Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Whole Wheat Frosted Zucchini Brownies

We didn't plant a garden this year because I knew I simply wouldn't have time to tend to it. I really love fresh veggies from the garden, but even without my own, I wouldn't be out of luck this summer. My dad is a habitual over-planter. There are always plenty of extra zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, etc to go around when he starts harvesting. This year is no exception, and his zucchini are beautiful and ready for picking. On a visit last weekend, my parents brought me four zucchini, and as soon as I saw this recipe, I knew exactly what I'd be doing with two of them!
Nicole already made one adjustment that I normally do in baking, which is to replace all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour. I took it a step further and used my favorite sugar adjustment - evaporated cane juice. I loved her suggestion of using applesauce instead of oil, but decided to go for the glory on the first try, and use that one later if I make them again. I reduced the sugar to 1 cup, as she suggested, but after a quick sampling of the final batter, decided that was too little and added 1/4 cup more. It was definitely an interesting batter to work with, and they turned out to sort of be a cross between cake and brownie. No matter what you call them, though, they certainly are delicious!
These brownies are well on their way to being a great dessert for clean eaters, and it almost pained me to pour the full-of-powdered-sugar frosting on top. The frosting is quite sweet and is a fabulous complement to the brownies, but I was hoping for something a little more healthy. The good news is that I might have just the right frosting recipe! It's been waiting on the sidelines, for just the right companion to come along. I will definitely be making these brownies again to test out this (hopefully) great match!

Whole Wheat Frosted Zucchini Brownies
Whole Wheat Frosted Zucchini BrowniesSource: Slightly adapted from Prevention RD
Yield: 30 brownies


For the brownies:
  • 1/2 cup safflower or canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cups evaporated cane juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup (dutch processed, if available) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups zucchini, shredded (about 2 zucchini)
For the frosting:
  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking dish, or line with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl mix together oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract until well blended. In another bowl combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. A little at a time stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in zucchini. Note: the batter will be dry and crumbly. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the brownies spring back when gently touched. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.
  4. To make the frosting, melt together the cocoa powder and butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl blend confectioner’s sugar, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in the butter/cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies and cut into squares. Refrigerate 1-2 hours to set.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Salsa Verde Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Since my last 6 posts have been decadent desserts, I guess it's time to give you a delicious, clean, easy meal to get back on track. IMG_0002cThis is another great recipe where you let the crockpot do most of the work. Slow cooking the chicken with tomatillo salsa gives it great flavor without drying it out. I chose to make my own salsa verde and corn tortillas, but you can also use store bought to make this dish even easier.

We loved the combination of flavors here - bright red onion, creamy cojita cheese, earthy black beans, and of course the wonderful salsa verde. It's a new favorite of ours!
Salsa Verde Crockpot Chicken Tacos
Salsa Verde Crockpot Chicken TacosSource: Slightly adapted from The Novice Chef
Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 3 cups medium salsa verde, divided (recipe follows)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
For the tacos
  • 8-10 corn tortillas
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 jalapeno, stem removed (remove seeds if you don't like the heat)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • lime, for squeezing on top
  1. Whisk together 1 cup salsa verde, chicken broth and garlic salt in crockpot. Add chicken breasts and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
  2. Combine black beans (do not rinse/drain) and jalapeno in a small sauce pan. Heat on medium-low until beans are cooked and pepper has softened, about 8-10 minuted. Puree in a food processor or blender.
  3. Remove chicken from crockpot and discard remaining liquid. Shred chicken with two forks and place in a medium bowl. (You can also shred chicken by beating on low spead in a stand mixer for about 30 seconds - works great and is very quick!) Add remaining 2 cups salsa verde and chopped cilantro to chicken. Mix to combine.
  4. Fill tortillas with a scoop of black beans, a scoop of chicken, a few slices of red onion, a healthy scoop of crumbled cotija cheese and a squeeze of lime!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Source: slightly adapted from Rick Bayless
Yield: about 3 cups

  • 1 1/2 pounds (12 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • Fresh hot green chiles to taste (3 serranos or 3 jalapenos), stemmed
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 small white onion, finely chopped
  • Salt
Roast the tomatillos, chile(s) and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, until blotchy black and softening (they’ll be turning from lime green to olive), about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side. Cool, then transfer everything to a blender, including all the delicious juice the tomatillos have exuded during roasting. Add the cilantro and water, then blend to a coarse puree. Scoop into a serving dish. Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with salt, usually 1 teaspoon.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reese's Cheesecake Brownie Bites

The dessert gods where smiling down on my husband the day this recipe graced my computer screen. He's not much of a sweets guy, but he does love peanut butter cups, cheesecake, and brownies. What would be more perfect for him, than one dessert that combines all three? I couldn't wait to make it, and neither could he!
There's a lot to love here - chewy, fudgy brownie topped with rich, peanut buttery cheesecake, decorated with drizzled chocolate and Reese's Pieces. It's a decadent dessert that we just can't resist!
Reese’s Cheesecake Brownie Bites
Reese’s Cheesecake Brownie Bites Source: Slightly adapted from Bru Crew Life via So Tasty, So Yummy, brownie recipe from Baking Illustrated, from the Editors of Cook's Illustrated
Yield: about 20 cheesecake brownie bites

For the brownie layer
  • 5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick) cut into quarters
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

For the cheesecake layer
  • 16 Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For decorating
  • 2 ounces chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 bags of Reese’s Pieces

  1. Place the peanut butter cups in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins with paper liners.

  2. In medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, melt chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

  3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture; then stir in flour with wooden spoon until just combined. Divide brownie batter evenly between lined muffin tin cups.

  4. Beat cream cheese, butter and cornstarch in a medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in milk, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Chop up the peanut butter cups and stir into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over top of the brownie batter. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool completely.

  5. Drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle Reese’s Pieces on top. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.