Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fantastic Fudgy Brownies

So…. I got a new toy.

KitchenAid Professional Series 600

What better way to break in that bad boy, than with a batch of brownies! I like my brownies fudgy not cakey. So I spent some time searching and searching for a recipe. I had heard lots of good stuff about Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies, but for one thing I only had 2 sticks of butter, and for another, I’m not putting 1lb of butter and 6 eggs in my brownies! Ahhh! I have pants to fit into people!

Then I remembered one of my favorite recipe searches, Cooking Light. It’s a great resource. I found this recipe, and it had lots of good reviews. I had all the ingredients (sort of, I substituted butter for margarine, & Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet for unsweetened chocolate). I have to say, I wasn’t sure if a Cooking Light recipe could really give me the fudgy chocolate flavor I really was craving. Plus, the method for making these brownies seemed a little unorthodox.

The verdict, these brownies weren’t good. They were freaking fantastic! They were moist & fudgy, with deep intense chocolate flavors. This will be my brownie recipe from now on. Oh my gosh. They were so well loved, I only had one left once it came time to take a picture! Even if you have your basic, no fail recipe, I BEG of you, give these a try. You will NOT be disappointed!

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Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons stick margarine (I subbed unsalted butter)
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (I subbed Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet)
2/3 cup Dutch process or unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°.

Melt margarine and chocolate in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa; cook 1 minute. Stir in sugar, and cook 1 minute (mixture will almost form a ball and be difficult to stir). Remove pan from heat; cool slightly. Gradually add warm chocolate mixture to egg whites and egg, stirring with a whisk until well-blended. Combine flour and baking powder; add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring well.

Spoon batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.

Calories: 132; Fat: 4.3g (sat 1.3g,mono 1.6g,poly 1g); Protein: 2.5g; Carbohydrate: 21.7g; Fiber: 0.2g; Cholesterol: 11mg; Iron: 0.9mg; Sodium: 46mg; Calcium: 16mg

I’m submitting this to Joelen’s Tasty Tools Roundup. I noticed the month of May was highlighting stand or hand mixers. What better post to submit than this one? I still use my KA stand mixer very often! It especially comes in super handy when making marshmallows or meringue buttercreams. Be sure to check out previous Tasty Tools Roundups, as well as Joelen’s other fun food events on her website!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Margarita!

I really enjoy margaritas.  On the rocks, with salt on the rim.  Mmm…  I have the same philosophy with drinks as I do with food.  I want them to include REAL ingredients.  I know to know exactly what I’m consuming.  One hot day back in August, I decided I wanted a margarita, I knew I needed to do it right.  All it takes is a little time, but it really pays off in the end.  I’ve made them like this ever since, and I can’t go back to the mix stuff.  If I order one at a restaurant, I instantly know if it was made with fresh ingredients or a mix.

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Margarita on the Rocks

Ingredients:

SIMPLE SYRUP:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
(this is the amount to make a large amount, if you only want enough for a couple margaritas, I suggest 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup water)

MARGARITA:
1 1/2 oz tequila
1/2 oz triple sec
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
simple syrup (as much or little as you like. I used less than 1 teaspoon, which was just right for me, but The Boy said it was too sweet.)
margarita (or kosher) salt for rim

Directions:

SIMPLE SYRUP:Bring water to boil. Add sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved remove from heat and let cool. (Make sure you have the syrup made a couple hours before you want a margarita!) Keep it in a covered container in the fridge (like a mason jar!), it will last a couple months. (Unless you make a lot of margaritas!)

MARGARITA:
Dip glass rim into lime juice. Then dip into a plate of salt.

Add ice to martini shaker, then add in all ingredients. Shake, shake, shake. Pour into chilled glasses over ice. Place a wedge of lime on rim. Enjoy!

If you are worried that it tastes strong at first, let it sit for a bit, as the ice melts it will mellow out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake!


I’m not done with pumpkin yet! YUM!

If you were wondering what to do with leftover pumpkin, here’s a great way to use it up! It was SOO good. Customize the ingredient amounts to your liking, if you want it more creamy, add more ice cream, I wanted to keep mine as healthy as I could, so I kept it pretty pumpkin-y.

