Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brownies and Rosaries

Interesting title huh!  Tells you all what I have been up to.  I have been really enjoying visiting my favorite antique shop this past week.  I found some gorgeous rosaries and pieces.  Some of them are not completed rosaries and I will probably turn them into jewelry pieces.  The other rosaries are complete and I will probably just use them.  I love the old world feel of the well worn crucifixes. 

I thought I would also include a recipe for Butterscotch Brownies with Brown Sugar Butter Icing.  It is from Pastry Queen Parties by Rebecca Rather.  I loved the name of the book.  One of my sons went crazy over this recipe.  It is full of sugar and butter, but it is quite yummy.  It makes a lot of brownies, so this would be perfect to take to a pot luck or for a bake sale.  Enjoy!

1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup half and half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a half sheet (13 x 18) pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter or cooking spray.  Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 1 cup butter and 3 cups brown sugar on medium high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon vanilla and continue beating for another minute.  In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture on low speed until incorporated.  Stir in the pecans.  Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.  Bake until the bars are set and slightly puffed, 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely before icing.

In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the 1 cup butter and 2 cups brown sugar.  Once the mixture is lightly bubbling, decrease the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes; set aside.  Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the powdered sugar, half and half and vanilla on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minutes.  Add the melted butter mixture and beat until combined.  Pour over the cooled brownies and spread evenly.  Let the brownies sit for about 30 minutes to allow the icing to firm up before cutting into squares.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rainy Day Goodness

This is comfort in a bowl!  I thought I would share with you a fantastic recipe for tomato soup.  I know it's not glamorous, but it is solid, dependable and immensely adaptable.  Here in Northern California we have had a bit of a rainy spell.  This soup seemed perfect for today.  I use the base recipe to start and then I went from there.  I sometimes add in shredded cheddar cheese or maybe some mascarpone if I have it in the fridge.  Since we are in Lent right now I used a vegetarian broth base, but I have also used chicken broth, whatever is in the pantry will work.  On a non Lent Friday, I would also add in some crispy pancetta to the top.  Use your imagination, the skies the limit.

Tomato Soup (adapted from Tyler Florence)

2 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 scant cup of extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 quart of vegetable or chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons dried basil
Optional add in's:  3/4 cup cream or  1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, or 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, crispy pancetta crumbles

Heat olive oil in a stock pot.  Add onions and saute until beginning to lightly brown.  Add chopped garlic and cook an additional minute.  Add the tomatoes, 3/4 of the stock, basil, bay leaves, and butter.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Return soup to low heat, add cream or cheese and adjust consistency with remaining stock.  Season to taste.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Our oldest son made his Confirmation last week.  I tell you, I was so happy for him.  It was a lovely Mass and Bishop Soto was terrific.  We are so lucky to have the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist catechizing our children.  It made it so special.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What I have been up too!

Life has been totally crazy!  One day I will have to sit down and write about what has been happening. Until then I thought I would share with you some of my recent work. 

This rosary was made for Renee.  It has the look of jade, but is actually glass beads. 

I just made this rosaries for a dear friend daughter's baptism.  I have made all six of her children's baptismal rosaries.  I was happy to keep up with the tradition.

This is one of my favorites!  I am keeping this one for myself.  I love the black and silver together.   It feels great in the hand too! 

I hope to have more pictures up this week. Our oldest son is making Confirmation this week.  What an exciting week we have.
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