Irish Cream Swirl Brownies

St. Patrick’s Day is, by far, my favorite baking holiday. I think it’s probably because it’s also such a drinking holiday and if there is one thing I love more than baking it’s…baking with booze. But I bet you thought I was going to say drinking, didn’t ya? Pre-mom Trish definitely would’ve said that, so you weren’t wrong there.

Per usual, Annie provided the inspiration for this brownie base. I tweaked her recipe ever so slightly, then took a traditional cream cheese swirl and added, you guessed it, Irish cream! I can’t even call it Bailey’s because I definitely used O’Donnell’s Irish Cream from ALDI. If you’re planning to consume the rest of the bottle on the rocks, then maybe pay full price for Bailey’s. If you’re planning to consume the rest of the bottle swirled into coffee, O’Donnell’s will be just fine. Honestly, the ingredients are probably exactly the same. You pay for the name! And the deliciousness.

irish cream brownies

Brownies
8 oz chocolate chips or baking chocolate (I used a combination of dark and semi-sweet chocolate chips – use what you like best)
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup flour

Irish Cream Swirl
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/4 cup Irish cream
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar

ing

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 pan with tinfoil or parchment paper, spray lightly with cooking spray.

Melt butter and chocolate over double boiler (glass bowl placed atop a simmering pot of water), stirring occasionally until smooth. Add cocoa powder, stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugars, vanilla, and salt. Stir in chocolate mixture until combined, then stir in flour until just combined.

In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, Irish cream, egg yolk, and sugar with hand or stand mixer, until smooth.

Pour brownie mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly. Dollop with cream cheese mixture and swirl with butter knife. Place in oven on middle lower rack, and bake for 35-45 minutes. If it’s slightly puffy, has cracked edges, and the cream cheese parts are turning golden brownish, that probably means it’s done. Insert a toothpick in the center to be certain. If it comes out slightly crumby, you’re good!

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If brownies aren’t your thing, or you’re looking to spend a bit more time in the kitchen, baking away your stresses, try these Ultimate St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes. Or these, my all-time favorite, Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. P.S. Both of these recipes seriously need new photos. I think that means I need to make them again soon, no?!

Whether you’re truly Irish, or just Irish for the day, HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY to you!!

& Friday Favorites | 3.10.2017

Hello! With any luck this post will find you well on your way to an enjoyable weekend, leaving the hustle and bustle of the work week behind. I put in my 20 hours of work away from home before my head hit the pillow at 2am Wednesday so now it’s the usual work of cooking, cleaning, and entertaining toddlers for me until Monday Tuesday (I just remembered I’m off Monday – woo hoooo!)

I’m attending a fundraiser tonight, a brunch/shopping get together tomorrow morning, and it seems like one of those weekends where Sunday will probably become a busy one too, though we do not currently have plans.

Anyway, it occurred to me last week that there are a number of items/products in our household that make my every day a little easier. So as the weekend approaches and you might set out to do some shopping or product searching of your own, I thought I’d share. I am an absolute sucker for product recommendations, reading through dozens and dozens of reviews before making purchases, so in the event that you might be in the market for one of my favorite things, here are my thoughts!

Shark Rocket TruePet – I pull this vacuum out of the closet at least once a day, sometimes more. It’s super lightweight, takes up very little storage space, and it is incredibly efficient. We have hardwood floors throughout our entire house (except the stairs to the basement), which means we have a lot of area rugs. This Shark easily transitions from the hard floor/low-pile rug setting for most of the house, to the high pile carpet setting for some of our rugs. But my ABSOLUTE favorite feature is the light on both the upper handheld part and the main vacuum base. We have a white, shedding dog, and our floors are light in color. His hair settles in the corners and on our baseboards and it can be difficult to see in regular lighting. But with that light, his hair doesn’t stand a chance! It also has a bunch of attachments (and a handy, hanging storage bag), most of which have gone unused for us, but a few that are super helpful for corners, carpeted stairs, etc. Added bonus: the boys LOVE when I vacuum.


We ordered ours from Amazon but I did see that a very similar model is $30 off on Costco.com right now.

nutpods – I discovered nutpods when I was attempting a Whole30 before the holidays. Even though I wasn’t suuuuuper successful with the Whole30, I have made some changes to my daily eats, and have eliminated a LOT of junk from my diet. I said see ya later to traditional coffee creamers a long time ago (with a few occasional exceptions) but this is by far the cleanest thing I’ve ever added to my coffee. Nutpods is dairy-free, paleo-friendly, soy-free, non-GMO… nothing but good stuff in here. If you like an ultra sweet cup of coffee, this is not for you. But if you want a perfectly satisfying cup of coffee without any added junk, give this a try!

I buy mine in the natural foods section at HyVee (buy it on Wellness Wednesday for 10% off!), but it’s also available at Whole Foods and you may even be able to find it at your local grocery store.


Nuby sippy cups – I can only assume that sippy cup companies advertise their “no leak” cups as such because they’ve never actually tested their own product. Amiright?! We’ve tried dozens and they all start out great but turn into Niagara Falls eventually.  So when we first discovered the Nuby cups with straws I thought we’d hit the jackpopt. But I hated cleaning and trying to keep track of the straws, so on a recent Target trip I found these and they are perfect. As long as the inner rubbery seal part of the lid is on correctly, they don’t leak a bit! We use these for our pre-bedtime, wind down “bottle”, then brush teeth, then put a little water in these for them to take to bed.


