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It’s not like anything needed to be improved upon with the original marshmallow creme crunch brownies. In addition to being a favorite treat around these parts, the recipe has been one of my most viewed on Random Sweetness — more than forty thousand people in the past few years. I hope at least half of them baked and shared the sticky squares.

But just like Golden Grahams cereal makes sweet no-bake s’mores bars, I had the feeling that using it instead of Rice Krispies would make marshmallow creme crunch brownies even harder to resist.

marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies

Did it? Well, there are a few globs of marshmallow creme stuck on my camera and there are definitely a few brownies missing from this picture.

marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies square

Marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies

For Brownie Layer:

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

6 Tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup flour

*************

7 ounce jar marshmallow creme (Sometimes I use most of a 13-ounce jar but they get pretty sticky.)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

12 ounce bag chocolate chips

4 cups Golden Grahams cereal

  1. Beat softened butter on medium for 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat 4 minutes. Beat in cocoa, vanilla, and salt. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in flour just until combined.
  2. Pour brownie batter into a well-greased 13×9 pan (or lined with parchment paper). Bake at 350˚ for 25-30 minutes or until done. Cool completely.
  3. Spread marshmallow creme on cooled brownies.
  4. Melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips together over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in cereal. Spread over marshmallow creme layer.
  5. Chill before serving.
  6. Store in refrigerator.

Sweet marshmallowy wishes,

Staci

As I unwrapped garlic cloves to make Garlicky Potatoes, Green Beans, and Cauliflower (super fabulous dish), I remembered that there was a time, it only had to happen once, that I didn’t know the difference between a clove of garlic and a bulb of garlic. Which means, a recipe called for two cloves of garlic and I used two bulbs. Yes, two bulbs of garlic.

garlic

Obviously, I’m mostly self-taught in the kitchen, especially when it comes to cooking. Remember how I used to smash tomatoes trying to cut them using the wrong knife until Jason told me to use a serrated one? (Apology to tomatoes and making pico de gallo.) Well if you cook with your kids like Stacey Viera does, you’ll want to add tomatoes and garlic to your Kitchen Tips 101 list.

use a serrated knife to dice a tomato

Thank goodness I figured out the garlic clove/bulb thing (and slicing tomatoes) because otherwise my favorite Chicken Black Bean Salsa would scare vampires away.

Chicken Black Bean Salsa

And my summer sausage salami cilantro pizza would go from oven to trash in five minutes or less.

summer sausage and salami cilantro pizza

For more recipes using garlic and tomatoes, flip through my Potatoes and Vegetables Pinterest boards.

Something else I wish I would’ve known before attending a business lunch at Sushi Masa, you don’t eat edamame pods.

Sweet garlic breath,

Staci

Here’s a [short] story of oat-packed, honey-sticking, fall-spiced energy balls.

They didn’t get made in time for the girls varsity state hockey tournament, but since the ingredients were already in my pantry, they made their way to sisters shopping trip. OK, so the hockey players needed the energy more than we did but I don’t know a mom who can’t use a tiny ball of get-up-and-go.

pumpkin spice energy balls

The recipe for spiced pumpkin energy balls is from Wholesome Magazine & Community. I substituted sliced almonds for the walnuts and due to availability, I substituted dry roasted sunflower seeds for the raw pumpkin seeds.

I’m not sure if this would help keep them together better but I would add an extra tablespoon or so of honey because the chilled balls fell apart when we ate them (luckily in the hotel parking lot). An easy solution to the crumbs would be to serve them in cupcake papers.

As they aren’t supposed to be, these aren’t sweet except for the dried cranberries. Next time I might ruin the healthy thing and sneak in a few mini semi sweet chocolate chips and dried cherries instead of cranberries.

