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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Angels Unawares, Serial #13 and Raspberry Fudge Brownies

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How about a gooey decadent treat with a kick?

That’s right–we’re talking to you! Admit it. You’ve been dragging a little bit. March is such a loooooong month.

But at Reading and Recipes we’ve got the perfect antidote (no, it’s not an anecdote, though I always get those two mixed up)–Raspberry Fudge Brownies. This remedy (less confusion with anecdote) combines the rich indulgence of a fudgy brownie (can’t do much better than that to lift you out of the doldrums) with the spritely (I think I made that word up) finish of raspberry–kind of a two-stage rocket to blast you out of that rut you’ve been in.

And they’re easy to make and versatile–eat them straight out of the pan or put one on a pretty plate and jazz it up with a little ice cream, whipped cream, or a mint sprig or two.

So give these a try. They’ll put a spring (get it?) in your step and a smile on your face, even if it is tinged with a little smudge of chocolate.

And before you know it, it will be April–no fooling!

 rasp fudge brownies

Raspberry Fudge Brownies

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves

ingredients for rasp fudge brownies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 7×5 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, add the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each time, until butter is completely melted. (I only had to microwave my mixture for about 50 seconds.) Allow this mixture to cool slightly.

After the mixture has cooled, stir in the vanilla extract. Next, add the egg and beat until it is fully incorporated. Add the flour and mix until just combined, careful not to over mix.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish. Microwave the raspberry preserves for 10 seconds, until they are slightly runny. Spoon the preserves over top of the brownie batter. With a knife, swirl the preserves through the batter. (The batter is very thick, so most of the preserves will remain on top.) Bake the brownies for 29-32 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center only comes out with a few crumbs and the batter no longer looks liquidy. Cool in pan completely before cutting into brownies.

Makes 6 brownies.

raspberry brownie

{Adapted from Cooking to Perfection}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #13 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #13, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #13, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Angels Unawares, Serial #12 and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Is it done yet?

No, I’m not talking about winter–but now that you mention it, today is the first day of spring (or fall, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Yayyyyyy! But keep it quiet–don’t want to rouse that mean Old North Wind! Probably still has a couple of gusts and maybe a flake or two up his sleeve.

But what I was really talking about with the Is it done yet? whine is the little child in all of us (yeah, you too!) that wants what we want and wants it NOW! I burned the heck out of my mouth last night tasting the Southern Cherry Cobbler before it had time to cool. That’s a great recipe–five minutes to prepare, tops–but it takes about forty-five minutes to cook and another twenty or so to cool AND I WANT IT NOW! Maybe next time I’ll put it in the fridge for a few minutes (then I’ll be crying But it’s too cold!–I must’ve been a really whiny kid!).

Where was I? Oh yeah–Is it done yet? These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are about as close as you’re going to get to having a hot dessert ready as soon as you want to eat it. About five minutes to mix, eight minutes to cook, another seven minutes to cool (five if you blow on them and have really cold breath) and you’re eating away in twenty minutes. Can’t do much better than that with anything not out of a box. Give it a try!

Now if we can just figure out how to make winter get done that fast. We’ll put our R&R techies to work on it and get back to you.

oatmeal chocolate cookie

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/4 cup oats

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup chocolate chips

oatmeal choc chip cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and egg yolk, and mix until all ingredients are evenly combined. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, oats, and cinnamon to the butter mixture, and slowly mix the ingredients together, careful not to over mix. Once the cookie dough comes together, fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide the cookie dough into four balls and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 4 cookies.

cookie bite

{Adapted from Like Mother, Like Daughter}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #12 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #12, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #12, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Angels Unawares, Serial #11 and Mint Cream Cups

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So you’ve had enough of winter and you’re checking out the calendar and counting down the minutes, the seconds till spring. Then here comes this nasty north wind and–WHAM–knocks you back into January with its frigid temps and swirling snow and those damn icy patches (still got a bruise on my butt!).

What the heck is going on with this weather?

Well, at Reading and Recipes, we can’t control the weather but we can make it just a tad easier to tolerate. These Mint Cream Cups are oh so simple to throw together but oh so pretty to look at and yummy and fun to eat. They’ve got the old standby pick-me-up of chocolate in the crunchy crumbs at the bottom topped with the tang of mint and the light airiness of cream, all rolled into one easy to store, quick to eat cup. Add a little more green food coloring if you want to make it into a St. Patty’s Day treat, or skip the food coloring if you just want the white creaminess over the chocolate earthiness. Whatever it takes to get you through till spring.

