Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fancy Salted Caramel Brownies

I am pretty picky when it comes to brownies...they must be chewy on the inside, and crispy on the outside. They must NOT contain walnuts or chips or any of that crap...I have tried many recipes and have had many failurs...some just too sweet, some not chocolatey enough, and some just, well.. BAD...I was almost ready to give up when one year I came across this chocolate on sale during the holidays

.. i noticed the brownie recipe attached to the back of the can, called "Ghirardelli Award Winning Brownies" and although it called for walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips, i convinced myself that altering the recipe just a tad would make it that much better and still "award winning"! So I made them, and they were PERFECT! I was so excited that I had finally found the brownie of my dreams! This is now my go to recipe for all my brownie needs. And now I have made it THAT much better by adding some Salted-Caramel sauce on top! Please make these! they are awesome! Happy Baking! -Jess

Fancy Salted Caramel brownies
recipe adapted from Ghirardelli
Brownie Ingredients:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup organic sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted 
3/4 cup Ghirardelli sweet ground chocolate & cocoa
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder 
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Salted Caramel Sauce 

1 cup heavy cream
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

for brownies: preheat oven to 350F, line a 8 or 9" square pan with parchment paper, set aside. in a medium bowl using a wooden spoon,  mix eggs, sugar and vanilla until combined. stir in melted butter. be sure the butter is cooled off some otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs. :( 
in a small bowl whisk together cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture and stir until combined and most lumps are gone. spread into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. 
while brownies are baking, prepare caramel sauce by combining cream, sugar and salt in a medium sauce pan. bring to boil over med-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. boil for about 7 minutes or until sauce thickens a bit. be careful not to let sauce boil over...remove from heat and add vanilla, stir and pour over brownies as soon as they come out of the oven...let left overs cool off and store in fridge for up to a week. 
once you have covered the brownies with the caramel sauce sprinkle with more sea salt if you wish and serve yourself a nice big piece, for extra awesomeness you can top it with some homemade vanilla ice cream! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fancy Pasta Salad

Last Sunday we went grocery shopping, as luck would have it both Riley and I fell ill the very next day and have been fighting the sickness ever since...which included fevers, sore throats, coughing, head aches, runny noses, lots of sleep, lots of soup, lots of water lots of 'I really dont feel like eating', and a whole lot of NOT having the energy to cook all the food I so happily bought 7 days ago! So as the week went on I feared all the goodies would go to waste. On Father's Day I had just enough energy to throw together a quick and easy Pasta Salad using the organic zucchini I had purchased, along with the FIRST and ONLY red cabbage harvested from our garden! I harvested it on Monday and was worried it would go bad with all the other neglected food in my fridge. Alas! it did not...and to my surprise the pasta salad was quite lovely, and Riley just loved the raw zucchini! BIG SURPRISE! I didn't expect it would be such a big hit so I wasn't really paying much attention to measurments, so bear with me as I try to remember :)
garden fresh red cabbage! 

Fancy Pasta Salad

12oz. cooked pasta, drained and cooled (I used fusilli, but feel free to use whatever you like)
Half of a small red cabbage, chopped, about 1 cup
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1 can black olives, drained, rinsed and cut in half
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced (or two small ones)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
about 1/4 cup olive oil
about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
hand full of fresh basil, chopped
sprinkle about 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese on top (I only added it to mine because no one else likes it :P )

combine cabbage, onion, olives, zucchini and pasta in large bowl. add zest and basil, mix well. in measuring cup, juice one lemon and add olive oil and balsamic vinegar, whisk well and drizzle all over pasta salad, add salt and pepper to taste, mix until combined. top with cheese of your choice. I like Gorgonzola, but feel free to add fresh Parmesan, feta or bleu cheese..or leave the cheese out and call it vegan! :)  
enjoy! -Jess