Recipe Review: Mocha Brownies

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Mocha Brownies

For the recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/06/mocha-brownies/

Our Icy front door steps

Our Icy front door steps

Well, I finally got what I wanted this winter. Last week we had a good snow here in North Carolina. What I didn’t ask for was all the ice, freezing rain, howling artic winds, and single digit temperatures that came along after. The roads were covered in ice and driving was limited to a minimum for most families. Schools were closed all week, and since I work at a performing arts studio we followed the public school’s example.  After the first day, I ended up with cabin fever. I started looking for anything to do; house chores, cuddling with the kitties, Netflix binging (I seriously watched all the Jane Austen adaptations that I could find), and even exercising. After all that, I decided to be sensible and make some brownies!

mmmm good chocolate

mmmm good chocolate

I’ve made brownies for the blog before and wasn’t too pleased with the results. This time I decided to try a recipe from the blog of the Pioneer Woman. I think Ree is the patron saint of the food blogger: She’s witty, quirky, and all her recipes sound delicious without being too complicated. I decided to use her very appealing recipe for mocha brownies.

These brownies are unfussy and I usually have all the ingredients for them in the pantry. I had to restock on unsweetened chocolate this time, but the trip to the grocery store was sorely needed for my sanity.  The recipe called for a great deal of butter and sugar and more batter than I’d like to admit didn’t make it to the pan. It was so decadent and fluffy when I transferred it to the oven that I was afraid that the brownies may turn out too cakey. Luckily they came out of the oven moist and fudgy, the perfect consistency.

Brownies pre-icing

Brownies pre-icing

 Now, this recipe includes an icing of cocoa, coffee, and powdered sugar. I chose to half the icing recipe as Ree suggested in her post. There was too much snow and ice on the ground for me to be able to run around and burn off 5 cups of sugar. I actually found the icing rather addictive. To me it’s the perfect accompaniment to the simple brownie.  Chris however, asserted that brownies are not supposed to have any sort of icing. He thinks the brownie alone were perfection itself.

The pan of iced mocha brownies

The pan of iced mocha brownies

I think of all the brownie recipes I’ve tried so far, this is my favorite. I don’t think, however, that this brownie recipe should be served “naked”. It should go along with its mocha icing or maybe a scoop vanilla ice cream. But it is a pretty good brownie to share with someone special by the fire on a cold February night.

Rosalind watching the snowstorm

Rosalind watching the snowstorm

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Recipe Review: Beef with Broccoli

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Beef With Broccoli 

Want to try the recipe? You can find it here: http://www.iwashyoudry.com/2014/03/03/beef-broccoli/

For Valentine’s Day this year Chris and I decided to forgo a big fancy meal out, and instead stay in to cook together. We chose to recreate our second date, Chinese food and Pan’s Labyrinth. I know, not the most romantic of movies, but it’s one Chris and I really like. I loved this idea and was incredibly excited about it at first, but as the day drew nearer I realized we had a problem… what were we going to make that we’d both want to eat?

Just like with everything else, Chris and I have different tastes in Chinese food. Chris always orders sesame chicken whilst my go-to dish is General Tso’s. Neither of those fried syrupy sauced dishes seemed like a good idea to try at home, so I began searching for an appropriate option for our Valentine’s meal.

broccoli and wine, always good :-)

broccoli and wine, always good 🙂

We decided to try beef with broccoli because it’s a very popular take out dish and; it has one of Chris’s favorite ingredients (steak), one of his preferred vegetables (broccoli), and not much else. After looking at several recipes, I settled on one from Shawn at the blog I Wash… You Dry. It’s quick, streamlined, and simple, which is perfect for my picky eater. We adapted the recipe slightly by omitting the fresh ginger and sriracha sauce, and substituting a Sauvignon Blanc for the Chinese rice wine.

