Healthier Brownies: She's a Genius, I Tell You

Have I ever ranted before about how much I love Martha Stewart?  Sure, I know she doesn't come up with all of the stuff in her magazines.  I realize that it is in fact quite likely that she comes up with none of it.

However, she does make it possible.  For that I respect her.  Even if she has served time.
Delicious food and adorable crafts can overshadow a multitude of sins.

Enough about Martha.  Let's get down to the point.

And that point is that it is possible to make brownies (from scratch) that do not completely demolish your waistline.

I know, you're probably thinking that I'm just a huge liar.

"It's too good to be true," you say.

I respectfully ask you to shut up and believe.  It is indeed possible.  Not that these are exactly healthy, but they aren't exactly horrible.

That's where Martha Stewart comes in.  She made me believe in low-calorie, absolutely delightful brownies.

Any guesses as to what makes the brownies low-cal?

Going once...

The secret ingredient is pureed black beans!

Crazy, right?  Can't even taste 'em.  Plus, they bring a little fiber to the party.

Recipe (adapted from Everyday Foods)

-1/4 cup unsalted butter
-1/4 cup pureed black beans (rinsed, too much sodium otherwise)
-3 ounces semisweet chocolate
-2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
-1 1/4 sups sugar
-2 eggs, plus 1 egg white
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
-1 cup flour
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt

-Preheat your oven to 350 (F) and grease a 9x9 baking pan.
Melt chocolates, butter and bean puree together over double boiler or in microwave.
When melted, whisk in sugar.  When the mixture has cooled a bit, whisk in eggs and vanilla.

-In a separate bowl whisk together dry ingredients.  Stir them into the wet mixture and pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until the top is set and a few moist crumbs stick to a tooth pick inserted in the center.  Let cool completely before cutting.

Enjoy your 155 calorie brownie! I know I did.  Four times.

Straws courtesy of My Little Otter


No Machines Required: Simple Pasta

Here's how it began.
I had never made pasta before.  I found myself with 4 leftover egg yolks.

I searched Pinterest and Google for recipes to use up said yolks.


It is the answer.

Also, people make fun of me for pronouncing the "L" in yolk.
People can be mean.

You'll Need:
-2.5 cups flour
-4 egg yolks
-2 T. olive oil
-1/3 cup water
-cornmeal for surface


In a large bowl, place flour and create a well in the center.


Mix 1/4 cup of the water with yolks and olive oil.


Pour the wet ingredients in to the center of the flour and mix with a fork until everything is incorporated.


When the dough has come together enough to knead, place dough on a surface sprinkled with corn meal.


For about ten minutes or until dough is smooth and easy to work with, adding water as necessary (you may not need more, it just depends)


Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.  Roll out an cut into desired shapes. I made Pisarei.  Boil water with salt and cook until pasta floats and is tender.  You can also freeze the uncooked pasta shapes!


Vanilla Macarons with Ganache Filling

I've been determined to make French macarons for a while now.

It happened today.  They take some time.  It was worth it.

You'll Need: (adapted from Brave Tart)
For the cookies:
- 4 oz. almond flour (or ground blanched almonds)
- 8 oz. powdered sugar
- 5 oz. egg whites
- 1/2 cup caster sugar (regular also works)
- 1 vanilla bean (seeds scraped)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch cream of tartar
For the filling:
- 3/4 cup milk
- 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
- 1.5 teaspoons cornstarch


Prep your dry ingredients.  Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together.  If you're making your own almond flour, grind blanched almonds with powdered sugar until it will go through a strainer.


Split your vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.  Add seeds to the eggs whites, caster sugar, cream of tartar and salt which should all be in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Starting on a medium speed, whip the ingredients for 3 minutes.  On a medium high speed, whip for about 4 minutes.  Finally, push your mixer to the limit for about three minutes or until the mixture sticks inside the whisk when lifted.


Dump all the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.  Fold until smooth and barely stiff. (no need to be too careful, you want the whites to deflate) Then, put the mixture into piping bags without filling them all the way and pipe onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Tap the cookie sheets on the counter, use some force as this is supposed to release bubbles.  If you see any bubbles on the surface you can pop them using a toothpick.  Bake at 300 (F) until the cookies lift from parchment without breaking.


