Continuing the “birthday season” in our family (Mom kicked it off two weeks ago), this upcoming week, we’ll be celebrating my birthday and Nicholas’. We tend to inadvertently draw birthdays out more than their actual day, much to the collective Husband’s chagrin. Heck, it only comes around once a year, why not?
Although Nicholas’ birthday isn’t until Wednesday, his birthday celebrations began today with a party with his friends. A Thomas the Train birthday cake, pizza and hotdogs, games, rides and a visit from Barney – what more could an almost-four-year-old want?
The Sister-in-Law came over for dinner tonight and knowing that we had a busy morning, I wanted to keep it simple, yet delicious. I laid down with Nicholas for a bit this afternoon and happened to catch an episode of Everyday Italian when Giada DeLaurentiis made Espresso Brownies. Taking a page from, ahem, Sandra Lee, Giada actually used a boxed brownie mix, and embellished it by adding espresso into both the mix and the glaze. Mmmm, the glaze … buttery, deep, lightly rich and deliciously caffeinated, it was simply divine. I would definitely make these again.
Now to work backwards. I started the meal with an Antipasto/Tapas platter, taking cues from both Latino and Italian sides with prosciutto, Parmesan chunks, roasted pimento, crusty bread sprinkled with lemon juice and green olives. For the main course, I stuck with a tried-and-true, the very delicious John Zaccaro’s Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce from Karen Duffy’s cookbook A Slob in the Kitchen. This one is super simple, hearty, creamy and never fails to come through for me. Another tried-and-true, I rounded out the meal with Stuffed Garlic Bread, nixing the artichoke part of it (couldn’t remember how The Sister-in-Law feels about artichokes). All in all, a nice and relaxing end to the day.
Tomorrow, birthday celebrations continue. Until then…
A year ago today… young love.
P.S. Don’t forget to send in your permalinks to be included in the I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours #3. This month’s theme is your Tried-and-True Recipe Collection. Is it an index card file? An overstuffed binder? Whatever it is, post about it, and send me the permalink by 7/31 to be included.
Recipe courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 (19.8-ounce) box brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Whisk 1/3 cup of water, oil, eggs, and 2 tablespoons espresso powder in a large bowl to blend. Add the brownie mix. Stir until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool completely.
Meanwhile, dissolve the remaining 2 teaspoons of espresso powder in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and butter and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the brownies. Refrigerate until the glaze is set. Cut into bite-size pieces. Arrange the brownies on a platter and serve.