Saturday, May 31, 2014

Brownies - The Best Ever

Every now and again I have to make something sinfully delicious and these brownies are my ultimate chocolate indulgence.

Back by popular demand: The Best Brownies Ever!

Recipe inspired by Bon Appetit Magazine - Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts- February 2011 issue. And of course, I had to tweak it a little

Brownies – The Best Ever
16 Servings
1½ sticks butter, unsalted
1½ cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons water
½ cup buttermilk
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, chilled
1½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup raw walnut pieces
¾ stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
Line 8x8x2 inch metal baking pan with foil pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2 inches over hanging.  
Coat foil with a thin layer of vegetable oil. I used coconut oil.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan. Stir often.
Remove from heat and immediately add sugar, cocoa, water, almond extract and salt blend thoroughly. 
Add buttermilk and continue mixing.
Mixture should now be cool enough to add the eggs.
Add eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly after each egg.
When mixture looks thick and shiny, add the flour and stir until ingredients are thoroughly blended. 
Mix in the walnuts.
Transfer batter to prepared baking pan.
Bake brownies approximately 25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted 2 inches from the edge of the pan comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached).
Cool pan thoroughly on a rack.
Once pan is cool, using the foil overhang, lift brownies from pan.
Spread icing over brownies and let it set before cutting.
Once icing is firm, cut into four strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies, for a total of 16 brownies.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
Stir in sugar and cocoa powder.
Gradually stir in buttermilk.  Stir until mixture is very hot and just begins to simmer at edges.
Reduce heat to low, stir 1 minute to let flavors blend.
Transfer to medium bowl, stir in extract.
Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally until it thickens slightly and cool.
Once icing is cooled, spread it over the top of brownies.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

On the Menu
 Chipotle Burgers
Yields 12
4 ounce Burgers

3 lbs ground beef or turkey1
1 - 3 Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped fine
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Divide the meat into 4 ounce portions.
Form each portion loosely into a ½ inch-thick burger. 
Heat a gas grill to high or heat coals in a charcoal grill until they glow bright orange and ash over.
Wipe grill rack with oil. Grill the burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the first side, about 3 minutes for beef and 5 minutes for turkey.
Flip over the burgers. Cook beef burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the second side, 4 minutes for medium rare or until the desired degree of doneness is reached.
Cook turkey burgers until cooked throughout, about 5 minutes on the second side or until burgers are completely done.

1 Add seasoning to ground turkey 24 hours prior to cooking

Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breast
4 Servings

4 - 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
½ cup olive oil
½ cup white wine (Chablis)
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon crushed red peppers
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed, finely chopped

Preheat oven 350 degrees
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or wipe lightly with oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients.
Add chicken and mix by hand to make sure that all pieces are completely covered with marinade. Cover bowl and let chicken marinade in refrigerator 2 hours. Or overnight.
You are now going to make grill marks on the topside of the breast by using a grill or a grill pan. Then you will finish cooking the chicken in the oven.

      Place the breast on a hot grill with the top (smooth) side down point the breast towards the 10 o’clock position.
      Cook until you see the outer rim of the breast change color/texture about 3 - 5 minutes
      Pick up the breast with tongs [not a fork ] and turn it to the 2 o’clock position to complete the criss cross marks of the grill
      Grill another 3 minutes then remove from grill
      Place breast on sheet pan and bake uncovered in the oven approximately 15 - 20 minutes.
      Remove from oven and let breast sit and rest 10 minutes before cutting
      By letting the chicken rest, you are allowing it to continue cooking.

Note: Factors that affect the cooking time of meats are the size/thickness, marinade contents, the length of time meat has marinated and so forth. Our objective here is to product a well-seasoned juicy chicken breast

Chicken internal temperature must reach 160 degrees to kill pathogens and 165 degrees to be completely done.

Please be aware that the internal temperature will rise 5 – 10 degrees in the first few minutes it is removed from the heat so let it rest and continue to cook before cutting.

