Eating Real Food With Real Kids

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My children eat their vegies EVERYDAY!  A year ago I would not have been able to say that.  Now however, I can honestly and easily say my children eat the recommended servings of vegies and fruit and whole grains everyday and drum roll please…. they do so without a fight and usually ask for more!!!

Giving my kids a healthy start to life has been a major passion (aka obsession).  I have been trying to cut back on processed food for what feels like forever.  Actually it’s been more like 5 years and 3 months to be exact.  That is when my oldest son was diagnosed with food allergies and I was forced to start reading labels, all labels of everything I intended to let him put in his mouth.  Talk about scary.

Not only was it scary from the food allergy stand point but I started to realize that 90% + of what we were eating had some kind of something that I couldn’t even pronounce in it and if I couldn’t pronounce it and had no idea what it was, how was I suppose to know it was ok to give him?  I remember standing in the middle of the grocery store (the cereal isle) reduced to tears because I had no idea what was safe and unsafe to feed my son.  I was pretty sure the long words I couldn’t pronounce were unsafe, especially after Googling many of them and finding a lot were banned in other countries or linked to various forms of cancer or other diseases.  But, I wasn’t sure what alternative forms of eating there were.

The cereal isle still makes me want to cry on a regular basis.

Over the years I had reduced our consumption of artificial additives and ingredients but it was like shooting in the dark because I really had no idea what I was doing or trying to accomplish until some time last year (2014) I started to see the terms “clean eating” and “real food”.  Thank the Heavenly stars for Pinterest!  I finally had a name for what I had been trying to do on my own.  I started reading everything I could find and came across some amazing ideas and people who were trying to cut out processed food and all of the crazy chemicals that go along with them.  It was definitely an AHA! moment for me and I was on cloud nine.

Not so much for my kids or my husband.

After reading some article online on how to have the “perfect” clean eating diet (guaranteed to make you live forever) I completely changed our diet overnight.  We went to 100% whole grain everything (kind of), 100% organic everything (kind of), and what I thought was 100% natural everything (I was completely off).  I was excited and feeling confident but, something interesting happened… my kids refused to eat.  So, after a horrible couple of days I went back to the grocery store… a complete failure and resorted back to the diet we had been on.

That was a little over a year ago and with some slower changes and a lot more articles we are finally at a point where the kids and I are happy with our diet.  Over that time I have come to realize a couple of things about how to actually clean up a child’s diet without fuss and tears along the way.

1. .It takes time for taste buds to change.  If you try changing everything overnight you will be majorly disappointed.  I would personally recommended going at it slowly so you and your children can become more accustomed to the new healthier food.  For instance, if you are trying to switch to whole grain pasta, mix the whole grain with whatever your family is used to.  Go slow, add more whole grain each time.  This goes for brown rice, and wheat flour v.s. white flour in homemade breads, biscuits, pancakes, and waffles.  I also used this same idea when I started to cut sugar out of our diet as well.

2. White whole wheat flour is your new best friend.  The kids and I could never get used to whole wheat flour even when I went about substituting it in slowly, it’s just too heavy and pretty much ruined everything I tried to make.  Then I saw something amazing, pretty much hidden away on the grocery store shelves WHITE WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR!  My life was forever changed, the clouds broke and rainbow colored unicorns danced in the isle with me!  Ok, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic but it should have been. White whole wheat flour is a whole grain unlike white flour that is processed and has all of the good parts of the wheat taken out, and low and behold tastes and bakes extremely similar to white flour.

3.  Kids like to dip everything!  Really, in our house that applies for everyone.  Our go to dips are simple homemade honey mustard, or sour cream mixed with different herbs.

4.  Let them cook.  Nothing tastes better to a child than something that they cooked even if they are having to choke it down because it’s so awful.  I also ask how they want their veggies.  Say to your kids something like, “I have these peas and I have no idea what to do with them would you rather have them with a little butter or put inside our casserole.”  Somehow or another that simple question can make peas amazing don’t ask though and those same peas won’t be eaten (dang complicated children!).

5.  Never EVER say that your child doesn’t like a certain food.  Just because your child doesn’t like creamed spinach from the can (yuck!) doesn’t at all mean that they don’t like spinach.  Instead try spinach leaves cooked in with mac and cheese or in spaghetti sauce.  But, as soon as you say out loud that your child does not like spinach they will never put it in their mouths again.  The same applies for almost any food you can think of.  If your child truly does not like a food though, no matter how you make it don’t force it.

