From Scratch Brownies

January 26, 2010

This was the first recipe I typed up because it was literally crumbling in my fingers. I feared for the fate of the recipe  if I so much as breathed too heavy on the piece of paper. So I typed it up, figuring things as best I could as I was typing. The good news is that I must have figured right, because these brownies are DIVINE. I mean WOW, melt in your mouth, best batter I’ve ever tasted, perfectly plump brownies.

First, enlist two eager helpers

Then, gather your ingredients (plus butter and chocolate, mine was already melting)

Melt the butter and chocolate.

A note on the chocolate: Her recipe called for Nestle’s sweet chocolate. We didn’t have that, and I didn’t much feel like running to the store. So we used Hershey’s chocolate bars which worked just fine. If you want it a bit more chocolatey, use a bit more chocolate. Of course I can’t imagine wanting a LESS intense chocolate flavor but by all means you can reduce it as well.

Batter mixture minus the melted butter & chocolate.

All mixed together! YUM

Now, let me tell you one of the best parts of this recipe. The directions call for lining the pan with greased wax paper. So I first greased the pan (like I would for a Pumpkin roll cake) then I laid down the wax paper (the butter helped the wax paper to stick to the sides) then I buttered the wax paper. The result? A brownie that was an absolute breeze to remove from the pan.

Wow! That was easy!

Like I mentioned before, this recipe came together very easily. And it just tastes SO MUCH better than any box mix. One other thing I’m going to mention before it comes up in the comments is that this recipe (as far as I can tell) was in Grammie’s handwriting. I realize that once mixes became available Grammie (and housewives across the country) starting replacing their from scratch recipes to the mixes because it was easier and cheaper. But I assure you, this recipe is worth the extra effort & pennies.

From Scratch Brownies

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7 oz. Nestle Sweet Chocolate (I believe you would be fine with semi-sweet)
1/3 C. Butter
2 Eggs Beaten
1/2 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Sifted Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 C. Walnuts (Optional)


Melt butter and chocolate in bowl over simmering water. Beat sugar and eggs until lemon colored. Add flour, baking powder, and salt (which have been sifted together) to sugar mixture. Add chocolate, vanilla, and if desired, walnuts. Fold in. Pour into greased wax paper lined 8×8 pan and cook on 350*F.

(Editors Note: The recipe did NOT have pan dimensions or oven temperature anywhere on the card. Based on the amount of batter, I used an 8×8 pan. A 9 x 13 pan would result in very thin, very crispy brownies. They cooked perfectly at 350*F, and cooked up quite quickly.)

And about those two eager helpers…. They might have had ulterior motives


Sunday Supper

January 25, 2010

It’s another birthday themed Sunday Supper post, and a little late because I was off skiing with {Evan} yesterday and then when I got home to post this little delight, WordPress wasn’t cooperating.

Gram and I celebrating a birthday. Who’s digging that sexy ice skating outfit I’m wearing?

(And Grammie is definitely telling the cameraman something)

According to {Evan} I am now officially an adult. Yup, when I turned 21 he told me I wouldn’t really be an adult until I was 25. At the time it seemed like eons away, to both me, and him I’m sure. But here I am in the quarter century club. And for this birthday, I’m going to take advice from the card {Dad} sent me:

“Daughter, If I were your age again, I’d spend a lot less time examining what’s wrong about me, and a lot more time enjoying what’s right about me. Because you know what? You’re already perfect enough. So, live life on your own terms. Be who you are and love what you love. Reserve the right to be wrong. If things take an occasional turn you hadn’t planned on, don’t be tempted to call it a mistake. Just call it life, and tuck the experience in your back pocket for safe-keeping. Pretty soon you can take it out, share it with someone else, and call it wisdom. I’m not kidding. That’s how it works. So, hey-enjoy the life you’re in. Be as happy as you can be. And feel how deeply and completely you are loved. Always loved.”

