Monday, May 22, 2017

Best Brownie Ever

"These over the top, no frosting necessary, decadent dark chocolate fudgy brownies are the perfect dessert. Unless of course you don't like dense dark chocolate morphed into fudgy brownies, in which case you should skip this post!?




My gorgeous hot pink Japanese peonies are blooming, my tomatoes are protected in their water wells, it's blowing outside like in Dorothy's Kansas, and  this weekend is Memorial Day. I'm feeling a bit out of sorts.  We just said goodbye to snow, I have yet to plant my flower boxes, the folly is still unfinished, swimming pools will soon be opening, but yes Colorado is well...just being Colorado. We had, I think, one of the warmest winters ever, but now I think Mother Nature is totally confused. I know I am.

Memorial Day is almost upon us and that is my target date to have my yard in tip top shape. It actually is in pretty good shape, (thank you Adam) and except for the bare grass spots-thanks to the rabbits-really it isn't so behind, it just feels overwhelming. Manservant is actually home this year, which leads me to thinking maybe we will have friends over to celebrate the beginning of summer. You can see I am very wishy washy when it comes to making decisions, as I have yet to actually ask anyone officially. But there is one thing I am not wishy washy about, and that is these.


If I were to follow through on my undecided decision of having friends over, these are the perfect Memorial Day dessert. Well, that's change that. These are the perfect dessert. Anytime. Anywhere. Well, yes, (one more well,) that is if you like dense dark chocolate morphed into the form of gooey fudgey brownies. And if you don't well...you probably are not friends with me! Or perhaps you are skinny and don't eat my desserts, which is OK, because that means more for me. And if you are the cakey brownie type, Lordy, Lordy, Lordy!!!!, please just go bake a cake because honestly, God did not invent brownies to be cakey. And though God does love chocolate frosting on some brownies, this is not that recipe. Just sayin'!

In the event that I do have a party- well, I hesitate to say party as I am probably talking about 6-8 good friends, which I guess in our case would be a party, I still have no idea what my menu will be. I am leaning Greek kebabs, but then again I love chicken with peanut sauce, and who can resist ribs or burgers or dogs... along with tequila, which you know Manservant will want, in which case should I just submit to the Mexican urge?  And my Bon Appetit just arrived and I now have 59 more ways to fire up the grill. Plus there are sour cherries in my freezer that need to be made into the form of pie but Lordy, Lordy, Lordy!!! these brownies are not to be missed. I'm not trying to be as farmisht as Mother Nature, but the barometer has given me a foggy brain.

So what are you doing for Memorial Day? For sure I'm overthinking this, well, except for these luscious, decadent, put these in your piehole, best ever fudge brownies!



OTHER GREAT BROWNIES:
Brownies w/ Cookie Dough      White Chocolate Brownies       Katharine Hepburn's Brownie

            

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yield: About 24print recipe

Best Brownie Ever

These over the top, no frosting necessary, decadent dark chocolate fudgy brownies are the perfect dessert. Unless of course you don't like dense dark chocolate morphed into fudgy brownies, in which case you should skip this post!
prep time: 25 MINScook time: 30 MINStotal time: 55 mins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/4 c unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder (I prefer natural, but Dutch will work.)
  • 11 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 c unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 t instant espresso powder (optional, but it does bring out the chocolate flavor)
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 t vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter the sides and bottom of a 13 x 9 light colored pan. Line with parchment.
  2. In a large microwave bowl, place the chocolate and butter. Heat for 1 minute at power 7, and then stir. Do this 1 minute at a time until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.
  3. Add the espresso powder and both sugars. Combine well. Add three eggs to the room temperature chocolate. (You don't want to cook your eggs!) Whisk until combined. Do not overbeat or you will end up with the feared cakey brownies! Add the other two eggs and whisk again. Stir in vanilla.
  4. In a large mixing cup, combine flour, salt and cocoa. Using a rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into the chocolate. No need to overfold.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted into the middle, comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached-about 30 minutes.
  6. Let brownies cool and then lift out of pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve with ice cream or not! These may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap. They are also good chilled!
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mediterranean Layer Dip with Hummus and Tzatziki


"This Mediterranean Layer Dip with Hummus and Tzatziki is perfect for a crowd. It's healthy flavors appeal to everyone and it's so easily put together. No cooking-just layering- and you've got a beautiful dip that everyone will love!" 