Now, as the cookies cool, prepare the ganache.
Put the chocolate, corn starch and Grand Marnier in a bowl.  Heat the milk until simmering and pour over chocolate.  Whisk until smooth.  Pop in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  Then, spread on cookies and smoosh together.  YUM.


Pancakes 4 Ways

I know I've posted about pancakes before.  But this time, I really mean it.

Since America's Test Kitchen is genius, my recipe deserved a makeover.

Don't worry, still healthier because they include buckwheat, so we're good on that front.

I know you were worried about that.

This morning I made plain, blueberry, raspberry and chocolate chip.  I ate well.

(adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
You'll Need:
- 1 + 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour (this stuff is so good for you!)
- 2 + 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 3 Tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly
- blueberries, chocolate chips, raspberries (if you want)
- vegetable oil for pan


Whisk together the lemon juice and milk, set aside.  Then, whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the egg to the milk mixture and whisk, then add butter...whisk again.  Add the wet to the dry and mix until there are very few lumps.


Heat skillet with vegetable oil, wipe out excess with a paper towel.  Once the pan is hot, add batter and desired fillings to the uncooked top of the cooking pancake. Flip, cook, eat.


Recent Accomplishments

Yeah...haven't posted anything substantial recently.  I will soon!

Here are just a few of my recent kitchen creations.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake


Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Dark Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting

So, there is my review.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
Carrot Cake
Dark Chocolate Cake


Greek Yogurt Dip

An easy recipe, because it's pretty obvious that I've been lazy lately.  I never post here.  I will do better! Promise.

So, this tastes great.  It's healthier than most dips and goes great with raw veggies, crackers or potato chips.

You'll Need:
- 6 oz. plain Greek yogurt (fat free FAGE)
- 3 tablespoons American Neufch√Ętel 
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (such as Sunny Paris and Green Goddess)
- Dash salt and pepper

First.  (and last)

Mix everything together in a small bowl vigorously, using a whisk.  I topped mine with chopped chives.


Healthy-ish Dessert: Mini Mocha Cheesecakes

I ripped this recipe out of my Everyday Food Magazine.  I've been meaning to make them.  I did.  You should too.

Seriously, only 174 calories and SO easy to make.  I repeat, SO easy to make. Get it? OK, good.

I added a Kahlua whipped cream to the original recipe.

You'll Need: (Makes 9)

For the Cheesecake:
-2 cups (16 oz.) Nonfat cottage cheese
-2 eggs
-1.5 cups confectioner's sugar
-1/3 cup cocoa powder
-1 Tablespoon + 1.5 teaspoons flour
-1.5 teaspoons espresso powder
-1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
-9 chocolate wafers (Nabisco's Famous)
-Muffin tin
-9 cupcake liners
-food processor

For the Whipped Cream:
-1/2 cup cream
-1 teaspoon Kahlua
-1 Tablespoon superfine sugar


Line your muffin tin.  Preheat the oven to 275 (F).  Put everything in the food processor.


Give it a whirl until everything is fully combined and smooth.  May take several minutes.


Pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tin, distributing equally among the 9 liners.  Then put a wafer on top of each one.


Bake for about 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, leave them in the pan and let cool to room temperature.  Then transfer to the refrigerator and store until its time to eat! In the mean time, whip up the cream to soft peaks with sugar and Kahlua. Serve.  Enjoy.  Die of happiness and celebrate the fact that you can have at least 2, after all...only 174 calories!

Fact of the Matter: The Voice and The Bachelor...both on Mondays...decisions...


Food Trip: Shanghai

Haven't posted in a bit!

Here are some photos of the food I've eaten recently.  Explanations in captions.

Homemade Dumplings

Lots of them!

Delicious cooked dumplings

Spinach Rolls

Spicy Chicken


Dragon Fruit

Bitter Melon


Kung Pao Chicken



Pickled Vegetables

Meat Ball Soup

Soup with Beef

Noodles with Shredded Beef & Chili Oil

Noodles with Shredded Chicken & Chili Oil


Soup & Salad


Garlicky Beef & Sprouts


Lemon Chicken

Soft-Shell Crab

Ice Cream

Hot Pot

Beef for Hot Pot

Quail Egg

Salmon & Pasta

Fact of the Matter:  Variety in food is the best.