6.  Make things smaller.  For some reason my kids like their veggies to be finely chopped.  If I put whole cooked carrots in front of them they wont eat them, but if I dice up the carrots and put them in a sauce or meat mixture they love them.  They also like them whole and raw which takes us back to #5 and probably #3.

7.  This one is important.  Be Prepared For SNACK’s!  Snack time is usually a time to grab something quick and snack time is pretty frequent in our house (3 times a day). For us this usually meant something prepackaged and full of chemicals.  Our favorites are now fruit and veggies, 3 ingredient tortilla chips, homemade muffins or breads, plain yogurt with fruit sauce, or homemade granola bars.

8.  100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake.  This book is INCREDIBLE!  She has AMAZING ideas on how to feed kids real food and the recipes are simple and don’t have crazy ingredients.  I definitely recommend buying the book or in the very least checking out her blog and following her on Facebook and Pinterest.  http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ terrible

Now, I’m off to make some homemade bread so my house can smell like heaven for the rest of the day.

Do you have any real food recipes your kids love?  Please, please, share them in the comments I’m always looking for new recipes and sometimes Pinterest can not be trusted!

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Giving up on the Stereotypical “Terrible Two’s”

Terrible two's

When my oldest son turned about 1 1/2 he became a screaming ball of energy.  “No” became one of his first and most loved words and all of a sudden I was met with overwhelming frustration.  A level of exhausting frustration that I thought could not be achieved even though we went through months of colic.  There is something about a screaming tyrant, who won’t eat what you want him to eat, do what you want him to do, and makes you late everywhere you go because he hid your keys or your shoes (again), that is a tiny bit…. well infuriating.  I remember complaining to anyone who would listen that I was loosing my mind and it was almost always met with the same two comments, “It’s just a phase.” or, “It’s just the terrible two’s.”

Well that child is now weeks away from turning five and I’m just wondering… WHEN DOES THE TERRIBLE TWO’S PHASE END?!?!

I am still met daily with whining, refusal to eat most everything put in front of him, and the need to tell him to do something five times before he even begins to hear me.  I once read a quote that I think about all the time, it said, “Terrible two’s?  It’s more like the terrible two’s, the trying three’s and the freaking four’s.”  Whenever I tell my own mother this she always replies that the five’s were the hardest for her.  Other family members seem to have issues with 6’s and 7’s and thank God I don’t have a girl (yet?) because studies are now saying that girls can become premenstrual (i.e super MOODY) as young as 7-8.

So, when exactly are we suppose to enjoy our children?  Before they become mobile and vocal?  If that’s the case my youngest got up and started running at 9 months and has a fairly large vocabulary already at 15 months (“no” is not in his voacb though).  He also had colic for about his first three months, so that means I got exactly six good months with him?  After nine months of pregnancy I’m not sure that six months is enough good time compared to the years of “phases” that we are now about to go through.  On a side note the six months is even debatable since he was waking up all night every night during that time.  But, he’s so cute so maybe I’ll give it to him anyways.

Back to my oldest son, he is a wonderfully bright child who is so, SO curious about everything and yet here I am wondering when this “phase” will end.  I seem to be missing all of the great things that make him, him because I’m always waiting for the whining and everything else to go away.  I am waiting for the terrible “freaking fours” to end and now that we are only weeks away from him turning five and my mothers words constantly in my head reminding me that 5’s were the hardest for her, I give up.

That’s right, I give up!  Not on the whole mothering thing (not yet anyways), but on the waiting.

I’m done with the waiting for all of these bad phases to end and I am choosing to enjoy the good ones.  Never again will I say the words “It’s just a phase.” or, “It’s just the terrible two’s” to a friend who’s reached their child annoyance limit.  Never again will I let those phrases resignate with me and give me hope that tomorrow or the next day my children (any of them) will magically stop whining and eat all of their lunch instead of requesting 20 different snacks.  Because, guess what?  It’s just not going to happen, not anytime soon anyways.

So, I’m choosing to keep my head held high and remember that this phase they are going through isn’t the terrible two’s or any other negative phrase, it’s simply them being children and that’s okay… right?

 

 

A Gentler Approach to Preterm Labor

* I have ZERO medical training everything stated here is from personal experience.