 Note: Use tongs/spatula for handling any meat. A folk will pierce the flesh releasing the juices thereby causing it to dry out.
Grilled Portabello Mushrooms
Serves 4
½ cup grapeseed oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ -1 teaspoon crushed red chili peppers
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon oregano or any dry herb
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
4 large portabello mushrooms

In a bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, herbs, spices and garlic then sit it aside.
Rinse mushrooms under cool water while lightly rubbing by hand to remove any dirt or debris. 
Pat mushrooms dry with a paper towel.
Place mushrooms in a baking dish then pour the marinade over them. 
Cover and refrigerate 1 – 2 hours.
Preheat grill to a medium heat, as grilled portabella mushrooms will burn over a high heat.
Remove mushrooms from refrigerator and let them come to room temperature.
Spray grill rack with non stick cooking spray before putting it on the grill.
Place portabellos on heated grill and cook 3 - 4 minutes on each side. 
You will know the portabellos are done when they turn a darker color and look slightly shrunken.
Black Bean Salad
6 Servings

2 cups basic black beans
½ cup roasted corn (frozen)
1 medium tomato, diced
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded, diced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon crushed red chili peppers
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon granulated onion
½ teaspoon sazon seasoning – recipe to follow
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro

Place beans in a colander and rinse just enough to remove excess starch and liquid, let beans drain (beans should be separated and not stuck together).
Place drained beans in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Rinse frozen corn under cold running water until kernels are thawed, drain and add to bowl. 
Add tomato, onion, jalapeno and all the dry seasonings and mix thoroughly.
Add the lime juice, olive oil and fresh cilantro, mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours prior to serving.

 Sazon Seasoning
½ cup
If you like that commercial brand then you're gonna love this 100% pure Sazon Seasoning!

Ingredients 2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
1 teaspoon annatto
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika

Place all ingredients in a glass container with lid and shake until all spices are thoroughly combined.  If you use an airtight container, product can be kept for 6 months. 

 Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
6 Servings
1 pound Penne pasta
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 pound smoked mozzarella cheese
2 roasted red peppers
¼ pound baby spinach
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ bunch parsley
For the dressing
1 cup vegan mayo
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon chipotle or cayenne pepper, ground

Cook past until it is al dente.
Drain, rinse in cold water until pasta is cool enough to handle.
Transfer to a large bowl, add salt, mix thoroughly then place pasta a refrigerator.
Dice cheese into ½ inch cubes.
Grill red peppers, remove seeds then julienne and chill.
Add mozzarella cheese, peppers, spinach, parmesan cheese and parsley to the pasta and mix thoroughly.
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing until well combined.
Add dressing to pasta and mix thoroughly, cover and refrigerated until pasta is chilled.

Curried Deviled Eggs
8 Servings
8 large hard-boiled eggs
½ Cup Vegan Mayonnaise - [link to recipe]
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch cayenne pepper - optional
½ - 1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced chives

Peel the eggs and cut them lengthwise in half. 
Remove the yolks and place in a small bowl.  Mash the yolks until smooth and add the mayonnaise and mustard. Mix until a smooth paste forms. Mix in the cayenne, curry, salt, pepper and chives.  Spoon the mixture into the egg halves, or pipe using a pastry bag and star tip. Dust lightly with paprika. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours before serving.      

Melon Salad
8 – 12 Servings
⅓ cup honey or agave syrup
½ cup orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon
¼  teaspoon crushed red chili peppers - Optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cantaloupe, seeded, peeled, diced
1 honeydew melon, seeded, peeled, diced
1 watermelon, seeded, peeled, diced

In a small bowl, combine honey, orange juice, lemon juice, chili peppers and mint, mix well.
Place melon cubes in large serving bowl and pour honey mixture over. Toss gently to coat and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until serving time.

