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Paleo Brownies

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It’s MS Awareness Week. Once a year I let myself get preachy about MS. Congratulations, it is that time of year. Feel free to skip this section and scroll down to the recipe.

You may have noticed a change in the content of my blog; that’s because I recently decided to try a Paleo diet to help with my MS. I’ve noticed some pretty significant improvement so I’ll be keep the diet around.

Most people who know me also know that I have MS. It’s a pretty nasty disease- you can read about it here. MS is different for everyone. I was diagnosed about 6 years ago in my last semester of seminary. My presenting symptoms were vision problems; since then I have wrestled with fatigue, numbness, and weakness in my legs. I told you that it is a nasty little devil.

I’m very lucky that I am still able to do most of the things that I love to do and my disease has been relatively quiet. I’d gone about 4 years without an attack until it made itself known again this last December. I really struggled with this attack because I’d been off medication for some time to have another baby and I was still breastfeeding my daughter. It is hard to go into the doctor and hear that you must immediately stop feeding your child so that you can take high level steroids and try a new disease modifying therapy. But there it was. The good news is that since I’d become pregnant and had my daughter new drugs were available- PILLS! A normal person would not be that excited about taking pills everyday but when you have grown accustomed to giving yourself (nasty) injections every day; pills get you giddy. And so, 2015 started with a new regimen. I’ve spent years reading various things about diet and MS but you all know I’m a foodie and giving up my biggest hobby seemed too steep a hill to climb. Until now. I have a busy career, an amazing family, and if changing my diet could help with those things, by God, I’m going to do it. And so, here we are. Since mid-January I have removed gluten, dairy, and refined sugar from my diet. You’ll notice from my obsession with trying brownie recipes; I haven’t given up chocolate- merely made some adjustments.

Talking about my chocolate addiction is a great segue into the recipe today. I find keeping my diet is a whole lot easier when I know I have something on hand at home so I try to keep a container of brownies in the fridge and a bag of Costco’s chocolate covered super fruits in the pantry. If you decide to use a dry sugar (coconut, etc.) use 1 cup. I’ve made these with both coconut sugar and maple syrup and I just happen to prefer maple syrup but that’s just me. You could also double the recipe for an 8×8 pan but a loaf pan makes plenty for me. These are very rich so a little goes a long way. Not to mention they are kind of expensive.

Also, I’m lazy and I don’t like too many dishes so I make these in the blender. Because they are gluten free, you don’t have to worry about over-mixing. I wouldn’t recommend that method with a “normal” brownie recipe.

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Paleo Brownies (Here’s the original)

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted (to be honest, I just guess and sometimes it comes closer to ½ c.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients in a bowl until smooth or throw them in a blender. Pour into a parchment lined 8×4 loaf pan. Bake 25-30 minutes.

Cool brownies and cut them into squares. I keep mine in the fridge.

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Black & White Cheesecake Squares

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I don’t think that it is any great secret that I am a bit of a chocolate addict. Also, I spend a lot of my time perusing Pinterest. There is a little something I have noticed about Pinterest: the theory seems to be circulating the Internet that EVERYTHING is better with cream cheese. Frankly, I don’t disagree. That is why when I came across this little gem from Martha Stewart I was in the kitchen trying it out in no time.

Just a couple of little things. Chill these before you eat them. Much like a cheesecake these are better cold. I took a little nibble while they were only room temperature and I was none too impressed. A few hours in the fridge and they were delicious. Also, a whole cup of dough to crumble is a lot. I just nibbled on it while I was crumbling. What?! Waste not, want not.

 Black and White Cheesecake Squares

  •             2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •             3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  •             1 teaspoon baking soda
  •             1/2 teaspoon salt
  •             10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  •             2 cups granulated sugar
  •             3 large eggs
  •             2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •             8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  •             1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on both long sides, then spray foil.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Cream butter and granulated sugar with a mixer until smooth. Add 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla, and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture. Increase speed to medium; beat until incorporated.

Reserve 1 cup of dough; cover, and refrigerate. Press remaining dough into bottom of prepared dish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake until base is set and edges are puffed, about 25 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack.

Mix cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl. Spread over cooled base; crumble reserved dough on top. Bake until filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in dish on wire rack, then lift out using overhang. Cut into squares.

Lemon Brownies

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The season is (possibly) finally upon us for lemonade and all things outdoors. While chocolate is my one, true food love lemon is a pretty popular companion in my kitchen. And now that spring is here it is definitely a go-to flavor. I adore lemon bars but when I came across this recipe on Pinterest I was intrigued. Don’t get bogged down in the name brownie… it isn’t. But, I don’t really know what else you would call this recipe. The consistency/texture is somewhat similar to a brownie and you can’t call it a lemon bar recipe because, well, it isn’t. So we’ll stick with brownie for now.