And that, my friends, was just about the most perfect message I could have received. Because the truth is, if you had asked me 7 years ago, or even  2 years ago where I would be at age 25 my current path is not where I would have predicted to find myself. But, I’m enjoying where I’m at. And not worrying about where I’m going so much as enjoying the path that gets me there.

Thanks for being part of that journey with me.

Internet Circa 1995

January 22, 2010

I can’t remember the internet before 1996. That probably sounds ridiculous, but that was when we got our first computer and AOL dial up service. (Which {Dad} loved so much he held on to until 2009…..And still won’t let go of his aol email address) But I digress. {Grammie} passed away in the fall of 1995. And my knowledge of computers started here…

And ended here:

(That’s Oregon Trail for you non-80’s kids)

It shouldn’t be a surprise then, that I have no earthly idea what Grammie thought of computers or would think of the internet as we know it today. Or how this little project is even feasible without a good old fashioned type writer and postage stamp. (Gram, that’s “snail mail” these days..) It also shouldn’t be a surprise that while I consider myself decently computer literate (I was keyboarding student of the year in 7th Grade..) I know zero about building a website, hosting, or CSS. (And I totally wish I did. Darn you Algonkian for not being more computer savvy when I was there and offering more than just Oregon Trail and Number Crunchers.) But thankfully, with sites like you don’t need an abundance of knowledge, as long as you can follow along with their guides (which is much like cooking and following a recipe)

And while I love anything for free (like this current blog) sometimes you have to upgrade. And in order to do any personalization to WordPress, you have to self host. So for $15 I can edit away and have access to 1,000’s of free wordpress themes and my own .com. So I spent 3 hours last night setting up the site. It’s no where near being done, and until it is done I will keep posting here. But I just didn’t want you thinking I was sitting around ignoring this project- I just haven’t been in the kitchen working on it! But I’m going to make something tomorrow- I’m thinking cream cheese brownies)


January 18, 2010

Apparently, the shallot is a produce item unknown to many of the Swinimer clan. As evidenced in the frequent misspelling as “challot” And the numerous nervous chuckles claiming ignorance serious inquiries as to what a shallot is.

So behold, the shallot:

“Shallots belong to the lily family. There are more than 500 different types. In addition to shallots, onions, garlic and leeks also belong to the Allium genus. Generally, shallots produce a reddish brown bulb that adds flavour to many dishes. Sautéed or cooked shallots have a sweeter taste than onions. There are many shallot-based products such as shallot pulp, frozen shallots (or chopped shallots) and peeled shallots.” via

Interestingly, in my research I found that they last for up to six months! Many claim that they are expensive. Having mostly used them in New England, the prices I’ve paid have been extremely reasonable (About $2 for 6-7 bulbs) but while home for Christmas I purchased some for the stuffed mushrooms and I paid $3 for 2 bulbs. While in NYC the other day, in Chinatown they had an entire bag of shallots (12 or so bulbs) for a $1!! I wish I had known about their crazy shelf life then, because I would have bought two bags. So next time you’re in NYC stopover to Chinatown and pick up your bi-annual supply of shallots.

Sunday Supper

January 17, 2010

Name that baby….

If you guessed {Dad} AKA Howard Swinimer, you’re right!

In honor of Dad’s 62nd Birthday, this coming Wednesday, January 20. I decided to post about him and his baby picture! What a cutie right? This was a really fun find, but the real gem was the photo behind this smiling, happy photo….

Yup. They printed the grumpy pic too- and he still makes that same face!

All I can think of are the thousands of pictures like this we will never again see because of digital photography and our ability to see the photo and delete it before printing. I think we should keep the less than perfect photo’s too, they help in telling the story.

Happy Birthday {Dad}!

Want to really make his day? Click above to send him a Happy Birthday Howard email! That’ll really put a pep in his step and keep the grumpy face at bay!

P.S. No one noticed that I missed posting Sunday Supper last week! Whoops! I realized on Monday I had forgotten- probably because I had just gotten back home and things were hectic etc. and never had a chance to sit down with the scanner, until I realized we would just have to skip last week and realize that this is real life and things can’t be perfect.

