dark chocolate mexican brownies

mexican dark chocolate brownies via she likes to eat

these might be the perfect brownie.
yes yes, the oreo brownies ROCK MY WORLD and the chocolate-ginger brownies are unexpected and lovely, but for a classic.. these are the best. they are just the right amount of fudgy and they have that perfect shiny, thinly crisp top. my mom (aka “mahm”) sent me her recipe for spicy mexican brownies a while back and i played with it a bit to get the shiny top (fave) and then added the dark chocolate because IT’S AWESOME. (of course you can use bittersweet or milk chocolate if you’re not a fan of the dark.. and you can come to me for counseling, if so.) and i am pretty sure she approves, since she is the one who passed on to me the love of dark chocolate.

if you aren’t into spicy things like i am or have little ones, you can omit the cayenne pepper. but instead of omitting it altogether, i have come up with a solution. i have 2 little girls who love chocolate mayyybe more than i do so i make it like this: i mix everything but the cayenne, pour half the batter into an 8×8 dish, then whisk in 1/4 tsp cayenne to the last half of the batter (mix well) and then pour it into the other baking dish. then you have one spicy/adult dish’o’brownies, and one for the kiddies.

inexplicably, those little half-texans are not fans of spicy. yet.
maybe these brownies will be the thing to get them to come over to the dark side…

mahm’s dark chocolate mexican brownies

ingredients

2 sticks butter, cut into tablespoons

6 oz. (1 cup) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (or you can use morsels)

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup special dark cocoa powder, unsweetened

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

directions

1. preheat the oven to 325. grease a 9 x 13 (or two 8-inch square) baking dish generously with coconut oil or baking spray.

2. melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

3. while you’re waiting for the chocolate to cool, in a large bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, and sugar – whisk well.  stir in remaining ingredients. add in melted chocolate and butter. stir to combine.

3. pour batter into prepared baking dish(es). bake 25-35 minutes. (25 minutes will get you really fudgy brownies and 30-35 minutes will bake them through a little bit more.) let the brownies cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then cut into squares and enjoy! (store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.)

rosemary garlic hummus

rosemary garlic hummus via she likes to eat

thank you, lord, for hummus.
really. THANK YOU.

hummus is one of the rare things that is on the healthy side, and that everyone in my family loves.
i got a tough crowd, yo.
i usually buy the store-bought hummus since it’s everyone’s favorite but i have been wanting an outside-the-box recipe… one that’s not too wild (or the other 3 people around here would not eat it) but one that is different from your basic hummus. last week, i had some rosemary i was wanting to use up, so i played with it a little and well, THIS HUMMUS ROCKS. i seriously love this hummus. the garlic gives it a little kick, but without being spicy. and the rosemary is just so lovely – my hands smelled like it for a few hours afterwards. as with any hummus, it’s super easy to make and you can store it for a week or so in the fridge. this makes just enough for my family to snack on for a day or two, so if you are making it for a party or a crowd, go ahead and double this recipe.

rosemary garlic hummus
makes about 1 cup

ingredients

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans

1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil (depending on how thick you like your hummus), plus more for drizzling

3 cloves garlic, peeled and tiny brown ends cut off

juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 large sprig of rosemary (about 1 tbsp), not chopped

1/4 tsp coarse sea salt, heaping

freshly cracked pepper

directions

puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. put in serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. serve with cut up veggies, pita chips, or our personal favorite, pretzel chips. will keep for about 7 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

central market’s couscous salad with feta, spinach, basil, and lemon

central market's couscous salad with feta, spinach, basil, and lemon
while home in austin for the christmas holiday, my mom and i went grocery shopping at central market (if you’re not familiar, it’s like the best grocery store ever – similar to whole foods). it was a gorgeous afternoon and we sat outside as we ate lunch before hitting the aisles.
yes outside. in late december.
just one of the 5,834,395 reasons i love texas.
we had grabbed a few of their prepared snacks for lunch, some sushi and this amazing couscous salad. we both would have licked the plastic container if there weren’t so many people there. i knew as soon as i got home, i would have to give it a go, and try to make it myself. and obviously, since i am posting the recipe, i am super happy with the results. (this is just my interpretation of the couscous – i didn’t get this recipe straight from CM.) a huge bonus: this recipe takes about 10 minutes to make. it is light and bright, with fresh basil and tangy lemon juice. the spinach adds interest and great nutrition + vitamins. and the feta.. oh the feta. i could put feta on almost anything.
#iloveyoufeta

