Recipe: Grasshopper Mint Brownies

So the other day, after all this horrible, awful snow that we’ve gotten, I wanted to bake.

I always want to bake, but being stuck once I get home really makes me want to bake. To create. Well, honestly, to eat. I really wanted to make a red velvet cake. It’s Mr. Chocolate’s favorite cake. He didn’t get one for his birthday. I decided I would make him one. As well, we were having dinner with his mom and I figured I’d take dessert. It was perfect!

As I was researching for recipes I got a text message from his mom asking if we had any powdered sugar. She had just taken her red velvet cake out of the oven & didn’t have enough powdered sugar to finish the frosting.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Ok. Back to square one.

What in this world should I make now? Chocolate sounds amazing, as always. But another cake? Do we really need two cakes for dessert? I could just not make anything at all, but I really want to bake something. I’ve been bitten by the bug, and I won’t stop until I actually get in the kitchen.

I decided on brownies. But man, brownies can be so boring. Don’t get me wrong, I love brownies, and I have a good recipe I follow.  But just brownies, I want jazzed up. Exciting. Oh, I know!! I’ll make grasshopper mint brownies!

I searched Pinterest for ideas. How in this world do I make mint brownies?? I’ve had them before, often. It can’t be that hard to do. Right?? Have I gotten in over my head? Wow, all these recipes look like there are lots of steps. What in this world.

Ok, yes, these brownies do have several steps. But they are worth it. And the steps, not hard. I promise.

As always, I kind of suck at taking pictures while baking/cooking. But I rock at making messes, so it all equals out.

Here’s my one and only picture of these bad boys.

Grasshopper Mint Brownies

Grasshopper Mint Brownies

 

Brownies

3/4C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2t Baking Soda
2/3C Vegetable Oil
1/2C Boiling Water
2C White Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/3C All Purpose Flour
1t Vanilla Extract
1/4t Salt

* Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray that contains flour. I use Crisco brand.

* Stir together the cocoa powder & baking soda. I recommend sifting the cocoa powder, as mine was full of lumps & bumps. Add half of your vegetable oil (1/3 cup) and your boiling water, mix this until it is well mixed and it has thickened. Add in the 2 cups of sugar, the eggs, and the remaining 1/3 cup of oil.

* Mix in the flour, salt, and vanilla. I added my flour slowly in stages.

* Pour the mixture into your pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool before you ice them.

Mint Icing

2 1/3C Powdered Sugar
1T Peppermint Extract
3T Milk
1 stick Butter, softened
Green Food Coloring (optional)

* Beat the butter until smooth and fluffy.

* Slowly add in the powdered sugar in 1/3 cup increments. Alternate adding your milk after every 2-3 scoops of powdered sugar.

* Once your butter cream is smooth and creamy, add your food coloring until it comes to the perfect shade of green for your liking and your peppermint extract. I added about a full tablespoon before I really liked the flavor of it, but you may want to play around with it, adding a little at a time, until you like the flavor.

* After your brownies have cooled you can ice them. Plop all the lovely green frosting right on top of your brownies & spread out evenly. Let this set in the fridge for at least an hour, this step makes spreading the glaze on top way easier.

Chocolate Glaze

1C (heaping cup) Chocolate Chips
1 stick Butter

* Cut butter into smaller cubes. Place butter cubes & chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring between each, until glaze is shiny and smooth. (It took me about 2-3 minutes).

* Pour the glaze on top of the frosted brownies. Use an off-set knife or spatula and spread evenly on top of the brownies.

* Place back in the fridge for at least 1 more hour. This hardens the glaze and makes them easier to eat.

 

So yes, they were pretty labor intensive, as far as how many steps were involved. But oh so worth it. And oh so yummy.

I even figured up the points values on these bad boys. I was terrified as I was figuring them up. That number was HUGE when it was still set for 1 serving. Oh my goodness, the panic. But I figured them for 48 servings.

48 servings – 4 Points Plus
24 servings – 8 Points Plus

Either way, amazing.

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Recipe Talk: Lasagna

For real, I could live off Italian food.

I’ve been told my family lineage is Irish, English, & German. Somewhere there has GOT to be some Italian. If not, that’s just a shame. But I can still enjoy the food.

I love making it. The smell of it. The effort and love that goes into it. The meaty goodness. The ooey, gooey, cheesiness of it all. The different shapes of the pasta, all the different sauces, and the different things you can create with them.

I love learning how to make new things. And then tasting them. And experimenting with them.

I just love it all.

Seriously Ma, are you sure we’re not Italian?

