The Ultimate One-Bowl Chocolate Brownie

“Sometimes a girl’s gotta have some chocolate!” – Carrie Underwood

If your looking for that go-to recipe for brownies, you’ve come to right place.  These chocolate brownies are to die for!  They are fudge-like, nutty, and will satisfy any of your chocolate cravings.  We’ve added walnuts for added crunch and texture.  Share one or two with your bestie this Valentine’s Day!

Taken from Hershey’s Incredibly Easy Recipes

Makes about 36 brownies

3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13x9x2 inch baking pan with parchment paper with overhang for easy removal.

Stir together cocoa and baking soda in a large bowl.  Add in 1/3 cup melted butter and boiling water.  Stir until the mixture thickens.  Mix in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup melted butter and combine until smooth.  Add flour, vanilla and salt and blend thoroughly.  Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts and spread in a prepared pan.

Bake 35-40 minutes, or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Cut into squares.

Homemade Baby: Berry Breakfast

“I’m just like you.  I enjoy the forbidden fruits in life, too.” – Mike Tyson

This is a healthy and delicious puree to mix into your baby’s oatmeal cereal for breakfast.  Blueberries, often referred to as “super foods”, are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  What a great way to start your little one’s day!

Makes about 2 cups
Suitable for 8 months 

1 medium royal gala apple, diced
1 anjou pear, diced
1/2 cup blueberries
pinch of cinnamon

Place all the fruit in a steamer basket over a pot filled with an inch of water.  Steam fruit for about 10 minutes, until tender.  Immersion blend, adding a little of the reserved water to create a nice consistency.  For an added flavour boost, add a pinch of cinnamon and stir into your baby’s oatmeal.  Breakfast is served!

Check with your baby’s paediatrician before introducing any new foods.

Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing

“It’s never been an issue for me – I don’t want to go on a diet, I don’t want to eat a Caesar salad with no dressing, why would I do that? I ain’t got time for this, just be happy and don’t be stupid. If I’ve got a boyfriend and he loves my body then I’m not worried.” – Adele

Making your own Caesar salad dressing is really special.  Particularly on a busy weeknight when you are serving chicken strips over salad/wraps and you want to create at least ONE from scratch component in your meal. Kick aside your boxed kit and mix up this dressing in a matter of minutes.  Be proud of yourself – dinner will be fabulous tonight!

Adapted slightly from Canadian Living

Makes enough dressing for one head of romaine lettuce

1/4 cup (50 mL) extra virgin olive oil 
2 tbsp (25 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
2 tsp (10 mL) anchovy paste 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Worcestershire_sauce
3 tbsp (50 mL) light mayonnaise

In bowl, whisk together oil, cheese, lemon juice, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk in mayonnaise until smooth. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)

Tear one head of romaine lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the dressing, croutons and parmesan cheese then toss to combine.

Baked Halibut Fish Sticks with Green Beans & Sweet Potato

“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll sit in a boat with a fishing pole and drink beer all day.” – Lorena McCourtney, ‘Invisible’ 

These baked halibut fish sticks are easy to prepare, tasty, and a much better alternative from your usual boxed frozen fish.  The veggies are simple and complement the meal perfectly.  Round it out with a homemade creamy and flavourful tarter sauce and it’s a meal the whole family is sure to enjoy.

Taken from Tyler Florence’s Start Fresh

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk
1 pound skinless halibut fillet, cut into 1-inch wide fingers
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 sweet potato sliced thin
1/2 green beans
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine potatoes and green beans in bowl and drizzle with the oil. Toss to coat thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Arrange vegetables at one end of baking sheet and put in oven while preparing fish (or about 5 minutes).

Pour 1/2 cup of the buttermilk into a large bowl. Add the halibut pieces and turn to coat. In another bowl, stir together panko, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Dredge each fish finger in bread crumbs to coat completely, remove pan from oven and arrange fish at other end of the baking sheet.

Bake, turning once, until fish fingers are golden, and potatoes are cooked through, about 12 minutes.

Stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, relish, capers, and parsley until well blended. Thin with the remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk and season with salt and pepper.


Golden Cheddar Dill Biscuits

“With enough butter, anything is good.” – Julia Child

There is nothing more satisfying than a warm, buttery and flaky biscuit – except of course if it’s home made! We use some cheddar cheese for beautiful golden specks and half and half cream to cut some of the calories (sorry Ina!). The key to making a flaky biscuit is ensuring your butter is cold and oven is hot. We recommend doing a quick flash freeze to give you the perfect texture. These biscuits would pair great with your Super Bowl Sunday Chilli!

