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In addition to her monthly Practical Pantry article, Debra Caffrey is the Editor of the Education and Infant E-newsletters for FredParent. She is the proud mom of a middle schooler. Debra is passionate about cooking, meal planning, and smart grocery shopping, and is excited to share her ‘Practical Pantry’ with you.

 

Practical Pantry

The newness of the start of the school year had dissipated. In its place, the predicted crop of small issues that arises once a routine is established and the novelty of something ends.

We expected that fifth grade was going to include a lot more homework. There would still be unbearable classmates, the feeling of inferiority during recess football, debates about how much Fortnite could be played on a school night and the everyday clashing with Mom while trying to establish tween authority and independence. What the 10-year-old boy may have not realized during this phase (will he ever?) is that when he has a bad day, I do too!

It’s hard on us as parents when our children have yucky days; even more grueling when issues last longer and take more time to get resolved. With little ones, we can ease boo-boos with kisses, unwind after a long day snuggling together with a picture book and reassure teething babies in a rocking chair and with a lullaby. But as little ones grow into big kids that suddenly wear deodorant instead of footy jammies, shun our physical affection while heading to the bus stop, and know their problems grow more nuanced, complex, and tricky the bigger they get, it gets harder to help them through things.

Enduring difficult times and having rotten days are a necessary part of growing up, but as a parent, you find yourself starting at square one again—unsure of what approach to take to ease the unfortunate pangs of growing and the loss of innocence along the way. Sometimes, there simply may not be any easy answers, and that realization is part of growing up that we as parents of older children face. When anyone in my household is having a bad day, my instincts always turn to one answer that always works—food!

Listen, we all need to eat healthy and provide nutritional meals to our family. This is a huge priority in my household. But sometimes...sometimes we just need some ooey, gooey rich brownies to embrace us after a long day! After a particularly tricky morning for my son, I returned to the house after saying goodbye at the bus stop thinking only one thing, “I need to make some brownies.” Sometimes when you’re a big kid and you are carrying the weight of growing up without much success, you need a little chocolate, a little indulgence, and a little reminder that there are still people waiting at home for you with some comfort, sugar and unconditional love in the form of a big fat, frosted brownie. Sometimes, that’s what we all need!

Debra’s Bad Day Brownies

Batter:
• ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
• 1 cup white granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 eggs
• ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
• ¾ cup flour
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped
Frosting:
• 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
• 5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
• 2 Tablespoons honey
• ½ teaspooon vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
• 2-3 Tablespoons milk

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch pan.

Combine melted butter, sugar and vanilla with a stand mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, beating after each addition. Add cocoa powder and continue to mix. Add flour, baking powder, and salt, beating well to combine. Fold in walnuts with spatula until well incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes or until done and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together butter, cocoa powder, honey and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Add confectioner’s sugar, then add milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Spread atop the cooled off brownies, cut into squares and enjoy!

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