Anyway… Back to what this post is really about. Lasagna. Probably one of my absolute favorite Italian dishes. My go to at the restaurants.

Since I have this love affair with Italian food. And a boyfriend who could eat for days. I decided to attempt making lasagna. How hard could it be??!!

I researched some recipes. How hard could it be? VERY!

Oh. My. Goodness it could be hard! If you google a recipe for the best lasagna ever it tells you how to make the sauce. And cook the sauce. Hell fire, some of these recipes I found were so intense I’m surprised it didn’t have me going out on the farm and slaughtering our own beef! (Granted, I did use some of our beef – which is always wonderful!)

After much googling and realizing that if I wanted to follow one of these recipes I’d be cooking for hours, if not all day, I decided to do my own thing. How hard could this be?

Answer: Much easier than following the recipes for the “World’s Best Lasagna.”

It was still ooey, gooey, cheesy. Still tons of meat. Lots of layers. But if you ask me, way easier than those other guys make it out to be.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef
1 pound italian sausage (I used mild, in the casings & cut the casings off – you can use whatever you like)
15oz of Ricotta (I bought a 24oz container & scooped out what I wanted. Roughly 15-18oz, NOT enough. Use the whole thing.)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup Parmesan (shredded or grated, I used a combination of the 2)
1 egg
2 cans of Hunts pasta sauce (I used Garlic & Herb, use whatever you like best)
1 8oz can of diced tomatoes (I used italian seasoned)
1 small can tomato paste
Italian Seasoning (or a mix of your favorites)
1/2 onion
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 box no boil lasagna noodles

Directions:

1) Dice onion & begin cooking in a greased pan (I used spray Pam, but you can use olive oil, butter, whatever your favorite). I cooked the onions low & slow, mainly because I’m famous for burning them. As the onions were cooking I also prepped my meat – got out my beef & cut my sausage out of the casings.

2) *You can skip this step if you chose, if you do, add your meat before onion is finished cooking* Once my onion was done cooking, good and soft, I put it in the blender with a little bit of the sauce. Blended it up so the onion was no longer in pieces but totally mixed in & purred with the sauce. If you don’t want to do this step, go ahead & add your meat when the onion is about 1/2 way done cooking.

3) Begin browning your meat & add the minced garlic when the meat is about half way done. Once the meat is completely browned add both cans of sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste to the mixture. I also added about a palm full of italian type seasonings at this point. Let simmer until tomato paste has a chance to melt into the rest of the sauce.

4) In  separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1/2 of the parmesan cheese (I used grated for this part), 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, parsley, & the egg. Mix everything together well.

5) In a greased 9×13 pan start the layering process! Add a small layer of your meat sauce on the bottom. Then your first layer of noodles. On top of the noodles spread some of your cheese mixture, then your meat mixture. This completes layer 1. My next layer I flipped the direction of the noodles (I started layer 1 going L-R, layer 2 was Top-Bottom) and continued the noodle/cheese/sauce process. Keep going until you either run out of room in your pan (this is what happened to me – we still have some sauce for spaghetti next week) or you run out of ingredients (if you are using a deeper pan, I would make more cheese mixture because I did run out of cheese). Once you are done layering, top your lasagna with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan (I used shredded at this point) cheeses.

6) Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes at 450 degrees. Then, baked uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.

World's Best *EASY* Lasagna

World’s Best *EASY* Lasagna

7) Enjoy. Pair it with  salad and your favorite garlic bread. Or whatever you like to enjoy with lasagna.

It may not be the “World’s Best Lasagna”, but it was pretty damn good. Mr. Chocolate raved about it every time we ate it. He kept telling me that I have to make it again, very soon.

This was a little “labor intensive” for a weeknight meal. But honestly, it took about 2 hours, and 1/2 of that was oven cook time.  I will definitely be making this for Mr. Chocolate and myself again, very soon.

I hate the gym, but I love Marie Callender – WIW

Seriously. Gym. It’s a dirty 4-letter word. Or at least it should be.

And am I the only person out there who doesn’t sweat? I just turn bright red & get “sticky”. And my head itches. Its gross and totally unattractive. But whatevs. The gym is a required piece of evil in my life if I want to do good on this journey. And I do. I did roughly 33 minutes on the elliptical trainer today. At an incline of 10. On the variety program so it changed resistance levels every minute or so. Kick.My.Butt. But in a good way.

But really, what do I come back to work & do??

Eat.

Well, I do have to eat lunch. But still. Come back after working out just to eat all of those calories I worked so hard to burn off. And it was yummy.

Marie Callender’s Three Cheese Tortellini – 420 calories
Granny Smith Apple – 50 calories

So good.

