Thursday, April 29, 2010

Black and Tan Guinness Brownies

I have a Thursday confession for y'all. I just don't LOVE brownies. Now that's not to say I won't eat them. I just can't eat a lot of brownie, and perhaps it has to do with the fact that I sneeze profusely on each first bite of strong chocolate. Does that mean I'm allergic? Because if so, let's just pretend like nothing ever happened.

Black and Tan Guinness Brownies

Well, when I first saw this recipe, I couldn't help but feel intrigued. For starters, Guinness in dessert adds a whole new dimension of deliciousness.  To top it all off, this looks like a brownie on top of a blondie. Just like mini versions of food, there's just something cute about combining two desserts and making them sit on each other.  Why, you ask?  I don't know.  Just try it.

Black and Tan Guinness Brownies

The brownie-blondie combo worked well for me - so well, in fact that I dont think I sneezed even once while eating these. If you're a fan of the uber rich chocolately chocolate brownie, this may not be your favorite, but these tasted light enough that I could not just stop at one. Now, is that a good thing or a bad thing? :)  My brownies are a little on the gooey side, but that's how hubby likes them.  If you're more of a well-done brownie connoisseur some extra oven time might do you good.

Black and Tan Brownies
Tan brownies:
6 tablespoons butter,softened at room temp
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Cooking spray

Black brownies
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Guinness Stout
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Place one rack in lower third of oven; place another rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare Tan Brownies, place 6 tablespoons butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces (about 1 cup) flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well. Add flour mixture and pecans to sugar mixture, beating just until combined. Spoon into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray, spreading evenly with a knife or rubber spatula (mixture will be thick). Bake at 350° in lower third of oven for 15 minutes.

3. To prepare Black Brownies, melt chocolate and 4 tablespoons butter in a large microwave-safe bowl on HIGH for 1 minute or until melted, stirring after every 20 seconds until smooth. Add granulated sugar, stirring until well combined. Add 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and Guinness, stirring with a whisk until well combined. Weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces (about 1 cup) flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 4.5 ounces flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring to combine. Pour mixture evenly over Tan Brownies.

4. Bake on the center rack at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack; cut into squares.

Source: Cooking Light, March 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Brown Sugar Pecan Coffee Cake

The winner of the Wok Giveaway is lucky Linda from Silly Little Mischief! Congrats, and enjoy.  Let us know what you make!  Big thanks to everyone who entered.

Crumb Cake

Yesterday my dear, amazing brother left a comment on the blog after he got to be a lucky first hand witness to what's called "kitchen drama" in our house. Though I absolutely love cooking, I tend to get well, let's just a say...a bit cranky when things don't go perfectly in the kitchen. Last weekend, I tried to make one (ok maybe, two!) too many things at once, with too little time and of course, there were ingredients forgotten, things spilled and a few swear words here and there and everywhere. Luckily, brother and hubby watched the Masters while things (including me) imploded in the kitchen. I suppose my kitchen inelegance may be reason #1 that I could never be on Top Chef or any other live cooking show for that matter!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Hubby is quite used to this kitchen drama and to his credit, he patiently puts up with my it like a saint and gets rewarded with his very own cake! This sour cream based coffee cake is a much more decadent version than the healthy one I baked not too long ago. Though I'd like to say both versions were equally delicious, c'mon that'd be a lie and I'm no liar! Since we're all being honest, who doesn't agree that baked goods hit a new level with some good old fashioned butter and eggs?

Oh well. I did use fat free sour cream which hopefully cuts down the fat content just a bit. And there's less than 2 cups sugar total so we have that going for us as well, right?! Regardless, this is one of my new favorite recipes and a great treat to bring to a party. Its quite pretty with a brown sugar pecan topping and stays unbelievably moist.

Brown Sugar Pecan Coffee Cake
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, pinch the ingredients together into a sandy, crumbly mixture.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup golden raisins
topping, recipe above
1/4 cup chopped pecans, pulsed in the food processor (you can up this if you're more of a pecan fan)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 8 by 8-inch cake pan, line with parchment paper and butter the paper. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Slowly add the sugar and mix. Add the eggs and mix until light and fluffy.

2. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together. Working in batches, add flour mix to the butter/sugar mixture, alternating with dollops of sour cream. Stir in the raisins.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping mixture over the cake. Sprinkle pecans on top. Bake until risen and browned, about 45-50 minutes depending on your oven. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan. Serve in squares.

Adapted from Gale Gand

Friday, April 9, 2010

Calphalon Giveaway and BBQ Chicken & Ranch Mac 'n Cheese!

Have you ever heard of the Paleo diet? It's sort of a movement back to the diet of our ancestral caveman where you eat well, what a caveman would. Yep, what you're thinking is correct: no pop tarts, no froyo, not even cereal. Just plain ol' meat and veggies and some nuts for good measure. I suppose its kind of like a manly version of the South Beach diet.

{caption: this dish is not part of the Paleo diet}
BBQ Chicken Mac n Cheese
Well, as much as I agree with the reasoning behind this diet, I just love me some sugar and some carbs. Hubby mentioned experimenting with this movement, and I felt myself shudder with caffeine-withdrawal-like shakes. The only thing that could calm my nerves? BBQ Chicken Mac 'n Cheese.  Of course, I made this for myself while he was away which actually left me wanting to adapt a caveman diet.  Leaving me home alone with a vat of mac 'n cheese is never smart.

Don't fret.  This dish isn't all bad for you.  I try to use quinoa pasta for almost all my pasta dishes now.  It's super high in protein, gluten free and all around tasty nonetheless.  Though this has to be one of my top 5 recipes, it ended up being a clear the pantry, spur of the moment meal I cobbled together with some leftovers (shredded bbq chicken, corn and beans).   The corn and beans were an interesting addition, though the mac 'n cheese purist in me will probably leave them out next time.
BBQ Chicken Mac n Cheese
Now, on to the exciting stuff....a free Calphalon wok! 

Thanks to the good folks at CSN Stores who have everything from Corner TV Stands to Le Creuset, to mattresses, I got to pick out a fun prize for my readers!  Because I'm such a lover of Asian food, I chose this sweet Calphalon 13" Flat Bottom Wok.  I actually selected this prize because I have this wok and love it.

Comments are now closed for this contest.  Thanks to all who entered. I will be announcing the winner shortly!!

Open to U.S. residents only.  If you don't have a blog, please leave your email address so I can contact you if you're the winner.
    The winner will be chosen randomly by on Tuesday, April 13th - 9pm Pacific.  Good luck!!

    BBQ Chicken Mac 'n Cheese
    Recipe by Sharon
    I made this for myself so the measurements are kind of weird.  For a bigger group, double the recipe. 

    1 8 oz. box quinoa pasta (available at health food stores like Henry's, Whole Foods), cooked according to package directions (plus a few minutes boiling time)
    1 tbsp butter
    1/6 cup flour
    3/4 cup milk
    1/8 cup chicken broth
    1/2 cup low fat sour cream
    2 tbsp ranch dressing
    1/4 lb Velveeta, cut into cubes
    1/4 tsp ground mustard
    1/4 tsp ground black pepper
    1/4 tsp coarse garlic salt
    1 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar
    1/4 cup black bean and corn (optional - I added this b/c I had some leftover, but not sure i would use again)
    1/2 cup- 3/4 cup shredded bbq chicken (bought at TJ's)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    1. Melt butter over medium heat until almost bubbling. Add flour and stir until smooth. Gradually add milk and broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until smooth & thickened. Reduce heat.

    2. Add sour cream, ranch, Velveeta chunks, ground mustard, pepper & garlic salt. Continue stirring until smooth and cheese melts (this may take awhile). Once cheese is melted, add shredded cheddar and stir until melted.
    Add drained pasta and chicken to pot and stir until combined with cheese sauce.

    3. Spray a 9x9 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer pasta to the dish and bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Chipotle Chicken Salad

    Southwest Chicken Salad

    Call me an earthquake virgin.  As a relative newcomer to SoCal, I found myself a bit confused, not scared by yesterday's Easter earthquake.  While I felt the floor gently sway, it took me a few moments to decipher whether I was still feeling the effects of our Saturday Funday or whether we were having a very long earthquake.  During these moments of profound thought, I stood in the absolute worst place in our house: underneath our hanging pot rack, next to our cabinets full of glasses and plates.  Hmm, not smart.  Thank goodness most are safe and sound and chalking this up to a learning experience...including me!  Other than that, I enjoyed the sunny weekend with some good friends who drove down to visit and a big Easter brunch full of pancakes, sausage and kale (yes, kale!) with hubby.  He proclaimed we were probably the only people in America dining on kale during our Easter brunch.  Anyone want to prove him wrong?

    After a long and eventful weekend I wanted to make something super simple for dinner tonight.  After rummaging through random cooking magazines on my bookshelf, I found a winner from a 2006 Cooking Light.  Can you say hoarder?  ha.  I have held on to this magazine for 4 years now, and am finally made something from it. Luckily, it was a winner of a recipe so I didn't have to feel like such a loser.  It's super simple to throw together and if you're feeling lazy, buying pre-cooked chicken will speed up the already speedy recipe.

    **I have a great giveaway coming up later this week so check back in!**

    Chipotle Chicken Salad
    Cooking Light, 8/06

    1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    2/3 cup light sour cream
    1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    2 large chicken breasts
    Creole seasoning
    Kosher salt

    4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped (I used a mix of chopped spinach and romaine)
    1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    1/2 cup diced avocado
    1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 can corn, rinsed an drained

    1. Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

    2. Season chicken breasts with creole seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute chicken on both sides until fully cooked through.

    3. To make salad, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken. Toss with dressing and serve immediately.