Do You Do What You Want? Or The Ultimate Fudgie Gluten-Free Brownies

We’ll get to the brownies in a minute.

I have to write out this commentary on life first.

How we choose to live largely determines how happy we are. How we live is a direct result of our world view. And everyone chooses a worldview.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend who is very careful to protect her happiness. She chooses to participate in the things that make her happy and to move on when something isn’t meant to be. She believes that things are meant to be learned from. Listening to her stories, her travels and her life’s choices made me aware of a question.

Is it possible to do what we want to do?

For the last several years I’ve lived in expectation of the next period of life—to be done with school, to marry my love, for Ethan to be done with school, to save enough money to travel, to get enough time to be more creative and learn another language, to do the Big Thing I was going to do with my life, etc.

If you were to make a list of the things you really want to be doing, but aren’t because of “real life,” money, or other constraints would it be long or short?

Mine was long. And that was both depressing and ridiculous.

And that’s part of the reason I’ve started this blog. I finally have a little bit of extra time in my day and, Ethan, God bless him, made the very good point that if you’re making enough money to pay your bills and work toward your other goals, it’s possible that you could enjoy a little bit of life and not spend it racing on to the next thing. Thus more cooking, more photography, more writing and less focus on money and filling my time for the sake of filling it. We all choose priorities whether we admit it or not. Necessities are not always necessities and you can choose to do what you want. I had run out of excuses by the time the aforementioned conversation happened and so small steps are being made to choose to do what I want to do.

That being said, Realists, I’m a self-proclaimed ally. It isn’t as easy as just making one decision, but I think that is where it starts. Time is of often required and effort and letting go of a tightly controlled life where there is always a plan. But you are not powerless. Your worldview, your faith or your God leads you and everyone chooses.

But brownies?

Brownies. In keeping with the above thought journey, the other night at Caribou Coffee on my cell phone, I bought Rosetta Stone Italian Levels 1-5 Language Learning Software for $200. It was 60% off the usual price and it was about time. It still seems like a terrible lot of money, but I will be learning Italian at night in my apartment while I cook, with my husband who has been exhibiting a terrible, very stereotypical Italian accent around our house since this purchase was made. I apologize if he does it in public around any of you. This action was a big step for me. I do not typically 1) spend a lot of money on something I want that I don’t need 2) choose to do something all of a sudden that I’ve wanted to do for five years 3) buy things on a cell phone. I suggest trying all three.

So to wrap it up there was much celebration in the Caribou Coffee about my changed life and how I am going to be able to speak another language next week and so we went home and celebrated with…


Also, the bad Italian accent? If you hear Jersey Shore meets Luigi from the animated movie Cars approaching say hi to Ethan for me.

This recipe is a combination of some tips and tricks from a brownie recipe from the miracle cookbook Gluten Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly and my best friend’s brownie recipe. It took me two tries, but I promise, these are homemade eat-half-a-pan-full brownies with that rare thin chocolate skin that only box mix brownies possess.

How to achieve happiness in a pan:

Grease a 9×13 pan and preheat the oven to 350°F.IMG_7726

First, if making gluten-free, prepare your flour mix. I used the following: 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch and 1/3 cup tapioca starch. TIP: Make big batches of whatever mix you use so you can just dip out of it like a bag of flour. It can be a process.

Gluten-Free Mix Debacle

Melt two sticks of butter in a saucepan on low while you prepare the other ingredients. Melt Butter

I like to mix my dry ingredients first so combine 1 cup flour or GF mix, 1 tsp xanthan gum (if using GF mix), ½ tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp salt.

Dry Ingredients

Stir 2 cups sugar, 2 tsp vanilla and and 2 eggs (3 eggs if you want more cakey brownies) into the melted butter.

Eggs, Vanilla, etc.

Add the ¾ cup cocoa and stir until blended.


It becomes this delicious chocolate syrupy looking pot of goodness.


Add the flour to the cocoa mixture and mix until combined.

Add Flour

I like to add some chocolate chips, because CHOCOLATE!

Chocolate Chips

Pour into the pan and use a spatula to even out the batter if need be (it’s a bit thick).


Wait in anxious anticipation for 20-25 min depending on how gooey you want them. And then take them out, gaze upon the delicate film on top, cut into the soft, chewy-ness and put it on a plate and eat it!




The Ultimate Fudgie Gluten-Free Brownies 1

The Ultimate Fudgie Gluten-Free Brownies 2

Below is a brownie from Batch 1 which were delicious but had too much flour which because there was rice flour, meant that they were a bit grainy and a little bit crumbly. I underbaked them to keep them gooey, but they were not as fabulous as the ones above.

Choco-heaven on a plate.
Choco-heaven on a plate. Batch 1.

