Tag Archives: Cooking

Delicious, Decadent, Chocolate Fudge Brownies

The theme of this weekend was absolute and total indulgence. Which, yes, isn’t healthy if you do it all the time – but once in a while (in moderation) is 100% ok. The husband and I went out to dinner on Saturday night and Sunday night – for two amazing meals with my dad and my brother. When we got home on Sunday, we were both craving something sweet – so we decided to make brownies. This was a team effort – the husband helped me in the kitchen so the brownies would get done faster!

Now generally, I’m not a fan of boxed brownies – they never compare to what you’d get at a bakery or what you can make from scratch. And sometimes they end up tasting really dry and processed. But trust me when I say that these brownies (made from a box mix) are the real deal. You would never guess that they are “boxed brownies”! And it’s all thanks to The Fat Witch Bakery at Chelsea Market in New York.

These are seriously the best boxed brownies I’ve ever had. My husband and I love this mix – the brownies turn out super moist, dense, and just melt in your mouth. You can add fun mix-ins too – like nuts or extra chocolate chips – pretty much anything you want! The other great thing is none of the ingredients are weird or sound like chemicals in this mix – everything in the mix is something you’d probably find in your own kitchen.

To make the brownies, you need: 1 box of mix, 1 stick of butter (7 Tbsp), 3 eggs, walnuts (or other mix-ins), cooking spray to grease the pan.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease baking pan (8×8 is what we used). Empty bag of chocolate chips (this comes with the mix) into a sauce pan and add butter. Melt over low heat over the stove top (or microwave), stirring constantly.

Step 2: Once the chocolate has melted, set aside to cool

Step 3: Pour contents of dry ingredients (from mix) into a medium sized bowl. Add 3 eggs and mix until smooth. It kind of reminded the husband of vanilla pudding when it was done.

I tended to agree with him, don’t you?

Step 4: Combine the chocolate with the eggs/dry mix. If you want to add in any other fun ingredients – do it now!

I decided to add in chopped walnuts

Step 5: Pour the batter into your greased 8×8 pan and bake 30-35 min until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool and cut into squares. Enjoy!

Here is the batter, ready to bake…

And the brownies are done! They looked so good, it was so hard to wait for them to cool.

Like a land of chocolate… Once we cut the brownies, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them. I plated two for my husband

And then made him wait while I took another picture…

Then he finally got to eat. He was happy 🙂 This is seriously the best brownie mix in the world – and while you can’t beat making brownies from scratch, these come in at a close second! I’d love to hear what more experienced bakers think about this mix – try it and let me know. In the meantime, I think I’ll enjoy the brownies today as a pre-dinner snack. They’re just too good to leave on the counter!

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Quick & Healthy: Black Bean and Pumpkin Veggie Burgers

It’s no secret that I adore veggie burgers. I just love all of the different flavors and ingredients you can pack into one delicious burger – it’s the perfect combination of health and comfort food. Yes – health and comfort food can go together! I’m always on the lookout for new veggie burger recipes, even though I’ve already made quite a few: my five ways with a Gardenburger patty, my southwest pinto bean burgers, and my budget-friendly black bean burgers. But recently I came across a recipe from Fannetastic Food for Black Bean & Pumpkin Burgers. I was intrigued by the idea of adding pumpkin into the burger mixture, and loved how simple the recipe was.

Btw – it’s also no secret that I’m a “fan” of Fannetastic Food – she always comes up with great recipes that are easy to make and healthy. The recipe with my notes are below, and you can see Anne’s original recipe and pictures here. Thanks Anne for a great recipe that was ridiculously easy to make (took less than 30 min), tasted great, and was full of nutritional goodness!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup black beans (rinsed and drained) – I basically just used 1 15oz can of black beans – once you drain out the liquid/etc. it ends up being just a little over 1 cup
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin – make sure you get just pure, canned pumpkin (the only ingredient should be pumpkin!) make sure there are no sugars, etc. added and definitely don’t get “pumpkin pie filling” or anything to that effect
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour (I just used regular whole wheat flour and it turned out fine)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (I might have added a bit more!)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • If you like your burgers with a bit of a kick, add a *small* pinch of cayenne pepper too
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Veggie burger fixings: ketchup, sliced red onions, sliced roma tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, whole wheat bun, spinach leaves (optional)

Directions

Step 1: Combine all ingredients (black beans through chili powder or cayenne if you’re using it) in a food processor and mix until mostly pureed – with a few chunks of black beans left. Note – you can also mash all the ingredients in a bowl, I used the food processor because it was faster and easier (for me).

