Chocolate Caramel Brownies

DSC_1010

I live for office parties.  Birthdays, holidays, farewells, sporting events, and basically any other excuse for celebration.  I love work parties because they give me a justification for baking, and since someone else eats the fruits of my labor I don’t have to worry about having 2 dozen cookies staring me in the face every time I walk into my kitchen.

A few of my coworkers were celebrating birthdays in mid-November, so we had a party to celebrate.  I volunteered to make something chocolate and went to work tracking down something delicious looking on pinterest.

I came across these brownies and they looked delicious and easy – always a plus when baking on a weeknight.  They were the perfect combination of fudgy and cakey – moist but not too rich – and the caramel in the middle added a little something extra.  Warning: these are not diet approved….

DSC_0946

Brownies That Will Change Your Life (from Zesty Cook)

  • 1 pkg. (18.25 oz.) chocolate cake mix
  • 1 cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
  • 35 (10-oz. pkg.) caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put cake mix in large bowl. Stir in 2/3 cup evaporated milk and butter (batter will be thick). Spread half of batter into ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

DSC_0927

Heat caramels and remaining evaporated milk in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Sprinkle morsels over brownie; drizzle with caramel mixture.

Drop remaining batter by heaping teaspoon over caramel mixture – don’t worry if there is space between the mounds of batter, they spreads out quite a bit while cooking.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set.  Cool in pan on wire rack.

Friday Favorites (11.30.12)

tumblr_lvgd1yRCNf1qcpssgo1_1280

Happy Friday, friends.  It has been a hellish week and I am so glad that I am only 7 hours away from the weekend.  Almost time to relax (and start my Christmas shopping).  Found a few fabulous tid-bits this week.  Hope you enjoy!

Quinoa Sliders

Image

At then end of my first year of college, I read a book called Skinny Bitch that turned me into a vegetarian.  As superficial and fluffy as it sounds, the book was eye-opening and, if anything, it made meat seem so unappetizing that I couldn’t stomach eating it after reading the book.  I adhered to the diet pretty strictly for almost 2 years, until I remembered how much I love meat.

Now, I like to call myself a “non-practicing” vegetarian, i.e. a conscious meat eater.  I still feel strongly about the benefits of vegetarianism (health-wise and environmental), and I make an effort to only eat meat that is locally and organically raised.

My stint as a vegetarian taught me that not every meal has to include meat.  Vegetarian dishes don’t have to be tasteless or bland, and much of the time I prefer a meatless alternative to a juicy steak.  I saw these quinoa patties on one of my favorite blogs, How Sweet It Is, a few weeks back and decided they looked simple enough to try out on a weeknight.  I am constantly searching for a good homemade veggie burger recipe, and although these are not heavy on the veggies, they taste amazing and still include the protein provided by quinoa.

They crisp up nicely and although they are a bit crumbly, you can smush them back together in the frying pan.  I served them on mini pitas with avocado and dijon mustard, and I froze the leftover patties for another time.

Crispy Quinoa Sliders (from How Sweet It Is)

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1.5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (I used whole grain bread crumbs because I didn’t have panko – still turned out fine!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (I used regular sweet onion because I didn’t have green onions)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 multigrain slider buns or dinner rolls (I used mini pitas)
  • 2 avocados, sliced for topping
  • topping condiments

Add quinoa and stock to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 10-12 minutes.  Then let stand off heat, covered, for 5 minutes. You can do this ahead of time or even the night before (and store quinoa in the fridge) so the quinoa can cool.

While quinoa is cooking, slice the onions, chop the carrots, mince the garlic and grate the cheese. Place it all in a bowl, then add bread crumbs and mix. Coarsely chop the chickpeas and add to the bowl. One quinoa is finished cooking, add it to the bowl and mix well until incorporated. If needed, let cool or place in the fridge for a few minutes to cool. Add in beaten egg + egg white, salt, pepper and mix well. Form into patties (I really squeezed a handful of quinoa together and smoothed it into a round, it may take some squeezing and forming to get the patties to stick – be careful, they stick to your hands) that fit the size of the buns you have. <- this will differ!

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Once hot, add 5-6 quinoa patties and cook until deeply golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Gently flip and cook 5 minutes more. Remove and continue with remaining olive oil and patties. Serve with sliced avocado and whatever other toppings you like!

Brussels Sprouts with Honey, Lime and Sriracha Glaze

I published this post a month or so back on my other blog, Instructions for Living a Life, but decided to start this blog,  so I am posting it here as my first post!

I used to hate brussels sprouts.  It wasn’t until I had a dish at Estadio a few months ago that I realized their potential.  The chef roasted them and prepared them with pine nuts, currants and caramelized onions.  They were decadent – crunchy and melt in your mouth good.

Since then, I have been on a mission to find a good brussels sprouts recipe. I stumbled upon this one on Pinterest and have made it a few times.

It is perfectly spicy, sweet and tart – the brussels sprouts are roasted and then glazed with honey, lime and sriracha.  Sprinkle some peanuts on top and you have a tasty side dish, or in my case, main course.

Having made this dish a couple of times, I departed from the recipe in a couple of ways – I used olive oil because I did not have peanut oil on hand, and I eyeballed the mixture for the glaze.  I like to add a little more sriracha and lime than is called for.

With the brussels sprouts, I served boiled beet greens.  To give them some flavor, I added cayenne pepper and bacon salt to the boiling water.

The finished product was delicious and one that I am sure I will make again.

Brussels Sprouts with Honey, Lime and Sriracha Glaze (from A Crafty Lass)

For 2-4 servings:

  • 3 cups brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • ½-1 teaspoon sriracha
  • The juice of half a lime
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Trim the woody ends off the brussels sprouts and then slice them in half lengthwise. On a baking sheet, toss the brussels sprouts with the peanut oil and season lightly with salt. Place in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Toss the sprouts and roast for 10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, whisk together the honey, sriracha and lime juice until combined. After the brussels sprouts have roasted for 20 minutes, pour the glaze over them, toss to combine, and roast for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the peanuts, and serve immediately.