Monday, March 16, 2015

Raspberry Fudge Brownies

I know, you thought I would never return to you again! Between a job change, and general life busyness, I feel like I've been in a hole for a year! But I have a treat for you today. These are truly the best brownies I've ever had. My go-to recipe when making something for an event.

Ingredients Edit and Save
Original recipe makes 32 brownies (ish)

        Brownie mix
 1 cup white sugar
 2 eggs
 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
 1/2 cup evaporated milk
 1 egg yolk
 4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
         Raspberry Topping
 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
 2 drops red food coloring (optional)

 16 chocolate curls (optional)


  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, 2 whole eggs, and vanilla until combined. Mix in butter. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; stir into butter mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool pan on wire rack.
  4. Whisk together the evaporated milk and egg yolk in a small saucepan. Heat over medium low, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very hot and thickens slightly; do not boil. Place the 4 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate in a medium bowl, and slowly pour in the hot milk. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour the filling over the cooled brownies; refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
  5. Beat the cream cheese with the raspberry jam in a large bowl until smooth. Fold in the whipped topping, and add the food coloring if desired. Top the cooled brownies with the frosting, using a cake comb to create a design. Cut brownies into 16 squares, then cut each square in half diagonally to form triangles. Garnish with chocolate curls if desired.

When it comes to baking, I try not to branch out too much. But I have tried this with more cream cheese (8 oz instead of 6 oz), using milk chocolate chips instead of baker's chocolate for the ganache (I wouldn't recommend it - the filling didn't harden and was just soupy even after refrigeration), and adding regular sized chocolate chips to the brownie batter (this turned out just fine). 
The ganache takes about 10-15 minutes to get to the right consistency, and make sure you watch it closely at the end. I have let it go too long, and it gets kind of chunky. I still used it that time and it turned out ok, but it looks weird. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Crispy Oven Roasted Parmesan Potatoes over Chicken

This is one we tried last night - very tasty! I'd recommend serving it with some sort of bread or something that will soak up the juices, because they are delicious! This recipe is courtesy of My Recipe Journey.

Crispy Oven Roasted Parmesan Potatoes Over Chicken

  4 large russet potatoes
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided in half
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided in half
1 teaspoon onion powder, divided in half
 15 oz. can fat free beef broth
2 Tablespoons of butter
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin bite sized pieces
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
kosher salt
black pepper
chopped fresh parsley, garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes and coat with the 
olive oil and half the pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
In a medium sized pot simmer the beef broth and butter.
Then add the coated potatoes and bring to a boil for 8 minutes.
Season the chicken pieces with the other half of the pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
Also lightly season the chicken pieces
with kosher salt and pepper.
Grease a 12"x 9" glass baking pan.
Evenly spread out the seasoned chicken pieces
in the bottom of that pan.
Now pour the boiled potatoes and the broth mixture
evenly over the chicken pieces.
 Top with the grated cheese.
Bake uncovered on middle rack for 50- 60 minutes
or until nicely browned.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.
Serve warm with pan juices.
Makes 4 servings.

I made this as directed, though I made it with 6 potatoes and about 1/2 a bag of chicken tenders, which ended up making a 9 x 13 pan, and a 10 x 8 pan as well. I doubled the liquid amount, and used chicken broth instead of beef broth. It seemed weird to me to use beef broth with a chicken/potato dish. The potatoes were deliciously seasoned and cooked perfectly. Compared to the potatoes, the chicken was a little less flavorful, but together, mmmmm, a piece of heaven. 

Chicken Enchilada Dip

Hey all! I know it's been awhile...there's been this whole job change thing that's thrown me for a loop. Hopefully life is settling back down finally! Anywho, I've tried a couple new recipes, including today's, which is a Chaley original! Enjoy :)

This made a really full 13 x 9 pan. Full of deliciousness! ;) But you can scale it down for more manageable amounts. I did freeze the leftovers after feeding about 8 people, plus leftovers. I'll let you know how that turns out. I served this with chips or tortillas.