central market’s couscous salad with feta, spinach, basil, and lemon
makes a little over 2 cups

ingredients

1 cup uncooked couscous

1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or torn into small pieces

juice from 1/2 lemon

few dashes of white pepper (not black pepper, which would be too heavy)

directions

1. bring 1 cup water and 1/4 tsp sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan. once boiling, add 1 cup couscous and stir well. cover and remove from heat. let sit for 5 minutes.

2. once couscous is done, add olive oil, fluff with a fork or spatula and transfer into a bowl. add feta, chopped spinach, basil, and white pepper. squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon over top and mix well. serve chilled or at room temperature.

maple brown sugar oatmeal cookies

maple brown sugar oatmeal cookies | via she likes to eat

i was blazing through target a few weeks ago – the way one does when accompanied by a 4-year old and a 2-year old who are not into shopping the way you are and goldfish snacks are no longer cutting it – and i barely glanced at a display of packaged cookie mixes, all in autumn-inspired flavors. only later did this register and i began to dream of a similar cookie that i had seen, with maple syrup and brown sugar… i thought i would maybe mix in some oats… my wheels were turning.

so i looked in my trusty recipe box – the one you are looking at right now – and went to my oatmeal biscoff cookies with vanilla-soaked raisins recipe, figuring i could edit it to make this cookie recipe i was working on in my head. although i thought it would take a few tries to get it just right – since cooking with maple syrup can be tricky..well, baking PERIOD can be tricky when experimenting – but the first batch, really, was MONEY.

i done it all by mine-self, y’all. (insert ozarks backwoods accent here.)

these babies are a comforting, classic fall cookie. the oats give them texture and they are perfectly crispy on the outer edges and yet gloriously chewy in the center. they are the cookie i crave on a cold fall day, when i don’t want anything fancy, just simple, with a glass of cold milk.

maple brown sugar oatmeal cookies
makes about 34 cookies

ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup plain quaker oats

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temp

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/3 cup pure maple syrup (not imitation syrup)

directions

1. preheat the oven to 350. line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt – set aside. in another bowl, cream together butter and both sugars with a mixer (handheld or standing), at medium speed until light and fluffy. add in vanilla, then add in eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. add in maple syrup. continue mixing on low to medium speed for another 1-2 minutes.

3. add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together with a spatula until just combined. using a cookie scoop or a spoon, place balls of cookie dough an inch or more apart (they will spread a bit during baking) onto prepared cookie sheets. bake each sheet separately, baking for about 13-14 minutes each, until the cookies begin to darken around the edges and are set in the center. allow cookies to cool on a wire rack before removing from cookie sheets.

mexican rice with cilantro + garlic

if you have been to my house, you might have noticed i have a little problem with too many cookbooks. i will admit it, but i am far from getting into a program to help me quit.

every time i get a new cookbook, i will curl up with it that evening like i would a novel and look through it, reading the introduction, the contents, the entries, marking a few recipes that i want to make soon. i love to get a feel for the food inside of it, scanning the food styling and photographs, and letting my mouth water. so the last time i was at the bookstore, my eyes landed on tacolicious, this gorgeous cookbook by the chef at a popular san francisco eatery of the same name. the book is beautifully photographed and the design of it made me immediately pick it up. i only had to flip through it and see all of its mexican food loveliness and i was sold. or rather it was. to me. i have not had the cookbook very long, but i have already made a ton of recipes from it – and i highly recommend it. their rice recipe is my favorite so far – boldly seasoned and perfectly fluffy, after sautéing and then baking in the oven. comes out perfect every time. this makes quite a bit, so for a family night in, i would halve this recipe. but if you are hosting the neighborhood’s taco tuesday fiesta, you will have plenty.

baked mexican rice with cilantro + garlic
adapted from tacolicious by sara deseran

ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 16-oz bag long grain white rice (about 2 cups)

2 1/3 cups water

1 cup canned tomato puree

2 tsp dried cilantro (or oregano)

1 tsp cumin

1 bay leaf

2 tsp coarse sea salt

a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper

directions

1. preheat the oven to 350.

