Sunday, February 6, 2011

The best damn brownies, ever.

Yeah. I try to stay healthy. I exercise. I watch what I eat (most of the time- definitely not as much since becoming pregnant). And often my treats on my blog are healthier alternatives to full calorie/full fat delectables.

I wanted brownies....and I wanted them bad since watching Ina Garten, Ms. Barefoot Contessa, make her Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies on the Food Network last week. Don't be mistaken. I have seen this episode about 18 times; but this last time is what did me in. I had to have these.

So hats off, Ina. You've done it again. Sure, I still made a few changes. It wouldn't be me if I didn't. But honestly, If they taste this good with minor (I'm talking very minor) adaptations, imagine what they would be like with no changes at all!

These are the damn best brownies, ever. And therefore, no nutrition information will be provided. Just enjoy them.

Adapted from: Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies: Ina Garten

1 pound unsalted butter (I used 1/2 lb unsalted butter & 1/2 lb land o lakes light butter)
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs
3/4 cup egg beaters
1.5 tbsp ground coffee 
1 tbsp brewed coffee
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an aluminum foil lined 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan with non stick cooking spray and sprinkle some flour over it.
Melt together the butter (I diced the butter so it would melt quicker), 16 ounces of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, egg beaters, ground coffee, brewed coffee,  vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add this to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. 
Pour into the prepared sheet pan. Spoon the peanut butter over the top of the chocolate mixture and using a knife, swirl it through the chocolate mixture. I placed 3 large spoonfuls in different places on the batter to ease the spreading of the mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes, then tap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie batter. Bake for about 10  minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
Allow to chill, completely, prior to cutting into these love bugs.

Easy Weeknight Dinner: Salmon Croquettes

Growing up, one dish my mother always made was salmon croquettes. They were also something I never passed up. 
Now, her sides of choice were (and still are!) peas and mashed potatoes. While that works well, I really am not a fan of peas, and like to bring in other grains and starches into my diet. So, I chose to use Trader Joes Healthy Grains mix which is a combination of Quinoa, Cous Cous, and other great grains. You could try using Quinoa or Cous Cous alone, and it would work well.

So I revisited this home style classic and was so impressed with the results, I decided to share with you. You'll be impressed with how quick this dinner is & the total calories for both dishes is under 500 calories. Enjoy!

What you need for the croquette patties:

  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) Alaskan pink salmon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp (about) dried dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
  • Roughly 3 tbsp of Smart Balance Omega-3 Vegetable Oil (obviously, any vegetable oil will work; but this is what I used)

How you make them:
Drain the can of salmon. Mash the salmon, eggs, regular bread crumbs, minced garlic, diced onion, salt, pepper, dill weed, parsley.
Make into patties. Place the panko in a bowl or a plate for dipping. Dip the croquettes into the panko. 
Heat the oil in a 12" fry pan. Fry patties about 4 minutes each side until golden brown.

Seriously. That's it.

The facts for the salmon:
Serving Size: 1.25 patties (batch makes about 5)

Amount per Serving

Calories 223
Calories from Fat 89.7

Total Fat 9.97g
Saturated Fat 2.63g
Cholesterol 132.5mg
Sodium 580.06mg
Total Carbohydrate 11.8g
Dietary Fiber 1.01g
Sugars 1.63g
 Protein 20.11g

Now for the grains.
What you need:
1 1/4 cups of Trader Joes Healthy Grains 
1 3/4 cups of water
1 tbsp smart balance light butter spread
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 a medium cucumber, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 ounces light feta cheese, diced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 tsp kosher salt

How you make it:
Chop the vegetables and feta cheese, set aside.
Boil the water and butter. When boiling, add in the grains. Cover and simmer per package directions, approximately 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, dill, and salt. When the grains are done, add the dressing to the grains. Turn off the heat and add the vegetables and feta.

The facts for the grains:
Serving Size: 1 cup (makes about 4-5 cups approximately)
Amount per serving:
Calories 267
Calories from Fat 79.1

Total Fat 8.79g
Saturated Fat 2.1g
Cholesterol 6mg
Sodium 77.2mg
Total Carbohydrate 37.39g
Dietary Fiber 2.73g
Sugars 2.96g
Protein 9.6g

Done and done. Under 30 minutes and you have a meal that is high in protein and tastes delicious.