Our FAVORITE Brownies!

I bet I’ve tried 25 brownie recipes over the years… but this one…this one takes the cake…er brownie! They hold all of the things a brownie should! Shiny top, moist but not too moist. Truly special.

Rather than using cocoa powder, it uses chocolate pieces. Yum! This means you can choose which kind of chocolate you want to use…semi sweet, bitter sweet or dark! It depends upon how chocolatey folks around you house like it! I used 72% dark this summer while on vacation. The Children found it tooooo chocolatey, so the adults had to enjoy them all by themselves (and they did!)

Best Brownies

6 1/2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
11 ounces chocolate, chopped – bittersweet, semisweet or dark – NOT unsweetened (divided into 7 ounces and 4 ounces)
2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup all purpose white flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8″ square with 2 pieces of foil, allowing the foil hang over the sides of the pan enough to grab later and grease/butter the foil. I use a baking spray.

The Chocolate Bits…
Place the 2 tablespoons of water, the butter & sugar into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat while stirring. Once butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in 7 ounces of the chocolate. Once melted, allow to cool. If you don’t let it cool and you add the eggs, the eggs may cook and this is NOT what you want. Once cooled, add the eggs and vanilla. Stir until combined.

The Dry Bits…
As the chocolate cools, you can mix the salt, flour and baking soda in a small bowl. Once chocolate is cooled, add the flour into the chocolate mixture, stirring until just mixed. Add the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate and the walnuts if you are using them. (We love nuts around The MacKay Way!)

Pour battre into the prepared pan, spreading it into the edges and corners.

Bake for 22-27 minutes. To test doneness, insert a toothpick into the center. The bottom 1/4″ should still be wet. Don’t bake until toothpick comes out clean or you will have dry and hardened brownies.

Brownies lift right out!

Allow to cool on a rack. If you then refrigerate them until they are well chilled, they will cut easier. To cut, lift the foil overhangs straight up and place entire 8″ square into a cutting board. Cutting into squares and serve!

Store in an airtight container for 3 days or freeze for 1 month.

Brownies ready for Thanksgiving!

How do these compare with your usual brownies?? Let us know!

Holiday Treat: Lemon Coconut Bars

Lemon Coconut Bars

I’m glad I got one before they were all gone!

When I got the call that I’d be doing a full 26 minutes on the TV show Robin’s Nest, and it would be broadcasting in the preparation time for the holidays, I set to work pulling a few of my favorite and easy go to recipes. This recipe was shared with me by a woman named Alice. We met briefly and I’m happy to be able to share this tasty treat that she shared with me. I don’t know where she got it from.

I cut the pan of these at the taping and the staff of the show fluttered right to them. I sent Robin home with half of what remained and this plate held the rest… which lasted less than 24 hours around The MacKay Way!

Let’s get to it!

Lemon Coconut Bars

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
3/4 cups toasted flaked coconut (see toasting info below)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)

Toasting coconut in a toaster oven.

TOASTING THE COCONUT: Line a cookie sheet with foil and spread the coconut in a thin layer. I love a toaster over for this job, which is what I’m using in the photographs. I set a toaster over to toast/broil and watch it carefully, pulling it out to stir often so the toasting is even. If doing this in a regular oven, set oven o broil and drop rack down one level from highest. Watch it VERY carefully under the broiler as it can go from toasted to burned in moments.

Coconut, toasted.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8″ square with foil and grease/butter the foil. I use a baking spray.

CRUST: Combine flour, sugar and salt into a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until well mixed. Add the butter and toasted coconut and process until the mixture resembles a fine meal.

Crust, ready for baking.

Transfer this mixture into the foil covered greased pan, pressing down well to form the crust.

Bake until lightly browned, about 35 minutes.

NOTE: I used a slightly larger pan for the batch photographed as all of my 8″ pans were already full! This resulted in thinner layers. Because of this, I reduced the cooking time by 8-10 minutes as not to dry out the crust and make it too tough.


Zesting a lemon with my favorite Microplane grater.

FILLING: While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. First zest the lemon (as shown above), grating off only the yellow skin. Don’t add the white pith portion or it will add bitterness.

Filling ingredients

Wash out your food processor and clean that metal blade and add all of the filling ingredients. Process until smooth.When the crust is ready, pour the filling onto the crust. I prefer to do this right in the oven. I pull out the rack and pour the lemon mixture right on top.

NOTE: My oven is slightly crooked so one edge of my bars was a little thicker than the other. Because of this, I rotate the pan half way through cooking.

Bake until the filling just begins to brown around the edges and is springy to touch, between 28-35 minutes.

Allow to cool on a cooling rack. Life the foil out of the pan and cut into squares. Sieve confectioners sugar evenly over the tops if you choose.

Lemon Coconut Bars

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or in our cold kitchen on the counter for less than 24 hours as they will all be gone!

Let me know how these go over in your house!!

