Caramel Brownies

Caramel Brownies

When I first started this blog, I was intending to post only about desserts, all the best and most delicious and exciting desserts I could think of.

(I was also sure I would become an overnight sensation despite my deep ineptitude with social media and complete lack of ability to use a camera properly. I basically had no idea what I was doing.)

I fretted for about five months over the perfect name. That’s a crazy amount of time. I would have failed really hard as a marketing major.

In the end when I landed on Smells Like Brownies, a name that conjured homeyness and rich flavor for me, I made mental plans to bake brownies every month. Like my “thing” could be brownies. Note: I did not plan to gain 20 pounds.

I was such a little baby blogger then! I started with one pan of the fanciest brownies I could think of, and then the next week I ruined a batch of caramel sauce and promptly decided I could not survive on desserts alone.

Now, almost five years later, I am finally circling back to brownies with caramel. And boy howdy are these good! (Plus, no caramel-making involved!)

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Broccolini Melts

Broccolini Melts

Have I mentioned my obsession with open-face sandwiches?

This broccolini melt is so amazing on so many levels. Not only is it full of bright green goodness, for which your body thanks you, but it is savory and cheesy and garlicky and a little lemony…in short, it is delicious. All delis should throw out their tuna melts and serve this instead.

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Easy Cheese Danish

Easy Cheese Danish

My husband has been asking to make cheese danish for years.

You’d think I would have taken him up on that right away! I love to bake. I love to be bossy in the kitchen. I love cheese danish.

But for some reason, I felt intimidated. Do you ever feel paralyzed by the desire to do something absolutely perfectly the first time, to find the right recipe and execute it just right, and make the most delicious thing anyone has ever tasted?

I had made croissants exactly once: they were a lot of work, and in the end, they were only fine. Fine! How dare they. I knew that cheese danish was in danger of turning out the same way, so I put them on the back burner.

But this month, when I was cruising through Renee’s Kitchen Adventures for my Secret Recipe Club challenge, I spotted a cheese danish recipe…and I knew I would have to go for it. This recipe is somewhat unusual, as it uses puff pastry instead of a typical laminated, yeasted dough! This had the potential to be way simpler, and equally as delicious. Plus, I have been all about puff pastry lately.

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Debby’s Mac and Cauliflower with Ritz Crust

Debby's Mac and Cauliflower with Ritz Crust

The summer after I graduated from high school, my best friend and I started a weekly ritual we called “wife practice.”

We decided to learn how to cook, something our mothers had been trying to teach us for years. We spent hours making peanut pork with cellophane noodles and potato crust quiche and French silk pie. (Only the most practical dishes for our future husbands, let me tell you.)

I thought Debby walked on air because she had this brash disrespect for the recipes we were preparing. Unlike me, she had already mastered putting her own spin on a dish as she cooked. She knew when a coarse chop would do the trick, she didn’t measure her salt, she irreverently used ingredients that were less expensive, she had favorite chefs and favorite cheeses, she knew what a tomatillo was…

When I first ventured out on my own and began putting together a collection of meals I could make, 50% of them were Debby’s. Debby’s spindiforous chicken bundles, Debby’s verde burritos, Debby’s Mediterranean orzo, Debby’s focaccia bread. All these years later, I still leave her house thinking, “I have to go home and make that right away!” every time I eat with her.

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Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Yesterday, Jake decided to read all of my cookbooks. He pulled pretty much every single book off the shelf, one at a time, to ooh and aah over the glorious photos and recite every single letter in every single recipe title.

That kid. Adorable.

Somehow in the middle of this, I developed a hankering for peanut butter cookies. I’m pretty sure that was Jake’s goal all along.

These are not your average criss-cross peanut butter cookie, oh no. These are thin, crispy-edged delights with soft, gooey centers. These are milk chocolate chip cookies to the max, plus a hint of snickerdoodle. In short, these peanut butter beauties are all kinds of amazing.

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