Man-Catcher Brownies- aka best brownie recipe ever

Brownies are like chocolate chip cookies: everyone has a recipe and everyone thinks their recipe is the best. Well I'm here to tell you that my brownie recipe is in fact the best ;) I promise you that if you try you it you will agree but first you have to take a leap of faith and not judge this recipe by its name. Yes, this recipe is actually called Man-Catcher brownies. Let me tell you that 1. I already have a man, 2. If I didn't have a man, I most certainly wouldn't want to 'catch' him, and
3. Say I did want to catch him, I can think a couple of other things to catch him with than brownies. Ok, so we've all agreed it's a stupid name. Now lets move on to the actual brownie. This recipe produces the most dense, fudgy, chewy brownie you have ever tasted. Not only that it is super easy to make which is always a hugein my book.

ManCatcher Brownies

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups cocoa powder, sifted (natural or Dutch process)
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
* I add a teaspoon of instant espresso

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick spray.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, remove from heat and add the cocoa powder. Stir them completely and let cool.
3. In your mixer bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the sugars and vanilla extract. Then add the chocolate mixture. Once you've whisked all these ingredients, fold in the flour and salt until just combined.
4. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or do the toothpick trick. Insert a toothpick in the brownie, if it comes out clean it is ready. I really like my brownies fudgy so I tend to underbake mine. If you cook it too long you get a cakey texture.
5. Transfer the pan to a wire rack; cool completely before cutting the brownies.


Orzo Salad

Did you know Basil can grow and multiply like weeds? If you did well good for you :P If, however, you are like myself and had no idea and thought it would be fun to sprinkle the flowers everywhere, well you have a Basil farm on your hands. I currently have more Basil than I do neighbors, friends and or recipes. So I'm on a mission to start using up some of my Basil. So don't be surprised if you see ten recipes in a row with Basil. Ok, not really but I really am on a mission to start using up some of this Basil, and to start I'm making my favorite Orzo Salad.

If you've never had Orzo, it's basically pasta shaped like rice. Orzo in Italian means barley due to it‘s resemblance to a barley grain. It is frequently used in soups, salads, or as a side in place of rice and pasta.

This Orzo salad is one of my favorites because it's easy to make (less then 30 minutes); you can make it ahead of time, in fact it tastes better if it sits a couple hours or overnight; it travels well in the heat, as there is no mayo in it; and it tastes delicious, trust me when I say everyone will love it.

Orzo Salad
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups red grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
About 3/4 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette- Recipe below
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put broth in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook until al dante (7-10 minutes.)
2. Drain orzo and put in a large bowl to cool.
3. When Orzo is completely cool, add the tomatoes, onion, basil, mint and garbanzo beans. If you are making this ahead of time you may want to consider adding the mint and tomatoes closer to serving time.
4. Add the vinaigrette.
5. Serve at room temperature.

Vinaigrette Recipe*
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* I personally think this is way too much dressing and cut mine in half.

1. Mix all the ingredients together.

Serves 6.


Persian Tomato Cucumber Salad

A staple food in every Persian household is the Tomato Cucumber salad also known as Salad-e-Shirazi. If you have any Persian friends or have been to any Persian restaurants, you will undoubtedly have had this dish. Growing up- and still to this day, this is one of my favorite foods. I can literally eat this by the pound and I’m ashamed to admit I put it on everything from rice to chicken. Yes I get strange looks but hey we all have our ‘thing‘.

Seriously though, this salad great for the summer when it’s oh so hot that all you crave is cold and refreshing foods. This is perfect served with grilled meats or served as an appetizer. Another great thing about this salad is that is healthy, fresh and flavorful! How often is something that is good for you also yummy? I can also proudly say that I have also turned my husband on to this. He has me make a huge batch that he eats for several days. If you have never had this, try it and let me know what you think!