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

1.5 scoops vanilla ice cream (I used Breyer’s slow churned lighter ice cream)
1 scoop pumpkin puree
1 graham cracker, divided
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup milk
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
whipped topping (optional)

Break graham cracker in half. Crush half and reserve.

Add ice cream, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, milk & brown sugar to blender. Blend until mostly smooth. add crushed graham crackers to blender. Blend until smooth. Top with whipped topping & reserved graham crackers. ENJOY!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

GiGi’s Cupcakes


I’ve been slightly obsessed with GiGi’s cupcakes in Nashville for quite a while now.  The thing is… I’ve yet to go, until now!  For my birthday one of my producer/confidants promised to take me and buy me as MANY cupcakes as I want!

I definitely took him up on the offer.  My producer, his production assistant, and a friend from my department all piled into the car and headed uptown.  It took me forever to decide what I wanted.  In the end I picked the Hunka Chunka Banana, which is described as banana nut cake and chocolate chunks topped with chocolate ganache frosting; and the Strawberry Shortcake, described as white cake with fresh strawberries & strawberry buttercream frosting.

I thought I would like the Hunka Chunka Banana the best, but I ended up liking the Strawberry Shortcake better.  The Hunka Chunka Banana was delicious, but it was just too much like a banana bread for what I was craving.  The Strawberry Shortcake was a TRUE cupcake!  It was fluffy and SUPER moist with big hunks of real strawberry.  And of course the piles and piles of frosting on top!  I’m usually not a fan of frosting but I ate this!  Oh… did I eat it!  I thought it would be easier to eat this with a fork, but then I decided against it because it took the fun away of eating such a decadent cupcake.  But I will offer this one bit of advice, the frosting will almost definitely go up your nose as you take a bite.

The white one is Wedding Cake, and the chocolate one is Midnight Magic with Chocolate Frosting.  My producer and his PA both let me have a bite of theirs, but I have to say, the Strawberry Shortcake is still the winner in my eyes!  If you’re in the Nashville area head over to GiGi’s and get a cupcake!  YUM!

Look at all the frosting!

Very yummy in it’s own right.

So, the Strawberry Shortcake one was bigger, but being closer to the camera makes it look EVEN bigger!
PS.  The guy in the orange shirt is not the producer who took me to get cupcakes.  He’s another producer in their apartment who was in the edit bay trying to sneak in the background of all my cupcake pics.
Sunday, November 16, 2008

Get Better Bars!


Ok, so the REAL name of these bars is Cranberry White Chocolate Bars.  But I made them for my friend because she was in a car accident, and was at home recovering.  Luckily she was ok, but it was still pretty scary for all of us.  I know that she had to take her pain meds with food, and in case she was having a hard time with an appetite, these would count as food!  I know she enjoys the white chocolate/cranberry combo.

I found this recipe on a blog, Good Things Catered, that always seems to have the yummiest recipes (and apparently the steadiest hands, check out her CUTE sugar cookies).  I don’t know who Mrs. H is, but I sure am glad she shared this recipe with Katie!

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Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of 1/2 an orange
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, (I didn't use freshly grated, just McCormick's)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried or fresh cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (I was rather generous here!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 11 x 7 pan with foil (I used an 8 x 8, so mine were taller), coat with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, zest, & nutmeg. Set aside. Beat butter & sugar on high until soft and light in color, about 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low and beat in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla, until thoroughly combined. Slowly incorporate flour mixture. Stir in cranberries & white chocolate.

Spread batter in pan. Batter is VERY thick, so use a spatula and press out any air bubbles. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 1 hour. Remove from pan & cut into bars.

** Note** I use White Lily flour, which always says if the recipe calls for 1 cup, to use 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of White Lily. Usually this works out fine, but for some reason, I think in this recipe it was too much flour. Either that, or I cooked it too long, so mine look more crumbly than Katie's. They were still delicious, but next time I won't add the extra tablespoons of flour.


I’m pretty excited to get to use my NEW rectangular serving platter I won at a Pampered Chef party!  I think it displays the bars rather nicely.