  Strawberry Lemonade
Yields 1 Gallon
3 ½ quarts [14 cups] cold water
2 cups sugar
2 cups strawberries
10 ounces [1¼ cup] freshly squeezed lemon juice [6 – 8 lemons]

The secret to perfect iced drinks is to start by making a simple syrup. Dissolving equal parts sugar and water effectively disperses the sugar in the liquid, instead of having the sugar sink to the bottom.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves [This is a simple syrup].
Add strawberries and cook 10 – 13 minutes stirring occasionally. 
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before using.
Pour remaining water and the lemon juice into a large container.
Using a mesh strainer, strain the strawberry syrup.  Use a spoon and gently mash the strawberries through the strainer.  Discard the seeds and any pulp remaining in the strainer.
Pour 3 cups of syrup into the lemonade and mix thoroughly.
Refrigerate until lemonade is cold, then serve over ice.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Age Weight Loss Tip #17


Angelique:  Here's another New Age Weight Loss Tip that some won't like. . . GET A CALORIE COUNTER APP.
Mom:  Back in my day, all they talked about was counting calories and weighing food.  I tried, but that was too much trouble.
Angelique:  In the new age, counting calories has been replaced by point systems and all kinds of new revolutionary concepts in dieting.  But the bottom line is if you eat too many calories and don't burn them off, you are going to get fat/fatter.
Mom:  The great thing is that CALORIE COUNTING is easy these days cause there's an app for that. Angelique uses My Fitness Pal or the LiveStrong "My Plate" Calorie Tracker.
Angelique:  You tell it how much you weigh, how much you want to lose, whether you are active, moderate or sedentary and it spits out exactly how many calories it will take you to lose, gain or maintain your weight.  Then you fill in the foods you eat, it calculates the calories and keeps up with your progress.
Mom:  One of the big problems with weight loss these days is that most people have no idea how many calories are in a footlong Subway tuna sandwich or anything else they eat in a day. These CALORIE COUNTERS give you the tools you need to stay on track.
Angelique:  Once you see that the footlong tuna on wheat with cheese is 1080 calories and you know you only have 1600 calories per day, you're either going to split that sandwich in half or eat something else.
Mom:  Boy do I miss our Subway tuna subs.  And its a perfect example of how something we thought was healthy and low cal was destroying our weight loss progress.

Good reduced calorie dishes:  Toss those strawberries over some spring greens or baby spinach/arugula and you have a perfect lunch or dinner.

Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar  
Simply Grilled Chicken
Green Bean Salad  

 4 Servings
1 pound strawberries, fresh
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
freshly ground black pepper
Place strawberries in a bowl. Drizzle vinegar and maple syrup. Stir gently to combine. Cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, grind pepper over berries.
Eat as is or serve over a salad 

Simply Grilled Chicken
4 – 8 Servings
½ cup orange juice
1 lemon, juiced
¼ cup grapeseed oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 – 5 pounds chicken parts
In a large bowl, whisk together the juices oil and seasonings.
Using a large zip lock bag, add the chicken and marinade, manipulate the chicken and marinade in the bag until all pieces are coated.
Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, manipulating the bag occasionally to redistribute the marinade.
Preheat a gas grill to a medium heat or start coals in a charcoal grill and let them burn until there is a white coating of ash on all the coals.
Remove chicken from marinade and place the chicken pieces on the grate in the grill. Cover with the grill lid and check in 10 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and grill another 10 minutes.
Move chicken pieces to the sides of the grate, away from direct heat. Brush with Blueberry Barbecue Sauce if desired.
Cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees and remove from the grill.

 Green Bean Salad
4 Servings
1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed
2 bay leaves
½ onion, sliced very thin
½ bell pepper, julienne
½ bunch parsley, chopped
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
1 orange, juiced
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ - ½ teaspoon crushed red chili peppers
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon sea salt

Bring a pot of water to a boil along with the bay leaves.
Get a bowl of ice water ready.
Add beans to boiling water, let water come back up to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Drain, discard bay leaf and put in ice water right away.
Drain beans and place in bowl, add onion, peppers, parsley and toss.
In a small saucepan heat apple cider vinegar, orange juice, mustard, chili pepper, granulated garlic, onion  thyme and salt. Let boil 1 minute.
Add hot vinegar mixture to vegetables, mix thoroughly, cover and refrigerate.
Let salad marinate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Toss beans thoroughly before serving make sure dressing is well distributed.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Monday Morning Smoothie - Cilantro Lime Tropical Smoothie

Smoothie Tip: Less liquid first - It's better to add too little liquid than too much. You can always add more liquid as needed.

