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Friday, February 18, 2011

Scrumptious Brownie Recipe

Remember those delectable Heart Shaped Brownies I was swooning over in my last post. Here's the recipe. If you cut them out into heart shapes you get adorable portion control. Yummy!

adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten)

2 sticks (8 ounces) butter
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 large eggs
2 tbsp instant espresso
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
powdered sugar, for decoration

Grease a 13 x 9″ pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and instant espresso. Pour in the cooled chocolate mixture and stir to combine.

Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder into the bowl sitting on top of the chocolate and suggar mixture. Stir the flour mixture into the batter and stir gently until all the flour disappears. Pour into the greased pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack to cool. After about 5 minutes, press a 4″ or 5″ heart-shaped cookie cutter into the brownies. Cool for about 10 or 15 more minutes, then carefully carve out the pieces around the heart and place in a medium bowl. Leave the heart pieces in the pan and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely.

The Brownie scraps you can roll into balls and then roll them in powdered sugar or granulated sugar for another treat!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I learned from Valentine's Day-my happy moment

Well, Valentine's Day is past. We did really have a wonderful Valentine's Day, but as I sit her and ruminate on the holiday and what makes it special to me, I think there are some elements I'd like to pull from Valentine's Day to the rest of the year. Namely: Brownies, making stuff, and saying how I feel to those I love.

Let's start with Brownies, really what's not to like about brownies? If you cut them into heart shapes then you'll probablly eat less and still get all the yumminess without the I just ate a 1/2 a pan of brownine hangover. Yes, heart shaped cookie cutters are a must do. All year round.

Making Stuff. I love making stuff. I have a business of making stuff, I have been an artist of one form or another all my life. But lately, and not so lately, I have been so busy marketing stuff, teaching stuff, and cleaning up stuff, not so much time to make new stuff. So for Valentine's Day I decided to make paper maiche heart boxes. I spent a blissful afternoon alone with my hands in newsprint, wall paper paste, and duct tape. Unfortunately it took more time than I expected for the wall paper paste to dry so alas I only made one Paper Maiche Heart Box. But that's ok-it was perfect to hold our family's hand made valentines, (another lovely afternoon). I'll get to the other two by next Valentine's Day. However, the point is not the quantity of creating but the enjoyment of the experience. I need to create weekly, if not daily for balance.

Lastly, tell those I love them, I love them, the good old fashioned way and write it down. My husband and I started a tradition when we were dating to write a love poem to one another every Valentine's Day. We even have a beautiful handmade notebook. For the first several years of our life toghether we faithfully stuck to the tradition, then we had the kids, things got a bit hectic-not so many poems, got a bit sporadic. This year we went back to our tradition. Even though I had to re-read my husbands poem three times comparing our love to a row boat. I finally understood his analogy and the fact he so carefully crafted it means the world to me. I enjoyed stopping everything and writing for him as well. I think I need to stop and appreciate the wonderful man and family in my life more often than once a year!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

We're on TV again! Check-out the video and discount code!

Check out this gift insider TV segment. Hull's Happiest Days Designs was featured on Fox 2 TV News Detroit. Uncle Joey from Full House dropped by too!

(look for the discount code below)

For the rest of the month we're offering a 10% discount to all who check out this video or the gift insider blog:


At checkout enter the discount code tgi10.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hull's Happiest Days Designs

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Happy February 2nd, Groundhog's Day! We are HUGE fans of Groundhog's Day. In the past my family has traveled to Punxsutawney for the fantastic Groundhog celebration. They have a four day extravaganza featuring fabulous craft fairs, carriage rides, breakfast with Phil and sometimes Phyllis (Mrs. Groundhog), ice sculptures, and snow, snow, snow! Last year when we were there we got a Groundhog cookie cutter and a basic spice cookie recipe for Groundhog cookies.

Unfortunately, we couldn't make it to Punxy this year, but we still celebrated! Last night my girls and I made Groundhog cookies (recipe below), then at 7:15 this morning we watched Phil via live feed from Gobbler's Knob. Members of the inner circle woke Phil up from his stump and conferred with Phil, in Groundheese. Phil relayed to the Inner Circle President, that he did not see his shadow so Spring will arrive early! To complete our celebration tonight we'll watch Groundhog's Day the movie with Bill Murray.

However, after we watched Phil's predictions, we decided to put our own cookie groundhogs to the test. We had some conflicting predictions between Punxy Phil and our Groundhogs here. Both our Cookie Groundhog's saw their shadow, so winter around here is going to be in full force. At least until March 21st!

Groundhog Cookie Recipe
(we tweaked and made this one our own-Shawn)

1 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of molasses
2 Tablespoons of white vinegar
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla
2 eggs
5 cups of all purpose Flour
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

Raisins for eyes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugar and then add the rest of the ingredients up to and including the eggs. Mix until light and fluffy. On the top (without disturbing the bottom) add flour, spices, and baking soda. Mix so the flour incorporates with the spices and baking soda and then mix with the wet ingredients below. Once the dough is formed chill for about 2 hours in the fridge.
Roll out after chilling into groundhog shape (you could modify a bunny maybe if you don't have a cookie cutter) or just use a glass to make a round shape. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes. Add raisins at the end if you like to decorate. Cool on rack. Enjoy and dream of spring!

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About Me

Shawn and Kevin own Happiest Days Designs a personalized dessertware company that focuses on celebrating all of life's happiest days! Shawn an is a Mom extraordinarre, an adjunct professor of theatre, an outsider artist and a lover of historic houses! Kevin is an accomplished Dad and oil painter. He also is way too involved in math! This blog follows Shawn and Kevin's happiest days, happy days of our family and friends, and we invite you to post your own on our Facebook fan page! We also have recipes, profound ruminations on being happy for the little and big things in life, and discount codes for our etsy store: www.happiestdaysdesigsn.etsy.com Check out our lines of personalized cake plates, domes, dessert dishes, and mugs (dessertware) that are meant as collectible sovenirs from the happiest moments in your life. Life is always better with dessert and they plate its served on too!