1 2.5 lb bag of boneless/skinless chicken thighs
Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Garlic Salt
Black pepper
Chicken bullion and water to taste
1 jar of White salsa queso
1 jar of green salsa with tomatillos
2 boxes if Mexican Rice mix (I used Rice a Roni), made as directed.
Monterrey Jack Cheese to sprinkle on top - about 1.5 cups or so, more if you want to mix it in the dip

Add the chicken, seasonings, a little bit of water and chicken bullion to the crockpot and cook. You can cook on low for 6 hours, or on high for 3-4. Seasonings are too taste. I was pretty liberal with them when I made it. You can always add more when you get everything together. 
Shred the chicken when cooked into a bowl big enough to hold all the ingredients. Cook the Mexican rice as directed on the box. Add to the bowl when finished. 
Add the salsa, and salsa queso, as well as any extra cheese desire. Gently mix until all the ingredients are pretty uniformly distributed. Put in to a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted on top. You don't have to bake it if all your ingredients are hot at the same time - I made this the night before and kept it in the fridge overnight, but I think it made it extra tasty to get the slightly crispy melty cheese on top. 

 I don't have a picture of this one, but everyone who's tried it has asked for the ;) 

Listening to a little Steve Moakler, Rixton, John Legen, and the Plain White T's. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Apple Dumplings

Umm, YUM! I made these for the first time several years ago when we did our first Iron Chef party, which was apple-themed. The dough is an amazing combo between biscuit dough and pie dough that is truly delectable. SUPER rich, and not for the faint of heart.

2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 drops red food coloring 
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk
6 small whole apples, pared and cored

For syrup- mix first 5 ingredients; cook on medium high for 5 minutes, or until it comes to a slow boil. Remove from heat and add the butter. 

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk all at once and stir just until the flour is moistened. On a lightly floured surface, roll in to a 18x12 inch rectangle.
Cut into six 6-inch squares. Place an apple on each. Sprinkle apples generously with additional sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg; dot with additional butter. Moisten edges of pastry, bring corners to the center and pinch edges together. Place 1 inch apart on a 9x13 baking pan. Pour syrup over the dumplings. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with a dash of heavy cream over-top. 

I just made this for my Specials this past week, and got to try out the dough making feature of my food processor. It was awesome, and SO easy! It cut the flour and shortening together like a dream, and mixed everything just right. Will definitely be using that feature more! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Birthday Freebies!!

I LOOOOVE birthday week.  One of my favorite birthday memories was actually not on my birthday, but the hubby's. We went to Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse in Spring Arbor a couple of years ago with some friends on hubby's birthday - we were so excited to have a sushi place so close to home! So there we sat, eating our sushi and chatting...somehow the staff figured out it was Brean's birthday. So all of the sudden, out comes one of the staff with the most AMAZING sight...they had cut a a pineapple in half and made it look like a fish, complete with chocolate fudge and whip cream with a cherry for the eye. Not only was it the yummiest pineapple I ever had, but I couldn't believe how cool it was for them to do that! Such a great memory, and one of the reasons that we love Ichiban. (which is not on the following list because they are closed during the summer months)

 Last year, I found out that several restaurants give away free things on your birthday, and so my day of birth was spent tootling around the Jackson area getting free food. This year, I'm taking it a step farther and have spent a week researching what restaurants in the area give away free stuff and what you need to do to get it. I have compiled a slightly exhaustive list of restaurants in the Jackson/Spring Arbor area (and a few in Ann Arbor for kicks and giggles), and want to share it with you! For those not in the greater Jackson area, there are chain restaurants on the list that should be in your area. If you think of any that are missing, please let me know! I would love to add them! :)

The list is broken down into three categories: 1) Freebies that do not require any purchases, 2) Freebies or discounts WITH purchase of some sort, and 3) Restaurants that do not provide birthday deals at this time. They are organized within these categories, and then alphabetized, so just look for your favorite haunt! Without further ado....

Restaurant Freebie Purchase if necessary Action needed Date applicable

Freebies, no strings attached

BD's Mongolian BBQ (Ann Arbor) Free Stirfry No purchase necessary Member of Club Mongo, printed coupon Coupon good for 2 weeks

Big Boy Free hot fudge cake No purchase necessary Photo I.d, can get it to go Valid only on birthday

Biggby Free Coffee No purchase necessary Member of E-wards, coupon or drink on rewards card Valid only on birthday

City Crepes Free sweet Crepe No purchase necessary Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Cooper St Coffee Free Coffee No purchase necessary Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Culver's One scoop Sundae No purchase necessary Photo I.d. Valid only on birthday

Denny's Free Grand Slam No purchase necessary Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Dunkin Donuts Free Coffee/hot chocolate
Member of fan club, printed coupon

Fazoli's Free dessert No purchase necessary E-family member, coupon, printed or on mobile device