Well, I guess it is official. Now that Mother's Day and Cinco de Mayo are behind us it's time to gear up for graduation season and Memorial Day. Man, May is sure a busy month. Our lives are a bit calmer these days, but I do love remembering the college graduations. Bittersweet memories that seem so far away, even though it's just been 5 years. Wow-they have come a long way and I continue to be so proud of them.

Mother's Day found us both frolicking in the yard. HAH HAH! Manservant was busy painting my folly and now is considering an opening on Memorial Day, though he did manage to provide a soft opening for me Sunday night. Yes, this crazy man managed to send me off at 8PM to pick up dinner at 5 Guys while he quickly showered, and set up a very romantic setting in my new, though unfinished folly. Complete with candlelight and a newly painted table on a cute new rug with a vintage picnic basket and ice chest filled with ginger beer and mezcal, he set up a delightful little scene. He even had a fire burning in a new fire pit down below, and a blanket waiting to keep me warm. Of course it all sounds great except that he was on the phone with his mother during our fast food dinner. Well, nothing can be perfect-but it was still very good. He told me about the rest of his vision to finish this she cave off, and I must say it is quite visionary! Can't wait to share photos on what I hope will happen very soon...


 As I'm hoping to have a GRAND OPENING on Memorial Day, I thought I would share an easy layer dip that is marvelous for a crowd. I quickly made this to take to an event and just grabbed a few photos before I left. It turned out to be popular, so I decided to bestow this layer dip upon you! No cooking, no recipe set in stone, just a few ingredients that are quite popular right now. Served with pita chips or flatbread or even more veggies, this dip is not only good for you, it tastes good, too.


More Great Crowd Pleasers:
Poblano Onion Dip             Pineapple Serrano Hummus    Beer and Honey Potato Chips w/Onion Dip

                  

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Serve with pita chips for dipping or veggies such as carrots and peppers!


Yield: 10-20 Servings       Print Recipe

Mediterranean Layer Dip with Hummus and Tzatziki

This Mediterranean Layer Dip with Hummus and Tzatziki is perfect for a crowd. It's healthy flavors appeal to everyone and it's easily put together. No cooking-just layering- and you've got a beautiful dip that everyone will love!
prep time: 25 MINScook time: total time: 25 mins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 32 oz container hummus
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzos (drained and dried)
  • 1 8 oz container of tzatziki
  • Za'atar, dried thyme, oregano, sumac
  • European Cucumbers, Peeled, Sliced thin and quartered
  • Baby Tomatoes of all colors, sliced and quartered
  • Bermuda onion, finely diced (about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Pine Nuts
  • Chopped Italian Parsley or Mint or both!
  • Aleppo or Urfa Chilies or Dried Chili Flakes
  • 3 T tahini
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • Optional-olives, drained capers,

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. On a large platter, spread hummus to cover.
  2. Sprinkle with garbanzos. Spread on tzatziki. Sprinkle with za'atar or other seasonings. I am quite liberal with my seasoning so use a lot!
  3. Now is the time to be an artist. Sprinkle on your tomatoes around the platter. Throw on your cucumbers and Bermuda onion.Sprinkle with feta crumbles. Throw on some pine nuts. You can even saute them if you want them golden. Toss on the parsley and then sprinkle well with your choice of chilies.
  4. Last, but not least, Combine tahini, olive oil and lemon juice. Whisk together well and drizzle over layer dip. This is an optional step, but I feel it adds a ton of flavor.
  5. If you'd like add some olives or capers or even sun dried tomatoes. Artichoke hearts work well as do hearts of palm. Make your own signature recipe!
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Friday, May 12, 2017

Overnight Egg Casserole with Salami, Bread and Wine


"This overnight egg casserole is the perfect thing to wake up to. Filled with bread and wine and salami, this easy dish is perfect for company."

This is a Fast Friday and I'm ready to get outside and work in the yard. Our weather went from cool and rainy to hot overnight. Manservant is busily working on my folly-remember that? Since he was gone so much last year I've been looking at a dump in my backyard. Some might call it a construction site. He's determined that we will have a soft opening this weekend, but I think the rain may have slowed him down. This folly (an unnecessary building) yes, that really is the definition, though some might call it a she cave, has been taking a lot of his time and frankly I wish he'd just hurry up and get it finished. Truly, this little 8 x 8 space has bifold doors that open up to the outside, windows that open and close, and steps to get in, plus framed doors and windows.


