February 6, 2017

Show your loved ones how much you care by surprising them a sweet treat from the heart. Or spend some quality time in the kitchen with your littlest Valentine whipping up some something special together.


Sweetheart Brownies

My good friend Pam gave me a very thoughtful present for Christmas. It was a glass batter-bowl-and-lid set. Layered inside the bowl were the dry ingredients necessary for Sweetheart Brownies. The bowl was wrapped in clear plastic wrap, tied with a bow and the recipe served as part of the gift tag.

My two boys were excited when they saw the bowl filled with holiday M&Ms and chocolate chips. Of course, they asked to make the brownies right away. These brownies are unique and unlike brownies I’ve tasted before due to the addition of cinnamon.


1 1/3 cups sugar, divided

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup red and pink M&Ms

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped (optional)


In small bowl, combine 2/3 cup of the sugar and cinnamon; mix well and set aside. In a small to medium bowl, layer ingredients as follows, gently patting each layer before adding the next ingredient: salt, baking powder, 1/2 cup of the flour, cocoa powder, remaining 2/3 cup sugar, M&Ms and remaining 1 cup flour. Top with reserved cinnamon-sugar mixture, chocolate chips and walnuts. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap. If using plastic wrap, secure with a rubber band.


To complete the brownies add:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a square cake pan with vegetable oil. In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, oil, eggs, water and vanilla; mix until well blended. Spread mixture into baker. Bake 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.


Yield: 20 brownies


Note: The dry ingredients can also be stored in a gallon-sized resealable bag. The bag can serve as a ready-made brownie mix or as a gift.


Strawberry White Hot Chocolate

At my third-grade son’s Kids in the Kitchen class, the kids made strawberry hot chocolate. I thought it was a cute idea and very kid friendly.


1 container (14 fl oz each) strawberry low-fat milk (1-3/4 cups)

2 envelopes (0.73 oz each) hot cocoa mix

whipped topping or whipped cream

pink sugar sprinkles


Heat milk in 2-cup glass measure in microwave on high for 2 minutes or until hot. Stir in cocoa mix until blended.

Divide mixture between 2 mugs. Top each with a dollop or whipped topping or whipped cream. Add sprinkles.