Happy holidays!!

Giving a Cat an Inhaler and other Normal Things

Chanel – a beautiful boy indeed!

Things around The MacKay Way are never dull. I can’t ever recall having an “I’m Bored” moment, which I’m quite thankful for. By now you know that we have two rather large and very loving cats here at The MacKay Way.

During the renovation, Chanel began to have a hairball cough from time to time. After an increase in what I thought were extra hairballs coughs, I followed the Feller’s advice and took Chanel to the vet.

A Cat inhaler

He had Asthma. He was overweight (duh) and his heart was enlarged. As someone who considers herself a good fur kid Mom, I felt less than good at hearing all of this.

I changed the cats food to a vet prescribed food (read as IT COSTS WHAT?) and not everyone was happy.

Cocoa did a food stand off for 3 days.

Cocoa did a food stand off for 3 days.

Cocoa was angry that I’d pulled the dry food out of the diet cold turkey. He loved his dry food – but the vet said it had to go — so it did!  Finally I took a spoonful of their old wet food to mix in with the new vet food and Cocoa went to town.

Food Stand off over

Two weeks passed and I awoke one morning to seeing Cocoa surrounded by hair. Lots of hair. He suddenly had dry skin patches that he must have licked all night and the poor dear now had no hair on his hind quarters. Off to the vet we went. Although the vet couldn’t tell the cause i could only assume it was from the change in food…nothing else had changed. So we moved to yet another new food (which is even MORE IT COSTS WHAT that the first one!) Thankfully neither cat minded this new food. Phew!

I now am administering liquid filled syringes to both cats via their mouths… and although 2 out of three are tuna flavored, anyone who has had a cat will know it’s not at all fun!

We are happy to note that Chanel’s heart is no longer  enlarged and he’s down 1.5lbs. Cocoa’s skin is beginning to clear up, although we await the return of the fur, and he is down 1lb.

It amazes me at how much food this new diet has them consuming (2x the quantity of what they used to eat), but it seems to be a far better quality and not all carbs.

The diet continues!!

Simple Pleasures

Garden Fresh breakfast!

Garden Fresh breakfast!

After three weeks on the road it was so nice to come home and stroll through the gardens to collect some things for breakfast!

I love soft boiled eggs, something I had forgotten about until I had one in the UK last week.

The tomatoes and the figs are from the garden. Figs being topped with a tiny bit of gingered honey. The tomatoes gently cooked in a pan until their skins were about to pop. A simple spray of olive oil to avoid sticking and some salt and pepper… that is all!

Some days it really is the simple things in life. Now to add egg cups to my Christmas wish list!

The Staple Dress

The Staple Dress

The Staple Dress

September has rolled in with a BANG! So much to do in the weeks ahead that my lists have lists!!!

As I started my journey to Searsport, Maine to teach at and take classes at this years Fiber College, I was lucky to have an afternoon, after deadlines, with a pile of pieces I’d cut and packed hoping there may be some personal sewing time squeezed in!
And — VOILA! There was one afternoon where I found myself in a quiet house with my sewing machine and no one who needed my attention.

In other words – HEAVEN!

I had heard so much about The Staple Dress from folks all over the blog-o-sphere that I decided to test it out for myself in this gorgeous cotton voile.

I love the Cotton Voile!

I love the Cotton Voile!

I am a short woman, barely grazing 5’1″. I am a curvy woman. Thus, I always need to make a few adjustments in the pattern to be sure the waist is where it belongs and that the pattern is cut near to my frame size needing few if any adjustments later.

Cutting out the Pattern

Cutting out the Pattern

I had done this hear and there between teaching classes and private lessons during August and I was excited to see it come together.

Adding the Elastic Waist.

Adding the Elastic Waist.

I did stray from the directions a bit in that I put French Seams on any exposed seam to avoid any frays later.
I also needed to add quite a few rows extra of the elastic as it didn’t suit my frame with only a a few. It always feels like magic when you hand wind the elastic thread onto your bobbin and before you know it you have some lovely gathers!!!

Do I like the pattern? Yes.
Do I have any issues with it? Yes.
I find that the length of the side from sleeve tip to waist is short. Yes, I adjusted it a little, reducing the blousiness, but had I not, there would be too much extra bulk there and it would look more potato-sacky and less shapely, which on my 5 foot frame wouldn’t be attractive. It seems to be the way of this sort of sleeve, not being a set-in or raglan sleeve, and being very very simple, which is good!

Would I recommend it to sewers? Absolutely! I sewed the dress together in about 3.5 hours including the hem, which I had already patterned to be my correct length at cutting. This means I had already adjusted the pattern to be longer in the back to accommodate the necessary curves. When I wear it the hem is straight.

I have received many a compliment on the dress, which I have so far only worn over white jeans.

Ooooh — Stay Tuned to you see how I upped my game with trimming it while at Fiber College!!!