I need to get the yard in shape so I have something decent to look at. Luckily Adam, who took care of my yard last year, left in it pretty good shape so I'm just keeping it tidy until he returns from having surgery. I've not told you much about Adam, but trust me - everyone needs an Adam. He painted for me and weeded for me and jumped my car for me and even fixed the screen door that Geordie scratched a hole in. Between Manservant and Adam I may never have to lift a finger again. HAH! Don't I wish that was true? Right now I'm looking at the clean up project that will be left behind when Manservant finishes my folly...


Whatever. Jumping on to this breakfast casserole.... I love these overnight dishes. Nothing is much better than waking up, turning the oven on and popping breakfast in. Slice up some melon and you are ready for that Sunday paper. This overnight dish has some great flavors. I love the hint of wine-it so ups the flavor- and the salami or pepperoni really kicks it up a notch. Check this out. Serve it to your favorite mom. Enjoy those mom's days. It's not long before they fly the coop and breakfast in bed is just a memory.

Looks like I better make myself one of these. I'll let Manservant pop it in the oven so he'll feel like he made breakfast. After all, Mother's Day or not, looks like Manservant will be on the construction site and the sooner he eats, the more he gets done! Happy Mother's Day, everyone!


A few more Egg Casseroles:

Overnight Mexican Egg Casserole   Overnight Bagels and Lox Casserole    Frozen Cheese Souffle

                              

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yield: 6-8 servingsprint recipe

Overnight Egg Casserole with Salami, Bread and Wine

This overnight egg casserole is the perfect thing to wake up to. Filled with bread and wine and salami and cheese, this easy dish is perfect for company.
prep time: 20 MINScook time: total time: 20 mins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 of large loaf French or Italian Bread
  • 3 T melted butter
  • 3/4 c Havarti Cheese
  • 3/4 c Swiss Cheese
  • 1 c coarsely chopped Kosher or Genoa salami or spicy pepperoni
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1/4 dry white wine
  • 6 green onions, minced
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c fresh grated parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Break bread into small pieces and scatter over bottom. Drizzle butter on top.
  2. Sprinkle with cheeses and salami.
  3. Beat together eggs, milk, wine, onions, mustard and salt and pepper. Pour over cheese and salami. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Remove dish from fridge about 1/2 hour before baking. Preheat oven to 350. Bake covered about 35 minutes.At this point eggs should be just about cooked. If not, leave in oven a bit longer. Uncover and spread with sour cream. Sprinkle parmesan on top of that. Bake 10 more minutes until crusty and lightly browned.Let sit a few minutes before serving.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Vietnamese Caramelized Ground Pork #WeAreHestan #HestanNanoBond

"Product in this post was provided by Hestan, but no compensation was given. All opinions expressed are my own."


"Vietnamese Caramelized Ground Pork is addicting. Perfect for topping a rice or noodle bowl, making lettuce wraps, or even stuffing between a bun, this garlic, peppery, sweet and sourish pork is beyond tantalizing."


I guess by now you've figured out that I like to cook. LOL! I like to cook a variety of food, from simple to exotic, from Mexican to Asian and everywhere in between. I love to bake. I love to grill. I love to stir fry.  It truly is hard to summarize This is How I Cook, because sometimes I feel like I'm all over the map. Literally. Any suggestions on how you would describe my blog would be greatly appreciated, because summarizing and telling visitors what my blog is about is really quite challenging.

I started cooking in college. I found that great conversation was made around chile con queso, chips and beer. Sometimes I switched things up with artichoke dip. I learned to make lasagna and spaghetti and cookies. I did all this with garage sale pots and pans, until I splurged and bought a set of pans from a traveling salesman for a whopping $30. The set  came with a Dutch oven and three different sized pots and two skillets. It was a gorgeous set of faded out brown that chipped quite easily. It travelled a long time with me and I fondly remember having to always screw on the handles and hoping they didn't fall off when I lifted a pot. I think I had that Dutch oven until a few years ago, when my mom gave me a Le Creuset and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I believe that lightweight brown Dutch oven is now packed away in Alex's box, awaiting the day he returns to the states.