Step 2: Once the bean mixture is at a desired consistency, form into 2 patties. Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray, and cook on medium heat for 5-10 min on each side until lightly browned.

This what they looked like when they started cooking…

And what they looked like when they were almost done

One thing to note about this recipe is that the veggie burgers aren’t as “hearty” or “dense” as your normal Gardenburger or Boca burger patty. They tend to fall apart a bit more easily and are a bit softer. I really enjoyed the different consistency of the burgers – felt a little “falafel-esque” which was fun to eat. The husband thought they were a little too soft for him, and would have liked them to be more dense/thick like a traditional veggie burger patty. But he did say that regardless of the texture of the patties, the burgers had amazing flavor (and you couldn’t taste the pumpkin which was pretty cool) and were a great weeknight dinner. I pared the patties with a simple combination of pepper jack cheese, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes and ketchup, on a whole wheat bun of course. So satisfying and healthy!

 

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A.C. LaRocco Winners & A New Giveaway courtesy of HSN!

Hi Everyone! First – before I announce my latest giveaway, I’d just like to congratulate Marthalynn and Kristen for winning the A.C. LaRocco Giveaway.

Congrats to both of you! Just send me your contact information and you should be receiving your coupons for free A.C. LaRocco pizza soon. Thanks also to everyone who entered!  You all have a chance to win again in my brand new giveaway – which I’m very excited to announce. I’m partnering with HSN to help raise awareness for their HSN Cooks Spring Weekend Event (Presented by Bon Appetit).

The HSN Cooks Event will feature products from awesome chefs like Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Padma Lakshmi, and Jacques Torres. As part of this event, the folks at HSN have sent me TEN $10 gift cards good for anything on HSN through the end of April. I’ve decided to turn their generous gift into an awesome giveaway for FOUR lucky readers: The grand prize winner will win 4 gift cards (a $40 value!) and the 3 runners up will receive 2 gift cards each (a $20 value!) This is an amazing prize – especially since the list of products available on HSN are so extensive and are great for foodies…

And these are just a few of the products available to buy with the gift cards!

Now the important part:

To Enter: You can enter in one of three ways –

  1. Subscribe to The Picky Eater via RSS or via email
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@pickyeaterblog)
  3. Like The Picky Eater on Facebook

Leave a comment letting me know which option above you chose! Note – if you already are a subscriber, follower, or like The Picky Eater on Facebook, just leave a comment indicating that – it will count as one entry :)

This giveaway will be open until Thursday, March 31st at 11:59pm PST. I will be selecting the winners at random (via random.org) and will contact them via email. I’ll be announcing the winners on Friday, April 8th. Be sure to enter today–the high value of these gift cards is totally worth it!

66 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Sweet & Spicy Carrot Bisque

I love soups that have layers of complex flavors. Where, in every bite, you taste multiple ingredients with bursts of sweetness and spice. It’s the sort of soup you’d expect a good chef to make, creating the flavors from the bottom up with wonderful innovative ingredients. Little did I know, when I decided to try this Sweet & Spicy Carrot Bisque recipe from VegetarianTimes Magazine, that I’d be creating that exact soup masterpiece. This might have been the best soup I’ve ever made – and it’s all thanks to my monthly subscription to Vegetarian Times.

The Ingredients

The secret ingredients are really the banana, coconut milk, ginger and lime in this dish. And here is the detailed list of ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp + 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups of peeled, sliced carrots
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced
  • 1 15oz can light coconut milk
  • 2.5 Tbsp lime juice

Directions

Step 1: Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt, saute 5 min until onion is soft. Stir in ginger, cook 1-2 min. Add curry powder, cayenne and 1/4 cup water. Cook 1-2 min, stirring to coat onion & ginger with curry mixture.

When the onion is fully coated it looks like this:

Step 2: Add carrots, banana, 1 tsp salt and 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered for 25 min or until carrots are soft enough to be pierced with a fork.