I’ve been through two high risk pregnancies due to preterm labor.  Each time I gave myself  completely over to the medical field to do what they saw best for me and my unborn children.  I am grateful to that medical field because I have carried each of my children to term.  However, each time I was put on horrible drugs and had to deal with the extremely negative side effects of bed rest.  But, what if there was a gentler way for me and women like me to carry babies to term without every medical intervention under the sun?  What if we could do more ourselves to help reduce the likelihood of preterm birth without having to rely solely on the often not so gentle medical interventions put into place by most doctors?

This is my story and the more gentle approach I am now taking to another “high risk” pregnancy.

A little over 5 years ago I was seen in the labor and delivery ward of the hospital at only 28 weeks pregnant with my first child for slight bleeding and irregular contractions.  I was checked over and the on call physician said that everything looked okay but they wanted to keep me for a couple of hours just to be sure.  The nurse came in and gently strapped me up to the monitors, assuring me they were just being extra cautious.  I was sitting up talking to my family, who all seemed to appear out of nowhere, and laughing at myself for being overly reactive.  Within a couple of minutes that all changed and the laughing turned into down right terror in the blink of an eye.

The nurse came running back in and told me I had to lay down on my left side and asked me if I was having any pain or cramping.  I told her again that I could just feel the Braxton Hicks contractions every now and then.  I didn’t have time to ask why before the on call doctor came running back in and informed me that the monitors were showing I was having consistent contractions every 3 minutes.  I felt the blood drain out of my face and my hands start to shake as the tears welled up in my eyes.  I wasn’t even sure a baby at that point could survive and I was too scared to ask.  Within just a couple of minutes I had major cramps sneaking in and radiating all over my back and thighs.

I was started on an IV dose of a drug called Turbutaline that made me feel like I was having a constant panic attack and I was given an oral dosage of Procardia, each meant to slow down or stop preterm labor.  I was monitored until the next morning when I had an ultrasound that showed nothing majorly wrong.  By that point the contractions had slowed and after another exam I was sent home that afternoon with 2 different drugs (Turbutaline and Procardia) at pretty high dosages and orders of strict bed rest.  The combination of the drugs that constantly made me feel like I was dying, the fear of my son being born so early, and the confinement made me a total basket case (to say the least).

Ultrasound from hospital

Ultrasound from hospital

After two months of bed rest I was finally allowed to stop the drugs and start moving again.  It was like a switch was hit in my body at that point and the fear along with the constant contractions just stopped.  At 39 weeks I was induced (oh yes, the irony).

On a side note Turbutaline is no longer being used to prevent preterm labor for longer than 48 hours and is never used outside of a hospital because it was causing women to die of heart attacks… I was on it for 2 months.

With my second, about three years later, I had hope that things would be different but it started off rough with bleeding beginning at about 8 weeks and then the contractions started in around 13 weeks.  By 15 weeks I was on strict bed rest and back on medication.  The fear set in double time when I was told there was not much they could do at this point and “it would be better to loose the baby now, rather than later on”.  At that point I was still roughly 10 weeks away from having a baby that even had a chance of surviving outside of the womb.  Every week I made it through my second pregnancy was a celebration.

Picture taken 1 week before strict bed rest began.

Picture taken 1 week before strict bed rest began.

However, every minute of that pregnancy was an emotional heartache.  The basket case that I was while on bed rest with my first turned into something much worse with my second. The constant fear for that long, coupled with the physical toil that long term bed rest causes to a persons body made for a depression that I was totally unprepared for.

After daily medication, 27 shots, weekly doctor appointments for 25 weeks, 5 hospital visits, almost 15 ultrasounds and 6 months of strict bed rest I was once again induced (the irony, again) at 39 weeks and gave birth to another beautiful boy.

When my husband told me he wanted a third my immediate reaction was, “NOT IN A MILLION YEARS.”  Well that didn’t last very long and we are now pregnant with baby #3.  I knew before even getting pregnant that this pregnancy had to be different.  There was no way I could handle or even do bed rest with a 4 year old and a 1 year old and above all I was sick of the terror and the confinement that my pregnancies caused. So, I started out this pregnancy just like the last simply with the hope that this pregnancy would be different.

Pregnancy announcement.

Pregnancy announcement.