We enjoyed ours with Prosecco. I recommend it.


In closing…

Prioritize goals, have them in the first place and celebrate! Preferably with some variation of chocolate and wine. 😉 UPS just stopped here and so I have to go make the delivery guy uncomfortable with my excitement that my box of future language learning possibilities is here.


Ciao for now!


To cook with love: friends, family and whatever is in the fridge.

Delicious can happen to anyone at any moment. You just need to have the right mindset. Here is my cooking philosophy: Rule 1) It must be delicious. Rule 2) It should be made with as many fresh ingredients as possible and Rule 3) You must not mix ethnicities. If spices, produce and other ingredients would not naturally occur near to each other within a reasonable radius of the country of origin and in a somewhat modern time period, my opinion is that they should not be put in the same dish. I say the latter because my husband (who is handsome, funny and who I love dearly) has actually put rice noodles and avocado on a CORN TORTILLA! This is an inconceivable breach of my kitchen rule book and made me seriously re-consider our relationship a few years ago. Anyway…

I have three other rules.

Rule 4) This rule is more like a collection of guidelines. These can be summed up in the following statement:

“Make what you want to make out of whatever you have however you want to make it.”

I hear this liberality is frightening to some, but you may surprise yourself with the freedom it gives you! I am here to tell you that you are not limited to one clove of garlic. This applies to butter as well. Better yet, double the butter and the garlic. I tell you right now, SUCCESS awaits you.

Rule 5) Drink wine while you cook. All the greats do it, it enhances flavors and you’ll be more relaxed, more prone to experiment and more liberal with your seasonings, your butter and your love. 😉 Happiness all around. [Exception: When cooking breakfast…Actually, no judgement here. After all, mimosas are made with the sparkling variety. :D]

Rule 6) When in doubt, depressed or distress eat CHOCOLATE. Chocolate is always the answer.

All this being said, the goal here is to enjoy fabulous food that YOU can make in YOUR kitchen to enjoy with YOUR family and friends.

And this afternoon, that’s exactly what I did. My aunt, my newly five year old cousin and my Nonny came to see my new apartment and have lunch. I have only gone grocery shopping once since we moved in a week and a half ago. However!

We ate Roasted Garlic and Basil Chicken Salad with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Roasted Garlic and Basil Chicken Salad with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Roasted Garlic and Basil Chicken Salad with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

and Toasted Flat Bread topped with toasted cheese, fresh parsley, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar or as another option, fresh marinara sauce made yesterday.

Crispy Flat bread with Fresh Marinara Sauce and Balsamic Vinegar
Toasted Flat Bread with Fresh Marinara Sauce

This was supplemented by some great non-GMO kettle chips and three-cheese popcorn provided by said guests.

All was washed down with homemade iced tea.

The Spread!
The Spread!

This spread took maybe an hour to prepare and was made from the following list of ingredients:


  • Tossed lettuce salad with halved cherry tomatoes (or whatever tomatoes you have on hand–be flexible!) and some kind of chopped onions.
  • 1 large can of chicken sauteed in a pan with olive oil until some is crispy with basil, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 2 minced cloves of garlic.
  • Serve the salad and top with the warm chicken.

Flat bread:

  • Toast bread of your preference buttered on both sides topped with chopped onions (green, white, or red) and fresh parsley and your choice of shredded cheese in the oven at 400 degrees.
  • Slice into whatever shape appeals to you and serve with balsamic vinegar or another topping.

Sweet Tea:

  • Boil desired amount of water
  • Turn heat off and add a tea bag per 8 oz. of water
  • Add sugar to taste
  • Cool and pour over ice!

I love to eat this kind of fresh, light, flavorful food but living with a man who has the metabolism of a thirteen year old sometimes precludes that. It was the perfect ladies luncheon made out of ingredients you probably have around even if you haven’t gone grocery shopping in eleven days. And that’s what I’m all about. While your family and friends want to be around you (hopefully) whether your food is good or not, there is a certain pride and power in being able to create something mouth-watering from what you have in the fridge. It draws people in, it gives you something to talk about and if you’re me, it gives you something to photograph and a happy man!

Cooking in my new kitchen in my new home waiting for my newish husband to get home, I was surrounded by these amazing women who are in MY family. Before moving, I was refinishing the table that now sits in my kitchen and thinking of all the food I wanted to sit on it and the family I wanted to sit around it. Today’s lunch was just the first of many more meals to be cooked with love.

The last thing I want to say is there is more to come! My hope is to post photos of food and friends, stories of marriage and mishaps, my journey to learning the Italian language and tips for becoming a confident cook who learns from, not leans on, recipes, at least once a week.

I’ll see you around the web, around town or around the table!

Ciao for now,