Nutella Brownies
I have a serious issue when it comes to cooking/baking magazines – they’re stacked up all over our house, I’ve run out of room to store them and I’ve got a backlog of issues to read.  Clearly the last thing I need to do is buy more magazines.  Yet, still, I am powerless to resist the lure of the magazine section when I’m in the store.  Recently I was walking through BJ’s and noticed some of the holiday issues were out, which upped the temptation factor by at least 5 (as if it weren’t already high enough – our BJ’s sells magazines for 20% off cover price, and who am I to turn down a bargain like that?).  I started flipping through an issue of Fine Cooking, and came across this super simple recipe for Nutella fudge brownies.  I couldn’t wait to get home (with my new magazine, of course) and give these a try!
Nutella Brownies
Here’s the great thing about this recipe – you only need 3 ingredients.  Seriously, just 3 – Nutella, an egg and flour.  You can have these brownies in the oven in under 5 minutes, which makes them the perfect treat for an urgent craving.  I also thought the recipe would be fun to share with Shane.  Though I clearly make a ton of desserts, he rarely gets to partake in them as more often than not, they include ingredients he doesn’t eat.  Monday was Shane’s birthday so these were just one of the treats I baked up with him in mind (he also requested the choco-buzz which I made earlier this year but haven’t since revisited until now).  I didn’t start baking these brownies until after midnight and yet they were baked, cooled and wrapped within an hour – love it!  
Nutella Brownies
The next day I made the world’s smallest birthday cake for Shane, sticking a candle in one of the brownies and singing happy birthday as I delivered it to him.  We both enjoyed the brownies – fudgy, dense little bites of goodness!  Even my mom, who declared before trying one that she “didn’t like Nutella” was a fan.  These are a definite repeat here.  As much as I enjoy complicated recipes, sometimes you just want something quick and easy, and these certainly fit the bill.  (You can scroll to the bottom for the recipe.)    
In honor of it being Shane’s birthday week, I finally wanted to do a recap of his last few races this year.  Overall, it was a terrific season – Shane competed in his first marathon back in May as well as his first half Ironman in July (I recapped those races here and in this post if you’re interested).  He trained like crazy in the intense heat of the summer and into the fall – 6 days a week most weeks – and all of his efforts paid off with wonderful results in the last two events.
Back in early September Shane took part in the FirmMan half Ironman event in Narragansett, RI.  The day started beyond early – Narragansett is about an hour from our house and we were down there in time to see a stunning sunrise at the beach.
Sunrise - Narragansett, RI
Fortunately, by the time the athletes got started on the first leg of the race, a 1.2 mile swim, it was much lighter out.  Conditions were cool – perfect for the athletes, but a bit chilly for spectators, especially with the ocean breeze.  
Narragansett Half Ironman
Unlike the half Ironman in which Shane had competed in July, which started with a swim in Narragansett and then had the athletes bike up to Providence before finishing with the run there, this race was completed entirely in Narragansett.  Following the swim, Shane hopped on his bike and completed the 56 mile ride through scenic Southern RI.  Midway through his time on the bike, Shane’s parents joined me to cheer him on.  (Many thanks to his dad for several of the great race photos I’m sharing in this post.)  
Last turn  
Finally, as if the swim and bike weren’t enough, the race finished with a half marathon – that’s 13.1 miles.  To make the course that much tougher, the final half mile or so was run along the beach.  Gorgeous scenery, but I can’t imagine it was much fun for the runners, whose legs must have felt like jello by this point :)
The Towers  
Shane crossed the line in 5:45 and change, improving upon his first half Ironman time by nearly an hour!  Right now he’s planning to compete in the same two half Ironman events next year in the hopes of building up to a full Ironman in 2012.  
Finish
Next on the schedule was the last marathon of the year.  This past weekend we were up bright and early heading to Lowell, MA for the BayState Marathon.  I’ve been told this is a popular race for runners who hope to qualify for the Boston Marathon, as the course was designed for speed and is very flat.  Shane also hopes to qualify for Boston eventually, but that wasn’t the goal this year.  Rather, he hoped to finish the race sub-4 hours.  Conditions were almost perfect for the runners.  It was a gorgeous fall day – maybe a bit chilly at the start but once the runners were moving, they warmed up quickly.
BayState Marathon

BayState Marathon
One thing I’ve learned from attending so many of Shane’s races is that some courses are more conducive to being a spectator than others.  Sometimes it’s really easy to see the athletes several times over the course of the race and others, you see them only when they start and when they finish.  This marathon fell into the latter category.  So, once I saw Shane off at the start, I walked over to the finish, which was actually inside the stadium of the Lowell Spinners baseball team, a minor league affiliate of my beloved Boston Red Sox.    
BayState Marathon
The runners entered the stadium and then ran around the entire length of the warning track, before finishing in front of the Spinners’ dugout.
BayState Marathon
I sat in the stands with Shane’s parents, eagerly awaiting his appearance in the stadium.  Luckily, he was easy to pick out with the bright orange hat he was wearing.  We saw him making his way around the warning track a few minutes ahead of the 4-hour mark – he was going to accomplish his goal!  
Shane at the finish!
Shane crossed the line at just over 3:55 – nearly a half hour faster than his first marathon in May!  They even had the jumbotron in the stadium turned on so you could see the runners cross the finish line.  If you look closely you can see Shane in the left side of this photo.
Jumbotron!
So, that does it for this season.  Congratulations to Shane for such a great year!  He’ll take a short break now from the intense training of the past several months, but before we know it, he’ll be back at it again, preparing for next year.  I am definitely looking forward to having him around more these next few months.  If you’ve made it this far, kudos – make yourself some brownies to celebrate :)
Nutella Fudge Brownies
adapted from Desserts 4 Today by Abigail Johnson Dodge (as seen on FineCooking.com)
1/2 cup Nutella 
1 large egg
5 Tbs. all-purpose flour
confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a 12-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the Nutella and egg until smooth.  Add the flour and whisk just until combined.  Distribute the batter evenly among the prepared liners.  
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few gooey crumbs attached.  Move the pan to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, then remove the brownies themselves to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired.
Makes 12 mini brownies