Angie feels about the same way in Angels Unawares, Serial #11. She’s longing for some signs of spring in a world devoid not only of spring but also of hope. Yet her spirit and determination will not surrender to the brutality of the place she’s landed in. In her case, springtime exists not outside her but inside. And maybe that’s a reminder we all could use–as the wind slams into the house and knocks the power out again.

mint cream

Mint Cream Cups

5 chocolate graham cracker sheets*

1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff

1/4 teaspoon mint extract

2 cups whipped cream or thawed Cool Whip**

green food coloring (optional)

mint pies

Add the chocolate graham cracker sheets to a food processor and pulse until the cookies are thick crumbs. You should have about 3/4 cups of crumbs at the end. Set these crumbs aside.

In a mixing bowl, add the marshmallow fluff. Beat the marshmallow fluff until it becomes less of a sticky ball and more of a manageable batter. (This took me about 1-2 minutes of vigorously beating by hand.) Add the mint extract to the fluff and continue to beat the mixture until the mint extract is evenly distributed. Next, fold in the whipped cream. Add a few drops of green food coloring, if using, and continue to fold the ingredients together. Add as much food coloring as you need to get your desired color of green.

Divide the chocolate cookie crumbs between two glasses or one-cup mason jars. Top with cream mixture. Cover each cup and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. When ready to serve, top the mint cream mixture with a dollop of whipped cream or a few chocolate cookie crumbs. Serve chilled.

Makes 2 cream cups.

*Or 3/4 chocolate cookie crumbs. If you have Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, these would work great in this recipe!

**To yield 2 cups whipped cream, you will need 1 cup heavy cream. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

mint cream pies

{Adapted from A Pretty Life in the Suburbs}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #11 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #11, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #11, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Angels Unawares, Serial #10 and Banana Upside-Down Cake

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In Angels Unawares, Serial #10, Josh wakes up to find his ex-wife, Laura, asleep beside him. He’s not sure if he’s died in the night and gone to a quite reasonable version of Heaven, or if he’s been transported by an especially vivid dream back to the long ago days when he and Laura were young and married and living in Boston.

Well, he’s neither dead nor dreaming. His ex-wife, called in to care for him in his last days or weeks, has made the unilateral decision to abandon the guest bed and sleep beside him while she can. And Josh is deeply grateful for the kind and reassuring gesture, though also a little shocked and confused.

You might say Josh’s life has been turned upside-down by Laura’s care, but in a good way–if anything in the last days of life can be called “good” (hint, hint–it can). You might say the same about Laura’s life at the moment–totally upside-down, but in (maybe) a good way, if she can figure out how to make up for decades of separation and reveal a huge secret before Josh dies (oh, and then also figure out how to handle the death of her only husband).

I guess you get where I’m heading with this only slightly forced comparison. Upside-down isn’t always bad–as in the case of this wonderful (and wonderfully easy) Banana Upside-Down Cake. You’ve heard of pineapple upside-down cake (if you need a recipe, check out our Recipes index page!). But this recipe gives a new twist on an old standby, turns the traditional upside-down cake upside-down. (Does an upside-down upside-down cake make it right-side up or doubly upside-down?–and you said our blog wasn’t thought provoking!)

Enough already with this upside-down intro! Try this great variation on a great recipe. Check out the beautiful cooking photos. Read or listen to the story. Enjoy our blog–that’s what it’s here for!

And that’s right-side up!

(But is that upside-down x 2, or just right-side up? Inquiring minds want to know . . .)

close up

Banana Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (divided)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk or buttermilk

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 large bananas, sliced

banana upsidedown cake

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Add half of the butter (1/4 cup) to a mixing bowl with the granulated sugar. Mix these ingredients together until a light and fluffy mixture is created. Add the egg and vanilla, and blend until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Add 1/2 cup of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and slowly mix into the batter. Before the flour is all the way incorporated, add the milk and remaining 1/2 cup of flour, and slowly mix until all of the ingredients are well incorporated, careful not to over mix.

before{Before the flip…}

after{…and after!}

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of butter to the round cake pan and place in the preheated oven. Once the butter is melted, remove from the oven and stir in the brown sugar. Lay sliced bananas onto brown sugar mixture until all of the brown sugar and butter is covered. Pour the cake batter over the bananas. Place the cake in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back slightly when touched. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting over a serving plate. Serve this cake warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Makes 1 round cake, or about 6 servings.

bite banana upsidedown cake

{Adapted from Babble}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #10 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #10, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #10, text © Jeffrey Anderson