Monday, January 31, 2011

For Rita...Brownies with Pizazz

Dear Rita,

I sure hope you're reading this because I heard through the grapevine that you frequently check my blog and that meant so much to me. So in honor of you: your spice, your spunk, and your humor, here is a little recipe that I think you'll like. It's super easy, too...which I believe you'll appreciate. And as per usual, affordable.

Step 1: Mix 2 brownie batters as directed using milk instead of water. You could also use rum instead, if you want a little extra kick.

Step 2: Grab a bag of your fav mini candy bar - mini mini, actually - NOT fun size

Step 3: Layer one half of the brownie mixture, then top with your bars, and finally the last of your brownies

Bake according to the directions, but be prepared to bake a little longer because of the extra brownie mix.

Devour with a smile and giggle because this is really too good for words :)

*note: you can also just use one box of batter and divide it in half

I am increasingly amazed... all the delicious flavors a soup can take. Spices alone give each there own profile and make them utterly unique.

The following is a recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Magazine which, thanks to my negligence in renewing my subscription for the past 3 years, I was given for free as part of a welcome-back package. This soup had a great kick from the cayenne and lemon combo and the two together give the flavor of sour cream almost, that little tang you get when it lingers on the tongue. You don't need any fancy mumbo jumbo over the top - it just adds calories and distracts from the complexity of the soup, but if you must: I recommend a bit of avocado and maybe a few pieces of diced red onion.

This is just screaming, "I'm good for you!!!"

Spicy Black Bean Soup

2 cans black beans and one can pinto beans
2 cups chicken stock
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 scallions, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pat butter plus olive oil to fry the onions in
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds (you can use cumin powder, too)
dash apple cider vinegar
juice from one lemon
sprinkling of cayenne pepper
salt, pepper, garlic powder
1/2 - 1 tablespoon cornstarch

To begin, heat the oil in a large pot. Dump in the yellow onion first and cook until it's translucent. Then add the scallions and garlic.

Lower the heat and add the beans. If using canned beans, fill each of the empty cans with water and add that water as well. Then add about 1 and a half cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock).

Add everything but the corn and increase the heat to a good simmering temperature, I'd say medium to medium-high. Cook the soup until you can see it has reduced by about a quarter inch. This takes about an hour - 15 minutes in, taste the broth and season with salt and pepper. This is the point where the flavors will still seem separate so don't worry if you taste too much lemon or cumin. Keep the pot uncovered.

When the soup is almost at the consistency you want it, add the corn. After adding the corn, you should cook it another 3o minutes.

I know the cook time seems long, but the great thing is, you just have to be in the house while making the soup - just to give the occasional stir.

Monday, January 24, 2011

White Bean Chili

* thanks to Weston's co-worker for this recipe - we made our own revisions and found them to be quite delicious


1 Tbsp cooking oil

1 large (sweet) onion, diced

1 orange sweet bell pepper, diced

4 celery stalks, sliced and diced

2 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cumin

14oz chicken broth/stock (1 small can)

½-¾ cup mild or medium salsa

1-48oz jar of Great Northern Beans

(optional) 1-14oz can of pinto beans


Pour oil in the bottom of a stock pot and add the onion, bell pepper, celery, oregano and cumin. Cook on medium heat and sauté until onions begin to look translucent and spices have blended. When the onions look translucent/golden, add the great northern (and pinto) beans, the broth/stock and the salsa. Give the pot a good stir to distribute the ingredients, and turn the heat up to medium-high until the mix starts to boil. Then cover, turn the heat down slightly to a healthy simmer level, and set the timer for one hour, give or take a half hour. Whenever the soup is the consistency you like, take it off the heat and let cool, uncovered, to thicken up slightly. I like mine to be a thickened soup-like texture, but Weston likes a heavier, chili texture - so we Rock-Paper-Scissored for the final result. I won.

Yum Yum!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


So, I decided to make a few little tweaks to the layout of the blog:

1) Now there is a "search bar" so if there is a special ingredient or recipe you're hoping to find, you don't have to look through the Archives.

2) The Archive section has been cleaned up and you can browse for recipes by month, instead of having the actual post names pop up.

I promise I'll get better at tagging the posts, but it's always the last thing to do and I am so excited to publish that I forget!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Granola Bar Breakfast

As I said before: granola bars are a wonderful thing to have hanging around the house. Late night snacking, afternoon treat, or healthy and filling breakfast...they satisfy practically any occasion. I performed the following alterations to my previous recipe for granola bars:

2 cups oats

1/2 cup corn flakes

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp cardamon

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup banana chips, crushed

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup brown sugar plus 2 or 3 tsp white sugar

1 egg

Mix all the "dries" together - minus the mix-ins. Then add the wet stuffs. The consistency should still be malleable but not too watery, so continue adding either oatmeal or corn flakes (bran flakes might be a nice addition instead) until you reach the right consistency.

Dates are one of my all-time favorite snacks/throw-in for...anything

The dough for these bars is pretty delish by itself

So pretty - I love banana chips

Bake the mixture - after pouring into a well-buttered Pyrex at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Take them out and before they cool completely, cut into squares. Take out of the dish and let them cool completely before wrapping and they'll keep for two weeks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stir-fried Noodles with Chicken and Cabbage

Here's a quick dinner options when you have a lot of random veggies and some meat on hand.

Cut 1/2 pound of chicken and saute it will a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Julienne three carrots and fry it until soft, then add 1/2 head of red cabbage until it is just wilted, but hasn't lost it's crunch.

Add the chicken and 1/2 pound boiled Asian long noodles or spaghetti noodles

Add a sauce made of 1/4 cup sesame oil, a pinch red chili flakes, and 3 Tbs peanut butter.

Fry all together until the noodles get a little crispy.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with a wedge of lime.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Currency

What to do with a whole lotta leftover cream?

Melt 1/2 cup Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips with 1 cup heavy cream. You can either microwave them together and be sure they don't burn OR heat the cream over the stove until it is just warm enough that it doesn't boil - then add the chips and allow them to melt off the heat. Let this mixture stand for about a half hour until it thickens. If it doesn't, add 1/2 cup confectioners sugar. You can flavor this mixture with rum or coffee or mint or raspberry liqueur.

Refrigerate again until the mixture is hard enough to drop into balls on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate once more. If you want, you can roll them in cocoa powder after they have set. They keep in the fridge, in an airtight container, for two weeks.

I made these delights for a friend in my program who loaned me her air mattress when my family came to visit for Thanksgiving. And a personal sidenote here: I like the warmed mixture better than the chilled me crazy but mix it into some warmed milk and you've got some crazy good hot chocolate.

The perfect snack :)