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Creamy ice cream and warm, fresh-baked brownies

Quick and Easy Brownies
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
½ cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees
    in a large bowl, beat together oil and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix until fully combined.
    In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
    Add dry flour mixture to sugar mixture. Mix until fully combined.
    Pour batter into a greased 9cm X 9cm metal or glass baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes.
    Cool completely before cutting.
  • Summer is by far my favorite time of year. Even though I moved all the way to San Diego to soak up the maximum amount of summer each year, I know that it won't last forever. Non-summer is just a fact of life, and I'm learning to look forward to, and embrace, the distinguished advantages each new season brings.

    The long glorious days of summer give us a chance to be outdoors and connect with nature. These are the days when I find the most peace. The bold colors of autumn provide an inspirational backdrop for the start of a new school year. I find that my creative juices really begin to simmer in the fall.

    Wintertime is full of glittering, magical celebrations. This is when I do my reflection and goal setting for the months ahead. And glorious spring brings a hopeful fresh beginning every single year. There's always an excitement in the air in the springtime that drives my productivity.

    As the seasons change, there is always an opportunity to observe and participate in something special. Coming up first is the magical transformation from summer into autumn. Late summer, when the transition to fall begins, is a very special time of year. There's a crispness in the evening air despite the lingering golden summer light. There's that moment where you become just chilly enough to grab a light blanket to cover your bare arms, but not chilly enough to actually close the window or to put on longer sleeves.

    There's the first soup of the season, and the first round of baking. During this transition, it seems like the whole world is trying to absorb those last glimmering moments of beautiful summer. One more trip to the beach. One more picnic in the park. One more ice cream cone.
  • Over time, the golden light fades, the leaves change color and the sweaters come out of the closet. That crispness in the air is there when you wake up, and sticks around all day long. Hearty food becomes the norm, and the oven always seems to be baking up something decadent and festive.

    Pretty soon, summer becomes a distant memory and thoughts of the shiny, glittering holidays start to emerge. Parties, entertaining, and gift giving take over, and those long, deliriously wonderful days of summer are stored away until next year. I'm not quite ready for that yet. As a diehard summer fanatic, I like to keep the dream alive for as long as humanly possible.

    With that being said, there are many things about fall that I love and look forward to, baking especially. I miss my oven after giving it a break for 4 months, and am always ready to get back in there and cook up a storm for my friends and family. Although I'm not a huge fan of sweaters, they do come in handy once the baked goods begin to roll out of my kitchen. People tend to eat more decadently when they aren't worried about how they look in a bathing suit, and sweaters provide great mid-section camouflage.

    This year I'm kicking off my baking season with some simple homemade brownies. I'm not kidding when I say that this recipe is as easy to make as a boxed version, and way tastier. Besides, when you bake from scratch, you always tend to infuse a bit of your heart into the food, which a boxed mix can never replicate. That's why homemade always tastes so great.
  • These brownies are great for dessert any night of the week or even as a lunch box addition or after school snack, but what about those special occasions that are unique to the fall season? Things like the first day of school, scoring a goal in a soccer game, or the homecoming dance? These occasions require something a bit more festive than a simple brownie.

    When I'm celebrating in the fall, I like to add in just a dash of summer memories while they are still fresh in my heart. When it comes to dessert, there's nothing that screams ‘summer' more than ice cream. Combining cold, creamy ice cream and warm, fresh-baked brownies is an incredible way to bridge two seasons, and create some lasting, celebratory memories.

    When making a fabulous ice cream sundae, whip cream and a cherry on top are always fun, but when I'm celebrating something truly special, I top my sundaes with Ferrero Rocher. A whole hazelnut wrapped in smooth, chocolaty cream, inside a crisp wafer covered in milk chocolate and chopped hazelnut is the epitome of pleasure and celebration. I cannot think of a better way to say congratulations, good luck, or I'm proud of you than with Ferrero Rocher. Sorry cherry on top, you're not going to cut it this time.

    This fall, as the seasons change, take a minute to breathe in the magic of each passing moment. Hold on to those fleeting summer memories, while embracing the comfort and inspiration that the new season brings with it. Revel in new opportunities, new achievements, and new ways to celebrate that are uniquely autumnal. Throw on a sweater, bake like it's autumn, scoop ice cream like it's summer, and celebrate with the most festive topping of all, Ferrero Rocher. It's the perfect way to celebrate all year round.