Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Honor Of Chocolate Pudding Day...

We'll be celebrating with an unbelievable recipe for Chocolate Brownie Pudding! What is brownie pudding you ask? It's a cross between a pudding and a brownie. The top is somewhat crisp like a brownie but the inside is ooey, gooey, delicious! It can also be described like an undercooked brownie.

Now, if you're a chocolate lover, I'm sorry to say, just give in now. You won't be able to hold back when it comes to this dessert. Even for someone like me, who normally prefers chips to chocolate, I have no restraint. It just sucks you in. First, when it's cooking, the whole house has that unbelievable sweet aroma of chocolate. Then, when it's ready and you see that crisp top, you just know what's waiting for you once you dig your spoon in. That goo. Uh! is there anything better than that goo? If there is, please let me know because I haven't found anything to come close to it.

Now, I can't take full credit for this recipe. It's basically a modified version of Ina Garten's (the Barefoot Contessa from The Food Network). I'll explain what I changed as we go along.

First up - the ingredients


sugar, eggs, flour, UNSALTED butter, unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla extract.

Before we start, preheat the oven to 325 and put a banana in the fridge. Yes, a banana - trust me on this one.

Next up, melt your 2 sticks of butter. Save the wrappers - you will need them later. I put my butter in a bowl and then in the microwave for about 30 seconds. My butter was already at room temperature so it didn't need much time. If yours comes right from the fridge or freezer, you will need more time. Just do it in 30 second intervals. We need to do this in the beginning to give the butter a chance to cool down a bit before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

I am using a Kitchenaid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.


Now this is where I start to modify it a bit. Ina's recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar. I use 1 3/4 cup. The first time I made it, it was just way too rich. I cut back on the sugar and it was much better. So, put 1 3/4 cups sugar into the bowl of your mixer.


Crack 4 eggs and put them in the same bowl.


Now set your mixer to medium speed and mix for 5 to 10 minutes until it gets really pale yellow.



While we're waiting for 5 minutes to pass, we can start working on the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, we need to sift together 3/4 cup of the unsweetened cocoa powder with the 1/2 cup flour.


Sift Sift Sift!

Here's my next modification. Ina says to use a fresh vanilla bean. Honestly, I NEVER have that in my pantry and I wasn't about to go out just to get it, so I used 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (which I ALWAYS have on hand). In that goes - mix it up for a second or two.


Now set your mixer down to a lower speed and start adding in the cocoa/flour mixture. Just mix until just combined. You don't want to ovemix flour.


Now, remember those 2 sticks of butter we melted back in the beginning? We're ready for them.


In they go, into the mixer. Mix up a bit and you're done! How easy was that?!?


Do you also remember I mentioned to save the wrappers from the butter? Well, I did. So go back and read from the beginning if you forgot. Get those wrappers and use them to grease your pan.

Pour the mixture into your greased pan - get as much of it out as you can. We'll see why later.


Now you need to put this pan into another slightly larger pan.


Open your oven, slide your rack out a bit and put the pans on the rack. Now you need to pour hot water in the SECOND pan - just enough to go about halfway up the first pan.


Unless you have a super steady hand and no distractions - I clearly do not - it's much easier to do this ON the rack rather that having to transport it TO the rack with the water in it.

Slide the rack back in your oven, close the oven door and cook for EXACTLY 1 hour.

Another step I modified was to omit the franboise liqueur. I NEVER have that in my house!

So now it's cooking away. The house is starting to fill up with that oh-so-good chocolaty aroma. My neighbors must be so jealous.

Hmmm, what to do while we're waiting. Let's see.

We can clean up the mess.


We can wash the dishes.

No way.

I have an idea...


Kids always know when it's time to lick the bowl.

I like this full hand method - good technique


one finger works also


not too much damage here


uh oh


Not sure where the blue stuff came from.

Doesn't this look like finger paint?


The reason why I mentioned to scrape out as much as possible was that JUST IN CASE anyone wanted to lick the bowl (hehe), you don't have to feel TOO guilty.

After an hour it's done and ready to come out of the oven. My advice is to take only the inside pan out. I've always found it way too tricky to try and balance both pans without spilling the hot hot water. Let's just be safe and do one at a time.

