Things I Love Thursdays

A few happy Things I Love on this first Thursday of August…

Pengoloo

Penguins

 

A game I never mind playing!  Pengoloo is a memory game made of hysterical little penguins and their colored eggs.  The game is easy to understand, fun, and fast!  It is loved by all three of my kids.  And we’ve given it as a birthday present in the past and it has been well-received. Only negative? The eggs are a choking hazard so stick to playing with kids who are 3+.

Pumpkin Muffins (recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

I do admit that I am usually anti pumpkin food stuffs.  And it isn’t fall.  But these are easy (one bowl!) and tasty.  My kids adore them (because, really, like most muffins, they are basically cake).  Smitten Kitchen is brilliant – I’ve loved every recipe I’ve tried (except the gingerbread, but I think that was more about me and less about the recipe, but I digress…)

Make these muffins.  I cut the sugar down to 1 cup, and eyeball the pumpkin amount.  I also eyeball the spices.  And the muffins are always great.  The recipe is really forgiving. I’m going to try making them with a 50/50 white/whole wheat flour mix in the next few days.  I bet they’ll still be great. Added bonus? These keep beautifully for a few days, unlike some muffins with fruit in them that get soggy on day 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I usually just use cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger)
  • cinnamon sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 and put muffin tins in a 12-muffin pan.
  2. Whisk together the first 4 ingredients.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients except the cinnamon sugar and whisk ingredients together.
  4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes (mine are always done at 25).

Enjoy these August days – eat as much ice cream as possible and run in those sprinklers – it’ll be back to school soon enough!

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Brownie Paradise. Best Ever.

I like brownies made from a box. I do. They are moist, chocolatey goodness that makes an appearance at every potluck and picnic. But a few months ago, one of the recipes that showed up in my Google Reader (R.I.P) was Julia Child’s Best-Ever Brownies, as posted by The Naptime Chef. I like recipes with “Best Ever” in the title, and I like recipes by Julia Child. So, I gave them a go.

(When I was a wee lass of 3 or 4 I would creep downstairs early in the morning, and switch on the TV – much easier in those days – and watch PBS reruns of Ju-Ju [as I called her]. So we go way back.)

I’m pretty sure this is, indeed, the best brownie recipe ever.  Halfway through making these for the first time I became annoyed by the seemingly extra step of whipping half (?!) of the egg mixture before incorporating it into the rest of the ingredients.  But now that I’ve made these a few times I’m pretty sure that step is what makes these amazing.

Brownies (adapted ever so slightly from The Naptime Chef, but originally from Julia Child)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 C. flour
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 2 sticks butter (unsalted, but I use salted and still loved them)
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate (chop it if you want it to melt better)
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (same thing with the chopping)
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla (the good stuff, people)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Stir together the flour and salt and set bowl aside.

3. Microwave butter and chocolate on low, stirring often, until just melted. Add 1 C. of the sugar and stir, then add the vanilla. Pour this mixture into a large bowl, if it isn’t already in one.

4. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and remaining 1 C. of sugar. Pour half of this sugar/egg mixture into the chocolate and stir well. Whip the remaining sugar/egg mixture until it is thick, pale yellow, and doubled in volume.

5. Carefully fold the whipped egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, only until it is just combined. Then carefully fold in the dry ingredients.

6. Pour the batter into lightly greased (or better, buttered, per Julia!) 9-inch square pan. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick has only a few moist crumbs attached.  (My brownies required a few more minutes than that, but that could be my oven.)

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PS – Yes, I am aware that two of my recipe posts – of which there are few – are brownie recipes.  Shut up.