Step 3: Puree soup using an immersion blender or in batches using a regular blender. Return soup to pot and stir in 1 cup light coconut milk and lime juice.

After stirring in the coconut milk, the soup will look like this:

So creamy and delicious, and I loved how vibrant the color was!

Step 4: Simmer remaining 3/4 cup coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium high heat for 10 min, or until reduced by half. Ladle soup into bowls, and swirl 1.5 Tbsp coconut milk reduction into each serving

I thought the swirls made the soup look really pretty. I served this soup with my baked pita chips & masala lentil dip – it was the perfect complement to this sweet and spicy soup. All in all, it made for a wonderful, warming dinner.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Guilt-Free Mini Apple Pies

Sometimes, there’s nothing more comforting than warm, gooey apple pie. I think Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of all the pies – apple, pumpkin – they’re all so warming and tasty! I’ve never made pie before at home, but in my new attempt to broaden my baking skills, I decided to give it a shot a few nights ago. When I found this recipe from Hungry Girl for individually sized, guilt-free apple pies – I knew I’d be trying it out. I couldn’t believe that each pie has only 110 calories, 0.5g fat, ~10g sugars, and 2g protein!

The recipe starts with 3 cups of peeled, cored, and diced Fuji Apples

So, of course, apples are low in calories and good for you, but what else makes Hungry Girl’s recipe so guilt-free? I think she has 3 main secrets:

  • Using egg roll wrappers instead of pastry crust. Now – to be fair, the egg roll wrappers don’t taste exactly like puff pastry when you bake the pies. But it’s close enough, and with 1 scoop of fat free vanilla ice-cream, you can’t tell the difference.
  • Using butter spray instead of actual butter (each spray has 5 calories)
  • Using only 2 Tbsp of added sugar – trust me, you don’t need more than that.

You can find the full ingredients list at Hungry Girl’s website here.

Now – for the directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Step 2: In a medium nonstick pot on the stove, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt with 1/2 cup cold water. Mix until ingredients dissolve. Add apples and stir. Bring to medium-high heat and, stirring frequently, cook until apples have softened, 7 – 10 minutes.

This is what the apples looked like when they first started cooking

And after 10 min they looked like this!

Step 3: Reduce heat to low and, stirring often, cook until thick and gooey, 1 – 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool. I was amazed that it was so easy to make such gooey, yummy apple pie filling.

Step 4: Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with foil and/or spraying it with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Step 5: Place two egg roll wrappers flat on a dry surface. Set out a small dish of water. Dip your finger into the water, and run it along all of the wrapper edges. (Repeat as needed while preparing your pockets, as it will help seal them.) Starting 1/2 inch from the bottom, place about 1/3 cup pie filling along the bottom half of each wrapper, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the sides. Your open faced pie should look like this:

And now for the close-up:

Step 6: Fold the top half of each wrapper over the filling, so that the top edge meets the bottom and the filling is encased with a border on three sides. Dab each border with water, and fold each inward about 1/4 inch to lightly seal. Press firmly along the borders with the prongs of a fork to seal completely. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat this process with remaining wrappers and filling, for a total of six mini pies.

Step 7: Spray the top of each pocket with 3 sprays of butter. Bake in the oven until edges begin to brown, 15 – 18 minutes.

Once they come out of the oven, they look like this:

Step 8: Allow to cool for 5 minutes. I decided to take another picture while I was waiting for them to cool. Aren’t they cute?

Step 9: Top with additional cinnamon and cool whip free (or Dryer’s Slow Churned Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – which is what we used). With the cool whip free, your pie will have ~110 calories. With 1/4 cup of Dryer’s Slow Churned Vanilla, your pie will have ~160 calories.

And it tasted as good as it looked! This was absolutely delicious – the perfect guilt-free indulgence.

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A Warming Winter Dinner: Skillet Gnocchi with Spinach and White Beans

It’s no secret that for the past week or so, the weather in the Bay Area has been pretty crappy. Gloomy, rainy, and really cold! (well, cold for the Bay Area, that is). So a few nights ago I decided to make a really hearty, warming recipe that I found on EatingWell.com – for Skillet Gnocchi. I had never made Gnocchi before so I thought it would be a fun experiment – and it turned out really well!