When I got married I invested in some Calphalon until my mom parted with her All Clad pots that I still have. I do use two cast iron skillets and I have one large non stick saute pan with a lid that I use a lot, too. Besides two good stock pots, a small saute pan, a Chinese wok and a hidden paella pan, I think that is the extent of my cooking collection. I'm certainly not a collector of cooking ware but I do adore GOOD cooking ware. After all, it doesn't go away easily. I did finally part with a few good pans that unfortunately were banged upon once too often with utensils of wood and metal, on many New Year's eves when some well meaning kids welcomed midnight. I got tired of them wobbling on my cook top.

Which brings me to my latest addition. She's a beauty, isn't she?


Hestan cookware contacted me about trying some of their new nanobond technology and I heartily agreed. In the 1970's Hestan's founder pioneered hard-anodized aluminum cookware, which led to the non-stick cookware that many of us use today. Today Hestan is used at The French Laundry, so by cooking in this pan I'm probably about as close to Thomas Keller as I may ever get! This beautiful skillet is manufactured in Italy, has an aluminum core, and is totally surrounded by stainless steel. It is highly scratch resistant, easily cleaned and has 5x the lifespan of normal stainless/aluminum-clad cookware with 20% more cooking surface. Basically, I'm sitting on an heirloom! Get ready to fight over this, kids!

So what the heck is nanobond technology? Well those 2,000 special layers of alloys and titanium protect the stainless steel by creating a dense, impenetrable layer so the stainless steel can cover the aluminum, which conducts the heat really well. Enough technology. Where can you get this incredible skillet? Learn more at Hestan Nanobond and check out the Hestan NanoBond #TitaniumTour!

Welcoming a new skillet is a bit like getting a new car. One has to learn how to come to terms with it. In this case I actually read the driving manual use and care guide! It is not recommended to use high heat so I turned the knob down to medium high and then to medium and realized that this baby conducts heat quite differently than my other pans. I thought I'd test out this beauty with this Vietnamese Caramelized Ground Pork. I've been making this recipe over a year now but have always used a non-stick skillet. Testing anything with sugar is a challenge because we all know that sugar can stick and burn quite easily. My pork caramelized as always and with a lot less energy. Additionally, this pan cleaned up like a dream. In other words - it still looks brand new. I did use the Professional Stainless Steel Cleaner and no one was the wiser.

And now back to this awesome pork-or chicken. Your choice. I love this dish. My photos show it in a rice bowl, but notice those lettuce leaves hanging out? You got it. This pork would be the perfect filler for lettuce wraps, if by chance you don't want it over rice or noodles or in a bun. A perfect anytime dinner, this is one that will make everyone happy.


A few more to try:

     Larb (Thai Chicken Salad)                Vietnamese Meatball Noodle Bowl               Ma Po Tofu

                     

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Yield: 4 servings   Print Recipe

Vietnamese Caramelized Ground Pork

Vietnamese Caramelized Ground Pork is addicting. Perfect for topping a rice or noodle bowl or even stuffing between a bun, this garlic, peppery, sweet and sourish pork is beyond tantalizing.
prep time: 10 MINScook time: 15 MINStotal time: 25 mins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 long European cucumber
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 t of sugar
  • 1 t lemon grass paste (from a tube)
  • 1 lb ground pork or chicken
  • 2 T peanut or canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into thin slivers
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 t ground black pepper or more (You want to taste the contrast of garlic, sweet and pepper.)
  • Garnishes: Mint, Basil, Cilantro, Chopped Peanuts, Sriracha, Lime quarters
  • Steamed Rice for 4

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Slice cucumber into thin rounds. Combine rice vinegar, salt, sugar and lemon grass in a bowl. Add sliced cucumbers and set aside.
  2. Heat a wok or large skillet until a drop of water dances on the surface and disappears. Add 2 T peanut or canola oil and toss in the onion and minced garlic.
  3. As soon as it is fragrant, add the ground pork and 1 T of sugar. Stir fry, tossing every few minutes for 10-15 minutes, until the pork has crisped into crispy browned bits.
  4. Take the wok or skillet off the heat and stir in fish sauce until completely absorbed. Stir in black pepper. Use a lot!
  5. Mix the cucumbers with liquid into the pork. Spoon over 1 cup of rice. Serve with garnishes and create your own favorite bowl.
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Churro Chorizo Waffles with Chile Mezcal Maple Syrup


"These churro chorizo waffles gleam with cinnamon sugar. Add a fabulous maple syrup with a touch of smoke, by way of Mezcal, and some ancho chile powder. Trust me. This brunch will not be forgotten."

