Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spinach brownies

So I've had well documented issues with 'healthified' brownies in the past.  These are better than some I've made in the past, but in truth, the best 'healthy' brownie I've had is the kind where you mix a cup of canned pumpkin with a box of brownie mix and bake.  As a bonus, those are vegan if you use the right mix (if you consider veganism a bonus, which many people don't).

So anyway, these had neither black bean nor pumpkin, but spinach.  I've been eating a lot of decadent dessert of late, so I thought I'd change it up for something with redeeming nutritional value, plus I had a bag of spinach I needed to use up.  I went with this recipe instead of this one I'd been eyeing on Fit Sugar, due to its use of actual eggs.

I did make a few substitutions - I didn't have carrots so I just used spinach (and FYI, a 6 oz bag works out to about the required amount), I used whole eggs instead of just the whites because it seemed like a waste, and I did 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp almond extract.  Also, I think I only baked them for 30ish minutes and they turned out fine.

Taste verdict?  They're okay.  Nothing without butter is going to really cut it for the decadence a brownie should have, but if you're looking for something chocolate-ish that's only 100-something calories a pop, you could do worse than these.

Will report back once I've attempted to feed these to coworkers.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bailey's Pudding Pie

Sometimes you just have one of those days.  For me, it was the first day back to work after a four day weekend, where nothing was actually wrong, but nothing went particularly right either.  It was the kind of day that makes you want to hide under your covers for the rest of the week, but that wasn't an option, so I found another solution:  pie.

I'd been ogling this pudding recipe for awhile (who knew pudding didn't have to come from a powder made by Jell-O?) and I'm not so much a pudding-from-a-cup person, but put pudding in a pie crust, and I'm there.  Plus, I had all the ingredients on hand (which is an anomaly; I never have milk), and was just questioning whether something with called 'Irish cream' could actually sit opened in my liquor cabinet for a few years and still be drinkable.  Once I determined (through furious Googling) that my Bailey's had not, in fact, gone bad yet, there was nothing to stop me from making this recipe.

I am obsessed with this crust (recipe is down the page a ways, but you'll get there).  When I was little, our Oreo crumb crust recipe was just some cookies and a stick of butter, done.  It was okay.  But somehow, when to this, you add some sugar and a little bit of salt, it becomes like delicious, delicious crack.  Definitely double the recipe.  I have actually considered just making the crust and eating it alone, but that would be essentially eating an Oreo smeared with butter and sprinkled with some salt, which seems like a one way ticket to Diabetes-Heart-Attack-Land, with a layover in Fat Kid Town on the way.

So, anyway, pudding pie.  You make the crust (I baked mine for 10 minutes on its own since I wouldn't be baking the pie), and then you make the pudding.  It took a little longer than I expected for the pudding part to boil, but it finally did and I made it to my ab class at the gym on time (the entire pie+crust endeavor probably took about 45 minutes, if you're curious; my ab class was only 30).  

Like with all my photos, this tasted better than it looks.  You're lucky I didn't take a picture of the part where all the crust just stuck to the pie plate (I of course went and scraped it out and ate it).

What's your go to food for an excruciatingly 'meh' day?  Or are you a better person than me who has some other stress release that doesn't involve booze and heavy cream?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Toffee Brownies

I love brownies.  I love brownies like a fat kid loves cake.  It is my love of brownies that is forcing me to train for a half marathon so I do not become said fat kid.
Of course, I could also just do the sane thing, and not keep brownie ingredients around my kitchen at all times.  But if I didn't do that, I couldn't see this recipe and then decide to make it on a whim.  It helped that I just happened to have the required toffee bits on hand, and the bag was open because I'd had one of those 'must have chocolate' moments at a time when I did not, in fact, have a full suite of brownie ingredients on hand.  I hate resorting to baking supplies, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
Anyway, I'm not sure the toffee entirely comes through in these, but they are still pretty damn good.  They were also very quick to make and contain a crazily small amount of flour and sugar (but a ridiculous amount of chocolate).  Actually, they're not pretty damn good, they're very damn good.  They're still in my kitchen, and I'm totally not going to go have one right now.  Right?

Dessert turducken, redux

We have to talk about these.  But first, we should talk about my newfound Oreo addiction.

It's weird.  Back when I realized I was no longer 11 and could no longer stuff my face with whatever I wanted and remain not a part of America's obesity problem, I stopped eating a lot of things that I deemed 'not worth the calories.'  Non-homemade cookies were one of them, and this of course included the classic Oreo. I'm not sure whether it's years of deprivation or what, but now, whenever I have Oreos that I've bought for some sort of baking project, I cannot get enough of them.  They are just so good.  (The same thing has also occurred with pretzels, but that's a story for another recipe.)

And so then we have these, which are a magical chocolate chip cookie-Oreo-brownie combination.  Feast your eyes.  

Note that the gooey-ness is not due to underbaking, but the presence of actual hot fudge in the batter.

The one thing that prevented these from being truly great was my mistaken use of boxed brownie mix.  I was like 'oh, I'll be good and follow the recipe.'  Don't do this, unless you're someone who actually likes box brownie mix, which I am not.  There is something about the taste and texture that just seems off to me, and the awesomeness of the rest of this recipe was enough to offset that, but these could have been so much better.  I guess I'm not sure if my typical underbaked, from scratch recipe would work here, but it is a project I am willing to undertake in the future.

Cheesecake turducken

I am all about the fusion of desserts - the dessert turducken, if you will.  Brownie in a cookie?  Yes please.  Cookie dough in a pie crust?  Of course.  Brownie in a cheesecake?  Died and gone to heaven.  It is a miracle of self restraint that this cheesecake ever made it to work, where everyone loved it as much as I did.
Be warned, this is one of those recipes that you'll see and you'll be like "OMG I HAVE TO EAT THAT NOW OR MY LIFE WILL BE INCOMPLETE."  Like, looking at the picture now makes me go 'hmm, maybe I should make that again,' and I am actually eating cheesecake right now.  It doesn't matter.  I want more.
Other than that, the recipe is straightforward (but definitely go for the 'double crust' option, there is something about the combination of Oreo and salt and butter that is perfection), and as a fun bonus the recipe makes extra brownies.
Mayhaps the next time I make this I'll throw in some pieces of cookie, too, and really go for the dessert turducken, but I'm not sure if that would make this even better or just ruin perfection.  Discuss.