Sweet & healthy shopping,

Staci

Earlier this week I was passive-aggressively called heartless, rude, and arrogant by a grandmother and her (adult) daughter. Their Facebook pity party began with what was a concise, grammatically correct response from me to a text message. In the swift, and still puzzling response to me, I thought at first it wasn’t even intended for me. It was almost as if her finger had already pounded out the hateful words and her finger was on the trigger before I even responded. And her mother, well it only took THREE minutes before she took to Facebook to (passive-aggressively) attempt to demean this HEARTLESS, RUDE, and ARROGANT person (me) and express her wishes about bad KARMA on this nasty person (me).

plum cake

And you know what, it only took SECONDS for people to agree, comment, assess the situation which they knew nothing about, and help these two bullies stir their big, insecure, pot of disdain. Was it the swift and concise manner in which I responded? Or was it the proper grammar? In my experience as a communications professional, using phrases such as, “…as I was the one who…” can be perceived as being arrogant by circles of people who commonly use phrases like, “…ain’t no one told me.”

IMG_3806

Anyway, I am trying to think positive thoughts and not let this hurt me, but who’s kidding? I’m not offended by these two women because they are the kind who gossip, talk about people behind their backs, complain about bullies but are ones themselves, and will tell you anything you want to know about someone’s personal lives – who’s sleeping with whose husband, who is battling depression, whatever you want to know. But when people you know innocently rally around your haters, it’s going to sting. I even thought about posting the word-for-word text conversation that led to this bitterness so that people would truly have the opportunity to judge, but I tend to be one who (not easily) refuses to lower myself to levels such as this. So I’ll just take this as a good reminder that we shouldn’t be too quick to help stir other’s pots of hatred. We never know what heartless, rude, arrogant people are behind their pitiful campaigns.

So instead, I came home and enjoyed a delicious piece of plum cake that my friend Tracey made for me last week. Here’s the positive story I want to share with you – Quite a few years ago, I met this crazy fun Southern girl. (She uses words like “commode” and “cellular unit.”) We instantly bonded when we realized that we had the same childhood love for a certain plum cake made with BABY FOOD. For reasons only he knows, God brings people (and sisters!) into your life who bring you joy and true, honest friendship. People who are constant cheerleaders for all your dreams, friends who can have thoughtful conversations that don’t include gossip and bad-mouthing others. People who will bake cake for you. Keep those friends.

friends at hockey

Surround yourself with THOSE people.

sister

Stir their pot of goodness until it runneth over.

Kalli

Plum Cake

(As given to me by my mother, Linda Moe)

Cake

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons red food coloring

2 small jars plum baby food (If you can’t find plum, Tracey used plum/banana/apple or something like that as a substitute.)

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Icing

1/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons milk

pinch of salt

  1. Mix oil, sugar, eggs. Add vanilla, food coloring, and plum baby food. Mix well. Blend in dry ingredients. Stir in nuts.
  2. Pour into a well-greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean.
  3. For the icing: simmer margarine, sugar, milk, and salt for 3 minutes. Drizzle over cake while warm.

Sweet karma wishes,

Staci

I welcome positive comments on this post. Negative comments will be deleted. 

The weather outside is never frightful when it comes to youth hockey season in the Midwest, especially when one of our teams has a two-week lull in their game schedule. And luckily for these guys (and their little sisters), their parents are as passionate about hockey and having fun as they are. So the First Annual Lake Campbell Winter Classic was established this January. And don’t be surprised if, after these kids are off to college, you’ll find us parents keeping the icy tradition alive. (Yes Ann, I just invited us to your house every January for the rest of our lives.)

Lake Campbell Lake Hockey 2015

First Annual Lake Campbell Winter Classic 2015 Photo courtesy of Ann Park

What does hockey have to do with chili? (Because I know you aren’t asking yourself what this has to do with beer.) Ann, our hostess, shared a scrumptious pot of chili at the party and even though I had to eat and run my daughter to hockey in Watertown, I kept thinking about how good it was to have a steamy bowl of chili topped with cheese, sour cream, and crunchy chips. So when I made a batch of Once a Month Beer Chili Spaghetti the next week, I eyed that meat mixture with beans and corn chips on my mind.

beer chili

 

Sure, I could have made my old staple, Make-it-your-way Rainy Day Chili but there’s just something about this addicting meat sauce.

Beer Chili

Recipe for beer chili spaghetti and/or beer chili meat mixture (makes approximately 4 cups):

2 pounds ground sirloin or lean ground beef

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons salt

1¾ teaspoons paprika

1¼ teaspoons cayenne pepper

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1 tablespoon onion powder

1½ teaspoons garlic powder

¼ cup chili powder

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 12-ounce beer

If you are making a meal of beer chili spaghetti and a few meals of beer chili, make 12 ounces of spaghetti noodles and add some of the hot pasta water to the meat mixture and then use some of the leftover meat sauce to make chili. If you are making this meat sauce to make all chili, you’ll need to at least double the beans and tomato juice below. You only need to add pasta water to the portion you are using for spaghetti. 