It began on a cold and snowy Saturday night. We found ourselves craving dinner and not knowing where to go, or what we desired. Pulling into a recently opened Mexican restaurant that looked pure dive on the outside, we were greeted with a more pleasant inside. After perusing the menu I ordered a chipotle shrimp dish that with the first bite seemed quite good. It was the second bite that bit me. Chipotle heaven but my mouth was in hell. I can usually handle spicy, but this was way beyond that. After scraping off the sauce, everything became a bit more manageable. Our sweet waitress after noticing what was going on. asked if I wanted a churro, a sweet cinnamon sugar churro, where upon Manservant said he was really ready to get home. Bye, bye churro.


Later that night one of my favorite bloggers, posted a recipe for churro waffles which triggered something not very deep within, and I began thinking about breakfast. Realizing I had some cooked leftover chorizo in the fridge I decided that churro waffles were meant to be. After all cinnamon sugar is in my blood. As a wee one it was a common item on the "the sick meal" plate. Buttered toast with probably margarine, topped with cinnamon sugar, some Mott's apple sauce, and a glass of Nestle's Quik were usually on said plate. What can I say? It must have worked because I'm still here!



After looking at Tieghan's recipe I decided to make a more grown up waffle, though nothing was wrong with the original. I had chorizo to use up and what a perfect place to put it. This recipe is a basic buttermilk waffle; add  a pinch of cinnamon and chorizo and it moves to the intermediate flavor level. Yet, it was the maple syrup with Sombra Mezcal and ancho chile powder that put this glistening, gleaming churro waffle into the sublime category.

 And as for the mezcal; it isn't for everyone and usually not for me, but Manservant loves the stuff! Frankly when I taste it, it tastes like drinking a bonfire. However that smoky goodness goes a long way in maple syrup. It doesn't take much to add heaps of flavor, which was part of my plan. Manservant was grateful that I only used  a touch, after all, his bottle is getting low! Good thing Father's Day's coming!

Enjoy this waffle for Cinco de Mayo or enjoy it for Mother's Day. Just enjoy it. I know we sure did!


I just made a new Pinterest board for all of my Mexican inspired creations. Follow along as I add more all the time.

More inspirations:
     Fresh Strawberry Crepes               Easy Green Chile Egg Souffle            Belgian Liege Waffles

                 

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yield: 12 Waffles (Depending on your waffle maker)print recipe

Churro Chorizo Waffles with Chile Mezcal Maple Syrup

These churro chorizo waffles gleam with cinnamon sugar. Add a fabulous maple syrup with a touch of smoke, by way of Mezcal, and some ancho chile powder. Trust me. This brunch will not be forgotten.
prep time: 20 MINScook time: 20 MINStotal time: 40 mins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 c buttermilk (I keep dry buttermilk on hand or you can mix 2 T white vinegar into 2 c milk)
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 T butter, melted
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 8 oz good chorizo, cooked, crumbled and fat blotted well
  • 1 T cinnamon or more depending on how strong you want
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c sugar
  • 4-8 T melted butter for brushing on waffles
Ancho Chile, Mezcal Maple Syrup
  • 3/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/2 t ancho chile powder or more if you want
  • 1 t mezcal

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, 6 T melted butter, vanilla and brown sugar.
  2. Add flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir until combined.
  3. Add in cooked chorizo. Make sure you have blotted it well.
  4. Allow batter to sit 10 minutes. Make cinnamon sugar on a flat plate so you can dip your waffle.
  5. Heat waffle iron. My waffle iron uses a heaping 1/4 c of dough. I can bake 2 at a time and they took about 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
  6. After they are cooked, brush each side with melted butter. While still moist, dip each one into cinnamon sugar mixture on both sides. Serve with warmed chile maple syrup.
Mezcal Chile Maple Syrup
  1. To make maple syrup:I use a glass measuring cup.
  2. Swish the 1 t mezcal in measuring cup and pour the rest back into bottle. Or leave it in if you like a lot of smoke. Add chile powder and maple syrup. Whisk together. Before serving heat in microwave for about 1 minute. Watch carefully so it doesn't boil over.
Created using The Recipes Generator