Of Love and Brownies: My Favorite Brownie Recipe

My husband and I recently sold and moved from the house that was our first home as a couple. The last week that we lived in our old home was a stressful time full of boxes and bubble wrap. But it was also a welcomed change, one that we had wanted for a while.For days, I went back and forth between these two emotions eager to feel something else. Until I did. About halfway through the week the longing began. I felt the ghost of the memories we had shared in that home. Memories of becoming a family, of being loved and accepted, of wholehearted laughter and joy. And memories of our neighbors and their beautiful friendships. I was filled with such deep gratitude for the last four years of our life. We had been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by loving people in every direction of our home. And our lives.Shirly and JeanineOne of our neighbors, Jeanine, shared with me the recipe for the brownies she regularly made for us. Hands down the best brownies I have ever had. I mean, you-can't-just-eat-one kind of brownies. When I asked her for the recipe she told me about her secret ingredient, cherry extract. But even when I tried to duplicate the recipe, it just wasn't the same. Her brownies tasted of friendship, kindness and generosity. Of being a grandmother and having lived life long enough to know and appreciate the things that truly matter. That wisdom was her true secret ingredient.In our neighbors honor, here is Jeanine's brownie recipe.Jeanine's Friendship Brownies Begin with a "Betty Crocker" dark chocolate brownie mix and prepare the mix according to directions on the box.Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract to the 1/4 cup water required in the preparation (this always enhances the flavor of chocolate!).And 1/4 teaspoon of cherry extract (the "secret" ingredient!).Add 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.Spread in a 9 x 13 baking pan (not a dark one).I line the bottom with no-stick foil, and they come out of the pan so much easier.Sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped pecans.After baking, put them on a cooling rack.  Cut when completely cool.  These freeze beautifully too.Enjoy in the company of family and friends!