At 10 weeks I started to feel the oh so familiar tightening, so much for it being different in that aspect.  This time was a little bit different though, my first reaction wasn’t fear it was annoyance.  At that point I knew I needed to do more myself if I wanted to avoid bed rest and all of the medical interventions that had been put into place with my previous pregnancies.

I have been clinging to a study that was released shortly after my second son was born that shows that bed rest (in most cases) does not help prevent preterm delivery and in fact can increase the risk.  The fear that I was able to let go after reading an article about this study was what changed my mind about even having #3.  Here is a link to an article about that at Fox News http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/14/bed-rest-during-pregnancy-may-not-prevent-premature-births-could-worsen-risk/

When the contractions started this pregnancy I immediately started to do research about non-medical ways to prevent preterm labor, avoiding anything that I thought was too far out there and here is what I have been doing that has kept me almost contraction free for the past 4 weeks:

  • Eating spinach and other food high in magnesium every day multiple times a day
  • Drinking water, LOTS OF WATER
  • Sleeping A LOT
  • Peeing A LOT (a full bladder can lead to contractions)
  • When the contractions ramp up I listen to my body and lay down on my left side until they calm and then take it easy the rest of the day
  • Managing stress with deep muscle relaxation
  • Staying away from good old Dr Google and anything else that can lead to fear about preterm labor
  • Not giving into fear

Not giving into fear is a big one in my book.  Stress and freaking out always makes way  for a landslide.  In the past when I have stressed and freaked out over contractions I call my doctors office and talk to a nurse who gets stressed and freaked out which ramps up my anxiety and in turn my contractions.  Then I talk to my doctor who gets stressed and freaked out which ramps up my anxiety even more.  It’s then suggested that I either a.) go the hospital or b.) come into the office, which does two things, it stresses me out and ensures that medical interventions whether necessary or not will be put into place because doctors like to help.  By the end of the day I’m having so many contractions I feel there is no way I will make it to the next day without giving birth which leads to a whole world of stressing, freaking out, and ultimately contractions.

This time around I have stayed away from that landslide.  When I talk to my doctor about my contractions, even when they were bad, I do so in a calm tone and guess what?  He stays calm and unworried.

I am now 17 weeks pregnant and I know it’s still early in the game but being able to pretty much stop the contractions on my own in a gentle manner without the horrible side effects of bed rest and drugs is HUGE for me.  I am hopeful for the future of this pregnancy and want to show off my growing baby bump instead of being confined to my house for the duration.  A gentle approach to this pregnancy will hopefully lead way to a more gentle birth (hypnobirthing?), something that I have never even given thought to in the past because of being so consumed by constant fear of actually being and getting through each pregnancy.

Amazing things can happen when you let go of fear, especially when you let go of fear of your own body.

With this all being said, preterm labor is very real and sometimes it is best to get medical intervention right away so that it does not lead to preterm birth.  The decision of when to get that medical help can be very hard especially with a first pregnancy so I would always air on the side of caution and call and talk to a medical professional before waiting, especially if experiencing any strange symptoms or the symptoms of preterm labor such as: contractions, bleeding, cramping, change in vaginal discharge, or increased pressure.  I have been doing what I mentioned earlier but under the careful supervision of my doctor because I am considered “high-risk”.  Also, because I am at a higher risk of preterm delivery because of previous preterm labors I receive weekly progesterone shots which I also consider gentle (even if they do “slightly” hurt).

 

More information on why I am choosing to eat foods high in magnesium to help prevent preterm labor can be found here: http://birthfaith.org/nutrition/magnesium

More information on the progesterone injections can be found through the March of Dimes here: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/progesterone-treatment-to-prevent-preterm-birth.aspx#

5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Started Homeschooling

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While there is a lot I would change about how we started homeschooling, this is the top 5 things I wish someone would have told me before we started down the journey.

1.) There is such a thing as too much planning.

Before we started homeschooling I put together a 16 week syllabus, a record attendance sheet, weekly lesson plans (from scratch) for 16 weeks worth of activities daily (all in individual folders) for math, science, reading, writing, history/geography, art/music, and life skills, weekly shopping lists for supplies, field trip activities, and oh so much more.  Some of you are thinking, “oh, that’s great, sign me up” others (probably the more veteran homeschoolers) are simply thinking, “well that was a HUGE waste of time”.  Drum roll please……. It ended up being a HUGE waste of time/8.

