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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kate's Birthday - Part Deux

Kate had a great birthday celebration, the highlight of which was probably a high spirited game of butts up today at tennis.  Butts up is where the person who is celebrating their birthday stands on the base line on one side of the court with their back to the net.  Everyone else stands on the baseline on the other side.  The object of the game is for everyone to take a turn and let their best serve rip in the general direction of the birthday person's butt.  It inspires lots of hoots and hollers and sometimes a welt or two.

Kelly, one of Kate's coaches, presented her with a phone book to sit on while driving and encouraged everyone to stay off the road now that Kate will have her learner's permit.  Kate thought the phone book was hysterical.  Frank was on vacation so he missed all the fun and the cupcakes.  Kate's not sure how Frank feels about butts up but she knows that he'll be sad to hear there were cupcakes and he missed them.

As you can see, tennis has its own sense of humor.

But it appears the celebration is not quite over.  Tomorrow at school the 10th grade is having a good bye lunch for Izzie, a girl who has been visiting Ellis from Chile for the last six weeks.  Since it's Kate's birthday this week, she offered to bring brownies for dessert for the whole 10th grade.

Isn't it nice how Kate offers my services?

 I got to it and worked my brownie magic.  30 double chocolate brownies and 30 peanut butter brownies.  They look delicious, if I do say so myself.  Kate says that Ellis is as much about food as it is about education, and I think she could be right.  I think I like that.

So, here's to day two of the birthday celebration.  I think turning 16 deserves at least two days, don't you?

Recipe:  Outrageous Brownies
Ina Garten

* Note:  See below for Peanut Butter Swirl  Brownie variation


1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweert chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups walnut pieces, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2 inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water.  Allow to cool slightly.  In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla and sugar.  Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt.  Add to the cooled chocolate mixture.  Toss the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter.  Pour into the prepared sheet pan.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough.  Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  Allow to cool completely, refrigerate, and cut into large squares.

Variation for Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies:

Omit the nuts from the batter.  Once you have poured the batter into the sheet pan, spoon 3/4 cup peanut butter over the top of the chocolate mixture.  Then, using a knife, swirl the peanut butter through the chocolate mixture.

Bake as above.


  1. Oh, Nadine, that sounds like such fun!!! I always want my birthday to hurry up by as fast as possible. For some reason, kids just love to carry theirs on for days and days:)

    Brownies are my weakness and these sound awesome!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  2. Thank you so much Louise! I feel honored!