Making Up for Christmas/New Year's/Super Bowl Eating

In an effort to make up for all of the baked goods, candy, and really rich foods we ate during the holidays (yes, I do realize that was one month ago, but who's not regretting a bit of that overindulgence?), I'm trying to make a few meals this week that are on the lighter side. While the meatballs I made might not qualify, this dinner definitely does. I don't know how kid-friendly it is, since Steve and I ate it after Henry went to bed, but for us anyway, it was great. I think it would go really well with a glass of white wine and crusty french bread, but as Steve pointed out, my glass of white wine would have to be really really light. As in clear. Like water. :)

Also, thanks to mom and dad for the cookbook for Christmas that this recipe came from!

Tuscan White Bean and Tuna Salad
From The Dinner Doctor

1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat pasta (I use penne)
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (2 Tablespoons) or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped tomato (seeded)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1- 6 ounce can tuna, drained and broken up

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and add a few pinches of salt for flavor. Stir in the pasta and reduce heat to medium-high to cook it, uncovered, about 8-10 minutes.

While pasta cooks, place the olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper in a large serving bowl and whisk to combine. (At this point, taste this vinaigrette mixture to see if its lemony enough - add more juice if needed. Just remember, you can always add more once the salad is mixed, but unfortunately its much harder to remove the juice once poured in.) Set vinaigrette aside.

Drain the pasta well, mix with vinaigrette, and stir until coated. Add beans, tomato, basil and tuna. Stir until all ingredients are coated with dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 2-4 as a main course


Don't Judge

I use this title for a two reasons.

1) It has been more than one month since my last blog posting.
2) The brownies I'm going to show you are pretty amazing. Translate: they are great for your sweet tooth, awful for your waistline.

These come out of the Pioneer Woman cookbook that my brother-in-law Seth got me for our Smits' family Christmas exchange. I have used this book so much already that some of the pages have drops and splatters on them. But in my book (literally), that's a good thing. That means its well-used and well-liked! Just like my Betty Crocker cookbook. That poor page with the chocolate chip cookies never stood a chance...

The thing I like about these recipes is that they are unpretentious. And while I like going out on a limb once in a while and trying something that challenges me, both in ability and in taste, I like comfort food a lot too. And these brownies are nothing if not comforting.

And the bonus is that they are so dense and gooey and heavy that you can burn off the calories just by lifting the pan up a few times.


Okay, not even close.

But really, these are not brownies that you should have around if you have even a chip out of your self-control. Which is why Steve took the remainders to work today!

The brownies on their own are good, but not overly sweet. So if you like chocolate a little more on the semi-sweet side, I'd leave the frosting off altogether. The frosting is reeeaaallly sweet and its laid on nice and thick (if I could get my picture to upload, you would see its about a 50/50 ratio between brownie and frosting). But you could easily halve this recipe for frosting and no one would be the wiser. Also with the frosting, if you're not a coffee fan or don't have coffee sitting around your house, you could just as well sub in some milk for the coffee at the end of the frosting recipe.

One word of warning - be careful not to overmix the brownie batter. I think this is why the top of my brownies look like fallen souffle instead of nice and cakey. Taste not affected:)

Mocha Frosted Brownies
Not at all adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks and The Pioneer Woman

For Brownies:
4 - 1 oz squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) of butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour

For Mocha Frosting:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) of butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cups brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray.

To make the brownie batter, place the squares of chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between, and being careful not to let it burn. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs.

Add the flour to the bowl and mix just until combined; do not overmix.

Pour the batter into the baking pan. Spread it to even out the surface. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the center is no longer soft. (It may look underdone, but as it cools, it will firm up a bit more. I ended up baking mine for 60 minutes on my second batch and that worked well.) Set the brownies aside to cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, in a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla. Mix until slightly combined and then add 1/2 cup of the coffee.  Whip until the icing is the desired consistency. If the icing is overly thick, add 1/4 cup more coffee. It should be very light and fluffy.

Ice the cooled brownies, spreading the icing on thick.  Refrigerate until the icing is firm, then slice the brownies into squares.

Makes 16 brownies