Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Go-To Dessert

If there is always one thing you can count on, it's me posting a brownie recipe. It's been a while since my last one (with the exception of the Two-Bite Brownies) and I felt in the mood for some brownies, so here you go!

This is a new recipe and I was on the hunt for one that didn't use butter. The husband used the last of the butter for his popcorn the other night. So, I found one that uses oil instead. I love how brownies are simple to make, curb the chocolate craving and use ingredients that I always have on hand.

I substitued canola oil for the vegetable oil. Old habits die hard I guess. I used to use vegetable oil, but since I joined Weight Watchers years ago, I have learned to use canola instead. It's better for your heart. The only other thing I did was not flour the pan. I just sprayed it with some cooking spray and called it good. Even though I am not really watching calories, I still have those old habits to use whatever is healthier.

Like the name implies, these brownies were fudgy. They were excellent with a glass of milk. Hey, you need a healthy side for something like brownies, right? You can see that the edges are a little "puffier" then the middle. That's because I usually take my brownies out of the oven a little short. You might think it's gross, but I like my brownies slightly moist (aka: gooey) in the center. That made them extra-fudgy.

So, my chocolate craving is cured. For at least an hour.

Fudgy Brownies

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the cocoa and baking soda. Add 1/3 cup vegetable oil and boiling water. Mix until well blended and thickened. Stir in the sugar, eggs, and remaining oil. Finally, add the flour, vanilla and salt; mix just until all of the flour is absorbed. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the brownies comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Family Recipe

I am not sure where this recipe came from, but I always associate it with my mom. I remember her making this when I was growing up. Some of you may turn your noses at the fact that this macaroni and cheese is made with hot dogs, but that's okay. More for me to eat. If you absolutely have to make this without the hot dogs, that's your choice. Keep in mind though that they cook ON TOP, not MIXED IN to the dish. Why did I just capitalize that? Huh.

It is possible to make this dish lighter, which I actually did. Instead of using beef hot dogs, you can use turkey. Instead of whole milk, use 1% or fat-free. Instead of full fat cheese, use 2%. You can also cut back on the butter for the roux, although I wouldn't go much lower than a tablespoon instead of the two the recipe calls for.

This is not a macaroni and cheese that tastes like the boxed kind. Now while I think the nuclear orange cheese powder from the box has its place, this homemade stuff is much, much better. It doesn't take long at all to make. I am all for convenience and ease of preparation. It doesn't take terribly long to grate cheese or measure out milk now does it? If you really are lazy (which I normally am, no judging from me!) you can always use the preshredded cheese.

This might not be the most well-balanced meal on the face of the planet, but who cares? Once in a while you just need to make food that tastes good and makes you feel good. Everything in moderation. Just don't eat the whole pan. Although if you did, that would be pretty impressive.

Hot Dog & Macaroni Casserole
from: Pachey's Mom

1.25 cups elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 2/3 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used sharp)
1/4 pound cheese, cut in pieces
hot dogs

* Cook macaroni and drain.

* Make sauce: Melt butter in medium pan. Remove from heat. Stir in flour. Gradually stir in milk over medium heat. Add cheese pieces. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute. Add salt and pepper.

* In a one-quart casserole dish, layer in order, half macaroni, half sauce, half grated cheese. Repeat.

* Bake, uncovered at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

* Arrange hot dogs on top, bake 15 minutes longer.

Macaroni and Cheese before hot dogs.

After hot dogs. Not for the faint of heart!

Barbeque + Spaghetti

= Delicious! Now, before you go right to the recipe, I want to explain something. You don't actually barbeque the spaghetti in this dish. That would be messy. No, actually, this dish is a pasta dish made exclusively on the stove. Think spaghetti but instead of tomato sauce, you use barbeque sauce? Sound weird? The Neelys don't think so.

For those of you that watch Food Network, the Neelys have a show and they make a lot of barbeque and down-home, comfort type foods. I was browsing the Food Network website and ran across this. It sounded intriguing to me. Knowing how much I LOVE pasta, I had to try it. My husband isn't a huge fan of tomato sauces, so I thought he might prefer this one a little better (he did, but that's later in the post).

