Sunday, January 24, 2010

Unchocolate Brownies

Tonight was one of those nights where brownies just sound good. I haven't cooked or baked a lot lately since we are trying to get the house ready for the bean. I have been cooking mostly easy, convenience meals (baked chicken breasts, spaghetti and sausages, ready-made frozen lasagna) which is fine, just not blogger friendly.

Never fear, a day off is here! I didn't have much to do today which meant I was free to cook and bake. While I made an easy dinner (baked chicken, mashed taters and beans), I wanted something a little more special for dessert. Enter the brownie. If you notice, that is a trend in my blog. It's my go-to dessert mostly because it's easy and so delicious.

The funny thing with this recipe was that I was halfway through making them when I realized there was no chocolate in them! Blasphemy! Oh, but I improvised. The recipe called for 1/2 cup of chopped peanuts, which we didn't have. So the next best thing? Chocolate chips! I did get my chocolate fix after all.

These brownies were easy to prepare and mighty tasty. I ate one slightly warm from the oven with a glass of milk. They were much more rich than normal and I think this is due to the use of brown sugar rather than the regular white. I like that there is very little butter. It makes me feel less guilty for eating one....err two. Not that peanut butter is very waistline friendly, but oh well. I am 37 weeks pregnant. At this point, I don't much care about the food I am consuming.

I would definitely recommend these brownies. If you want to add peanuts instead of the chocolate chips, feel free. If you are like me, you need a little chocolate, and what goes better with peanut butter than chocolate? NOTHING! The recipe doesn't specify, but I suppose for some extra crunch, you could use chunky peanut butter. I used creamy since Jason is pretty territorial over who eats his chunky peanut butter. He probably would have forgiven me pretty quickly after he tasted these beauties though.

Peanut Butter Brownies

1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped (or chocolate chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the peanut butter and the butter. Add the brown sugar, vanilla and eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the butter mixture and mix well until blended. Stir in the peanuts (or chocolate chips).

3. Spread batter evenly into pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack and cut into 2-inch squares.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's Not a Cookie

Yes, I have been a bad blogger. I have said it before, but really, this time I have an excuse. I was at first busy with pregnancy and getting the house ready for our baby, but then nature called and I actually HAD my baby. So there. I have been a bad blogger because I have been busy being a mommy.

Much of my cooking and baking these days comes out of convenience. Boxed meals (for shame!) like frozen lasagnas from Costco, or meals that I can make in the crockpot that are very quick and easy are in my arsenal. Most of what I have cooked are repeats which is another reason for the lack of blog posts. I have made Salsa Chicken, Chili, The Family Spaghetti, and simple things like baked chicken or pork chops. Nothing terribly exciting to blog about.

This recipe is one from the archives. I had already started the post and now I am finishing it. Oh, about 2 months later! This recipe was made for New Year's for our family get together. Yes, New Years. Did I mention I was a bad blogger?

So without further ado.............Drum roll...............From the archives:

This recipe comes from my Tollhouse Cookie Cookbook. That being said, it's not a cookie. It's not even really a cheesecake although that's what the name implies. It's more like a bar with cheesecake accents (if there is such a thing). What I can tell you is that they were D-LICIOUS.

They were fun and easy to make. I whipped them up on the same night that I made the Stuffed Jalapenos for my husband's and my New Year's celebration. While these cheesecake bars were baking, I worked on some other items.

I used my KitchenAid mixer to make these and it was very convenient because they were able to chill in the fridge overnight. The next morning, all I needed to do was cut them and plate them. Did I mention they were yummy and delicious? Thankfully, there were leftovers and my then pregnant butt was able to eat them when I got home.

Another great thing about this recipe was that it didn't take a lot of ingredients that I didn't have on hand. I only had to buy graham crackers (which I ended up consuming the rest of the box anyways so certainly no loss), cream cheese and evaporated milk. I had everything else on hand.

I would suggest that you either buy already crushed graham cracker crumbs, or you use a food processor to make the crumbs. I used my mini food processor and it worked perfectly! It is a much more cost effective option to go this route obviously. But if you are pressed for time, definitely buy the crumbs. Please also note that the recipe does not have a typo. It really does take a tablespoon of vanilla extract.

I would most certainly recommend these bars. For a potluck, a family get together or just a yummy dessert for no special occasion.

Swirl-of-Chocolate Cheesecake Triangles
from: Nestle Tollhouse Best Loved Cookies

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups (12-fluid-ounce can) evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

For crust: Combine crumbs, butter and granulated sugar in medium bowl; press onto bottom of ungreased 13x9 baking pan.

For filling: Beat cream cheese, granulated sugar and flour in large mixer bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in evaporated milk, eggs, and vanilla.

Microwave chocolate chips in medium, microwave safe bowl on high power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10 to 20 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Stir one cup cream cheese mixture into chocolate. Pour remaining cream cheese mixture over crust. Pour chocolate mixture over cream cheese mixture. Swirl mixtures with spoon, pulling plain cream cheese mixture up to surface.

Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until set. Cool in pan to room temperature on wire rack; chill until firm. Cut into squares; cut each square in half diagonally to form triangles.