Persian Tomato Cucumber Salad

2 medium tomatoes
Half of a long English cucumber
Half of a white onion
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed preferred as always but bottled works too)
2 tablespoons of dried mint
Salt and Pepper to taste
*you can also add a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil if you would like

1. Dice up all the ingredients and put in a bowl.
2. Add mint, lemon juice, salt and pepper and olive oil if you are using it.
3. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, mint and lemon juice to your taste. Once you have made this several times you will make it your own. Serves about 4.

note: other variations of this recipe include using fresh lime juice instead of lemon.


Peach and Blueberry Crumble

Peach and Blueberry Crumble- My very first Barefoot Blogger Post!!!!

Barefoot Bloggers are a group of bloggers who love all things Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa. Every month two different bloggers are chosen to pick an Ina recipe for all of us bloggers to try and write about on the same day (the second and fourth Thursday of every month). This month Aggie of Aggie’s Kitchen has chosen Ina's Peach and Blueberry Crumble.

I have to admit that I have never been fond of desserts with fruit in them, on them...anywhere near them ;). In fact I can actually go so far as to say, I go out of my way to avoid them. Why…I have no idea. I mean I love fruit and I love dessert but I've never loved them together or rather I should say I've never given them a chance together. So this recipe was a good opportunity for me to try something new and open up my horizons. I made the recipe when my mother in law was here with my husbands 14 year old cousin. The adults all really enjoyed this recipe, but the 14 year old looked at it, made a face and ran the other way. There are some people who equate dessert with chocolate and that’s it. I’m glad to say I am no longer one those people ;) I actually really enjoyed this recipe but if I had to change one thing- I would probably cut the sugar in the crumble by half. I found it a little too sweet for my taste. Since I enjoyed making this recipe so much, I can’t wait to try other fruit combinations!

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

Ina Garten-Barefoot Contessa at Home

For the fruit
2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the peaches in boiling water for a minute or so, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl.
3. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.
4.For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit.
5.Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and back for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

You can these early, store the unbaked crumbles int he refrigerator and bake before dinner. Serves 5 to 6.


Cheesecake Brownies

Today we are getting ready for my Mother in Law to visit from New York. She only usually visits a couple times a year so we get pretty excited to see her. Usually when I have company over I like make a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies, but some reason today I really wanted to make brownies. However, I really didn't want to make your typical brownie, I wanted something with a twist. So I set out in search of a new and interesting recipe. That's when on Martha's website I found a brownie recipe made with Mascarpone Cheese. I absolutely adore Mascarpone cheese, so I was sold. Well let me tell you this recipe is not only fast and easy but it's truly delicious. My favorite part is the contrast in textures which you don't get with the typical brownie!! My husband who is the true critic in the house gave it his two thumbs up, so I know I will be making this again.

Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

IngredientsMakes about 5 dozen
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pound mascarpone cheese or cream cheese


1.Preheat overn to 350. Butter a 9x13 baking pan.
2. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. On a double boiler melt chocolate and butter together.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the shisk attachment beat 3 eggs and i cup of sugar until thick and fluffy-do this on high speed, you'll see the color get lighter and the texture change.
5. On low speed add melted chocolate, vanilla extract and dry mixture. Stir and spread into prepared pan.
6. Wash your electric mixer bowl and add paddle attacment. Beat cheese, remaining eggs, yolks, remaining vanilla and remaining sugar on medium speed until smooth.
7. Pour over chocolate mixture bake 35 minutes.

Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

We have a bit of a predicament going on in my house, as the only meat I will eat is Chicken and the only meat my husband will not eat is well yes you guessed it-chicken. So it appears as though it has become my lifes mission to come up with chicken recipes that my husband will not only eat but enjoy and not act as though he is being handed down a fate worst than death by being served chicken. The only recipe I can actually say that has accomplished this thus far has been the Zuni Cafe Chicken. If you ever have a chance to google this recipe, you will see it has somewhat of a cult following and for very good reason-it is darn good. What makes this chicken so good you ask? Well it has great flavor and it is oh so succulent. I am telling you no part of this chicken is dry, not even the breasts!

