Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brownies with Expression...I mean Espresso!

This past Saturday night, the hubby and I were sitting at home.  I know what you are thinking, at home on a Saturday night, what madness is this!?!?  Well, we were especially tired from a long work week and a day of house work and yard work...we were basically too tired and lazy to go anywhere.  I decided that I wanted to make some brownies for us, since we both were just in one of those "blah" moods.  Plus, my husband LOVES brownies and I thought that they just might perk us up.  But after I started, regular brownies just didn't seem like enough.  So, I decided to add a little "expression" to those regular 'ole brownies.  The expression consisted of some super perky and flavorful espresso!

1 box (19.8 oz.) of prepackaged brownie mix (Ghiradelli mix is what I prefer)
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs of hot water (separate)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp espresso*
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powered sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

*NOTE:  If you are not a huge coffee fan, you can drop the amounts down to 1 Tbsp and 1 tsp, respectively.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9x13" baking pan with nonstick spray.

Whisk 1/3 cup of water, oil, eggs, and 2 Tbsp espresso  in a large bowl to blend.  After ingredients have been combined, add the brownie mix.  Stir until well blended.  Stir in the 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Once everything is mixed, transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

While brownies are cooling, dissolve the remaining 2 tsp of espresso in the 2 Tbsp of hot water in a small bowl.  Strain the espresso granules off and put the liquid espresso in a medium bowl.  Save the espresso granules for later.  In the bowl that contains the liquid espresso, whisk in the 1 tsp of vanilla extract.  Add the 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and the 1 Tbsp melted butter and continue whisking until smooth.  From the saved espresso granules, take 1/2 tsp of the granules and add them to the glaze.  Mix well.  After the brownies have completely cooled, pour the glaze over the brownies and smooth.  Refrigerate until the glaze is set (about 15-30 minutes).  Cut into bite size pieces.  Arrange the brownies on a platter and serve.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Stick to Your Ribs, Not Your Thighs Chili

When you think of chili, most people think of some sort of ground meat, possibly some sausage, some beans like kidney or pinto beans, and a ton of cheese.  I don't know about everyone else, but I have often struggled to find a chili that actually has a little bit more taste to it that just meat, tomato, and cheese.  I found this great recipe for a Black Bean - Hominy Chili in USA Weekend.  I took the recipe and altered it slightly by changing some ingredients and adding a few others.  I call it "The Stick to Your Ribs, Not Your Thighs Chili"!  This truly is a meal that provides you with an adequate amount of protein to make you full and has a ton of healthy vegetables.  I promise that even if you have a man at home that is a meat-eating fanatic, he will be raving about the recipe and asking when you will be making it again!!


1 quart good quality vegetable broth (I prefer Swanson's)
1 can (approx. 14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
1 Tb. vegetable oil
1 shallot (or small white onion), diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped (reserve a few sprigs un-chopped as garnish)
3 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. red pepper flakes (optional, if you want some added heat)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
2 cans (approx. 15 ounces) drained and rinsed white hominy
1 can (approx. 15 ounces) drained and rinsed black beans
1 can (approx. 15 ounces) drained and rinsed kidney beans
1 ounce (or 1/8 cup) bittersweet chocolate, graded over a microplane


Microwave vegetable broth and tomatoes in a microwave-safe container on high power until steamy hot, about 5 minutes.  

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add shallot and bell peppers; sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add chili powder, cumin, and oregano; sauté until fragrant, about a minute or so.  Add diced garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.  Add the beans and hominy along with hot broth and tomato mixture to pot.  If you want to do so, for added heat, you can now add the 1 Tbs. of red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered, until all vegetables are tender and flavors have blended well, about 20 minutes.  Stir in graded semi-sweet chocolate and chopped cilantro.  Simmer for 5-10 more minutes to blend the chocolate and cilantro.  Turn off heat and let chili stand a few minutes before serving.

I like to serve this chili with a spring of cilantro, a dollop of Greek yogurt (substitute for high fat sour cream), and a small cake of cornbread.  This chili is sure to get you raves and people asking for the recipe!  Enjoy and always remember to make it CRAZY GOOD!!

The Crazy Good Cook

*Above recipe slightly altered from USA Weekend - Healthy Black Bean-Hominy Chili.