November 30, 2009

Recipe: Brownie Trifle

The first time I had these layers of brownie, chocolate pudding, cool whip and Butterfinger crumbs was at a church event in middle school, and I've been making this Southern Living recipe for groups ever since. The presentation is fancy but the ingredients are simple and sure to please anyone, except for that strange minority that doesn't like chocolate. All the textures blend together to make the sum of the trifle greater than its parts, which is pretty fantastic considering the height of the pedestal on which I put brownies and Butterfinger.

Brownie Trifle

1 (19.8oz) package brownie mix

3 (3.9oz.) package chocolate instant pudding

1 (12oz.) container Cool Whip

6 toffee bars, crushed (or butterfinger)

1. Prepare brownies, cool, and crumble.

2. Prepare pudding mix using total of 4 cups milk instead of 5, omitting chilling.

3. Place 1/3 brownies in 3 quart trifle bowl; top with 1/3 pudding, Cool Whip, and crushed candy bars. Repeat layers twice.

4. Cover and chill at least 8 hours. 

November 24, 2009

Recipe: Lemony Lentil Stew

This stew, like a thick soup without much liquid, features a small, round bean. Lentils pack a whole lot of vitamins and minerals into relatively few calories, and  their small size allows them to cook quickly. They are the only dry bean to date that I have cooked because they are much less daunting than bigger beans. 

Just simmer them down with some other wholesome, flavorful ingredients for a hearty stew that will fill you up. The lemon and edamame enliven the usual onion-tomato-bean combo, and the tomato and edamame add to the color palette. The recipe comes from the Dec. 2008 Cooking Light, but I added lemony to the name because I found liked my end product that involved squeezing my lemon to my heart's content.

Lemony Lentil Stew
1  cup  dried lentils
3/4  cup  frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans) (I substituted lima beans because they were in my freezer)
2  tablespoons  olive oil
1 1/2  cups  minced red onion
3  garlic cloves, minced
1  (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6  tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I didn’t measure, just squeezed a lot ‘o lemon.)
1  teaspoon parsley
1  tablespoon  chopped fresh mint (I omitted this)           
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper
1/8  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
Place lentils in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well, and set aside.
Place edamame in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until edamame are tender. Remove from heat; drain well. (I cooked lentils and edamame in separate pots at the same time.)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and tomatoes to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring often. Stir in lentils, edamame, juice, and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often.

November 16, 2009

Recipe: Chunky Chocolate Brownies

For years I was content with box brownies even though I refused to use most boxes because pure, natural scratch ingredients have a superior taste. The brownies I had eaten that were made from scratch were too cakey and not fudgy, and so many recipes call for baking chocolate that I don't always have on hand. And then I discovered what a brownie from scratch should be with this Southern Living recipe

The brownie is thick, rich and gooey and perfectly chocolatey, almost as good as the ones my dad brings home from the former-bakery-owner that just so happens to be his boss' wife. Better yet, the recipe calls for chocolate chips (semi-sweet, of course) and a few other basic ingredients and wasn't too involved to make. I can still enjoy a good box brownie, but the greater concentration of chocolate makes these far richer and more satisfying for a craving for a decadent dessert. The only way up from there is serving it a la mode and maybe adding a little peppermint extract for minty brownies the next time.

Chunky Chocolate Brownies

2  tablespoons  water

3/4  cup  granulated sugar

1/3  cup  butter

1  (11.5-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chunks, divided

2  large eggs

1  teaspoon  vanilla extract

3/4  cup  all-purpose flour

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1/2  cup  chopped hazelnuts or pecans, toasted (I leave the nuts out and go for the pure chocolate.)

Combine first 3 ingredients in a 3 1/2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 cup chocolate chunks until smooth. Let cool 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, stirring just until blended. Stir in vanilla.

Combine flour and salt; stir in remaining chocolate chunks and hazelnuts. Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture in saucepan. Spread into a lightly greased 9-inch square pan.

Bake at 325° for 23 to 28 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into squares.

November 11, 2009

Recipe: Black- Eyed Pea Cakes

This recipe is in keeping with my recent bean-are-substantive-and-good-for-you kick, yet the healthy black-eyeds provide a little sinful satisfaction because you keep 'em in oil. I like to combine the flavor of the cumin and onion in the cakes with toppings of ,pepper jack cheese and plain yogurt mixed with green tabasco sauce. A green salad with vinaigrette complements the creamy-beany taste nicely for a veggie-filled lunch. The credit for this recipe goes to who else but Cooking Light.

Black-Eyed Pea Cakes
1  (15.8-ounce) can no-salt-added black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/4  cup  dry breadcrumbs
1  tablespoon  finely chopped onion
1/2  teaspoon  bottled minced garlic
1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
1  large egg, lightly beaten
1  large egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/2  teaspoons  olive oil
Place beans in a medium bowl; partially mash beans with a fork. Stir in breadcrumbs and next 7 ingredients (through egg white). With floured hands, divide pea mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden and thoroughly heated. Remove from pan; top each cake with 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve with sour cream mixture.

November 6, 2009

Recipe: Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

When  reference to making blueberry cheesecake muffins showed up in my facebook news feed, the name was enough to send me to google to find this recipe on Recipe Zaar. And the bakery-like taste (thanks almond extract) and light consistency (thanks ricotta and yogurt) did not fail to live up to my high expectations. A friend  referred them as cupcakes, and I think the level of decadence makes that an accurate statement. There's no need for icing.
Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar, plus

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup melted butter

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1 cup blueberries (I used frozen ones.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 8-10 muffins tins.

In a large bowl combine with a wire whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well blended. In a medium-sized bowl beat together the almond extract, vanilla extract, melted butter, ricotta cheese, and eggs. Add to flour mixture. Carefully fold in the blueberries. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes.

November 2, 2009

Recipe: White Chili

What this chili lacks in color it makes up for in flavor thanks to green Tabasco sauce and onions and peppers. Together with cornbread (from scratch!), its warm temperature and flavor was perfect on a fall day that decided to act like it was winter. The inspiration for the dish goes to my friend Haynes' white chili from earlier in the week; our regular catch-up chats inevitably include discussing we've cooked recently.

I like how the Cooking Light recipe suggested topping it with plain yogurt instead of say, sour cream. Once you mix it up, all that matters taste-wise is that it's something creamy to contribute to texture and flavor. Yogurt is starting to rival my affair with sour cream, a staple that has long held my heart (I don't think it's normal to enjoy eating it straight). I added green pepper and cut down on the chicken from the original recipe; it gave me four servings.

White Chili
2  teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
5  teaspoons green hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large chicken breasts, cut in halves
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1  (19-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
plain yogurt
2 tablespoons  thinly sliced green onions (about 1)
Cook green pepper, onion and garlic in oil in a large pot; cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add broth, hot pepper sauce, salt, and chicken to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove chicken from broth mixture; cool.
Add cornmeal and beans to broth mixture, stirring with a whisk; simmer 15 minutes. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pot; simmer 5 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Top each serving with yogurt; sprinkle with green onions.