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.

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.

WIM + New Recipe + Weekend Review

So, can’t we just skip right over my WI post? As I’m sure you noticed, I didn’t post yesterday. For good reason.

Last week: 230.0
This week: 235.6
Change: +5.6

Yeah. Bad.

Don’t judge me. My weekend was filled with lots of food. Lots of celebrations. And lots of travels. It was bad. I could have made much better choices, but I didn’t. I ate with reckless abandon, and it was yummy. And delicious. And other than the scale, worth every bite. The scale will come back down. It sucks that this puts me so much further away from kicking butt in my weight loss competition at work, but I’ll get back down. Just have to work that much harder at menu planning & working out.

So, the celebration part of this weekend. It was partly for mother’s day weekend, because all mothers need to be celebrated. And largely my graduation weekend. Because, that’s just awesome! I finally made it through college. I have a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and a GPA of 3.800 even. I’ve never been more proud of myself. Now… just need to find myself a job to use this shiny, new degree.

And menu planning. Ugh. I’m horrible at it. I need to get better. So I’ve created some recipes and a pretty broad idea of what I’ll be packing for lunches next week. I think I’m going to make myself a crustless quiche of some kind for breakfasts. Pair that with some coffee and a piece of fruit. Yogurt for my morning snacks. Probably some chicken & salad combo for lunch. Cheese stick & veggies for snack. And dinners. Oh the dinners. I’m thinking parmesan tilapia paired with quinoa & veggies one night. Salmon with veggies & a sweet potato. Quinoa shrimp stir fry. And, what I’m most looking forward to, pizza!! I want to make a pesto pizza with chicken, artichoke hearts, feta, & sun dried tomatoes. Oh I can’t wait to have that bad boy.

And speaking of recipes! I made some bangin’ burgers last night. Mr. Chocolate has informed me that I’m usually in charge of burger making. Such a good dinner I had to stop him from eating my leftovers!

I bought some pre-pattied burgers and sprinkled them with a burger seasoning on one side. The other side I brushed with teriyaki sauce. Once the burgers were cooked through I heated up some pineapple slices in teriyaki sauce. I also mixed some sirrachi with light mayo for them. I topped my burgers with a sliced of grilled pineapple, sirrachi mayo, & a slice of pepperjack cheese. SO GOOD!!

I paired all of this with roasted broccoli & tater tots.

I don’t think Mr. Chocolate believes the meals I cook for him are actually healthy. Whatever.

WIW + WIAW

Lots of Ws up there. Geez.

So today was my weigh-in day. And I was so excited to step on the scale. Mainly because I’ve been peaking at the scale all week & it showed I was down 1.5 pounds. Yeah. That wasn’t the case this morning.

Last Week: 226.2
This Week: 226.0
Change: – .2

But still a loss, baby!!

I’m down with that. Especially since its the “dreaded week 2 curse!” At least that’s what Biggest Loser says – or are they week 3? Whatever.

Week 2 is when I crave the junk. The pizza and beer night. The chocolate. The big burger with caramelized onions, blue cheese, and bacon. Please excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.

But yeah, I struggle. A lot. Week 2 is usually bad.

And last night’s dinner I was craving, of all things, salt. And anything salty. So I made turkey sausage with onions & peppers. Then I paired that with quinoa. And butter. And salt.

Did I mention I was craving salt??

And I ate a big ol’ plate of that yummy goodness.

So yeah, totally not surprised by the fact that I didn’t lose as much as I had hoped I would.

***

Daily Menu:

B: Smoothie, muffin, coffee. -5
S: Greek yogurt. -3
A: 30 minutes on the elliptical.
L: Turkey sandwich, salad, banana, cheese stick. -8
D: Subway sandwich, apple w/ PB. -6

This menu leaves me with 5 points left over. And that’s perfect because that leaves me 5 points for chocolate!!!

***

Here recently I’ve been on this total smoothie kick in the mornings. They’re easy. I can put them together the night before, except for my fruit (which I use frozen, but you can use regular & add ice instead). They are tasty. Portable.

Perfect.

But on the other hand, they’re not chewable.

I like chewing food.

I couldn’t handle a cleanse. Chewing is good.

So I got my hands on this lovely muffin recipe from a fellow WWer and a follower of mine on Facebook. They are wonderful. Super yummy. I microwave them for about 15 seconds before I eat them. It’s like my own individual banana chocolate chip nut bread.

And better yet, they’re boyfriend approved.

