Saturday, March 30, 2013

Make it: Cool Cookie-Mint Brownies

Is it still a recipe if it's not totally from scratch?

I feel super mommish when I put my Domestic Julie hat on and make yummy food for other people. Usually this takes the form of dessert. And I especially enjoy decorating food.

I've played with making mint brownies three times in the last month (first St Patricks's Day, then a church potluck, and today for Easter). I've experimented using on my own taste buds and different tips I found on the internet, and have come up with this little concoction that I think is one if the greatest makeshift dessert creations I have ever had.

Here is how I made them…


  • 2 Packets Ghirardelli triple chocolate brownie mix, (I always buy the six-pack at Costco), (use "two packets for extra thick brownies”)
  • 2 Eggs
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Water
  • 10-12 mint Oreos
  • One container Vanilla icing (Betty or Duncan both work)
  • 2 tsp (or more) of mint extract (in the spice aisle... for those of you who, like me, have a hard time finding things in the grocery store...)
  • Food coloring (if you want)
  • 13x9 baking dish
  • Cooking spray... or whatever you use to grease a pan.
  • Ziploc baggies


  • Preheat oven, grease baking dish (I used glass), and prepare the brownie mix per the instructions on the box.
  • Chop up 8-9 of the Oreos so there are different size small chunks. 
  •  Stir the chunks into the brownie mix until it’s even. 

  • You can line the bottom of the pan with additional Oreos if you want. If you'll be decorating, save some Oreos for that too! Maybe chop them up really small for dusting after you've frosted them.
  • Pour the brownie mix into the pan and bake the brownies per the instructions on the box (50-55 min at 325 degrees).
  • Let brownies cool overnight. (I baked them, let them cool, refrigerated over night and then frosted the next day)


  • Put all the frosting from the container in a small mixing bowl. Add a splash of mint extract -- about 2 tsp -- and stir well. Keep adding more mint 'to taste'. Separate into bowls and add food coloring if you want different colors.
  • Cut up the brownies into large bite size (about 48 pieces) and arrange them on the serving plate before frosting them.
  • I frosted them by putting the frosting in Ziploc bags, cutting a small hole in the corner and squeezing... poor man's cake decorating! I think using the bag-technique keeps the brownies in better shape than spreading the frosting with a knife across the top, but you can really frost however you want!

You can see here, one time I did a green and white drizzle, and today I turned a plate of them into a giant Easter Egg.


  • Cut brownies with a disposable plastic knife instead of a sharp metal one.  It's much cleaner.  Thanks random person on the internet.
  • Keep them refrigerated for a true "cool mint" experience.  The frosting tastes better if it hardens a bit, I think.
  • After frosting the bite-size brownies, put toothpicks in each for easier serving at a party.

Like what you read? Show some love (just two clicks!):
Vote For Us @

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Memory Story: Once in a While Night

Today, on our 2nd wedding anniversary, I want to share a Memory Story of one of my favorite nights with my husband since we met.  It was just a few weeks ago.

A Once in a While Night

The dishes were done, the dogs were fed.  Penny had had her bath and was wearing my favorite pajamas, the cream ones with the little embroidered giraffes.

We were at home.

Earlier, we had eaten dinner as a family -- tuna fish sandwiches and green beans (a "Dave Ramsey" night), and sweet potato for Penny.  I hadn't had volleyball or band practice, we hadn't gone to anyone else's house. Our iPhones were parked in another room somewhere.  Both of us had finished our work that afternoon and had no obligations to our employers until the next morning.

All was still in the house and the lights were low.  The dogs lounged across the floor in complete surrender to the day they had had wrestling each other in the yard.  

On the big gray couch, my husband cradled our daughter in one arm, and a book in another.  You Are Special, by Max Lucado.  I sat next to them with my head on his shoulder.  

Other than the soft voice reading a story of Punchinello the Wemmick, the only sounds came from the silicone of Penny's pacifier, rhythmically clicking in her little mouth.  Her daddy told the story so well.  

The pages were dimly lit by one warm lamp above the couch.  She stared with glossy fascination.  She was tired, but not exhausted.  She was perfect.  He was perfect.

It was my favorite moment so far, maybe ever.

I took a deep breath, not a photo. 

When the story was over, Dan took Penny downstairs to her crib and laid her down.  She rolled to her side and went to sleep.

I don't remember what else we did that night, except that we did it together, in the quiet of our home.

To Everyone and Everything Else in the World on rare nights like this: please do not disturb our little family.  For just one night, once in a while World, we ignore your headlines, your software updates, your text messages, your instant pictures, your invitations, your stack of mail, your worries, your fears, your brilliant ideas, your weekend to-do list, your politics, your exercise and diet trends, your blog topics, and your thousands of other parents who know better than us.  

World, every once in a while, we heed the call to tune you out, just for a little while.

Like what you read? Show some love (just two clicks!):
Vote For Us @

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring in Arizona

OK so technically it's not Spring yet, but it did hit ninety degrees today so I'm calling it.