For this recipe Chef Judy Rogers only has 2 real hard and fast rules:
1. You must use a small chicken under 4 pounds prefereably 2-3 1/2 pounds. A jumbo roaster she says will be too lean and won't tolerate the high heat.
2. You must salt your chicken at least 24 hours in advance. This is will make the chicken tender, moist and give it flavor. Judy explains "First, salt helps dissolve some of the proteins within and around muscle fibres that would otherwise resist chewing. A second process is more complex, Initially salt does draw moisture from cells-whence the widely accepted belief that it dries food out. However, the quiet trauma of osmosis is temporary. With time, the cells reabsorb moisture, in reverse osmosis." Seriously she spends pages and pages explaining the process in detail. Every home chef needs this book in their collection.

This recipe may be bit more involved in that it requires a little planning and foresight, but trust me it is well worth the effort. The recipe is accompanied by a bread salad that you should at least try once. I usually do not make the bread salad with it as it's a bit labor intensive for me. I usually just serve it with my favorite side dish.

Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad
Adapted from the Zuni Cafe cookbook by Judy Rogers

For the chicken
One small chicken, under 4lbs
4 sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage,
freshly cracked black pepper

For the salad

Generous 8 ounces slightly stale open-crumbed, chewy, peasant-style bread (not sourdough)
6 to 8 tablespoons mild-tasting olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon dried currants
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or as needed
1 tablespoon warm water
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 to 3 garlic cloves, slivered
1/4 cup slivered scallions (about 4 scallions), including a little of the green part
2 tablespoons lightly salted Chicken Stock or lightly salted water
A few handfuls of arugula, frisée, or red mustard greens

1. Wash and thoroughly dry your chicken.
2. Season generously with salt and pepper.
3. Add the herbs- take your finger to the edge of the cavity and slide under the skin and make a pocket, then slide the herbs all the way through. Repeat to the other breast.
4. Wrap loosely and refrigerate.
5. To make chicken, Preheat oven to 475.
6. Heat a small roasting pan or skillet. It does not need to be larger then 10 inches. I used a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Dry your chicken and place on baking dish breast side up.
7. Place the center of the oven and watch for it to start browning. After 20 minutes. if it doesn’t brown, raise the temperature until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to burn, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, flip the bird over. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, for the final 5 to 10 minutes.
8. Total oven time will be 45 minutes to an hour.
9. Remove Chicken

1. Turn on broiler. Cut up bread into irregular chunks without the crust.
2. Combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the Champagne or white wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
3. Combine 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette with the torn bread in a wide salad bowl.
4. Place the currants in a small bowl and moisten with the red wine vinegar and warm water. Set aside.
5. While the chicken is in the oven, put the pine nuts in a small baking dish and heat for a couple minutes.
6. Take about a tbsp of olive oil and put in a small skillet, add the garlic and scallions, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until softened and add to the bread.
7. Drain the plumped currants and fold in.
8. Add chicken stock or lightly salted water over the salad and fold again.
9. Add salt and pepper as needed.
10. Put the salad in a shallow baking dish, cover with tinfoil and put in oven about 5 minutes before chicken is due to be removed from oven.
11. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set aside on a plate. Turn of heat but leave bread salad for another 5 minutes to continue to heat. Carefully pour the clear fat from the roasting oven, leaving the lean drippings behind. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and swirl it.
12. Remove any remaining fat from roasting pan. Turn heat to medium-low heat and add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape to soften any hard golden drippings.
13. Put bread mixture into a salad bowl and add a tablespoon of the drippings. Add the greens and a bit more vinegrette.
14. Cut the chicken into pieces, spread the bread salad on a warm platter, and place the chicken on top.

Phew that was long!! Enjoy!!!

All Things Fresh

So I spent a large portion of my weekend working on my garden and doing yard work. One of the things that gives me the greatest joy is living of my own to speak. So recently I planted an herb and vegetable garden and 2 citrus trees (meyer lemon and clementine). We have 2 coconut trees on our property that are always fun when we're in the mood for a pina cloda ;) We also live on the water which allows us to catch and eat fresh fish whenever we want. Not living in a huge metropolitan city makes it hard to get very fresh and organic produce so it's nice that I'm able to grow some of my own things. Anyways, since there is no recipe today I thought I would share pictures of my garden.

