Carbs & Rec: Insanely Good Messy Brownie Bites

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

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I would like to be president someday, so no, I’ve not smoked marijuana. I ate a brownie once at a party in college. It was intense. It was kind of indescribable, actually. I felt like I was floating. Turns out there wasn’t any pot in the brownie.
It was just an insanely good brownie.
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I won’t lie: for a second or two (or sixty), I was super-tempted to recycle my not-pot brownies (of VeganMoFo 2012 fame) for this post. I mean, they’re kind of perfect, right? The thyme looks like marijuana, but it totally isn’t! But because I’m not a cheater and (perhaps more to the point) those brownies didn’t photograph particularly well, I decided to make an all-new recipe instead.

I kind of wish I’d went with option A, y’all.

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In theory, the Mini-Rocky Road Brownie Bites from Betty Goes Vegan sound epically awesome: individual, mini-cupcake-shaped brownie bites stuffed with mini Dandies marshmallows, chocolate chips, and roasted peanuts, each with its own crispy round edges and delightful muffin tops.

Carbs & Rec - Insanely Messy Brownie Bites (0002)

Artfully arranged with the least scrappy of the bunch on top.
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In practice? They made me cry. And not in a good way.

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Eat to the Beat: Not-Pot Brownies & Willie Nelson

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

 

The song: “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” by Willie Nelson (lyrics)

The foodstuff: Not-Pot (it’s Thyme, yo!) Chocolate Chip Brownies (recipe below)

The connection: Weed. Pot. Dope. Grass. Ganja. THC. Cannabis. Skunk. Hash. Mary Jane. Chris Christie. Mexican Lung Confetti.

 

Liberal activist. Long-haired hippie. Lovable stoner. Country rock legend. What can you say about Willie Nelson other than FUCK YEAH!? (Or, perhaps more to the point, I wish he’d adopt one of my parents so I could have the coolest grandfather of all time?) Nothing, that’s what. He’s Willie Fucking Nelson!

 

Not-Pot Brownies (b-0021)

With denim, cuz that’s how Willie rolls.
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When I think of Willie – in the context of food, that is – the first thing to come to mind is a big, fat pot brownie. Or a space cake. Or maybe a hash cookie. Basically all the foods with the drugs. (As it turns out, there’s quite a few of ’em!) So in Willie’s honor, I’d like to share with you a batch of Chocolate Chip Brownies. But they’ll have to be Not-Pot Brownies, seeing as my state doesn’t have a medical marijuana law (boo!).

While oregano is the usual hilarious prop stand-in for pot, I chose thyme since it goes well with chocolate. That’s what a chef told me, anyway, when I accidentally put thyme on my chocolate coconut milk ice cream and posted the evidence for its comedic value.

 

Chocolate Sprinkles vs. Thyme (0001)

Exhibit A in my case against Edward & Sons.
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(Not my fault! I was going for the chocolate sprinkles and grabbed the thyme by accident, on accounta Edward & Sons puts their sprinkles in these ridiculous little cellophane packages and I needed a container to store them after they were opened because the bag isn’t resealable and so I used an old spice container that’s identical to the thyme and you do the math! Like I said not my fault! Okay, maybe 20%. But that’s all I’ll concede!)

And she was totes right. These brownies are pretty damned tasty. I started with my old stand-by brownie recipe (anyone remember this from last MoFo’s Iron Chef? Bueller?) and added some ground thyme to taste – as well as dried thyme to garnish. That easy! I imagine that baking with pot is a little tougher, but probably you don’t care because POT. Everything is rainbows and unicorn farts.

This brownie recipe is a little on the cakey side, so if you prefer your brownies chewy or fudgey or whatnot, just add a teaspoon of ground thyme to your own favorite version for the same effect.

As far as the tunes go, any Willie Nelson song is a fine choice because WILLIE NELSON. In keeping with my unofficial, not-quite-a-theme, mini-Supernatural-theme-within-a-theme, I’m going with “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” tearfully dedicated to Cas and Dean.

 


 

THEIR LOVE IS LEGENDARY!

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Zucchini Fudge Brownies, à la Little Debbie

Monday, August 27th, 2012

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Zucchini Brownies! Did I tell you to expect some zucchini-laced desserts from me or what?

Don’t let the vegetables fool you: this is a rich, decadent, super-chocolatey treat. Normally I’m not big on frosted brownies – brownies are sweet enough on their own, don’t you think? – but these are a little more cake-like than most, so I decided to try the frosting included at AllRecipes. (The brownie recipe is available in multiple places online; the only thing that seems to change is the frosting!)

