delicious brownies.  They also asked for some on their birthdays, Christmas, Easter, and any other time they could think of to get some of their favorite treats.  Because these brownies were my mom's specialty, I never had to make them. . . until we moved to Texas.

The problem with making a recipe that someone else is know for is that it never tastes quite as good as people remember.  Also, the recipe that I inherited was sketchy at best.  The first time I attempted Chocolate Mint Brownies my daughter said, "Thanks for trying Mom." My son added, "They were almost as good as Meemaws."  After harassing my mother for details of the recipe that I was sure she had left out and incorporating all of her tips, I have almost perfected this green dessert.

Now I know my Cream De Mint Brownies will never be as good as my mothers, but making them always brings back fond memories of celebrations on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  They also add a nice pop of green to any St. Patrick's Day table.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Mint Brownies Recipe

brownie layer ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (16 ounce) can Hershey syrup (often with the ice cream toppings)

mint icing layer ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 Tablespoons creme de menthe syrup (sold in liquor stores, my mother has had the same bottle for years:)

chocolate layer ingredients:
1 small package (6 ounces) chocolate chips
6 Tablespoons butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
  2. For the brownie layer, cream 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup softened butter until combined.  Mix in the beaten eggs.  Add the flour, vanilla, and Hershey's syrup and mix until fully combined.
  3. Pour chocolate batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool
  4. For the mint icing layer, mix powdered sugar, butter, and creme de menthe syrup until fully combined.
  5. Spread over cooled brownie layer and refrigerate until chilled.
  6. For the chocolate layer, microwave chocolate chips and butter for 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave an additional minute as needed until all chips are melted.
  7. Spread melted chocolate layer over mint icing layer.
  8. Chill again for at least 15 minutes or overnight.
  9. Cut into squares and serve.
I'm sure you could substitute mint extract and green food coloring,
but my mom bought a bottle of Creme De Mint and kept it in her cupboard for years.
I followed tradition by cautiously entering a TX-sized liquor store,
approaching the register, and requesting my green liquor.
Let the brownie layer cool before adding the mint icing.
I learned that the hard way the first time I was rushing to get a pan of these done.
An off-set spatula helps with the spreading of the mint icing layer.
Next spread on the melted chocolate chips and butter.
Allow this to cool in the refrigerator until this layer hardens.
Serve to family and friends on St. Patrick's day or any other celebration
throughout the year.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crock Pot Oatmeal Recipe

After 15 years of working part time or not at all, I recently headed back to the workplace, full time.  For five days a week, eight hours a day (at least) I am a third grade teacher and I love it!  I did experience a few days of grieving my mommy days.  I am so grateful for my years of cutting grapes in half and wiping high chairs and I will miss all the "times". . . nap times, story times, snack times, movies times, outside times. . . . but I am ready to fully embrace the next chapter of my abundant life.  I am so grateful to have a job in my neighborhood doing something about which I am passionate.  My family is thrilled with the possibility of Mommy's paycheck and are all helping out tremendously.

For the remainder of the school year I will be cooking from scratch significantly less, but I have found a dish that I love to prepare on the weekends in order to treat myself during my early morning weekday breakfasts.   It is for Crock Pot Oatmeal and is scrumptious!  I usually prepare this oatmeal in my slow cooker on Saturday night and then on Sunday morning our house smells heavenly and we have a hot breakfast.  My kids still prefer their oatmeal to hatch tiny dinosaur eggs.  I haven't encouraged them too much because I like to package up the leftovers of my crock pot oatmeal into one cup servings and microwave this hearty warm breakfast throughout the week.

I adapted this recipe from one I found on  the blog "Mommy's Kitchen".  I was skeptical about the method, but I gave it a try because I love the taste and health benefits of steel cut oats but never want to wait the hour or so that it takes to cook them.  This technique is brilliant:  place a heat proof bowl inside your crock pot, fill it with all of the oatmeal ingredients, pour water around the bowl inside the crock pot, and then cover, cook on low, and wait until morning.  The result is a creamy and flavorful oatmeal that is the perfect consistency every time.  Once cooked the possibilities for oatmeal toppings are endless.  My personal preference is craisins, walnuts or almonds, and an extra sprinkling of cinnamon.

When I accepted my full time job, I began seeking balance in my life.  This recipe is one way for me to do that.  As a working mom, I knew my crock pot was going to be my new BFF for dinner, but with this recipe it is just as handy for breakfast.  Crock Pot Oatmeal is a treat for myself that I am glad to give.

Crock Pot Oatmeal Recipe

          inspired by Mommy's Kitchen
          makes 4 hearty portions or 6 modest portions    

1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
1/2 cup milk (I use 1% but you could use whole or half-and-half)
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sugar (I use sugar in the raw, but you could use regular or brown sugar)
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heat proof bowl that will hold 4 cups of liquid and fit inside your slow cooker with the crock pot lid on

  1. Place the heatproof bowl in the crock pot.
  2. In the heatproof bowl, mix the steel cut oats, water, milk, sugar, vanilla, butter, and cinnamon.
  3. Add the chopped apple and mix gently.
  4. Carefully pour water around the edges of the crock pot until the water level is just below the contents of the inner bowl.  
  5. Place the lid on your crock pot.  Turn it on low and go to bed.
  6. The next morning gently remove the inner bowl onto a kitchen towel.  Gently stir.  
  7. Scoop up a serving and add toppings.
Oatmeal toppings:  craisins, raisins, other dried fruit; almonds, walnuts, other nuts; peanut butter; dark chocolate chips; honey; etc.  

Place all of the oatmeal ingredients in the inner bowl
and then gently pour water around the edge.
Cover the crock pot and go to bed.
Prepare to be impressed in the morning.
Ta Da, wake up to luscious oatmeal and a wonderful aroma.
The apples will have puffed and floated to the top.
Give your creamy oatmeal a stir before serving.
Add your favorite toppings and serve yourself in your prettiest bowl.

Lucky Links:
Delicious Dishes, Wow Me Wednesday, Create and Share, Sugar and Spice, Drab to Fab, Pity Party,   Tickled Pink, Anything Goes, Weekend Wrap Up,