Look at it. Yum!


If you have the willpower, let it cool down a bit. Now is a good time to go to the fridge and get out that banana. You do remember I told you about this, don't you?!? Don't disappoint me now. Cut it up into half inch slices.


OK - we're ready to go in for the kill. Get your spoon and dig in.


See how the top is crisp? But wait - here comes the goo!



Scoop it out into your bowl and add some of the sliced bananas.



The combination of the hot gooey chocolate and the firm cold banana is a match made in heaven.

Feel free to add some vanilla ice cream to the mix. I won't be insulted.

Well, I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. If you want Ina's original, click here, or just read on for my version.

Now you have something to do this weekend.

Brownie Pudding Recipe

1 3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 banana

Melt the 2 sticks of butter and set aside.
Place the banana in the fridge.
Grease the pan with the butter wrappers.

1 - Put the sugar into your mixer. Crack the eggs and also put them in the mixer. Mix on medium speed for 5 to 10 minutes.
2 - Sift the flour and cocoa in a separate bowl
3 - Pour the vanilla into the mixer.
4 - Reduce your speed and pour the cocoa/flour mix into the mixer. Mix until just combined.
5 - Add the melted butter and mix for a few seconds.
6 - Pour the batter into your pan.
7 - Place your pan into a slightly larger pan
8 - Open your oven, slide out the rack a bit.
9 - Place both pans on the rack.
10 - Add hot water to the outside pan - just enough to go halfway up the first pan.
11 - Slide into the oven and cook for an hour.
12 - Let cool a bit and eat.
13 - If you have any leftovers, refrigerate them. You can reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds to get back to the gooey stage.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Roasted Chick Peas

I have another recipe for you today involving chick peas. I went to Costco recently and stocked up on a bunch. I hope you tried my version of hummus from last week. This next one is so super easy you just HAVE TO make it!

I first heard of roasting chick peas years ago from my friend Karen. I don't remember exactly how the original version went because I've experimented throughout the years. This is the one I make most often. My girls just love it!!

This is what we start off with:


a can of chick peas, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder and paprika. See, doesn't it sound so easy already?

I use a square Pyrex dish just because it seems to be a good size for one can - I'm guessing it's an 8 X 8 pan. Open the can of chick peas and drain as much of the liquid as possible and pour the chick peas into the pan.


Pour some olive oil over the chick peas. I usually never measure, but for today I wanted to give you some idea, so I used about 5 tablespoons. But you can pretty much eyeball it. You just don't want them to be swimming in the oil. That would definitely be too much!


Next I sprinkle on some garlic powder - enough to cover the top


then goes the paprika - same deal - enough to pretty much cover the top


Next goes the cracked black pepper. I just put a little because my girls don't like pepper. If I were going to make it for myself, I would definitely put more and I would even use some cayenne pepper as well.


It may look a bit dry at this point


so mix it all around so each chick pea is covered by the oil and the seasonings.



Are you ready for this? That's it!! The prep is done! Put the pan in an oven at 400 degree for 55 minutes. I check them every 15 minutes or so just to mix them around a bit and to check to see how brown they are getting. In this house, we like them extra crunchy so for the last couple of minutes I put it under the broiler - just to get that extra crisp, but they are definitely done before that.

Look how good they look all hot and bubbly from the oven. Mmmm...can you smell it? The scent of garlic is just so amazing!


Look here at the before and after...


they go from plain and naked DELICIOUS!!!!

I think we need a closeup of this one


Scoop them out into a bowl


and they're ready to snack on. Makes a great snack, side dish or topping for your salad.


Just try and experiment and use any seasonings that you like. Let me know how it goes!

Roasted Chick Peas

1 can chick peas - I used a 15.5 oz can
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper

1 - drain liquid from chick peas and pour in pan
2 - pour on the olive oil
3 - sprinkle garlic powder to cover
4 - sprinkle paprika to cover
5 - freshly ground black pepper - as little or as much as you like
6 - mix all together
7 - place pan in a 400 degree oven for 55 minutes checking every 15 minutes to mix and to see how brown they are gtting
8 - optional - put under broiler for 2 minutes

Next week I'll have a delicious recipe for Moroccan chick pea soup. I'm telling you, you will definitely thank me for that one!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lost In Laundry

How was my day, you ask??