Stuffed Mushrooms

January 17, 2010

Does this look like the face of someone eating a bland stuffed mushroom?

I made these delightful stuffed mushrooms for the Madriz’s famous New Years Eve bash. And you know how it goes when you have a party to go to, everything seems to take much, much longer than you anticipated. Thank goodness this party didn’t start until 9:00 p.m. and I had plenty of time to finish the stuffed mushrooms. When Dad tasted the mushrooms fresh from the oven he claimed they were bland. Bland? I just spent an hour making these darn things, they can’t be bland! I don’t particularly enjoy mushrooms, but I did try one. I didn’t think it was bland, but it was a recipe without cream cheese (a common stuffed mushroom ingredient) so it simply wasn’t as rich, which is to be expected. But I sprinkled some salt over the tops and figured if they were horrible I’d go back to the drawing board with the recipe. I brought them to the party and everyone was raving, I mean RAVING over the mushrooms. At one point a friend came over to tell me she had to “cut her boyfriend off” because he had ate so many! I questioned everyone on whether they thought they were too bland, and no one felt that way. Dad thinks my last minute salting “saved” the recipe. Regardless, I have included that in my directions.

The mushrooms with their “insides” removed.

Usually when making stuffed mushrooms I would use a very tiny pairing knife and spoon for this job, but since I was at home and didn’t have all my usual tools I had to revert to plan B. Turns out, a grapefruit spoon is the next best option. And I actually think I will use the grapefruit spoon with my pairing knife next time.

Hot, Hot, Hot! Mushroom insides cooking!

And they’re done. Bland or not, here they come.

Stuffed Mushrooms

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12 Small White Mushrooms

1/4 c Oil

1 Tbsp Butter

1 Tbsp Breadcrumbs

1/2 Shallot

1 Tbsp Parsley




Heat oven to 400*F

Clean mushrooms with moist paper towel. Remove stems from inside of mushrooms. Chop stems very fine. Heat oil in heavy skillet. When oil is hot (almost smoking) add chopped mushrooms and salt & pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring to cook evenly. Drain mushrooms.

Add butter to skillet, when melted add chopped mushrooms, breadcrumbs, shallot, and parsley. Heat mixture through.

Use mixture to stuff mushroom caps. Spray baking sheet with Pam and place stuffed caps on baking sheet.

Bake stuffed caps for 20 minutes, until mushrooms are piping hot and liquid forms under caps.  Sprinkle salt over tops of mushrooms before serving.

Grammie, this is when I need your wit….

January 15, 2010

In case there are any of you reading that aren’t related to me (or practically related to me), let me introduce you to Rocco. He is the worlds absolute greatest dog, and I say this with confidence as I have another dog, Harley, who I love dearly but he still has a lot to learn from Rocco. (And while Rocco isn’t perfect, he is perfect for me and has been by my side through thick and thin since my junior year of college. He also practically potty trained himself, which is proving to be the single most challenging thing to train Harley, so I’m appreciative of that. Also, he lets me sleep as long as I want in the morning NEVER whining to go out, as long as I’m sleeping, he is too)

Anyways, Rocco has a small problem right now:

He has something going on with his eye. It’s all red and irritated.(It looks worse in person) A few days ago he had a pimply looking thing, which I used a tea bag as a compress and wiped his eye. It seemed to go away. Until tonight when his eye is all red and swollen. Grammie wasn’t one who was much for sentimentalities with animals. (Who remembers the Kelsey and White’s Bakery moment?) And she probably would have told me something like, “Oh, for the love of Pete he’s fine. I swear that dog goes to the doctor more than I do and I’m an old lady” And while that isn’t exactly true, especially since our “in network” vet is 45 minutes away…..well it takes more than just a pimply looking something to make the drive. (And yes I just used the term “in network” in reference to my dogs healthcare. Just trust me, it’s cheaper than paying for everything out of pocket)

Well greatest dog let me flush his eye with water and examine his eye fully. I’m 99% sure he probably scratched his eye because the pimply looking something was irritating him and now its inflamed his eye lid. And I’m going to New York for the day tomorrow, and I’m all worried about his eye. Worried enough that I might ask someone else to make the 45 minute drive to the vet with him, just so I can have an answer tomorrow and be at peace. And this is when Grammie would say: “You’re taking the chinese bus to New York? Well good luck with that….. and stop being such a pansy about the dog. You’re being a hypochondriac…about a dog.” (But he’s a dog I really, really, love)

P.S.- If you leave mean comments, I will delete them. I have that sort of power around here. 🙂

Oooh, la, la

January 11, 2010

I do believe these shall make cooking and baking more fun. What do you think?