To make the chili (very imprecise directions):

Take a cup or two of the beer chili meat mixture and add:

1 or 2 (15-ounce) cans red beans (drained)

1 or 2 (15-ounce) cans chili beans in chili sauce

Chili powder to taste

Cumin to taste

Tomato juice – I used part of a 46-ounce bottle. It depends on how much meat sauce you are using and how thick or juicy you like your chili.

Chili Toppings:

Sour cream

Corn chips

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Heat together the meat mixture, beans, and tomato juice. Add the additional chili powder and cumin if desired. When hot, serve with sour cream, corn chips, and shredded cheese. Store leftover chili in airtight container in the refrigerator.

If you are more in the mood for BBQs, make  BeerBQ Joes and put corn chips on top.

Icy & spicy wishes,

Staci

Popcorn is a healthy snack option; not the way movie theaters douse it with hot, greasy golden liquid mimicking butter, but remove the blanket of grease and it’s a guilt-free food to mindlessly munch while watching the latest Hollywood flick. Of course every savory snack should be balanced with a sweet snack so why not pair it with caramel popcorn?

red hots smiley

If you’re watching from your couch, not a germy reclining theater chair, skip the seeds and hulls by making your own sticky sweet and salty mix using puff corn cereal. And toss in hot tamales or cinnamon Red Hots® candies.

caramel cashew corn pops

If you go out for movie night, this brings up a moral question. Is it OK to bring a bag of homemade caramel cashew corn puffs into the movie theater if you buy an extortionate $12 box of hot tamales or Red Hots from concessions?

Caramel Cashew Corn Puffs

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

7 cups corn puff cereal (I use Corn Pops®)

2 cups salted cashews

1-2 cups red hots candies or hot tamales candies (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 225°.
  2. Mix cereal and cashews in a large bowl.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup; boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Drop in baking soda and stir well.
  5. Pour caramel mixture into cereal and cashew mixture. Stir to coat thoroughly.
  6. Spread cereal mixture onto two baking sheets lined with foil or parchment paper.
  7. Bake at 225° for one hour, stirring around every 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool the caramel corn on sheets of wax paper.
  9. Stir in hot tamales or cinnamon Red Hots candies. Store in airtight container for one week.

Sticky blockbuster wishes,

Staci

Leftover baked potatoes can come back the next day as baked potatoes. But when there’s a fried solution to getting them back on your plate, let’s take the road to crispy town.

loaded fried baked potatoes

The recipe isn’t precise and other than the butter, olive oil, and the potatoes you can modify these smashed vegetables to taste.

Melt the olive oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic powder and onion salt OR the chopped onion and garlic. Place the potatoes in pan. Using a potato masher or thick wooden spoon press down on the potato, flattening to approximately ½ an inch. Dust with salt and pepper.

smashed baked potatoes

Fry, covered, on medium heat until crispy and then flip potatoes to crisp the other side and add a pinch more salt and pepper.

fried baked potatoes

Remove from pan and cover with grated cheese, bacon, and a dollop of sour cream.

Smashed and fried baked potatoes

Olive oil

Butter

OR butter with olive oil

Garlic powder

Onion salt

OR chopped onion and garlic

Baked potatoes

Salt

Pepper

Shredded cheese

Sour cream

Crumbled bacon

  1. Melt the olive oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic powder and onion salt OR the chopped onion and garlic.
  2. Place the potatoes in pan. Using a potato masher or thick wooden spoon press down on the potato, flattening to approximately ½ an inch. Dust with salt and pepper.
  3. Fry, covered, on medium heat until crispy and then flip potatoes to crisp the other side and add a pinch more salt and pepper.
  4. Remove from pan and cover with grated cheese, bacon, and a dollop of sour cream.

Add eggs, toast, and a slice of ham or last night’s leftover steak and you have a hearty man-breakfast.

Crispy, starchy wishes

Staci

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