April’s Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Oat Muffins

Makes 28 – 30 muffins **I halved the recipe and got 14 muffins

Ingredients:

6-8 very ripe bananas (depending on size)  **I used 3 for a half recipe & it was perfect
1 cup ff plain greek yogurt or unsweetened applesauce **I used FF vanilla greek yogurt because it’s what I had on hand
4 egg whites
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups oats (original, not quick)  **No clue what I had on hand. Old. But still worked.
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup Splenda Granulated Sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract (use the good stuff – its worth it)
⅓ cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
⅓ cup crushed walnuts (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)
sprinkle sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)  **I didn’t have this on hand so I didn’t use it

Instructions:

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Spray muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
*In a bowl, mash bananas using a fork and set aside.
*In a large bowl, cream applesauce or (yogurt), vanilla, and brown sugar, and Splenda.
*Add in egg whites and mashed bananas to wet ingredients and beat with a mixer on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
*In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and spices.
*Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix together until blended but not over mixed.
*Fold chocolate chips and nuts into mixture.
*Transfer mixture into muffin tins at about 1/4 cup of mixture in each.

*Bake for 18-20 minutes until a fork comes out clean.

 

Notes:

(April’s Notes) Do a small batch of 2 or 3 first to make sure you have the right consistency. Depending on the size of your bananas you might want to add a little more flour or oats to thicken. Also, sometimes I will do 1/2 cup greek yogurt, and an extra 1/2 cup of mashed bananas in place of the other 1/2 cup of yogurt/applesauce. Last time I made this recipe, I used 6 really large ripened bananas and 1/2 cup greek yogurt. They turned out great.

(My Notes) I did not make a small pre-batch. I was brave and just went for it! Or stupid? I did 7 muffins at a time since I figured I would get 14 out of the mix & wanted them to cook evenly, 18 minutes worked perfectly for me. Like I said, I used all vanilla FF greek yogurt because it’s what I had on hand. I also didn’t have seperate bowls. Again I’m either brave or stupid. I threw everything into my KitchenAid & mixed away (bananas I smashed first & then added wet ingredients then dry.) And like April said, they turn out great!!

Points Plus values – 2pts if you DON’T count the bananas & 3pts if you DO count the bananas.

Man Crush Monday + Buffalo Ranch Chicken Salad {1*6}

1) You ate turkey meatballs. And liked them.

2)  You blush when you toot. And get so embarrassed. It’s cute.

3) You watch cartoon movies with me & enjoy them.

4) You are totally fine with spending NYE at home in PJ’s watching movies & baking cookies.

5) You do manly things like cut wood so that I stay comfortable in your house.

I love you to pieces.

***

Ok, so now that my man time gush is over! I made some amazing chicken salad this weekend. Amazing.

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Salad.

Om nom nom nom.

It was almost like that buffalo chicken dip that is so super wonderful and addicting. Except not totally like that.

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Salad

1/4 cup-ish Frank’s Red Hot sauce
1/2 packet-ish Hidden Valley Ranch dry mix
22.5 oz Canned Chicken, drained
1/2 cup Light Mayo (I use Duke’s)
2-3 stalks Celery

– Dice celery to desired size.
– Mix all ingredients together, well.

In the Recipe Builder with WW I entered it as 6 servings, but I think it will actually be closer to 7.

6 servings = 5 WW pts
7 servings = 4 WW pts

***

Daily Menu:

B: Quiche, Cinnamon Raisin english muffin, coffee. -6
S: Greek yogurt. -3
L: Chicken salad sandwich, hummus w/ celery, mandarin oranges. -8
S: Banana, cheese stick. -1
D: Spaghetti Squash w/ Meatballs & sauce, Cheesy garlic bread. -13

I still have 7pts left & they are MUCH needed for a treat!!

What I Ate Wednesday {1*2}

Ok, so I’m a day late! Sorry about that. I was enjoying attempting to enjoy my day off yesterday, and of course we don’t have internet at the house. Mr. Chocolate had me running all over the place and doing all kinds of house chores. Did he not get the memo that this is my freebie day off & to not make me work! I was not ok with this and at about 2:oo I demanded a nap, for at least 30 minutes of peace & quiet. And goodness that’s all he gave me, too.

Yesterday was day 1 back on my diet. So of course I was trying to make better choices & eat healthier. I think I have finally gotten Mr. Chocolate to understand why this is so important to me. Explained to him that since we started dating I have gained roughly 55 pounds. That I don’t feel as attractive. I feel frumpy. I’m not comfortable with the way I look. I get winded easily. I feel bloated. And just overall don’t feel sexy. He, of course, tells me that he can’t tell that I’ve gained that much weight & that I “look fine.” Fine – that dreaded word. I swear, that word just needs to be erased from the world, nothing is ever fine, unless, of course, it’s “Damn girl, you look FINE!”.

