Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

Forbidden Rice Blog | Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

I am not a huge sucker for sweets. Generally, treats for me center around saltiness, crunchiness, and perhaps bourbon or a good beer. Some days, though, a wild hair tickles my fancy and dark chocolate dessert concoctions say please make me. However, I live with three dudes who are in ever constant request of something sweet. My unstated rule of making desserts no more than once a week sort of got thrown out the window over the last few months. One of my go-to dessert options are homemade brownies. They’re easy, quick to mix up, and especially simple if you have the basic ingredients on hand (butter, sugar, cocoa, eggs).

The last time I decided to make brownies was for a little dinner party we hosted. I decided to do a little hunting for something more elaborate. I vaguely remembered a peanut butter swirled brownie that failed miserably… Then I remembered a peanut butter swirled brownie I’ve been wanted to try for years, one topped with pretzel sticks. Yes. A smash-bang-concoction of chocolate, peanut butter, and pretzels. How can a girl go wrong?

These brownies are delectable! They’re quite a bit more cake-y than fudge-y, but just go with it. The peanut butter swirl is rich and delicious, atop a not-overly-sweet brownie, and the added salty crunch of the pretzels is perfect. You can also half this recipe and make it in an 8″ square pan.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

Make a large 11 x 17-inch pan of brownies.

adapted from Joy the Baker

For the Brownie Batter:
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 ounces extra dark chocolate (75-85% cacao), coarsely chopped
8 ounces dark chocolate (60-70% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Peanut Butter Filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

a large handful of pretzel sticks

Forbidden Rice Blog | Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 11 x 17-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper so that it overhangs on two sides, then grease the parchment paper.

Boil two inches of water in a medium saucepan. Combine the butter and two types of chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Place over the simmering water, making sure no water gets into the chocolate mixture. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted together. Remove the bowl from the double boiler and let mixture cool slightly. Stir in the vanilla extract.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk granulated sugar into the chocolate and butter mixture. Make sure the chocolate mixture isn’t too hot, then whisk the eggs in one at a time.

Fold in the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture and pour into your prepared pan.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

Make the peanut butter mixture: whisk together peanut butter, melted butter, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract until smooth.

Pour the peanut butter mixture on top of the brownie batter and use a butter knife to swirl the two together. Arrange pretzel sticks on top of the brownie batter however you’d like. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes our mostly clean (a few crumbs are alright).

Let the brownies cool for about 30 minutes before slicing.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

Forbidden Rice Blog | Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

Forbidden Rice Blog | Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

Day to Day Life: Week Fifteen

A glimpse at the last week:

Spring time means lots of greens and blues…

Empanadas one night (and lunch the next day!).


Panko crusted eggplant burgers with roasted piquillo peppers, fontina, garlic basil parmesan mayo, fresh spinach and onions…!

Blues and greens, blues and greens…


Silas stayed home from school one day. For lunch, he said, “Can I have mac and cheese… the box kind… and maybe some tofurky dogs?”


An almondy, buttery treat one morning.

Color, texture, and ivy!

Silas Henry Nugget.

Our friend Gary built me a fence out of recycled lumber and chicken wire. Now onto planning my garden…

It had been quite some time since I last made pizza crust with my now three year old started… Happy dough ball.

And happy pizzas!

Silas had a mid-week baseball game, which meant we weren’t home until nearly 8PM. Ahh, spring-kid-scheduled-life. He got to pitch and had five strike-outs in less than two innings!


Brought to you by National Siblings Day… My older sister, two younger brothers and I, circa the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Silas’s second baseball game got rained out after they’d batted one inning. This photo is precisely what the game looked like.

After “the game” we asked what he wanted for lunch? “Cheesy tater tots (which was brilliant, BTW!) and… a salad?” Salad while the ‘tots baked.

What to do when both kids have a sleepover at your house? WAFFLE SUNDAY.

Ashland hills in the spring are beautiful…

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful week!

Saturday Sites: Week Fifteen

Forbidden Rice Blog | Saturday Sites Fifteen

1.) Tell me your story! I’m nosey. ;) I was walking in the woods with my husband. I came upon a white, freckle-backed horse. The horse looked at us, nodded its head and went on back to eating grass. Walking further, we happened up on a medium-sized cottage, surrounded by flowers and a mismatched fence. In the house was a large old barnwood table. On the table sat a vase of wildflowers, ceramic bowls that are beautifully painted. The cup I found was also ceramic, beautifully painted. I picked it up, held it gently and looked to see what was inside. The body of water I came upon was a huge ocean. I fully submerged myself. — The end of my “story” and what it means is cracking me up. Again.

2.) I’m an older-middle child of four!

3.) Rememberance of Things Lost: As we increasingly outsource our memories to devices, we may be forgetting the pleasures of imperfect recall.

4.) Eyebrows are surprisingly fascinating!

5.) Drunk people paired with fitness quotes. Hehehe!

6.) Lets eat alllll the beet salad. Kthxbaiiii.