Click to visit website!

Boston Baked Beans

January 10, 2010

Being that Grammy was from the Boston area, I wonder why I can’t locate a “Boston Baked Beans” recipe?  (As I type this, I know that someone will ultimately comment that she did have one- or tell me that she was satisfied with beans from a can. Either way, this recipe seems much TOO divine to pass up and not share with you!)

I’ve loved to cook for a long time (And {Dad} has always had a messy kitchen to prove it) but the world of blogging, more specifically food blogging, has opened up an entire new world of opportunities for my cooking delights. Additionally, having friends at Alpha Tau who enjoy cooking as much as I do, and cook with me has made it that much more fun. But The Pioneer Woman is a new delightful find and her blog is just so much fun.

She recently posted this recipe for Boston Baked Beans, which made me think of {Dishin’ with Edna} and all those canned beans we ate with ham how wonderful they would be with a Ham dinner. It also made me covet a Bean Pot. How can I not have one?

Here’s the link to the recipe. I will certainly be making this recipe soon and will share my thoughts!

Next up are Stuffed Mushrooms! Just need to edit the photos and type the recipe for you!

Everyone’s a Critic

January 3, 2010

You would think you could catch a break when offering to cook for people – not this family! Thank goodness I could dial up {Aunt} Loretta and get confirmation on the recipe and my methods….

Here’s how it went:

I had {Dad} call {Aunt} Mary Jo and invite her over for dinner (Spaghetti and Meatballs with Grammie’s Sauce)..She was coming at 7:00 p and questioned wondered how long I had been cooking the sauce for (okay I admit it, it was cold and took me all morning to get the “oompf” to get to the store and get what I needed and we didn’t get back until 4:30…) So, the sauce was simmering for 2 hours having been prepared to the exact specifications of the recipe which read as follows:

1 Pepper
1 c Tomato Puree
2 c Stew Tomato
1 c Tomato Paste
——–> 2 paste cans of water, 1 of wine
Sugar to taste
Italian Seasoning

The tomato paste cane was 6 oz. so in my brain I accepted that she must have just meant to use one can. It never dawned on me that all those “c”s could mean can and not cups. (That’s what happens when you are semi-formally trained and aren’t used to a home cooks shorthand!)

Then what should have been the easiest part of the meal: Pre-Made Meatballs from Wegmans.…wouldn’t cook all the way through, so at the others suggestion I popped them in the microwave for 2 minutes. Oh well, dinner was served!

My sauce was too sweet. The peppers should have been in strips not chopped. Grammie used whole tomatoes not stewed. Are you sure it said to use wine? Grammie never had wine. Plus that wasn’t a good wine to use. Need I say more?

Thank goodness {Aunt} Loretta came to my rescue. I had already realized the whole can/cup mistake and verified that. BUT she assured me that YES she used stewed tomatoes. YES she used wine (or Sangria!), usually a sweet wine. SOMETIMES she did the pepper in strips, but she also threw it into the blender with the tomatoes too. (I used an immersion blender) However, she never used sugar despite the fact that she lists it in her recipe “to taste” (Her taste = No sugar)

I’m not posting a recipe for this yet. I’m going to go ahead and have a re-do with this, and share the details with you.. of course you can go off of what I wrote above. I do however, have this to say about sauce. I think it’s a very personal thing and allows for a lot of variation among cooks, so don’t be afraid to experiment because even though my version wasn’t “right” it tasted DARN good to me!