We also still really like these Munchkin Miracle 360 cups. Also found at Target, of course!

Ninja Blender System – Smoothies have always been a hit around here but since they boys been on a bit of an anti-vegetable kick lately, I’ve been making them almost daily and sneaking in cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, kale, etc. and they have no clue. The blades are super sharp and this thing has got some power! I’ve always dreamed of having a VitaMix but I really love this system.

We purchased ours at Costco last summer but it doesn’t appear they still carry that exact model. This one, from Target, is the exact model that we have.

& a follow. If the aforementioned Whole30/Paleo lifestyle is of interest to you, please click over to my friend Emily’s blog, Whole Life Handbook. You know what, even if it isn’t, take a look. At the very least, follow her on Instagram for some seriously drool-worthy food pics.

Alright, friends. I’m ready to start weekending! Tell me about your favorite products right now and have yourself a great weekend!

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation and/or discounts for purchases as a result of clicking these links.*

 

 

& HelloFresh tips

I expressed my frustration with meal planning recently, so I figured it was time to finally pull this post together and share my experience with HelloFresh, as well as some tips I’ve learned along the way.

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Towards the end of the summer, a friend of mine shared a promo code for a free HelloFresh box. I had been intrigued by these meal subscription programs for quite some time so I decided to go for it.

I was immediately impressed with the packaging. The ice packs were more than sufficient for keeping the meat cold, the meat was safely separated from the rest of the food, everything was definitively labeled, and most importantly, the packaging for refrigerated items was long & sleek, making it storage friendly until used.

I was equally impressed with the quality of the food, and the ease of the recipes. That said, I ended up cancelling after two boxes. It just didn’t seem cost effective, and I was still doing so much grocery shopping because I wasn’t doing any planning ahead.

HelloFresh then called me just after the new year, and offered me a lower rate. So I went for it again. But this time I made it a point to browse the website, download the app, and really educate myself on how to get the best value from this service.

Because I know that we could all use a little break from doing all of the shopping, prepping, cooking, etc. I thought I’d share my tips for getting the most out of your HelloFresh subscription:

  • Download the app. If you’re anything like me, having an app available means that I might actually remember to do something with it as I’m scrolling through my phone, looking for excuses not to get out of bed in the morning. Instagram, email, Facebook, Snapchat, work email, HelloFresh.
  • Pause menus that don’t interest you and/or are cheap to make on your own. At the very least you can use the meal idea as inspiration, but I tend to pause weeks that include pasta as a main dish, particularly if it doesn’t include much in the way of vegetables or proteins. On the other hand, I almost always opt for meals containing beef, as it tends to be rather expensive to purchase at the grocery store.

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  • Think about the full meal. One of my very favorite HelloFresh meals was Apple Turkey Burgers. Not only were the burgers great, but it included 4 buns, potatoes for roasting as one side, and the makings for a sizeable salad. If I were making this meal with ingredients purchased from the grocery store, I would have undoubtedly ended up with too many buns, leaving me scrambling to find a way to use them or (most likely) tossing them in the garbage later that week. So I like to choose menus that involve a meal, a side, a salad, etc. rather than just one dish I’m throwing everything into.
  • Customize your menu. If you have the family plan, you get to choose two out of three weekly options. If you go with the classic plan, you get even more options to choose from. Again, this was something I didn’t realize I could do at first, so when I got the full menu card with three awesome looking meals, but didn’t get the one that looked the best, I was always a little disappointed. Then I learned that I get to pick, by simply clicking on the meals that I want in my box! You can make changes up until three days prior to receiving your box. *I initially went with the family plan, but recently switched to the classic plan for a little more variety. The boys may or may not eat what we’re eating, depending on the day, so I decided to go this route for a bit and see how I like it.*

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  • Work it into your regular meal plan. If you’re already pretty great at meal planning, but have some busy days on the horizon, you can totally work your HelloFresh delivery into your regular plan. You choose what day you’d like it delivered, and you can plan that around anything that might interrupt your usual meals. Additionally, there is a “Quick” option under the Subscription info that will ensure the recipes you get are as quick as they come!
  • Manage your subscription. If your current plan isn’t working for you, you can change it up. Not in the mood for seafood? Want some lighter options? All can be managed through the website or the app.

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PROS:

  • the instructions are clear & concise
  • once you have the recipes, they are yours…some of them are pretty run-of-the-mill, but others are something I may not have tried
  • the meals come together quickly
  • the packaging is clean and storage friendly, and includes food tips that don’t necessarily pertain to your current meals, just general tidbits of info
  • fresh, long-lasting meat and produce
  • common allergens are clearly listed under the weekly menus

CONS:

  • the packaging isn’t super environmentally friendly, however, it continues to improve with each box we receive. It seems I’m not the only one that took issue with it.
  • the cost. The convenience is obviously the key here, and you certainly pay for it, which is worth it sometimes. But it is definitely possible to buy all of these ingredients at your regular grocery store for cheaper, but then you have to do all of the measuring and prepping yourself. And time is money!

So I’ve decided to keep my subscription, especially now that I have a better understanding of the website and pausing/customizing my boxes. I think that, occasionally, it’s okay to get not just groceries delivered to my doorstep, but the exact amounts of everything I need, neatly packaged, and ready for me to easily prepare. We have to cut ourselves some slack sometimes, right?

Grab one of the promo codes for a free box below to try it yourself, and let me know what you think!

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*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive discounts on future orders. However, I did not receive compensation for writing this post, and as always, all opinions are my own.