7.) What anti-vaxxers sound like to normal folks. (KARA!)

8.) Things only women with low-maintenance fashion sense understand… Bwahaha- numbers 1 and 7!

9.) Are you a wash-every-wear kind of person? How often do we really need to wash certain articles of clothing?

10.) This video makes me happy.

11.) Auto-correct texts make me laugh all the damn time. These mom-texts are top-notch!

12.) These words. I think it’s important for people to know that it’s entirely okay to not-be-okay all the time. To be entirely honest, some days I still struggle with this. Its taken years of learning to realize the importance and empowerment of owning feelings. Negative ones, too. End soapbox here.

13.) I do enjoy a good bread pudding… and I do believe this would be a good one!

14.) All these things! Haha. 14 signs you really married the right person.

15.) I enjoy my freckles.

16.) Introverts may see the world more accurately than extroverts.

17.) Yelp reviews of newborn babies, anyone? Haha!

18.) I’m trying to think of how to request one of these bunnies for my 30th birthday in two months.

19.) I’d enjoy this cocktail, I do believe!

20.) A reminder.

21.) Let’s eat this lemon tart. Thank you.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Forbidden Rice Blog | Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Even as a girl who thoroughly enjoys cooking, it’s easy to get into cooking ruts. Since dinner tends to be the meal I put the most time into, it’s not uncommon for me to feel like I am cooking the same dinners week-by-week, simply changing the day we happen to eat that particular meal. My husband and the kids are pretty flexible about my need to change things up, although the theme rarely seems to stray — Mexican food, Asian food of various sorts, pasta-type things, pizza…

I do love pasta-type things. And I certainly do love pizza (it’s what we’re having tonight, in fact). But sometimes the same old, same old becomes just that… old. While thinking about making pizzas (again) with a spinach and ricotta topping, I decided I didn’t want to make pizza (again). I happened to be walking through the pasta aisle, right near the jumbo shells and decided that would certainly change things enough for one meal.

Of course when Silas asked what was for dinner and I responded with “stuffed shells,” his reaction was, “WHAT! What is that?!” (They ended up going over well!)

You can easily stuff the shells ahead of time (by 2-3 days) then bake them up later. They also reheat nicely for a second-day-lunch! This is a great, simple, mid-week vegetarian dinner option if you’re in need of one!

Forbidden Rice Blog | Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Serves 8-10 folks.


6 ounces Quorn Chik’n tenders
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
30 ounces part-skim ricotta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup prepared pesto
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
4 ounces raw spinach, chopped roughly
12 ounces jumbo pasta shells
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
64 ounces marinara sauce *

*You can use whatever sauce you prefer. Store-bought, homemade, whatever. I used some sauce I canned from our tomatoes last summer!

Forbidden Rice Blog | Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells


Oil a 13 x 9-inch pan, set aside. Get a big pot of water boiling and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the middle.

To make the filling, bring two tablespoons of olive oil and garlic to sizzling over medium heat. Add the Quorn tenders, half teaspoon of salt, and half teaspoon of pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally until the tenders are golden brown. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, prepared pesto, parmesan and basil, teaspoon of salt and half teaspoon pepper. Mix until combined, then fold in the chopped spinach and Quorn tenders. Set aside.

Cook the shells according to package instructions in generously salted water until the pasta is al dente. If you overcook them, the shells will tear as you fill them. Drain and let cool long enough to handle.

Spread 1/3 of sauce across the bottom of your prepared pan. Fill each pasta shell with the ricotta filling, arranging the filled pasta in a single layer in the pan. Gently pour the remaining sauce over the shells, then top with the shredded mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover for an additional 10 minutes. Serve while hot.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Forbidden Rice Blog | Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Day to Day Life: Week Fourteen

A little peek at the last week:

A surprise breakfast. Black coffee (as per the usual). Bagel stuffed with cheese and chicken sausage ala La Baguette.
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

I watched this video approximately 10 billion times after my brother shared it. My 2 1/2 year old niece… Buh-byeee!

Our wisteria is beginning to bloom… one of my favorite scents!
  Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

Apples, apples, apples!
  Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

For the best dang apple crisp. Made even better with Three Twins Madagascar vanilla ice cream!
  Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

The iPad makes a decent Chicken babysitter.

Silas Henry had his first baseball scrimmage of the season.
  Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

Then the season began this Saturday and they had their first real game. He was phenomenal at pitching. Five strikeouts in the two innings he got to pitch!
  Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

A pasta mess for dinner one evening…
photo 5

A quick afternoon burst of hail…

One of my favorite throw-together meals. Burrito bowls!
  Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

I went up to my husband’s office one day and was so dang hungry… but all I could find in my purse was this minty chocolate truffle pig to eat. Hehe!
  Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

Oh hey, a midweek selfie.
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

I went to the grange co-op to buy a bag of potting soil… When I got home I made/had a plethora of plant babies!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

Last minute Easter dinner, featuring lemon butter seared salmon, scalloped potatoes, and a big ‘ole salad.
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Week Fourteen 2015

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week! : )