2. heat the oil in a large oven-safe pot, covered, over medium heat. add in the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. add the garlic and cook another minute more, until onion is translucent. reduce heat to medium-low, then add the rice and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until rice has browned.

3. add the water, tomato puree, cilantro (or oregano), cumin, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. stir to combine and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. cover, transfer pot to the oven, and bake for 40 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender.

4. remove from the oven and allow to cool, first with the cover on, then remove and let cool a bit more. fluff with a fork and serve warm.

mrs watson’s pumpkin bread

mrs. watson's perfect pumpkin bread | via she likes to eat

in the fall, i sometimes get a little too excited about christmas being so close. i confess, i begin to listen to christmas music and bake things that remind me of the holidays. all because the temperature has dropped, like, 15 degrees.

when we were traveling a few weeks back, we spent some time in oklahoma city with a few close friends. one of those dear friends had just moved into a new house and i was seriously drooling over her new kitchen. (white + marble + gold fixtures make me a little giddy.) THEN she had me drooling yet again over this homemade pumpkin bread she had made from scratch. literally the day we got home, i immediately gathered the ingredients and made it for my family.. well, for myself, let’s be honest.  i only made a few small changes and, after a few batches, truly it’s the best i’ve made. or ever had. it is super moist (i ain’t afraid to say it); light & fluffy yet superbly dense, while not being overly sweet. it has a ton of flavor from all the spices and, well, yeah. it’s the perfect pumpkin bread.

mrs. watson’s perfect pumpkin bread
makes 2 loaves

ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 16-oz can pumpkin (not pie filling)

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

2 tsp vanilla

directions

1. preheat oven to 350. spray 2 large loaf pans (or 6 small) with cooking spray – i use coconut or grapeseed oil spray. set aside.

2. in a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. then add pumpkin, oil, water, and vanilla. mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until incorporated. pour into the prepared loaf pans.

3. bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted fully into the center of the bread comes out clean.

spiced mixed nuts with brown sugar + rosemary butter

spiced mixed nuts with brown sugar + rosemary butter | via she likes to eat

for my family, fall is a big time of entertaining. there is a lot of football to be watched, and with the weather getting cooler, we have a tendency to often gather with friends to eat, play games outside, and then retire to the fire pit for s’mores. while i am cooking and guests are still arriving, i like to set out a little something for guests to snack on, and this is one of my favorites to put out. most people love nuts and this is a deliciously different way to serve them, instead of just plain ol’ poured-from-the-can-mixed-nuts. they are a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. and the rosemary gives it an incredible flavor. if you and your guests don’t polish off the whole bowl in one night, they will keep for about 2 weeks in an airtight container.

spiced mixed nuts with brown sugar + rosemary butter
adapted from union square cafe’s bar nuts

ingredients

36 oz mixed nuts (i prefer a mixture of just pistachios, almonds, and cashews – or you can do a pre-mixed variety), lightly salted

4 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 tsp cayenne (if there are no kids, and you like spicy, 1/2 tsp is recommended)

5 (level) tsp brown sugar

3 tbsp butter

directions

1. preheat the oven to 350.

2. spread out nuts in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. roast for about 8-10 minutes, stopping about halfway through to stir the nuts a bit.

3. while the nuts are roasting, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. once completely melted, add in chopped rosemary, cayenne, and brown sugar. whisk well to incorporate. turn off the heat.

4. when the nuts are done roasting, pour them into a large bowl. toss well with the butter mixture. serve while still warm or at room temperature.

enjoy!