My house smelled amazing while the barbeque sauce was cooking. After reading the reviews on the Food Network website, I had heard that the sauce was a little too sweet. So I omitted the white sugar. The result was perfect: Tangy, slighty spicy barbeque sauce. Imagine having to smell it cooking for over an hour! It was almost torture!

If you don't want to make the barbeque sauce that accompanies this recipe, you could always use a good quality bottled sauce. However, the results of the homemade sauce are well worth it! The Neelys certainly know what they are doing.

Once you get past the fact that you are eating pasta with barbeque sauce, you will highly enjoy it. Jason, my husband loved it! He isn't a huge fan of barbeque sauce on meats but he opened his mind and really liked this one. Oh, and by the way, the recipe says it makes four servings. NO WAY! Not unless you can eat that much pasta in one sitting. I say it makes more like six huge servings. We will be eating leftovers for days which is perfectly fine with me!

It's a pretty filling meal (pasta, meat, some veggies), so really the only thing you need to make alongside this is possibly a salad. I ate a tossed salad, and you can tell by the picture, I also had some spinach. I am trying to eat more veggies.

I am definitely going to have to try more of the Neely's recipes. They had one for macaroni and cheese that was made with chorizo and tomatoes. Yummmm!

BBQ Spaghetti
from: The Neelys

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic salt
3.5 cups Neely's BBQ sauce, recipe follows
1 pound pork, beef or chicken, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 pound spaghetti

1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the peper and onion until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic salt. Add the BBQ sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and add the chopped meat.

2. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Season liberally with salt and add spaghetti. Cook until al dente, and drain. Toss spaghetti with sauce.

Neely's BBQ Sauce

2 cups ketchup (I used organic because I didn't want anything with high fructose corn syrup in it)
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons white sugar (if you prefer a non-sweet sauce, don't add this)
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

* In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Yield: 3.5 cup

Chili Again?!

I am constantly on the lookout for good chili recipes. It could be the dead of summer and I will still eat chili (thank goodness for good air conditioning). I am not sure what it is about chili that I love so much. Maybe because it's a filling meal, or that it has all the needs of comfort wrapped up in one bowl. At any rate, I love chili. I am surprised Jason hasn't said anything to me about "Making chili again?". I think he secretly loves it just as much as I do.

This chili is meatless. That's perfectly fine with me considering all the beans that are chocked in it. That's plenty of protein and fiber on my part. Jason on the other hand, needs meat. He made up some meat and mixed it into his chili. To each his own I guess.

Cooking Light strikes again! I have been looking through my cookbook and bookmarking the recipes I want to make. This one is super easy. If you don't have a lot of time during the week, or you are just busy, I highly recommend this recipe. I mean, what could be easier than only one step in the instructions? It also contains many items you would have on hand in the pantry. Beans, tomatoes, spices, chicken broth.

It is an economical meal as well. Let's face it. In these tough times, we can all use a healthy inexpensive meal right? I paired my chili with a honey cornbread and a lovely green salad (with greens from my garden, neener neener). The recipe doesn't call for it, but I added some green onions (also from my garden, neener neener) to the top of my chili. It added a little extra crunch and texture to the meal.

This is also a meal that can be frozen, which I find really neat. Again, if you are busy, make this ahead of time and freeze it in little batches or serving sizes. That way, you have a meal on-hand at all times.

The only thing I would do differently is add some Tabasco or hot sauce. In my house, we love things spicy! Of course, it's hard to improve on recipes from Cooking Light. They never fail to disappoint me.

Now if I could just find a light chocolate cake recipe that is easy to make. It would be perfect for after this hearty bowl of chili. Hmmm, maybe I will check out Cooking Light, tee hee!

Three-Bean Chili
from: Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (15.5 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15.5 oz) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional
6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream, optional

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; saute 3 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup water and next 9 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro. Serve with sour cream.