Jackson Coffee Company Free Coffee No purchase necessary Member of rewards program/or show I.d. Valid only on birthday

Lenny's Sub Shop Free sub No purchase necessary Signed up for Lenny's e-mails, printed coupon Valid only on birthday

Lone Star Steakhouse Free appetizer or free dessert No purchase necessary Member of E-club, printed coupon, carry-out ok Coupon good for 2 weeks

Maggie Moo's Free ice cream, kid's size No purchase necessary Fan club of Maggie Moo's, printed coupon Good until birthday

Outback Steakhouse Free dessert No purchase necessary Member of Tablemates, loaded on member account Good through the end of the month

Panera Free bakery item No purchase necessary Member of My Panera, freebie will be loaded on the card

Starbucks Free Coffee No purchase necessary Registered Starbuck's Card, loaded on the card Have 1 month to use it

Steak N Shake Free Double Steak meal No purchase necessary E-club member, print coupon

Deals WITH purchase

Anna's Gifts and Porch Cafe 5 Dollars off Any purchase at the gift shop Photo I.d., they'll give you a punch card Anytime during the birthday month

Applebee's Free dessert with entree purchase Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Arby's Free Shake With purchase Member of fan club, printed coupon Coupon good for 1 week

Bone Island Grill Birthday Drink With purchase up to 3 dollars Valid only on birthday

Chilangos Discount on entree With purchase Member of fan club, printed coupon Valid only on birthday

Coldstone Buy 1, get 1 free With purchase Member of fan club, printed coupon Coupon good for 1 week

Cracker Barrel Free dessert With purchase Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Finley's Free $8.49 @ lunch, 10.49 at dinner with purchase of entree Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Fortune Tommy's Ice Cream Shoppe Free ice cream With a group of 3 or more Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Hard Knock Grill Free dessert With purchase of any food Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Hugo's Bar and Grill Free Brownie Sundae Purchase of 1 entree Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Melting Pot (Ann Arbor) Free Chocolate Strawberries Valid with purchase of > $60 Fan club of the Melting Pot, printed coupon Coupon good for several months

Olive Garden Free dessert with purchase of entree Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Qdoba Buy 1, get 1 free entree With purchase Member of rewards program, printed coupon Coupon good for ~1 week

Red Lobster $5 off two entrees Purchase of 2 entrees Member of Fresh Catch, printed coupon Good until date stated

Slice of Spice Free dessert With purchase Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

Steaks Eatery Birthday Cake and Ice cream With purchase Photo I.d, Valid only on birthday

No Deals

AKA Sushi No deals

Blue Moon Cafe No deals

Bob Evans No deals

Buffalo Barbeque Wings No deals

Burger King No deals

Cafe Lilla No deals

Crazy Cowboy No deals

Cuppa No deals

European Bakery No deals

Grand River Marketplace No deals

Hinkley's Bakery No deals

House of Tacos No deals

Hungry Howie's No deals

International Dog House No deals

KFC No deals

Klavon's No deals

Lucky's Chinese No deals

Marino's Pizza No deals

McDonalds No deals

Old Country Buffet No deals

Papa John's No deals

Pickle Barrel Deli No deals

Pizza Hut No deals

Schlenker's Sandwich shop No deals

Steve's Ranch No deals

Subway No deals

Taco Bell No deals

The Hunt Club No deals

The Parlour No deals

Tim Horton's No deals

Wendy's No deals

Enjoying birthday Freebies 2012

New Orleans Corn Bisque with Smoked Sausage

So this soup turned out SUPER yummy...NOT however enough for the proposed 8 servings, and pretty high on the calorie count for frequent consumption. I would say it makes closer to 4 -6 servings. The hubby actually made this one and he's very good at following recipes as directed, so there aren't any changes made this time. My future changes are below. :)

Original recipe makes 8 1-cup servings

 1 (16 ounce) package Hillshire Farm® Smoked Sausage
 1 medium onion, chopped
 1/4 cup butter or margarine
 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
 4 cups milk
 2 cups cubed potatoes, cooked, drained
 Chopped parsley (optional)
 Shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)


1) Cut sausage into 1/2 inch cubes.
2) Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
3) Add milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Add corn and sausage; return to a boil.
4) Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in potatoes; heat through.
5) Top each serving with parsley and cheese, if desired.