Adapted from Ina Garten

Makes 20 biscuits

4 cups plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 ½ cups cold butter, grated
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup half and half cream, cold
1 ½ cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1 egg beaten plus 1 tbsp milk (for egg wash)

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add grated butter and stir with a large wooden spoon. In a small bowl, combine 4 eggs and cream. Add to the flour and butter mixture and stir until just combined. Toss the cheeses, dill and 1 tbsp of flour together and add to the dough. Slightly mix and dump onto a floured surface. Using your hands, quickly combine until cheddar cheese and dill are well distributed (no more than one minute). Roll dough into a ¾-inch thick square. Using a large knife, cut into squares (or any shape you like). Place on a floured tray and freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Remove biscuits from the freezer and place on a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Brush with eggwash. Bake for 20 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.

Tyler Florence helps your baby “Start Fresh” – A Cookbook Review

“It’s time to stop making excuses about what we put on our tables and in our children’s bodies and recognize that companies that produce cheap food are not doing you any favours.” – Tyler Florence

Tyler is one of our favorites here at Scratch is Better, so we knew in order to create some new baby food recipes, we’d have to give his cookbook Start Fresh a try. Tyler’s philosophy is simple: Forge a foundation early on with your children for a healthy relationship with food that will last a lifetime. This cookbook is good one to keep handy since it begins from single-ingredient purees (4-6 month old baby) all the way through 12 months and beyond. So it’s not just a baby cookbook, rather a cookbook that speaks to the whole family.

Tyler’s recipes explain the importance of making baby food taste as good as food you would serve to the entire family. Nothing is fake or processed and he encourages you buy certified organic whenever possible. We like that he simplifies preparing baby food. All you need is a steamer basket and a blender, which you probably already have in your kitchen. He also suggests roasting fruits and vegetables instead of just steaming – adding a different, yet tastier dimension to the food.

The single-ingredient purees are a no-brainer but the rest of the sections – the flavor combinations he suggests are pure genius! He claims his parsnip, pear and fig puree tastes like Christmas – we couldn’t resist trying it out! The mango, carrot and apple puree is so delicious even we licked the spoon! We really enjoyed his Turkey Meatball Stroganoff and it has definitely made its way into our weekly rotation.  Tyler even includes a recipe for Baked Halibut fish sticks, which is kid friendly and easy to prepare.  The mantra of sitting down and eating dinner together as a family never gets old and Tyler makes this act seem doable and necessary.

Even though Tyler focuses on fresh healthy foods, we found that a few of the recipes, especially the stage two section (6-9 months) contained a heavy salt and sugar content. Many fruits and vegetables already have a natural sweet taste so there really is no need to expose children to extra salt and sugar. He also encourages you to add Parmesan cheese and maple syrup to baby food recipes, which we thought was unnecessary. We just omitted these ingredients when trying out his recipes, and the results were still fantastic!

There are a lot of excellent baby food books out there, but we found Start Fresh to stand out. Tyler allows us to gain appreciation for creating not just edible food for children, but tasty and flavorful food combinations that are healthy. By the end of the book, you will think twice before opening up a jar of runny goopy fruits and vegetables that are slopped together. Of course we all just want what is best and healthiest for our baby and Tyler hits it with the nail on the head – by starting fresh.

Here is one of our favourites from the cookbook:

Carrot, Apple, Mango Puree

Sunshine puree…

In his book, Start Fresh, Tyler claims this puree to be “one of the best things I’ve made”- so naturally we had to give it try! This beautiful puree has a wonderful sweetness that makes it very delicious. Your little one is in for a treat!

Taken from Start Fresh by Tyler Florence

Makes about 2 ½ cups

1 mango, peeled and cut into chunks.
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 apples, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a roasting sheet with parchment and add all the ingredients. Roast for about 20 minutes, until carrots are soft and tender. Puree with a hand blender or Vitamix.

Tyler’s Fab Foccacia

“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” -Thomas Keller

This fresh and delightful homemade focaccia is sprinkled with juicy kalamata olives and dressed with rosemary.  Caramelizing the onions is an added step but it really takes this bread to a whole new level.  Serve it as an appetizer for a party and your guests will talk of nothing else!

Taken from Tyler Florence’s Fabulous Focaccia

Makes 1 loaf

2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until form appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it don’t form a skin. Cover with plastic rap or damp towel and let rise over a gas pilot light on the stovetop or other warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2 -inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, coat a small saute pan with olive oil, add the onion, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes until the onions caramelize. Preheat oven to 400°F. Uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips. Brush the surface with more olive oil and then add caramelized onions, garlic, olives, cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes.