Blow my mind black bean brownies

I’ve heard about black bean brownies. I’ve heard about them a lot. There are a million recipes for them out there. I chose to make the simplist one I could find. Why? I’m not a huge fan of brownies unless they are moist and chewy.

I had pretty much decided that these brownies were going to be a flop even before I made them. How could black beans and brownies possibly go together?

Easy.

Dump one can of black beans in your food processor. Blend until smooth, liquid and all. In a nice sized bowl, dump in the powder from one box mix of brownies. I bought the store brand, dar chocolate variety. Omit the egg and oil, but add in the recommended amount of water. Next, pour in pureed black beans. Stir until combined. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake according to directions.

These made some of the most moist and chewy brownies I have ever eaten. There wasn’t even a hint of black bean. Brian was blown away and thought I was playing a trick on him when I told him there were black beans in them. I cut up half the pan and put them in the freezer so we wouldn’t be tempted to eat them all…that’s how good they are.

Advertisements

Other delicious dishes

Confession: I don’t always cook from scratch and I don’t always make new things. Sometimes I make things that I like so much that I want to make them again. However, I don’t feel like repeating recipes warrants repeating posts.

Here are a few of the other tasty things I’ve eaten this week:

I made another batch of teriyaki turkey burgers. So moist and flavorful. Not the dreaded dry turkey burger of the past!

Shrimp stir fry and brown rice. Prebagged frozen stir fry vegetables, shrimp, teriyaki sauce and brown rice. Pretty basic and a quick meal.

I love homemade pizza crust. However, I recently discoved Boboli’s whole wheat pizza crust. It isn’t nearly as delicious as homemade but it is rather heatlthy. So, I bought one to try it out. It would work in a pinch. I made BBQ chicken pizza with loads of cilantro. So good.

 

You know, just in case you were wondering if I didn’t eat on the days I didn’t post. Oh, and I eat a lot of left overs from all the things I post about, too.

Thai coconut chicken

I’m on the constant hunt for healthy recipes that don’t taste like cardboard. Which fuels my addiction to cooking magazines. Really, if I don’t subscribe to it already, I’ll probably buy it in the store if it looks like it has one promising recipe.

In my Cooking Light subscription for Jan/Feb 2011 there was an article called, Chicken Breasts 25 Ways, most of them being marinated. I love the method of marinating. It gives you a lot of flavor without all the fat. Now I give you Thai Coconut Chicken, adapted from previously mentioned issue of Cooking Light.

Combine:

  •  1 cup of light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce,
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Thai chili paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 onion thinly sliced

Reserve and refrigerate 1/2 cup of coconut mixture. Pour remaining coconut mixture in a Ziploc bag and add four 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

When ready to cook chicken, heat pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag and place in pan.

Throw out marinade in bag. Cook chicken for 7 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with reserved coconut sauce.

I also made a bed of brown rice for the chicken. I combined one cup quick cooking brown rice and the remainder of the can of coconut milk in small pan. Cook until brown rice almost done. Add in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice.

Cook for 5 mor minutes.

Seve chicken on top of rice.

Rubbed slow cooker pulled pork

I like the slow cooker pulled pork recipe that I’ve been using, but I knew it wasn’t “the one”. I knew that there is a better version out there and I want to find it. The one I’ve been using is a little too sweet and a little too saucy. Almost like those prepackaged bbq’s out there that you just reheat. I could continue to adjust the ingredients, but I’d rather try a whole new method all together. I came across this recipe on D.C. Foodies. Make a rubbed pulled pork and add the bbq sauce yourself.

Genius. Pure genius.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated on D.C. Foodies:

Ingredients(for 4-6 pound pork loin):

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (only use 1 tsp if you don’t like it  spicy)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons salt

Directions:

  1. Mix together the rub in a large Ziploc bag. Shake it to combine spices throughly.
  2. Add the pork to the bag and shake to fully cover the pork in the rub.
  3. Place the bag in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. The longer it marinates, the stronger the flavor will be. I let mine marinate for 12-14 hours. I made it while I was making dinner and put it in the fridge until morning.
  4. When ready to cook, turn slow cooker on low, take pork out of bag and place it into slow cooker. Add 1/4 cup water if you want to end up with a little more sauce. Cover pot.
  5. After one hour, turn pork over. Recover pot.
  6. After another hour, turn pork over. Recover pot. Cook for 4 more hours.
  7. After a total of six hours, check to see if the pork is starting to tenderize.  If it is, shred the pork using a fork and stir the shredded meat around in the sauce created during the slow roasting.
  8. Continue to cook for one more hour. Serve on buns with desired amount of bbq sauce.

This pork is incredibly tender and moist with so much flavor and depth. Brian and I enjoyed eating it with and without bbq sauce. That says a lot, because Brian likes his pulled pork very sweet. This is a really great recipe and I’ll be making it again in the near future.

Wild rice and chicken soup

With the temperatures dropping again over the past few days and the possibility of more snow, I decided it was time to make another(and possibly the last of the season) batch of soup.

I adapted this recipe from the Feb 2011 issue of Midwest Living.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup baby carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 10.75 ounce can of reduced fat cream of chicken soup
  • 1 8.8 ounce package of long grain and wild rice
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper(black would work in a pinch)
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups water

Directions:

  1. In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, stir together chicken, fresh mushrooms, carrots, celery, cream of chicken soup, pepper and rice.
  2. Gradually stir in chicken broth and water.
  3. Cover and cook on high setting for 3-4 hours(or low setting for 6-8 hours). Makes 8-10 servings.