Pasta With Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

One of my husbands my favorite things in the whole world is Broccoli Rabe....yea i know. Anyways, if you've never had it, it tastes like bitter Broccoli and it's definitely an acquired taste. It is really popular in Italian dishes, which would explain why my husband likes it given he's Italian. Well you can imagine my delight when I open one of my favorite cookbooks-Rao's and see a couple Broccoli Rabe recipes. I probably make Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage once every two weeks so it's definitely a winner and keeper in my house. If you ever decide to venture into the world of broccoli rabe, I would urge you to try this recipe. As always, I did make some changes- I used turkey sausage and farfalle instead of orechiette.

Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
Adapted from Rao's Cookbook by Frank Pellegrino


1/4 cup olive oil
garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 pound Italian sausage, a combination of hot and sweet according to your taste, cut into bite-size pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup broccoli rabe water
1 pound orecchiette
1 pound broccoli rabe, cooked
Freshly-grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Heat oil and stir in garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat. Careful not to burn the garlic.
2. Add the sausages and cook until it is cooked through. Season with Salt and Pepper. I also add a bit of onion and garlic powder.
3. Add the Broccoli Rabe and a cup of Broccoli Rabe water.
4. Raise heat and cook for a couple of minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cook pasta and drain.
6. Add pasta to the Broccolli Rabe sauce. Gently stir and let simmer for a couple of minutes.
7. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Serves 4 as main course. Serves 6 as pasta course.
**note- to cook broccoli rabe add it to boiling water for about 3 minutes. Some cooks will tell you to put it on ice to stop the cooking immediately but I've never done that.



Oh how I dream of sitting in a cafe in Paris having one of these sweet little delectables. But alas, I sit here in my house and try to replicate what is almost impossible to replicate. These seemingly easy little cakes are a little deceptive as everything from their texture, to their shape, to their taste is hard to get exact. However, the recipe I usually turn to for failproof Traditional Madelienes is Dorie Greenspans recipe from her book Baking: From my Home to Yours. You really can't go wrong with any Dorie Recipe and this one is no exception. Her recipe gives you a light lemony cakey Madeleine.

Traditional Madeleines
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours

2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs. at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 stick (6 tbsp)unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioneres sugar for dusting

1. Take sugar and lemon zest and put in a bowl of a mixer. Using your fingers mix them together until they are blended and sugar is moist and fragrant.
2. Add the eggs to the sugar blend. Then using the whisk attachment of your mixer, blend for about 2 or 3 minutes-mixture should be a greyish color and have a thick consistency. Beat in the vanilla.
3. With a rubber spatula gently fold in the dry ingredients. Followed by the butter.
4. Wrap the batter and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and upto 2 days. You can refrigerate the Madeleines in their mold if you please.
5. Put Madeleines in mold, if you havn't already done so. Tap the Madeleine on the counter to settle the batter and get out any air bubbles and whatnot.
6. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400F.
7. Bake large molds for 11-13 minutes and mini molds for about 8 minutes.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have tried what seems like hundreds of chocolate chip cookie recipes and I always come back to one recipe. It's the ever oh so popular Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip cookie recipe. It's fabulous the way it is and I always and I mean always get requests for it. It is soft, gooey and melt in your mouth delicious and thanks to the pudding it stays soft for days. If you are ever in need of a chocolate chip cookie recipe, keep this one in mind and I promise you won't regret it. Recipe can be found here:

Wonton Soup

I don't usually crave Wonton Soup but for some reason today, I had the biggest urge for a big bowl of hot soup and since life is never easy-I don't eat pork- I pretty much had to make my own.
So I set out in search of a recipe. I found one by Emiril Legasse which looked fast and easy to me. I substituted the pork for chicken and I omitted the shitake mushrooms since I'm not a big fan. All in all I have to say, my husband and I were very pleased. If you're ever in need of a recipe, I would definitely recommend this one!
Recipe can be found here:

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