Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

Sometimes the best part of my day is making a batch of brownies and that's the honest-to-god truth.

Though I often try to stay upbeat and cheerful with you (no one likes a Debbie Downer), it would be amiss to pretend that I don't have my bad days as well as my good. In many ways, sharing my life with you in these small, candid ways has compelled me to find the good—or even happiness—in my daily life. I want to tell you how I feel when the sunlight shines in through the window just so (or take a picture so you can see for yourself). I want to share my love for chocolate and for lemons.

What I don't tell you about are the days where I want to bury my head under my pillow and pretend I don't have to get out of bed. Instead, I will express my nostalgia for the childhood foods that comfort me. I don't need to share the days that I feel so lonely I could burst. Instead, I'll read (and reread) your comments and smile, feeling blessed that I can be a part of this community. I want to be a small bright spot in your day, whether through my photography, my stories, or my food. I wish to bring a smile to your face or a hunger to your stomach.

A friend reminded me today that the key to happiness (or, at the very least, not feeling overwhelmed with life) is taking what you have and making it enough somehow. I thought about this for a long time. I am always dreaming for a life that isn't mine—maybe parts of it are, but the rest is fantasy. Some days I wish I was a middle-aged woman, complete with a loving husband and beautiful children. Other days I wish I was a bold and courageous woman, flying off to live alone in Paris to do what I love.

I have a hard time becoming satisfied with what I have made for myself. Do I regret anything I have done or resent the decisions I have made? No. Though, sometimes life leads me towards people and places that don't quite fit what I have planned. They may be a part of the bigger picture, but in my small, everyday moments, it isn't quite what I wanted; this isn't what I dreamed about.

Appreciating what I have is more difficult than I expected or realized. I know I'm lucky to be where I am and I know this, but it is hard not to want moremoremore. I am trying to understand that hopes and dreams take time and energy and we all must pay our dues to see them realized. While saying this to you is one thing, living and experiencing it is another beast.

Sometimes I buy myself a new pair of shoes hoping it will bring me a moment of happiness. Maybe they will, but the moment is fleeting.

I do consider myself to be a happy person, but, like everyone, I have my moments where it can be difficult to find those bright spots in my day. For long periods of time, my days can feel dim (not necessarily dark) and this is what I struggle with most. The mediocrity of day-to-day life prevails above all else. How do you overcome this? How do you train yourself to find more bright spots (and, thus, more happiness)?

These are the questions I'm working on answering. Lifelong happiness may be an endless process and, though never easy, it is what you make out of it. You have to find your own happiness because no one is going to do it for you. You must take what you have been dealt and find a way to be content with it.

I am searching for genuine happiness in the humdrum of daily life.

I will let you know where I find my happiness. I hope you share your happiness struggles and triumphs with me. Where do you find your happiness?

These peanut butter swirled brownies are never too sweet. The brownie is neither a thick fudge or light cake (like these blueberry brownies), but falls somewhere in between. The crunchy peanut butter swirls give these brownies a much needed texture. I find that the sweetness of the peanut butter balances out the bittersweet chocolate of the brownie. If you ever so slightly under-bake the brownies, you'll find yourself with a moister brownie that is neither dry nor crumbly.

Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

Yields 8 large or 16 2-inch brownies

Brownie Batter
6 tablespoons salted butter
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Line an 8-inch square brownie pan (or pan of similar size) with parchment paper and grease.

In a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate until smooth. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and flour. Spread into prepared pan.

Peanut butter batter
3/4 cup extra crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Drop dollops of the peanut butter batter on top of the brownie batter. Swirl with a buttered knife until you achieve a marbled look. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Cool before serving.