 Cilantro Lime Tropical Smoothie
2 Servings

1 1/2 cups water
1 lime, peeled, sliced
1 cup mangoes, diced, frozen
1/2 cup pineapples, diced, frozen
1 granny smith apple, sliced
4 branches of cilantro
2 branches of parsley or 1 handful spinach

Place water, lime, mangoes and pineapples in a blender and process until smooth.
Add the apple, cilantro and parsley and continue processing until smooth and creamy.
Add or decrease water as needed in order to get the consistency/texture you desire.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sunday Dinner May 18, 2013

On the Menu

 Carolina Ribs
10 Pounds
10 lbs. pork ribs                   
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 tablespoon crushed red peppers          
16 oz white wine vinegar  
8 oz water                 
5 oz onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz green bell pepper, chopped
16 oz diced tomatoes                     
4 oz Tabasco sauce                       
10 oz brown sugar              
2 oz lemon juice

Combine the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
Rub this mixture over both sides of the ribs, coating them well.
Place the ribs in a large pot and add the vinegar and water.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.    
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.          
Uncover the ribs and bake, covered, for 45 min.
Remove the ribs from the liquid and place on a sheet pan presentation side up .
Bake in the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
Prepare the sauce by pureeing the onions, garlic, bell peppers and tomatoes in a blender.
Pour this mixture into a sauce pan and add the remaining ingredients.
Simmer the sauce over low heat until it thickens, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Brush the sauce over the ribs and serve hot.  

6 Servings

Note: This recipe is basically black eyed peas with a corn salsa topped with Italian Dressing. It's also vegan.


For the Peas:

1 cup dried black eyed peas

3 cups water

1 bay leaf

1 chili pepper, dried, whole

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon granulated onion

1 teaspoon sea salt

For the Salsa:

1 cup whole kernel corn1, drained

1 small onion, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

1 tomato, seeded and chopped

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

For the Italian Dressing:

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Creole or other spicy mustard

½ teaspoon granulated garlic

½ teaspoon granulated onion

¼ teaspoon rosemary

¼ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon thyme

¼ teaspoon basil


Sort and rinse black eyed peas thoroughly. 

Place them in a medium bowl with water bay leaf, dried chili pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion, cover and soak overnight.
After soaking, transfer beans and soaking broth to large saucepan make sure water is covering by at least 3 inches.

Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer.

Add salt and cook until beans are soft, 20 to 30 minutes.
Drain beans discard bay leaf and chili pepper then transfer beans to a large bowl.

 Add corn, onions, jalapeno, tomatoes and cilantro, and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard and seasonings.

Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine.

Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.

1 I use raw corn, just cut it off the cob, rinse and toss it in the salad. 

Grilled Peaches with Maple Balsamic Glaze
4 Servings

¾ cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons Grade A Maple Syrup
½ - 1 teaspoon crushed red chili peppers
2 large fresh Organic peaches, halved and pitted

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together vinegar, maple syrup and pepper. Simmer until liquid has reduced by one half. It should become slightly thicker. Remove from heat, and set aside.
Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
Lightly oil the grill grate. Place peaches on the grill, cut side down.
Cook for 5 minutes, or until the flesh is caramelized. Turn peaches over.
Brush the top sides with the balsamic glaze, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the peach halves to individual serving dishes, and drizzle with remaining glaze. 
Lemon Garlic Spinach
6 - 8 Servings

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
½ teaspoon crushed red chili peppers
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
2 pounds baby spinach
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a sauce pan, heat oil and chili peppers, add garlic and saute on medium heat 1 minute do not let garlic brown.
Add spinach, sea salt and lemon juice, mix thoroughly and saute just until spinach is wilted and all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Serve immediately.

Curried Rice
4 Servings
2 cups water
1 cup rice
¼ cup crushed pineapples
2 tablespoon cranberries, dried
1 tablespoon cashew pieces
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
2 – 3 teaspoon curry powder

Place all ingredients in a small pot and mix thoroughly.
Bring to a boil then mix again. 
Reduce heat to its lowest setting and cover.
Cook undisturbed according to the directions on the package