Brownies from Scratch

There’s nothing like brownies made from scratch.  I think I got this recipe over ten years ago from a PBS broadcast of America’s Test Kitchen.  I wrote it down while they went over the ingredients and may have tweaked it a bit but I’m sure it’s close.  I hadn’t made the recipe in years and ran across it in one of my files.  What a great find!  I made sure to make these when I knew there would be teenagers around to eat up the leftovers.  I love these brownies but don’t need to eat the entire pan.  The best part of this recipe is that you can really taste the fresh chocolate and then the powdered cocoa gives it a sort of finishing touch.

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Chicken Noodle and Broccoli Casserole

Chicken Noodle and Broccoli Casserole

This chicken noodle and broccoli casserole is easy to throw together and it’s also perfect as a make-ahead dish.  You know that during the work week I like a dinner that come together quickly with as little clean-up afterwards as possible.  You can make it on the weekend and pop it in the oven a day or two later or even freeze it for a few weeks and then defrost it in the fridge the night before.  It’s also flexible and not fussy on the broccoli.  You can either steam fresh broccoli or use frozen.  Notice I topped only half the casserole with sliced almonds.  The kids won’t eat nuts but the adults in the house love that little bit of a nutty crunch.  

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Fresh Mozzarella and Pepper Salad

Do you have a garden that is just overflowing with fresh peppers?  I hope so.  The farmers markets are just bursting with these colorful beauties right now.  They are fat, juicy, and crispy.  I bought a whole bunch the other day and then after I brought them home and washed them, remembered that only my daughter and I like them so we came up with this creative little salad that lured in the cheese lovers of the house.  The men in the house love cheese and we even got them to eat some of the delicious peppers thanks to a nice balsamic dressing we drizzled over the top.  

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Pico de Gallo

It’s that time of year when my garden starts overflowing with produce and I’ve got to get creative with how to enjoy it all.  The tomatoes and cilantro and growing like crazy!  Throw in a bit of red onion and some limes from my lime tree and what to you get?  Pico de gallo!  I’m not one for having things too spicy and often salsa is too hot.  So pico de gallo is a perfect flavor combination.  It’s cool and refreshing and perfect to dip some salty tortilla chips in or add as a topping to a casserole.   You can make as much or as little as you need.  My rule of thumb when tossing this together is to have equal parts tomato and cilantro with slightly less red onion.

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Green Bean Almondine

Green bean almondine is an easy side dish that comes together in just ten minutes.  The key is to use fresh green beans.  The beans should be firm and crispy.  A good test is to bend them.  If they snap in half, they are fresh.  If they keep bending and seem a little wilty after you mess with them, they’ve been sitting in the store for a while.  For the almonds, you can slice them yourself or buy the already sliced ones.  If I don’t have some pre-sliced ones leftover from something, I’ll slice them myself.  However, I lack skills in this department and I always end up with more of a chopped and not sliced version.  You can usually buy the already sliced ones in the bulk areas of grocery stores and natural food markets.

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Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

If ranch dressing makes everything taste better, then buttermilk ranch dressing makes everything taste the best.  It’s a fact and you read it here first, folks.  This is truly a fresh and easy recipe and in the five minutes it takes to make this, you’ll thank yourself for its deliciousness.  And if you read the ingredients on a store-bought bottle of dressing, you won’t go back to those bottled dressings ever again.

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Wild Rice Pilaf

Wild rice pilaf is easy and inexpensive to make.  And yet, doesn’t it seem like a fancy restaurant side dish?  Well, you can make this dish at home and it will taste fantastic.  This is such a versatile side dish.  It goes well with red meat, seafood, and chicken.  You can slightly alter the flavor of the rice by matching the broth you cook it in to your meal.  For instance, if you are serving this dish with chicken, you can cook it in chicken broth.  Or if you’re serving it with a nice roast, cook it in beef broth.  The vegetables in it are versatile as well.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of cooked carrots but my husband is so I humored him by chopping up some baby carrots and adding them to the rice.  He’s a hard one where vegetable consumption is concerned so I have to sneak it in where I can.

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Stuffed Pork Loin

I have a seriously overstuffed freezer.  It was so hot this weekend and when I got home from the grocery store, I made the mad dash from the car to the kitchen with my ice cream, only to discover there was no room.  I could do one of two things.  Eat the entire container of ice cream right there, which I can say is tempting after you have come in from Arizona summer heat, or take something out.  The pork loin won.  In went the ice cream, out came the pork loin.  They were roughly the same size and it didn’t take a whole lot of re-adjusting inside the freezer.  So what to do with it?  Stuff it!

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