 

This soup is filling but not heavy. It goes perfectly with a sandwich to help you make it through those final days of winter.

Asiago cheese bagels

In an attempt to continue to conquer my fear of making bread products, I decided to tackle The Knead For Speed’s Asiago cheese bagel recipe. The Knead declares these to be better than Panera’s Asiago cheese bagel. While, I haven’t had Panera in months and can not do a proper comparison, I can say this confidence, “These are superb!”

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced dried onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salts
  • additional tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, yeast, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, Parmesan, dried onion and salt.
  2. Add warm water and combine until dough forms.
  3. Roll out dough on lightly-floured surface. Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. Let rest in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, for 10 minutes.
  5. With a floured knife or scissors, cut into 8 portions of equal size.
  6. Shape each portion into a smooth ball and poke a hole in the center.
  7. Gently pull dough outwards until hole reaches 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.
  8. Place on a greased baking sheet and cover dough with a warm, damp cloth for 20 minutes.
  9. While dough is rising, place one gallon of water and one tablespoon of sugar in a large deep pot over high heat. Bring water to a boil then lower heat and let water simmer. Preheat oven to 375F.
  10. After 20 minutes, uncover bagels and place tray in oven at least 6 inches from heat. Cook 6 minutes, tuning bagels over halfway through.
  11. Gently drop 3-4 bagels at a time into simmering water. Cook 7 minutes, turning bagel over once halfway through.
  12. Drain on paper towels.
  13. Return bagels to greased baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  14. Quickly remove baking sheet from oven and sprinkle Asiago cheese on top of each bagel.
  15. Return bagels to oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

These are absolutely delightful when they are warm out of the oven. I enjoyed one with a little cream cheese, fresh tomato slices and ground pepper. I’m looking forward to making sandwiches on them throughout the week.

Granola bars: take two

Back in December, I made my first attempt at homemade granola bars. While they were very tasty, I made some changes to the recipe and made another , healthier and delicious batch yesterday. One of my favorite things about these bars is that you know exactly what you are biting into. I leave all the nuts whole, so when you get a cashew or almond, you know that it is a cashew or almond. There are no tiny bits leaving you wondering, “Did I just get a piece of nut or not?” These are crunchy, chewy, chunky, sweet and salty perfection!

Line a 9×13 pan with wax paper. If you are out of wax paper like me, non-stick aluminum foil or light oiled aluminum foil will do the trick.

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/4 cup quick oats, 1 1/4 cup cereal(I used the generic brand of GoLean Kashi), 3/4 cup dried fruit(cranberries, cherries, blueberries and strawberries), and 1 1/2 cup mixed nuts. Stir together until mixed well.

In a smaller, microwaveable bowl, combine 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup light brown syrup.

Stir together. Microwave on high for two minutes. Next, stir in 1 tsp of vanilla.

Pour over dry contents. Stir together until dry ingredients are evenly coated by wet ingredients.

Transfer to 9×13 pan. Press out evenly with silicone spatula or piece of wax paper. Let cool for one hour.

Lift out of pan and cut into desired size. Store in airtight container.

Lemony, peppery and mustardy tuna pita

image

For a quick and easy dinner tonight I fixed a light and lemony tuna pita. I’ve never been a fan of the heavy mayo based salads that people love to put on sandwiches, I much prefer this version.

I use 3-4 tablespoons of yellow mustard, juice of 1/2  lemon and a generous amount of fresh black pepper, per 3 oz of tuna. You can also add in diced onion and celery for flavor and crunch. I didn’t have any with me tonight(I was making dinner at work). You can also add in a little olive oil for a smoother taste.

Cut one whole wheat pita in half. Spread 1-2 tablespoons lemon hummus inside of each pita. Divide tuna mixture evenly between two pita halves. Add lettuce, tomato, cucumber and diced red pepper to each half. The hummus adds great flavor and depth to the pita and doubles as a glue to help hold in the veggies.

When a kid from Florida gets to build a snowman

All winter my boyfriend Brian has been asking to build a snowman. He’s from Florida and has never built one in his life. Well, there was the attempt when he was a kid to build one with Tupperware, but that’s a whole different story.

There was plenty of snow from the blizzard but the temperatures had not been warm enough to make the snow stick. Good packing snow is key for building a good snowman.

So, here are pictures of his first snow people. He had so much fun building one that he decided to build a family of 3.

Learning to roll the snow:

The start of the first snowman:

First completed snowman:

Snow family fully accessorized with things we found outside:

Brian was not happy to see his snow family a few hours later after the temperatures continued to climb:

Cha Cha’s white chili

Ring the alarm! This chili is hot! Not right away, but that after you swallow, wow there’s something warming up in my mouth type of way. The best way.

Adapted from allrecipes.com:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapeno peppers
  • 1 (8 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans white beans
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  •  

    Directions:

    1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Slowly cook and stir the onion and garlic until tender.
    2. Mix in the jalapeno, green chile peppers, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until tender, about 3 minutes.
    3. Mix in the chicken broth, chicken and white beans. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Remove the mixture from heat. Slowly stir in the cheese until melted. Serve warm.

    I also get a good chuckle every time I heat up a bowl of this chili to eat. I wasn’t paying very much attention when I was shopping and accidentally picked up 3 cans of butter beans instead of  small white beans. So now there are these huge beans floating around in my bowl of delicious chili.

    Things you can do to tame the heat if you aren’t a fan of fire in your mouth: reduce amount of chopped green chiles and jalapeno to 2-4 oz, substitute one small can of reduced fat cream of chicken soup for equal amounts of broth and/or top with sour cream and stir into soup.