So, for me, the potatoes kind of over-powered the soup. I'm not sure if that's because they were in pretty large chunks, or whether it seemed like there were too many chunks compared to the amount of soup. In order to make enough for 8 people, I think I would add some chicken broth- maybe a cup or two. And possibly another 1/2 can of corn - but I really love corn, so that could be a contributing factor. ;) In order to make it more of a bisque, once I added everything but the sausage, I would blend it until mostly smooth, then add the sausage at the end. We did not add the cheese or parsley, and I think it was excellent without it.

Hubby and I just returned from my most FAVORITE ice cream treatery....Maggie Moo's! If you are in the Jackson, MI area, I highly recommend it. Speaking of's BIRTHDAY week! So as an extra treat for you, I am going to share my project that I have been working on today. I have compiled a list of all the freebies (mostly food related) available in the Jackson/Spring Arbor area that one can get on their birthday! But I'm making it it's own go check it out! :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013


This is a family standby at our house, though I realized when I was making it this weekend that I don't think I had made it since moving in to our house, which was over 2 years ago! Man, time flies when you're having fun! There are tons of different versions of Paella - it is a traditional Valencian dish, which is located in Spain. It is comprised of seafood, rice, green vegetables, and spices (and apparently beans, according to Wikipedia), the main seasonings being curry, saffron, and some type of spicy sausage. I'll be honest, I've never made it with saffron, just because I don't have any on hand! This recipe is the one passed down to us from the hubby's parents, and to them by his grandma, which is kind of cool. We've adapted it from there, but in the spirit of keeping the family recipe alive, I will post it as written and share my changes below.


12 small fresh clams, 12 medium size shrimp in shells, mussels, squid, octopus, scallops, or any other shell fish
8 oz chorizo or pepperoni, sliced
2 Tbs. cooking oil
Chicken pieces (8 portions)
30 oz. chicken broth (about 4 cups)
1 medium sized onion, cut into wedges
1 sweet red or green pepper, cut into strips
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups white rice, uncooked
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp saffron (if you have it)
2 tsp curry powder
5 oz. package of frozen green peas


  1. Clean and shell shrimp
  2. Cook sliced chorizo, pepperoni or sausage in skillet for 10 minutes, drain fat, and set aside to cool. 
  3. Heat oil in skillet and brown the chicken pieces for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove chicken and set aside.
  4. In a sauce pan, heat chicken broth to a boil. Meanwhile, brown onion, pepper, and garlic in the oil remaining in the skillet used for the chicken. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, and set the bottom shelf to the lowest setting.
  5. Add rice and seasonings to the boiling broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and then remove from heat. 
  6. Pour rice into Paella or Pyrex pan (use at least a 9 x 13)
  7. Arrange chicken, sausage, and shrimp/shell fish on top of the rice. Scatter peas over it all. Set pan on the bottom shelf of the oven and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until rice is done. NEVER STIR!
  8. When done, remove and cover with a kitchen towel for ~5 minutes, then serve. from the get-go, I hate peppers. Of any sort. So I don't put those in, ever. For seafood, I use 1 pound of the pre-cooked shrimp and no other shellfish - I've used any size from salad shrimp to jumbo shrimp, whatever your preference is should work. For sausage I use pepperoni cut into chunks (not sliced) and increase the amount from 8 oz to 16 oz. And for the peas, I usually use around 8-10 ounces, because I like peas. And it helps break the spiciness of the dish a little bit. I usually use chicken tenders for my chicken and cook however many will fit on the top of the 9 x 13 pan (usually 6-8). Instead of draining the pepperoni after cooking and using separate cooking oil, I brown the chicken in the skillet I used to cook the pepperoni. It gets an awesome flavor from the leftover pepperoni oil, and browns pretty well. 
As for changes in the cooking process, we have found that the rice is NEVER done in the 30 minutes allotted to it in the oven. Usually it takes 45-60 minutes if followed as directed. So to combat this, we combine everything except for the shrimp, peas, and chicken in the chicken broth and boil it for ~10 minutes. Then stir the shrimp and peas into the pot and immediately put into your Pyrex pan. Place the chicken pieces on top and cook for the specified 25-30 minutes. We have found that this keeps the peas from getting mushy and the shrimp from getting overcooked and chewy. This is a hearty dish, which just the right amount of spice to keep it interesting without being too spicy for me! 
I would love to hear if you have made paella before, or what changes you would make! 

Listening to The Piano Guys currently, and getting ready to watch Perception's first episode of season 2. Happy Sunday night to me. :)