That being said, I got a lot of cooking done yesterday! Yeah, cooking while on a diet. Lots of it! And baking – but that was done on NYE. Mr. Chocolate requested cookies, I made cookies, and didn’t realize the recipe made 5 dozen, DOZEN cookies! Yeah. We have a lot of damn cookies in the house.

Anyway, back to the cookies cooking. For breakfast I wanted something different. We rely a lot on the Waffle House, and I can somewhat be on plan there. But I wanted something at home. Something easy and healthy. So I made a quiche. And it was yummy. I paired that with some fresh pineapple and a 100 calorie English muffin. Oh yummy breakfast!

Lunch was out. Ugh. And of course we went to a sandwich shop. Seriously?? Local joint, no points values to be found. I spazzed out a little. After much debate & crazy looks from the waitress I settled on a 1/2 turkey wrap with a side salad. And dinner was chicken enchiladas with a sides of rice, and broccoli. (I used my salsa chicken & rolled it up into wheat tortillas, topped with enchilada sauce & WW Mexican blend cheese.)

Daily Menu 1*1*14:

B: Quiche, pineapple, English muffin, coffee. -5
L: 1/2 Turkey wrap & side salad. -8
S: Light string cheese. -1
D: Chicken enchiladas, Rice, Broccoli. -22 (I didn’t know pts values when I was eating, but still managed to only go 3pts over!)
S: Strawberry “ice cream”. -3

Crustless Ham, Spinach, & Cheese Quiche

Crustless Ham, Spinach, & Cheese Quiche

Crustless Ham, Spinach, & Cheese Quiche:

4 eggs
3/4 cup Skim Milk
1/2 cup Diced Ham (I bought the pre-diced stuff at Wal-Mart)
1/2 cup Shredded Cheese (I used WW Mexican blend)
5oz Frozen Spinach, thawed
Salt, Pepper, Hot sauce (whatever other 0pt spices you want to add)

– Mix everything together, well.
– Pour into a 9in greased pie dish.
– Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Servings – 6
Points + – 2pts

What I Ate Wednesday {12*11}

Nothing too terribly exciting on today’s menu. In fact, most of my food as been pretty uneventful. I’ve cooked some pretty delicious meals in the past week. Mr. Chocolate even went back for seconds and finished off everything I had for leftovers on Sunday night. But who am I kidding, he usually does that anyway.

Today’s menu was fairly simple and extremely easy.

I had a dentist appointment to fix my chipped front tooth this afternoon, so no snack or overly odorous foods earlier in the day. I’m sure my dentist appreciated that fact.

Breakfast consisted of a Nature Valley protein bar, a banana, and coffee. It’s my usual go to, quick, easy, on the run breakfast. I am so not a morning person & I don’t pretend to be. So if I can grab something on my way out the door I’m a happy girl.

Lunch was also my typical sandwich, veggie/fruit, and some type of other protein, today was a cheese stick.

Now dinner, dinner was something wonderful. I had Panera Bread for dinner. I don’t know why I constantly forget that this place exists so I rely on Subway so much. Not saying Subway isn’t fan-damn-tastic. But PB, it’s a whole different ball game there. I got their potato soup & the smokehouse turkey panini with an apple as my side. It was only 15 points. A little more pointy than my typical Subway, but with not having too many snacks today because of the dentist I decided it was totally ok. Besides, I still have 6 points left for a snack wine later tonight.

Panrea BreadAnd speaking of soup, this chilly winter weather has me in a total soup mood here recently. This weekend I made a big ol’ pot of potato soup. It was so good. And straight out of my head, didn’t follow a recipe. Mr. Chocolate liked it. And it was great for leftover soup & grilled cheese for lunch on Saturday. And the best way, I’ve discovered, to make a grilled cheese is with 3 slices of cheese – Sargento Ultra Thin, for less points – 2 Mild Cheddar & 1 Baby Swiss. So good.

Easy Potato Soup

6 cups diced potatoes (I used frozen diced hashbrown potatoes)
6 cups skim milk
2 cups broth
1 cup diced onion
3 Tablespoons butter (I used Country Crock)
1 can Healthy Request Cheddar Cheese soup
Salt, Pepper, & whatever other spices you want

– Melt the butter & saute the onions until transparent, about 5 minutes.

– Add the stock, milk, cheddar cheese soup, and potatoes. Heat well.

– Add salt & pepper to taste. Along with any other spices you enjoy in your soup.

I did 6 servings with about 1 1/2 cups each. It came out to about 7pts a serving, which was fine by me for something super yummy and easy.