A Visual Guide to Making Alice Merdich’s Best Fudgy and Dense Brownies

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Alice’s brownies made with three different unsweetened cocoa powders. From left to right: natural, dutch, and onyx.

This week my food obsession was with brownies. I’ve always had a hard time finding a truly great brownie recipe. Most are too cakey or dry–even the ones that promise dense chewy goodness–for my taste.

When looking up the best brownie recipe, Alice Merdich’s recipe always pops up. Here’s the kicker – I haven’t found directions on any site to be clear enough to create these great brownies on the first attempt. So, I did what I had to and baked up four different batches this week, making slight alterations with each new batch.

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Fried Eggs with Spanish Chorizo and Potatoes

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It tastes 1000x better than it looks – and it looks pretty delicious.

I absolutely adore José Andrés’ original recipe for Huevos Fritos con Chorizo y Patatas and thought in celebration of the day of love, I would make a less spicy version for Faye so that she too, could bask in the glory of its tastiness. (The original dish doesn’t use black beans and calls for regular white potatoes.) Using sweet potatoes in place of the white potatoes definitely cuts the spiciness of the chorizo enough so Faye will eagerly scarf down her portion.

As the original and this adaptation may be the best brunch dishes that I’ve ever eaten, I highly recommend that next weekend you grab yourself some friends, some eggs and chorizo, and enjoy one of the best breakfasts in the world. You are very welcome. Continue reading

DIY: 5 Minute Toddler Paint Brushes

DIY 5 Minute Toddler Paint Brushes

These easy to make 5 Minute Toddler Paint Brushes can be used over and over again.

I bought Faye some non-toxic, eco-friendly, made from plants, powdered paints and decided to let her try them out the other day. The only problem – I didn’t have paint brushes that were big enough to grab a significant amount of paint, but small enough that if they were thrown, flung, or excitedly waved back and forth wouldn’t turn my kitchen into a disaster area.

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Indian Jamaican Stew (baby-friendly!)

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Warning: Your house will smell incredible when making this dish.

I came across this recipe years ago when I was searching for vegan meals that didn’t suck, and even though we now eat meat it’s been a fall and winter staple ever since. Although it takes about 45 minutes to cook, the prep time is short–especially if you buy the butternut squash peeled and cubed–and clean up is quick. Leftovers taste even better as the flavors have time to meld. It’s definitely a winner in my book. It also happens to be vegan and gluten-free, so is a fabulous dish to put together for mixed diner company.  

To make future Tracy’s life easier, I like to fill up two or three small bell jars with the stew and freeze them. That way, Faye has a healthy meal when I don’t have any time or groceries in the house. Continue reading

DIY: Thanksgiving Turkey Handprint Napkin Rings

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Handprint Turkeys for Thanksgiving. Add a little wired ribbon and they become napkin rings. How cute are these?

While some may view my Thanksgiving Turkey Handprint Napkin Rings as a cute trinket, I view it as a major success. This is the first started and completed craft project in seven months! Not only that, but I finished with 36 hours to spare on my deadline. Whoo hoo! I am so ecstatic, I can hardly contain myself.

I love handprint crafts, but hate that 99% of them are impressions of handprints in a circle or square block of clay rather than the actual hand. Once the kids get to be around 18 months old, their hands are big enough without adding the additional bulk of empty space that impressions require. Lucky me-I just happen to have a background in casting and had almost everything I needed for this project in the basement.

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These napkin rings are a hostess gift for my parents. I wanted to make enough of them to support breakage and ended up casting 14 handprints in all. I used one quart of Smooth-Cast 300 for this project.

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Healthy Baby: Raspberry Protein and Probiotic Smoothie (with Dairy-Free version)

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Nutritionally dense, fabulous tasting, quick to make, and travels well. What more do you need?

We try to head out to a park or playground to burn some energy and get some fresh air twice a day: once after breakfast and once after afternoon nap. Faye is famished after running around for an hour or two, and tends to chow down on a ton of snacks on our walk back to the house.

Faye is a phenomenal eater, but I’ve been feeling more and more like she’s been filling up on these after-play snacks rather than her main meals, making it all the more important that the snacks I do provide are healthy and nutritionally dense (which is easier said than done – especially when they need to travel well). Hence, this smoothie.  Continue reading

Healthy Baby: Beef Tenderloin with Red Beets, Onions, and Ginger

Beef Tenderloin with Red Beets Onions Ginger

Not Your Average Baby Food: Beef Tenderloin with Red Beets, Onions, and Ginger

We’ve been doing baby led weaning since introducing solids at 7 months (although she wasn’t interested until 8 months). Although it was quite messy in the beginning and required a bath after almost every meal for the first few months, I’m glad it’s the route we chose. Now, at a little over 14 months, I can plop Faye into the Stokke Tripp Trapp, wrap a dish towel around her neck (yep, dish towels secured with a rubber band are my go-to because they catch way more bits, pieces, and juices than any bib I’ve ever come across), hand her a fork and spoon, and place her food and glass of water down on her silicone mat and she is good to go. With 12 teeth and a strong independent streak, Faye is one self sufficient little champion of an eater.

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