First of all, my son was 3.  Each day I had planned at least 4 ½ hours of straight work.  Do you know how long a 3 year old wants to spend doing what you want him to do?  Here is a guess it’s not even a half hour.

Second, I burnt out very quickly on keeping up with the work I had set for myself.   Each week I had so much that needed printing, activities that I needed to review, activities that needed set up,  progress tracking, reading, and oh the cutting!

So, my son burnt out first, I burnt out second ( I think we were on week 4 by the way), and both of us were left frustrated which is not, NOT, NOT what I wanted to happen.  I wanted my son to love school and continue to be excited about learning and let me tell you that is something that is VERY hard to  get back.  If I could go back I would have started different, with a lot less planning, that way I could have been more flexible right away for my sons learning style and needs.  My advice for every newbie is to take time to learn about your children’s learning styles before planning much and definitely before buying any curriculum.

This was one week worth of lessons!

This was one week worth of lessons!

2.)  Reach for the stars not an entire galaxy.

I wanted to prove EVERYONE wrong and show them that homeschooling would not make my son smart but that it would make him a pure genius!  Part of me still believes it will, however a larger part of me now realizes that it’s better to have a smart, happy kid than to have a pure genius who hates doing school simply because I force it on him.

With that being said, I in no way claim to be an unschooler (I am also not saying anything negative about those who do unschool).  We work at learning and we work hard.  We butt heads at times and hit burn out walls, but in the end I still push him to learn.  My son knows we will learn and we will play, everyday.  For us there is an always changing median of just the right amount of work and just the right amount of play.  Finding that always moving median is not always an easy task (I am hoping that it will get easier as he gets older?).

3.)  Fighting until you are weary may not be necessary.

When we started telling our families that we would be homeschooling I was prepared for a fight.  I was prepared for every negative comment and question I could imagine, I had done research on top of research just so I could prove my points and the validity of homeschooling.  I was on the defensive with a capital D, to say the very least.  What was shocking though, and what I wish I would have known is this: most of the time, I didn’t need to be.  A lot of people were open to the idea, a lot of people just didn’t seem to care too much, and some people were happy about it.  Don’t get me wrong, I still dealt with the naysayers and still do, but there were a lot less than I would have ever imagined.

4.) PINTEREST!

Remember those 16 weeks’ worth of lessons I was talking about that I had done from scratch?  Well I did about half of them before discovering Pinterest.  Pinterest for a lot of things is awesome but Pinterest for homeschooling is a pure treasure trove!  My favorite homeschool bloggers are almost all on Pinterest and pin a lot of amazing ideas.

So, if you don’t have it and you are not sure where to start simply go to pinterest.com and create an account go to the search bar and type in homeschooling then find the boards button and start following some amazing boards.  You can also follow my homeschool boards and my blog by simply clicking on the big P at the top right of this page or at the bottom of this post and then clicking follow once you are back in Pinterest.

5.) HSLDA

Here is another website that you cannot live without as a homeschooler.  The Home School Legal Defense Association has an answer to every legal question you could imagine, which is a must when you are first starting out because hey you don’t really want to be carted off to jail, it would throw a major hitch into your weekly lesson plan.  They also have a newsletter that you can sign up for that keeps you in the loop on legal matters about homeschooling around the nation.

Sausage Penne with Secret Pumpkin Sauce

Seceret Pumpkin Sausgae Penne

The secret is in the sauce!!  This amazing pasta dish looks like a cheese filled, so not good for you dream.  Which, my family all thought it was as they devoured every bite.  My son said he loved the cheese and my husband absolutely could not figure out the ingredients.  I told him later on and now wish I would not have or it would have been a family favorite, now it’s a family -1 favorite.  The original recipe can be found here  http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pumpkin—sausage-penne and this woman should be given a medal of honor (in my humble opinion).  I, however, streamlined the recipe (I wish I had the time) substituted spices and added some extra pumpkin (for an extra healthy kick).

Ingredients: 

1 cup uncooked penne pasta

1 lb Italian sausage

1/2 sweet onion, diced

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup whole milk (or any milk on hand)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. In a large skillet cook sausage and diced onion until sausage is done then drain excess grease.

3. Add garlic, vegetable broth, canned pumpkin, cinnamon and milk to cooked sausage and onions.  Stir until combined and let simmer for 5 minutes or until pasta is ready.

4. Drain pasta then add to sausage pumpkin mixture.

5.  Add cheese as well as salt and pepper to taste.

It’s that easy!!!!  Just don’t tell anyone what the secret ingredients are!

 

 

 

My Biggest Mistake Homeschooling (Year 1)

 

mistake titleMy biggest mistake homeschooling our fist year was not trusting my son enough to try a variety of learning strategies.

I love crafts, more specifically those really cute season specific crafts that are all over Pinterest.  However, crafting or rather my view on crafting was almost our homeschooling downfall.  Don’t get me wrong crafts aren’t bad for children or specifically for homeschooled children.  Crafts were just bad for my son.

I thought every 3 year old has to love crafting.  Playing with glue and scissors and making something out of nothing has to be fun, right?  Wrong.  My son hated doing any craft, no matter how cute and no matter how much prep work I put into it.  He hated that he couldn’t make his scissors work right, gluing was a sticky mess, and his hand wouldn’t work right when trying to draw.  Our crafting sessions usually ended in tears (from both of us).  What else are you suppose to do with a 3 year old though?  Singing got old so fast and he also hated those silly finger plays to go with the songs!

mistake2

My biggest mistake homeschooling our fist year was not trusting my son enough to try a variety of learning strategies. I thought for sure my son would hate sitting down and doing worksheets.  Plus, I really did not want to make my child do boring worksheets at the ripe age of 3.  What kind of homeschool mom would that make me?  I had certain dreams in my head of what homeschooling would look like for my son and worksheets had no part in it.  I was stuck though, I wasn’t sure what else to do.  For months we did very little except for a few fun activities I found online.  In my book we weren’t doing enough though.

I almost gave up on homeschooling all together.  I simply did not want to try to do something because it didn’t fit MY perfect vision of homeschooling.  I finally gave in though, after I found a few blogs that had some cute pre-writing pintables, I gave in and I printed off just a couple worksheets.  I sat them on the table with a bunch of crayons and invited him over to come sit.  I showed him what to do and he did it.  Not perfectly but he tried and completed the whole worksheet.  Then an amazing thing happened… he asked for another!!  There were no tears and if nothing else he was practicing drawing which would help with future crafts, right?

In the past year he has done a mountain of worksheets and ZERO crafts.  His form of school is so far different from my first visions of our homeschooling life, but he is learning.  Learning might be an understatement, he is devouring information constantly.  We have a good balance now that consists of worksheets, PC programs, reading, activities and still… ZERO crafts.  He is now learning on his own, in a way I never would have thought would work for a 3/4 year old.

Did I mention, as of last week, he is now reading entire books on his own (at the ripe old age of 4)?

mistake 3

My favorite preschool blogs with free printable WORKSHEETS:

http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/

http://www.freehomeschooldeals.com/

http://3dinosaurs.com/

Double Chocolate Chip Brownies

I make these for at least one family get together every year because they are simply incredible!!  The brownies are soft and moist, with explosions of chocolate from the chocolate chips that are added just before baking.  I saw the original recipe in a Taste of Home magazine a couple of years ago and have tweaked it slightly over time.  The original recipe can be found at http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/very-chocolate-chip-brownies.Brownies

 

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup butter, cut up

1/3 cup water

4 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided (I recommend Ghirardelli chocolate)

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup white flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Steps:

1. In a large saucepan combine the butter, sugar and water. Stir constantly until boiling. FYI: don’t leave it or it will erupt onto your stove top or stop stirring because it will burn the sugar.

2. Once boiling take off of heat and stir in 2 cups chocolate chips.  Let cool while doing the following steps.

3. In a large bowl combine eggs and vanilla and beat (with whisk, or electric hand mixer) until eggs are completely separated (no lumpy egg whites should be left) and combined with vanilla.

4. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.

5.  Add slightly cooled chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat until thoroughly mixed.

6. Slowly add  flour mixture to chocolate mixture until combined.

7. Add in remaining 2 cups of chocolate chips.

8.  Grease a 9X13 baking pan and pour in brownie batter.  Bake in oven at 350 for 30-35 min or until toothpick comes out almost completely clean (the batter is done at this point but the chocolate chips are still gooey, be sure to not bake too long or it will make the brownie dry and more like a cake).

9.  Allow to cool slightly and sprinkle confectioners sugar on with a sifter or a small strainer.

Optional:

If not eating straight out of the oven I prefer to refrigerate my brownies at least overnight.