Tell me that doesn’t make your mouth water 🙂 It was surprisingly easy to make, and didn’t take very long at all. Of course, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – so my modified recipe is below. You can find the original here. To anyone who’s a “Gnocchi virgin” or hasn’t enjoyed Gnocchi in the past, I’d really encourage you to try this dish! My husband has never enjoyed Gnocchi before – but he loved it. The dish is also really balanced and healthy – tons of fiber and protein from the beans & veggies, balanced with carbs from the reasonable portion of Gnocchi.

The Ingredients

A couple of notes:

  • The original recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of EVOO to fry the gnocchi before you add it to the dish. I just used EVOO cooking spray to pan fry the gnocchi and it worked perfectly! That was one main modification.
  • I also substituted frozen spinach for the chard in the original recipe – mainly to save time & prep work.
  • AND – I found whole wheat gnocchi at Trader Joe’s so I substituted that for the regular gnocchi.
  • I also added 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper and fresh basil to the dish to amp up the spice & flavor.

My ingredients list:

  • EVOO cooking spray
  • 1 tsp EVOO (to pan fry the onions)
  • 1 package whole wheat gnocchi
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings added
  • 1 15oz can white beans
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup part skim Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1-2 tsp fresh basil
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the gnocchi in boiling water according to package directions. Drain, cool, set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large skillet, and add the onion – cook for a few minutes
  3. Add the garlic and water – cover and cook until the onion is soft (4-6 min)
  4. Meanwhile, using EVOO spray, pan fry the gnocchi in a separate skillet until lightly browned
  5. Add the spinach to the skillet with the onion in it, and cook until the spinach defrosts/starts to wilt
  6. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, pepper, basil, crushed red pepper and salt to taste – bring to a simmer
  7. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese
  8. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 3-5 min.

Pictures – step by step:

Slicing the onions & pan-frying the gnocchi


How cute do those gnocchi pillows look? Once they were done cooking, I set them aside in a bowl

Meanwhile, the veggies were cooking

Don’t the colors look beautiful? When they were almost done cooking, I added in the gnocchi

And then, the best part – the cheese.

Look at all that melted, gooey cheese. With all the wonderful smells filling our house and the bubbling sauce & cheese in the dish, we couldn’t wait to dig in!

Amazingly satisfying, healthy and delicious. The perfect meal for a cold winter day.

I finished off my meal with a HUGE chunk of Fearless Chocolate – the Hibiscus & Ginger flavor to be exact. To try your own sample of Fearless Chocolate – enter my giveaway here.

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Peanut Butter Sandwich: Reinvented

Who said that peanut butter sandwiches had to be 1) boring 2) just for kids and 3) the same every time? I’m a huge fan of PB&J, probably because I had it almost every day when I was a kid and eating it for lunch has some element of nostalgia for me. And even though I can be a creature of habit a lot of the time, the same three ingredients (which for me are: sprouted wheat bread, almond or peanut butter, and blueberry preserves), can get a tiny bit monotonous. Then I heard about this PB&J sandwich shop in Portland that makes the coolest PB&J sandwiches, and I was inspired to get creative with one of my childhood favorites. So here goes – the peanut butter sandwich: reinvented!

The Ingredients

These were the ingredients I used, but you can obviously experiment with your own. My list included: Sprouted wheat bread, walnuts, sliced bananas, cinnamon, a mix of almond and peanut butter, and honey.

The Directions

Step 1: Spread the peanut & almond butter mixture on both slices of bread, and top one half with sliced bananas

Step 2: Chop 3-4 walnuts, and add on top of the banana slices along with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey

Doesn’t that just make you want to take a big bite out of that sandwich? I couldn’t resist taking more than one picture of it.

Step 3: Top with the other slice of bread (that already has peanut/almond butter spread on it), and put into the panini press (or grill in a pan if you don’t have a panini press)

At this time, the nut butters, banana and honey are getting all melty and gooey…

Step 4: Once the top has browned and is slightly crispy, remove from panini press and let cool for 1-2 min.

I love the grill marks!

Step 5: Cut sandwich in half (I always like cutting on the diagonal because I think it looks more fun)

Eat and enjoy!


21 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized