Dark Chocolate Chip Brownies

 

Sometimes you just need brownies.  Well, sometimes I need brownies.  Today I needed brownies.  I wanted something warm, gooey, fudgey, and over-the-top chocolatey.  So after a quick perusing of the interwebs, I found this recipe claiming to be the best brownies ever.  I had all the ingredients on hand (miraculously), and after a few minor tweaks to meet my personal craving, I give you Dark Chocolate Chip Brownies.   These brownies did the job and they did it well.

They are so very delightfully rich and moist and fudgey and everything you want in a brownie.  I love chocolate chips in brownies because, number 1, it’s like an extra shot of chocolate (which is never bad), and, number 2, it lends for a nice texture contrast.  You can leave them out, but you really are missing out.

What’s even better about these brownies?  This recipe makes a baby batch, so it has to be healthier than that pint of Ben & Jerry’s I was going to eat…

Dark Chocolate Chip Brownies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.  In a medium bowl, mix together oil, sugar and vanilla.  Beat in eggs.  In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares and serving.

Banana Bread

I love spotted bananas. I think the people that like them green or semi-green are just plain crazy. There’s no flavor in a hard, green banana! But even I have to call it at some point, and I just so happened to have a stash of bananas about a day away from the point of no return.  Then I stumbled on this recipe over at Simply Recipes, and then after a few minor tweaks, there was banana bread.

I prefer most of the sweetness to come from the bananas, so feel free to up the sugar if you need to.

Banana Bread

3 or 4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mash bananas.  Add melted butter, and mix.  Mix in the egg, sugar, and vanilla.  Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg over mixture and mix.  Mix in flour last and stir until everything is incorporated.  Transfer mixture to a greased 4 x 8 loaf pan.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top is brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a cooling rack.  Remove from pan and slice and serve.


Spiced Pecans

Mmmm… spiced pecans.  I like mine without all the sugary stuff and just straight spicy.  They are awesome to munch on as a snack, but usually I throw them in salads.  You can really use any nut for this recipe, pecans are just my favorite.

Spiced Pecans

1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 garlic salt
2 cups shelled pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.

Mix together spices in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium low heat.  Add spice mixture and cook until fragrant (no more than 1-2 minutes), stirring frequently.  Add pecans and stir until coated with spices.  Transfer pecans to baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool, serve.

Whole Grain Banana Nut Coconut Muffins

Quaker makes these toasted coconut banana macadamia nut granola bars that are seriously the best thing ever.  The only problem is, I’ve only ever found them at one Target in Strongsville, Ohio.  I blame my mom for introducing me to them and then making me live without them (Hi Mom!  If you’re reading this, I’m not too old for care packages :D)  Until I can make it back home to stock up, I’ve had to improvise.

Is it possible for something so good to be good for you?  If you’re not a believer, you will be after these muffins.  The only thing that would make them better?  Add a little coconut to the top before baking so you get a yummy toasted coconut crust.  I would, but Ben isn’t a fan of straight coconut (not the taste; the consistency).

Whole Grain Banana Nut Coconut Muffins


1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (if your nuts are salted, omit)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 medium)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews because that’s what I had, I think anything except peanuts would taste good)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt (if using), cinnamon, nutmeg, and nuts in a large bowl.  Set aside.  Combine egg, vanilla, oil, honey, coconut milk, and bananas in a medium bowl.  Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until dry ingredients are moistened.  Fill greased or lined muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Yields 12-18 muffins.

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Crispies

I love Tyler Florence.  His philosophy on food is easy and simple, and I have yet to find a bad recipe.  This recipe is adapted barely from a recipe found in Tyler’s Ultimate.

There isn’t much to say about this, except that it’s delicious.  I love recipes that are super easy and taste great.  This one fits that perfectly.  I love roasted vegetables, it’s an easy way to bring out a lot of flavor without coating them in velveeta or butter.

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Crispies


2 heads of broccoli
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Trim about one inch off the ends and peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler.  Cut the broccoli into long spears.  When the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli and cook until it’s just tender (about 3 minutes).  The broccoli should still have its bright green color.  Drain in a colander.  Arrange the broccoli on a non stick oven proof pan (I use a rimmed cookie sheet sprayed with Pam).  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the broccoli and top with a generous amount of fresh black pepper.  Bake until the cheese melts and is crisp and brown, about 10 minutes.  Use a spatula to lift the broccoli out of the pan, and serve.

Spiced Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Biscotti is one of those things that once you’ve made it yourself, you will never buy it ever again.  We’ve been led to believe that it’s the cookie you have to soak to enjoy, something that can’t be enjoyed on it’s own.  It does not have to be this way.

This biscotti is crunchy, but not “I’m going to chip a tooth” crunchy.  But it won’t fall apart in your cup of tea either.  It’s nothing like the stuff you find by the cash register at Starbucks.

Spiced Cranberry Orange Biscotti
Adapted from a recipe posted at Vanilla Garlic

3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
Zest from 1 orange

To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.  Let the butter and eggs come to room temperature.  Cream together butter and sugar until the mixture is light in color.  Add the eggs and extract and beat until combined well.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture into the egg mixture until combined.  Fold in the cranberries and orange zest.

On the baking sheet, shape the dough into 2 logs, approximately 12 inches long.  Flatten to about 1/2 inch thickness.  The dough will be very sticky.  Try to make the logs into perfect rectangles to ensure even baking.

Bake the logs for about 30 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and the centers are firm.  Remove the pans from the oven and allow the loaves to cool for approximately 10 minutes.  When the loaves are cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to slice them into 1/2 inch slices.

Turn the slices on their side and bake for 5 minutes.  Turn over the biscotti and bake for an additional 5 minutes.  Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container.  For crispier biscotti,  leave them in an uncovered container for a day or so.

Chocolate Peppermint White Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

This weekend the Christmas season finally ended for me.  I took down my tree and put away the decorations.  However, I was still left with a box of candy canes and a pantry full of leftover chocolate chips that I did not want to let go to waste.  This recipe helped me put a small dent in my leftover fixings from Christmas baking, and will definitely be on the list of cookies to make for next year.

These cookies are deliciously fudgey, with just the right amount of refreshing peppermint.  They go great with a nice tall glass of milk.

Chocolate Peppermint White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from a recipe posted at Simply Recipes

1 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 3/4 cup all- purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed candy canes

To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugars together for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is well incorporated and light in color.  Add in the egg and extracts.  Beat until well incorporated.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are well blended.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder.  Add to the butter mixture slowly, beating at medium speed until everything is incorporated (do not overmix).  Fold in the white chocolate chips and candy cane pieces.  Take small spoonfuls of the dough and roll into 1 inch sized balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Gently flatten the balls with your hand.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cool flat surface to cool completely.

Yields 3-4 dozen cookies