Frying the steak

Frying the steak

The total time from chilling the steak to sitting down to dinner is a little more than an hour, perfect for a dinner & movie date. I also liked that this recipe gave us each tasks to do while not getting in the other person’s way. While Chris sliced the beef into thin strips, I mixed together the marinade. While he cooked the broccoli, I minced up the garlic. While I cooked the beef, Chris stood around… and took pictures. Valentine’s Dinner Bonus: Yummy Asian take out style dinner with a side of relationship building! 🙂

Chris cooking the broccoli

Chris cooking the broccoli

All the components, awaiting to be assembled

All the components, awaiting to be assembled

Pouring the yummy sauce

Pouring the yummy sauce

                I liked the flavors of beef and broccoli a great deal, even without the ginger and hot sauce. It tasted very meaty with a good amount of salt (perfectly mimicking that MSG flavor). I’d like to add back the sriracha for a little kick of heat and I might try using ground ginger instead of fresh. Chris also really like the recipe, though he thought there was too much garlic…*sigh* He always thinks there’s too much garlic.  Dinner was rounded out with some sticky white rice and very good champagne, it was a lovely meal.

The finished product

The finished product

                Overall, I believe our Valentine’s dinner was a success. I found it really satisfying to be able to create my own take-out dish with such ease, and I think Chris enjoyed it too. I think we’ll be trying it again really soon.

 I hope your Valentine ’s Day was filled with love, good food, and (possibly) a fantastic foreign film like ours!

Bubbly. Happy Valentines Day!

Bubbly. Happy Valentines Day!

Slow Cooker Chili: A 2 Cats Recipe

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Slow Cooker Chili

 

It’s been really cold for the past two weeks in North Carolina. Being raised in South Georgia, I am not a fan of being cold. There are six blankets currently on our bed and I rely on my two furry space heaters to stay warm throughout the night. The only time I find winter weather acceptable is when there’s snow, unfortunately there’s only been dreary wind, rain and the occasional bit of sleet. I was slightly hoping for a small portion of “Snowmaggedon” to make its way down to us but alas, no such luck. The only solution for weather this miserable is warm, hearty comfort food.  My choice for this week (since it’s the Superbowl time of year) is my very own slow cooker chili.

Chili, after cooking 8 hours (and Chris getting home first)

I can’t remember eating a lot chili before meeting Chris. As I’ve stated in previous posts, my sweetheart is a lover of red meat, so I’ve adapted my diet to be more carnivorous. Chili should be cooked for a long time to let the flavors develop and deepen, which is why a slow cooker is ideal for this meal.  Can I just take a moment to say how much I love my slow cooker? This one piece of culinary equipment has made my life so much easier.  I teach fairly late one night a week and that evening’s meals are pretty much always made in the slow cooker.

Ingredients shot

I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found on myrecipies.com. I really like the simplicity of just meat, a few veggies, and beans. I used a red bell pepper to add more sweetness & crispness which I think goes really well with the sharpness of the canned tomatoes. The longer it simmers, the better the chili becomes (and it’s really yummy the next day). Chris calls this recipe perfect, which is amazing; since I can’t remember the last meal he praised that highly. I top my chili with shredded cheese, sour cream and sriracha while Chris loads his up with cheese and frito’s (or crackers if frito’s are not available).

After a bowl or two of this chili, I think you’ll be ready for any winter activity; ice hockey, snow sledding, or (if there’s still been no snow) cuddling in front of a good movie at home.

 my bowl of goodness

 

Slow Cooker Chili

(serves 6)

1 – 1.25 LB Ground Beef (I use Sirloin)

1 Red Bell Pepper, diced

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

½ Sweet Onion, diced

2 Cans Dark Red Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained

2 cans Diced Tomatoes

3 Tablespoons Medium Heat Chili Powder

1 Teaspoon Cumin

1 Teaspoon Salt

½ Teaspoon Black Pepper

Cook ground beef, bell pepper, garlic and onion in a skillet until the beef is cooked through. Meanwhile, add beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in to the slow cooker. Once the beef is cooked add the skillet contents to the slow cooker. Mix everything together and cook the chili on low for at least 6 hours, 8 or 9 is better. Serve with your favorite toppings