It's the part of the year where Arizona continues to be especially awesome... pre-compensation for the inevitable awfulness of summer.  For many people, Spring in Arizona means Spring Training baseball games, hiking and enjoying blooming flowers all over the desert mountains, trips to the zoo, farmers' markets, eating dinner on the back porch, dips in the swimming pool for the bravest of children...

You will be able to find me relishing the last opportunities to wear boots and every day that goes by that Penny doesn't crawl yet.  The days are numbered on both instances.  

While I don't find myself spending time out in the fresh air as much as I would like, I do plan on soaking it in as much as possible this season with my hubby and my little one.  

My Spring Mama goals are: first trip with Penny to the Phoenix Zoo, first family hike, one night-walk per week, register Penny for swimming lessons, finish the nursery, and play in the grass in our neighborhood while it's soft and green as much as possible.

I think this munchkin is going to like what Spring has in store for her.

Like what you read? Show some love (just two clicks!):
Vote For Us @

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Product Review: Magic Baby Bullet

(this post is not sponsored)

When we got a Baby Bullet for Christmas, I was super stoked about the premise of making fresh baby food instead of buying the jarred stuff. How wonderful to save all that money, and maximize the nutrients my baby would be eating! But it was still a hypothetical back then. I knew from others that you could do basically the same thing with the internet, a blender, a food processor and various storage containers; but I liked the idea of having a system that only touches baby food. And who can resist the smiley faces on the side of all the gear!

When Penny hit 6 months, she was showing all kinds of signs that she was ready for solids, so, last time I was at Sprouts Marketplace, I bought a giant organic sweet potato, and set aside some time to bust out the bullet and make us some baby food!

Let me preface my experience with this: I don't really cook.   I bake, I heat things up, and I assemble salads and sandwiches, but that is pretty much the extent of it. So... I literally had to look up on the Internet how to steam vegetables. Oh that's what that pot with the holes is for... Needless to say, if I was to have success using a baby food maker, it had better be a simple one.

My experience: One Sweet Potato

I read the whole manual and then found the sweet potato page. I really liked having all the information about what foods and how and when to give then to your baby, plus (dummy-proof) recipes to make pretty much any baby food, all in one book.

I peeled.  I steamed.  I cubed.  I added water.  I bulleted. I portioned. and I stored.  It was pretty simple.  One sweet potato filled all 12 of the single-serving compartments: 6 lidded jars and the 6-serving freezer container.

My experience: Butternut Squash
Then I decided to get crazy.  I bought a squash.  (first time in my life, actually... I didn't even know what a butternut squash looked like before!)  

Instead of steaming, I baked it (cleaned, halfed, meat side down in two inches of water at 400 degrees for 40 minutes).  I had never done this before.  But it worked.  

Then, I spooned the softened squash meat into the bullet, added water, and voila: 8 servings of baby food.

*I should note that the Baby Bullet comes with a blending blade, and a milling blade (for oats and cereals and stuff).  I made both these veggies with the blending blade.  I have yet to use the milling blade but plan to soon!

OK... now my thoughts...
What I Would Change About the System:

Short supply.  I would have it come with two freezer trays and two sets of 6 jars.  One of each is not enough if you are trying to make a bunch of food on one day to last you a couple weeks.  I am going to see how much $$ it would cost to order extra batch tray and storage cups online (if you even can).  If the price is ridiculous, I will probably buy some generic tiny re-usable freezer containers.

Pouring struggles.  The spout on the blender container is pretty worthless for pouring -- it inevitably spilled off the side when I was trying to put the puree in the containers and I ended up having to spoon it in. The spatula included is not as effective as they say it will be in the instructions. They should modify it to have a larger spout, or include a little cheap funnel.  I have this same problem with regular blenders too... but thought it worth mentioning.

What I Like Most About the System:

Easy to clean.  The thought of having to assemble, disassemble and clean my big clunky blender (or food processor) every time I wanted to puree something would discourage me from doing it.   The "batchbowl" set up is like a mini blender, no clunkiness, no huge heavy parts.  It's super convenient.  It even has a smaller blending cup (the "short cup") for if you just want to puree one apple, etc.  

The storage.   I like that the storage containers are all one serving size.  I like that they can be both refrigerated or frozen.  and I LOVE that they have a little turn thingee on them to help you remember what date you made the food (so you don't have to write on them, or use tape like I would have if I used other containers).

It's not obnoxiously loud.  I mean, it's got a motor, and it purees things in ten seconds... so there is some noise.  But it's way quieter than my blender and food processor.   I was actually wearing my baby when I made the sweet potatoes, and she didn't even flinch while they were blending.  She was asleep in the next room when I made the squash, and she didn't wake up.

The book that comes with.  It's a great resource and it's written in a very dummy-friendly way.  I so appreciated this, since I'm a little bit of a dummy in the kitchen.  

The Cost?
We got this as a gift, but I looked it up and it retails for just under $60.  I think $60 is a completely reasonable price for this item.  If you were going to buy a cheap (maybe even used) blender, a cheap food processor, 12 freezable/reusable small containers, and a worthwhile baby-food recipe book, you would probably spend more than that.  I mentioned above that while one could get by using already-owned kitchen appliances, I prefer using this smaller device over our big hefty appliances for these little baby food portions.  

All in all, I think it's a great product.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...