The Baker Upstairs: September 2011


peanut butter fudge pretzel brownies


What can I say? These brownies are amazing. Life changing. So decadent that I thought I could eat two of them, and got sick halfway through the second one, but kept shoving it in my mouth because it just tasted so good. (And because I'm a weirdo.) The worst part is that I ran out of peanut butter when I was making the fudge to go on top, and substituted some Nutella, and it was so delicious I almost died. Seriously, make these and they will change your life. (And make you fat, but you won't care.)

Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Brownies
How Sweet It Is

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2/3 cups chocolate chips (optional)
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/3 powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups crushed pretzel pieces
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8×8 baking dish and set aside.

Combine melted butter and pretzel crumbs in a bowl until moistened. With the back of a spoon, press pretzels into the 8×8 pan making a crust. If pretzels seem loose, drizzle some additional melted butter over top or hit with a quick shot of non-stick spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. With the mixer on medium speed, add in cocoa, flour and salt, mixing until combined – about 2 to 3 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Using a spatula sprayed with non-stick spray, evenly spread brownies on top of pretzel crust. Set pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until brownies are baked through.

When brownies have about 3 minutes left baking, melt peanut butter (I melted mine in the microwave in 30 second increments then stirring) in a bowl. Once melted, stir in 1/3 cup powdered sugar and mix until no lumps remain. Pour over warm brownies and spread evenly. Refrigerate brownies for 1-2 hours, then cut into bars and serve.

the best breakfast smoothie


I've seen green drinks floating around Pinterest for a while now, and I've been wanting to try them out. So far, all the variations I've tried have been delicious. Geoff (and a slew of others) has made fun of me for drinking spinach for breakfast, but it makes me feel good and starts my morning off nicely. I also love that it's simple and tasty. Here's the way I make it:

1 cup milk (any kind)
1 cup spinach
1 banana (freeze it for a colder smoothie)
1 T peanut butter
honey to taste

Blend all ingredients until smooth, and enjoy.

summer garden vegetable soup


As I mentioned before, we have tons of produce from our garden that's becoming ripe, and it makes me super excited. Geoff and Abby are not as excited about vegetables as I am, though, so sometimes it's a little challenging to come up with new fun recipes to try. This recipe was perfect, because I already had almost everything I needed in the house (or in the garden) and it was delicious. I'm not sure Geoff liked it as much as I did, but that may have been because I made him eat squash quiche the night before, and he was vegetable-d out. I just whipped up some quick garlic parmesan toast, and dinner was ready in under half an hour. Yum!

Summer Garden Vegetable Soup
Mel's Kitchen Cafe

3 medium zucchini, chopped into bite-size pieces
4 medium tomatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk (can use fat-free or low-fat)
1 ½ cups frozen or fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the zucchini, basil, parsley and onion and saute, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir and cook for one minute. Gradually add the chicken broth, whisking or stirring constantly. Add the lemon juice; mix well. Bring the soup to a simmer, stirring to prevent sticking, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the zucchini is tender but still has some bite to it (it will continue cooking for a few more minutes). Add the tomatoes, evaporated milk, and corn. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the soup and simmer until the corn and zucchini are tender. Stir in the cheese just before serving.