This was my first attempt at the recipe so, in a move that is not all that normal for me, I stuck to the recipe. I’ll tweak it next time. The glaze MAKES this recipe because the base really isn’t as lemony as I would prefer. Next time, I’ll up the lemon content. Having said all that, it is definitely a recipe to keep around. It is super easy and super quick to throw together which is always a plus for a weeknight treat.

Lemon Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter, melted & slightly cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon packed lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 9×13″ baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar & salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice & zest until combined. Mix the butter mixture into the flour mixture until well combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 25-35 minutes until set and just golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean.

Let the bars cool in the pan before glazing.

For Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon packed lemon zest until smooth.

Pour over the lemon brownies and cool before serving.

Slutty Brownies

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I have no idea why these brownies are called “Slutty Brownies.” If you look at them twice you won’t be able to fit into your skinny jeans, eat one and there is no way you’re going to be able to slither into that slinky thing you like to wear clubbing on Friday night. They should probably be named “Walk of Shame Brownies.”

Whatever the name, I made them. I don’t do slinky and I don’t go clubbing so I don’t care. I originally saw the recipe on Pinterest but it called for boxed stuff and we all know how I feel about that. So, I reworked it a bit using my recipes for Disgustingly Rich Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookies. The Oreos came from the bag (I do buy some pre-made things). I confess, I used Double Stuf Oreos. You don’t need a whole bag of Oreos and you won’t use the whole recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. If you have a husband like mine he’ll take care of disposal of both or just save what you have left and use for later.

Slutty Brownies

Ingredients:

  • Brownie layer: I used my Disgustingly Rich Brownie recipe but whatever recipe will work that makes a 9×9 pan.
  • For the Oreo layer: 1 package of Oreo (regular stuffed or double stuffed)
  • For the Cookie Dough layer: Whatever Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is your favorite

Mix together brownie batter according to the recipe.

Mix together the Cookie Dough.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan with tin foil and then spray the tin foil with a layer of baking spray. Layer 1/2 of the cookie dough on the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom of the brownies. Reserve the remaining cookie dough to be used to make cookies later in the day. Layer as many oreos that will fit on top of the cookie dough. No need to overlap. One single layer will do. Pour the brownie batter on top of the oreo layer.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the center is done. Let the brownies rest before serving. Cut these brownies into small servings. A little goes a LONG way.

Brownie Bake-off Part 2

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I posted my first brownie recipe (Disgustingly Rich Brownies), which is my go-to when I’m craving brownie batter. This recipe is my go-to for the best brownies. There is a whole lot of chocolate in this recipe and the combination of the different forms of chocolate is what makes this recipe deep and amazing.

Notes: If you are not a coffee drinker don’t be alarmed by the addition of espresso. Coffee deepens the chocolate flavor and you will never notice its presence in this recipe. Also, if you do not have an espresso machine you can use 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso with ½ cup plus 2 teaspoons boiling water. If there is just too much chocolate here for you (shame on you!) you could skip the addition of chocolate chips at the end. Also, if you want to be a bit more of a chocolate connoisseur use chopped bittersweet chocolate rather than chocolate chips.

This recipe is a variation of a brownie recipe that I received from Cook’s Illustrated to test for them.


 Soft and Chewy Brownies


Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  •  ½ cup espresso
  •  3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  •  2 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ¾ flour
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9×13 pan by lining with foil (allow some overhang) and spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

In large bowl whisk cocoa, espresso and unsweetened chocolate until chocolate is melted. Whisk in oil (mixture will look curdled). Add eggs and vanilla to chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in sugar, then add flour and salt and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 25 to 35 minutes.

Cool brownies in pan for 10 minutes, then remove brownies (using foil) and cool completely (about 2 hours) on wire rack.

Brownie Bake-off

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I received a special request for my blog! Which makes me feel so good about myself because it means someone is actually reading it. Okay, so it’s my sister but let’s not split hairs, shall we? She requested that I post a couple of my go-to brownie recipes. These aren’t those fancy brownie recipes that have things like cookie dough or mint in them. They are just plain, go-to, chocolate-addict crack recipes.

The first recipe is one that has served me well. Confession: I made these brownies every evening while I was taking the GOEs. Folks, that’s a week-long test during which you take two tests a day. It’s okay, you get Thursday off and Friday is only half a day. Throw into the mix that I was finishing my second CPE course (chaplain in a hospital) and you have one stressed-out Meg. But the brownie batter from this recipe got me through. My motto in life: there’s NOTHING that prayer and chocolate can’t handle. No really, there’s a sign in my office.

Disgustingly Rich Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar, I use half white and half brown
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Prepare an 8 or 9 in. baking pan. I line mine with aluminum foil and then spray the foil. It makes it much easier to remove your brownies from the pan.

Stir cocoa and sugar together. Stir in melted butter. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt until smooth.

Pour in pan and bake 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees.