Stout Brownies

This summer, I watched my neighbours cats while she went on vacation.  One thing she left me as a thank you was a bottle of double chocolate stout.

Now, I love chocolate and I doubly love double chocolate, but am not a fan of stout.  The combination of the two just seemed…weird.  I kept telling myself I should drink it, but I couldn’t.  Then I came upon this recipe.  I made a few teaks and brought it to my church potluck.  The results are moist and rich.

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
8 ounces baking chocolate  (I used 3 oz of bittersweet and 5 ounces of semi sweet)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup stout
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly combined. Set aside.
In a double boiler set over low heat, melt butter, baking chocolate and 3/4 cup chocolate chips until smooth. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Pour in melted chocolate mixture and beat until combined.
Add flour-cocoa mixture and beat until just combined. Whisk in stout and vanilla. (It will take a few minutes for the beer to incorporate. I used more of a folding technique with the whisk for the first minute or two to keep everything from slopping everywhere.)  Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips
Pour into a greased 9 x13 pan.
Bake in a 375F oven 25-30 minutes.


Pumpkin Oat Scones with Rhubarb compote

Here’s a recipe I didn’t alter much except for the spices.  I didn’t have everything in the recipe so I used 2 big dashes of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, a dash of cloves, a dash of ginger.

Before I started the scones, I threw 2 cups of frozen rhubarb and one chopped apple into a saucepan and turned it to medium.  Then I threw in a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a little bit of Chinese 5-spice.

I put this on my scones.  Breakfast was really tasty this morning.  And easy.

How to make macaroni and cheese if you’re not a chef

This post is dedicated to my brother who wants creamy mac n cheese but doesn’t want to feed his family the neon orange stuff.  Maybe the best part about this recipe is that you make the sauce in the time it takes to cook the pasta.  There’s no reason to use the boxed stuff ever really.

First, fill the largest pot you have with water and bring it to a boil.  While you’re waiting for the water to boil, start making your cheese sauce.  At some point during the making of your cheese sauce, the water will come to a boil, pause your sauce, salt the water and put the pasta in and cook according to the package directions.

Cheese sauce;
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 handfuls of grated cheddar cheese
salt to taste
In a medium sized pot, on medium heat, melt the butter, then add the flour.  (what you have here is called a roux)  Stir in a splash of milk and stir until it’s all incorporated and smooth, then add a little more milk, and keep stirring.  Then add about half of the milk you have left.  Keep it on medium heat and keep stirring.  Put the rest of the milk in.  Keep stirring while the sauce heats up and continues to thicken.
(Now you have a basic white sauce, which also happens to be the base of a creamy soup.  From here you can add another cup of milk, a can of crushed tomatoes and you have cream of tomato soup.  Or you can add cut cooked potatoes and a can of clams and you have clam chowder.  The possibilities are endless.)
When the sauce is thick, taste it.  If you can taste or feel the flour, let it simmer a little while longer.  When it’s good, add your cheese, turn off the heat and put the lid on.  In a few minutes the cheese will be melted and you can stir it in.  You now have a cheese sauce.
Stir the cheese sauce with your pasta and you can eat it or you can put it in a casserole dish and bake it at 350F until the top is crusty and bubbly.  (feel free to top it with more cheese or crushed ritz crackers or bacon bits)
This is the most basic of macaroni and cheese.  Here are some variations;
-cook a diced onion in the butter until the onion is clear at the beginning of making your sauce, then add the flour and continue making the sauce as directed.
-add dry mustard, a pinch of cayenne and/or a pinch of nutmeg to your cheese sauce to add a little punch of flavour.
-when your pasta is about half cooked, add a handful of raw or frozen veggies (broccoli is my fave)
-use any kind of cheese you want instead of cheddar.  I have used leftover cheeseball, which was fantastic.
-if you want to cut the fat and calories replace half the milk with chicken broth.  If you want it rich and creamy, use whole milk.  Any milk you have on hand will work.


Curried Pumpkin Soup

Here’s what I did;

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp curry powder
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
2 cups pumpkin
3 cup vegetable broth
1 can lite coconut milk

Don’t think for a minute that I measured anything. 
Into a hot soup pot, a added the oil.  When the oil was hot I threw in the onion and curry and a little salt.  When the onion were soft I add the the garlic, ginger and pumpkin and put the lid on.  I let everything get soft, then I added the vegetable broth and let it simmer for a little while, until everything seemed soft and fully cooked.  Then I used my immersion blender to puree it all to smooth.  Finally, I stirred in the coconut milk.  Normally, a pureed soup like this is finished with cream, and you could do that but coconut milk takes it to an exotic place.  A delicious place.


Pumpkin bars

So I bought a pumpkin.
I love pumpkin in baked goods; muffins, loaves, pancakes, cookies but not pie.  I do not love pumpkin pie.  Pumpkins are cheap this time of year and I really like having purreed pumpkin on hand for the aforementioned baked goods.  Oh shoot-I should have taken pictures.  I had this pumpkin, which I cut in quarters then scraped out the goo and seeds.  (roasted the seeds-yum) Then I baked it in the oven at 350F for about an hour-until the inside flesh was soft.  When it was cool enough to handle I took the peel off, cut the soft flesh into big chunks and took my potato masher to it.  I left it a little lumpy on purpose, because I like lumps of pumpkin in my baking, but you could use your food processor or blender if you like.  Then I put it into freezer bags-2 cups of pumpkin in each bag.
Last night I pulled  out a bag of pumpkin and this morning I made these bars.  I got the recipe from Allrecipes, but it called for a cup of oil.   I swapped half of that oil with low fat plain yogurt.  They are delicious!

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c plain yogurt
2 cups of pumpkin puree (or 1 15 oz can)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Mix the eggs, sugar, oil, yogurt and  pumpkin until light and fluffy.  Stir in the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
Spread into a lightly oiled 10 x 15 jelly roll pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes in a 350F oven.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve or a cream cheese frosting.

I think the addition of a handful of cranberries, dried cranberries or raisins would be delicious.  These bars are moist and delicious.