Let's see now...



Yep. That pretty much sums it up.

“Marriage is about the most expensive way for the average man to get laundry done” - Burt Reynolds

“The laundry has its hands on my dirty shirts, sheets, towels and tablecloths, and who knows what tales they tell.” - Joseph Smith

“It's better to have loved and lost than to have to do forty pounds of laundry a week.” - Dr. Lawrence J. Peter

Version B

She chose version B. It was a toss up for me between A and B. I think she made a good choice though.


Now I just have to go print all 50 of them up and go get envelopes for them.

Next design project - a new logo for The Dana Company.

80th Birthday Invitation

My father-in-law is turnng 80 this summer so there's going to be a big party to celebrate. My mother-in-law asked me to design the invitaiton for her. She provided a bunch of photos - old and new. I was leaning towards the older ones - they seem more interesting and have a lot of character. There's something about old photos that I just love! There always seems to be a story behind them. I did 4 versions for her to choose from. They are going to be printed on flat note cards with the party info on the back.

Here are the 4 versions I did:









I wonder which one she'll choose.

Monday, June 15, 2009

MY Version of Hummus


I was so in the mood for hummus this weekend. When I was out doing errands I picked up some pita bread to go with the hummus that I THOUGHT we still had in our fridge. When I got home I was soooo disappointed to find out THERE WAS NO HUMMUS LEFT!!!! No one even bothered to tell me! What was I going to do with all this pita I just bought?!? Well, even though I was feeling totally lazy, I decided to just make it myself.

Now I have to preface by saying, this is MY VERSION of hummus! For all you purists out there, you may not want this recipe since it does NOT include tahini. That's right, you heard me, NO TAHINI!!! I'm just not a fan. As my Israeli brother-in-law Omer likes to point out, without tahini, he says its just plain ol' chick pea spread. Call it what you want. I'm calling it hummus.

So here goes. This is what you'll need:

Chick peas, of course


Parsley - please use the flat leaf Italian kind - much better than the curly version. Be careful though. They always seem to put it right next to the Cilantro that happens to look exactly like the parssley. Why do they do that?!?


Lemon - for the lemon juice. DON'T use the bottled kind. Ick!!


One garlic clove


EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil, and salt and pepper.


(I didn't show the salt and pepper - didn't think I really had to)


Get your food processor out, open the can of chick peas, drain off the liquid and just dump it in the machine.


Next get a handful of parsley, wash it and take out as much of the stems as possible. Also pat the leaves dry with a paper towel. In they go.


Cut the garlic clove up into a few pieces


then they go in next.


Cut your lemon in half, pick out the obvious pits and squeeze the juice right in. I only used half a lemon this time.


Salt and pepper go next with a bit of olive oil. Just start with a small amount - maybe a teaspoonful.

Press the On button or pulse it a few times. It will start to come together but will be a bit dry.


This is where you start to pour more olive oil in while the machine is still going.


Stop when you like the consistency. I like mine smooth and creamy but not drippy. I added a bit of paprika and then whizzed it up again for a second or two.


That's it! Wasn't that easy?!? Now, if you're trying to impress, (or if you need to take some photos for your blog) you can put it into a nice bowl, place the bowl on a plate, cut up the pita into fourths and arrange it all nicey nice.


Or, you can do what I would normally do and put it in a plastic food container, eat it, put the leftovers in the fridge and be happy you have that many less dishes to do. Your choice.

Please let me know if you try this recipe and if you like it sans tahini.

My Version of Hummus

1 15.5 oz can of chick peas (I like Goya)
1 garlic clove
handful of fresh cleaned parsley leaves
juice of half a lemon
extra virgin olive oil
paprika (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

1 - Prep: drain the chick peas, rinse & dry the parsley, cut the lemon in half and take out pits, cut the garlic into a few pieces

2 - put chick peas, parsley, garlic salt, pepper, and lemon juice into food processor with 1 teaspoon olive oil.

3 - mix together

4 - add more olive oil to get to a smooth consistency- pour it in slowly as the machine is till mixing.

5 - add paprika and mix again for a couple of seconds

6 - Cut up pita. Spread on pita. Eat.

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