And what I’m totally loving about these Marie Callender’s fresh steamer things – every.single.one of them is under 500 calories! And they taste amazing. They don’t taste anything like a “diet” frozen meal. You know, bland & flavorless. I can’t wait to try the other flavors. They’ll make great lunches & dinners before my class on Wednesday nights.

**This post was NOT sponsored by Marie Callenders & I received no incentive to write about them. It is just how I feel about a really good lunch/dinner option.

***

And on another note, today was my weigh-in day. It wasn’t very exciting, but it was better than I was expecting. I was down only 1/4 of a pound. But it’s still down!

Goulash??

Yeah, I’m craving it. Like woah.

I have been for a while. I prefer mine to be more like chili-mac. A little more spicy. A little cheesy. It needs to be made ASAP. And probably will be this weekend.

I’ve been fiddle-farting around the inter-webs today & have found a few recipes I’m taking inspiration from. I really hope it turns out good.

I’ve also really been craving some penne in vodka cream sauce. That may be my next adventure in food land.

***

On another note, Dog is now on the waiting list at the No-Kill Shelter here. It’s so totally going to break my heart to give him up. I’m sure there will be copious amounts of wine consumed & lots of tears shed the day he leaves us. But we just can’t keep him. As much as I love him & would love to keep him, it’s just not possible. We already have 2 dogs – they are plenty to handle, esp in a small house.

And I know what the one I love was trying to do. He’s had me be in charge of all 3 dogs the past couple of days. I know this was his way of saying “I told you so” without having to say the words, and without having to tell me that we can’t keep Dog. He let me come to that decision on my own.

I’m going to miss that little guy. Every time I think about when the day comes I’ll have to give him up I can feel that dreaded throat lump. I know I’ll be a giant blubbering mess whenever that day comes.

Biggest Sweet Tooth on Record

It belongs to me.

I should know. I work in the dental field.

I can not get enough sweets right now. I’m craving them like its my job.

Don’t believe me? Last night I had 3 brownies and a piece of apple cake. Don’t judge me!

I also don’t know how to remedy this problem. And its made worse by the fact that I’m a stress baker. And I just love baking in general. So what did I do this weekend? I baked. Cookies and brownies. And let me just tell you, they were the best brownies I have ever made. Ever!

I did give away a large portion of the cookies I made. But I also ate plenty of them. And don’t get me started on the brownies. There’s still half a pan sitting in the kitchen. I will eat one (hopefully just one) tonight after class.

On top of my sweet tooth and being a stress baker, I’m a stress eater. And this part of it all is not going so well for me. As you can see from the 3 brownies & the slice of apple cake consumed yesterday. It’s like my body is saying “Eat it, no one will know.” And so I do. The other morning, while the one I love was up-stairs, slowly getting his butt out of bed, I ate 2 cookies. I knew we were going out to get breakfast. But I ate them anyway. And I didn’t tell him, because I didn’t want him to judge me. Seriously!

Am I secret eating again? And why? The one I love doesn’t care if I eat. I promise. He likes the fact that I’m not a skinny girl.

But why am I feeling the need to do this again? What is wrong with me? I’ll try to find excuses to be allowed to eat. “Oh, we’re not going out for another hour, but I’m hungry now. I’ll just have this brownie… or 2, or 3.” I need to stop this. I don’t know how. And more importantly, I don’t know why I’m doing this again. It’s like I’m trying to self-sabotage my WLJ. I’m turning to food when I’m bored/lonely/excited/etc. Like last night, I was rewarding myself with brownies & cake for each chapter I finished reading for homework. Seriously! Who does that?? Finish a chapter, have a brownie! Finish for the night, have 2! Yeah, it was that kind of night.

So tonight’s goal is only 1 brownie. Finishing my homework and having a brownie. One. One single, lonely, brownie.

It’s going to be a hard night.

Dinna Time!!

Did I mention I like it quick & easy?001

My dinner that is.

Seriously. These things made by Barber Foods are amazing! They’re already pre-stuffed & breaded. They are individually wrapped. I pop one on a cookie sheet & bake it for 32 minutes.

While that was going for about 20 minutes I played around the interwebs.

And then I headed back into the kitchen to heat up my new favorite side dish. Green Giant makes these new seasoned steamer things. Amazing. I had the honey dijon carrots tonight.

I did manage to make at least part of my meal from scratch. I sauteed up some squash & zucchini. Olive oil, garlic, veggies, soy sauce, pepper, onion powder – because I didn’t have an onion. That took all of about 10 minutes total – including the prep time.

Seriously. Easiest meal to ever make.

And so damn tasty!