Alas, it came out a little thin, more like icing than frosting. I added roughly 3-5 tablespoons of flour to thicken things up, but you can avoid this hassle by using less nondairy milk to start – perhaps a tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency?

From chunky, nut-and-chocolate stuffed brownie to fudgey frosting to the tips of the walnut toppings, the finished product is reminiscent of those cheapo, gas station staple Little Debbie Fudge Brownies I used to enjoy as a kid. (At least I think they were Little Debbie brand; none of the contemporary photos look familiar!) Only, fresher. Not so dry and stale. Dare I say? ADULT.

But not in a sexy way, mkay? Unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case: go wild.

 

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Sans frosting, so you can see all the nummy bits!
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Zucchini Fudge Brownies

(Adapted from this recipe on allrecipes.com.)

Ingredients

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups powdered sugar
~1/4 cup nondairy milk; see below
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons flour (optional); see below

Chopped walnuts to garnish

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla and mix until well blended. In another bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well and then stir into the sugar mix. Add the zucchini, followed by the walnuts and chocolate chips.

3. Spread evenly into the baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean and the brownies spring back when gently touched. Set aside to cool.

4. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, mix the powdered sugar, nondairy milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture; switch to a hand mixer for a smoother frosting.

Note: 1/4 cup nondairy milk resulted in a frosting that was thin and runny – more like icing than frosting per se. I added a few tablespoons of flour to thicken the frosting up. You can either go this route or use less nondairy milk to start. The sugar mix will only thicken slightly when you add the chocolate margarine, fyi.

5. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares. Top with chopped walnuts.

Vegan Junk Food Cookbook Review: Riots, not diets!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold (2011)

 

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food is my new favorite cookbook. (The previous title holder? Wheeler del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop – which should tell you a little sumthin’ sumthin’! Namely, that I like my vegan food filled with empty calories.) At my request, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy – along with two copies to give away – from the publisher, Adams Media. With a name like “Vegan Junk Food,” I figured it couldn’t disappoint.

Whether you like your junk food sweet or savory, chocolaty or cheesy, Lane (can I call you Lane?) has got you covered. The 225 recipes in this collection are divided into ten categories: breakfast foods; deli favorites (i.e., sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and sliders); comfort-meets-takeout foods (entrees); crusts and carbs (pizzas and breads); festive grub (party foods!); dips, hummus, and sauces (including sundae toppings!); savory treats; cakes; candies and cookies; and grab ‘n’ go sweets (brownies and bars). As you can see, the recipes are roughly divided between meal-type items (entrees, main courses) and snacks/desserts.

The husband and I tried out about twenty recipes before I sat down to write this review; and, while I don’t usually review cookbooks, this is easily the largest number of recipes I’ve sampled for a cookbook review, like, ever. (I just couldn’t stop myself; everything looks so good!) Possibly it’s the most recipes I’ve made from a single cookbook, period. Though I own a ridiculous number of them, I don’t use cookbooks with much frequency; more often I cook from memory or pull recipes off the internet. But Vegan Junk Food? Most definitely joining my repertoire!

The book’s obvious strength, of course, is the food: oodles and oodles of junk food! Pizza. Pasta. Tacos. Pot pies. Casseroles. Cupcakes, pies, and brownies. Empty calories as far as the eye can see! Wait, that’s not entirely fair: some of these foods aren’t all that bad for you. Ironically, many of the recipes in Vegan Junk Food are actually healthier than my own versions. The Mac and Cheese Bake, for example, uses a vegan Velveeta-like cheese sauce made of potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, nutritional yeast, and soy milk. Even factoring in the additional vegan cheese shreds in this dish, it’s still way better for you than my own mac & cheese recipe, which is basically just pasta and processed vegan cheeses (namely, Daiya and Follow Your Heart). Don’t let the book’s title fool you: while these foods may look and taste like junk food, they’re not all super-trashy.

With options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, Vegan Junk Food is versatile. Mix and match the recipes for something new – or experiment to make them your own. For example, I used leftovers from some of the recipes to create new banana ice cream dishes!

While some of the recipes call for pricey vegan meats and cheeses, Gold doesn’t rely on these products exclusively. (Unlike the PPP blog, Vegan Junk Food doesn’t read like a Lightlife ad!) In fact, she offers diy recipes for many of these vegan staples so you can make ’em your own bad self, oftentimes at a fraction of the price! See, e.g., gravy (page 61); ricotta (pg. 120); sour cream (pg. 120); cheese sauce (pg. 121) basil pesto (pg. 124); and ranch dressing (pg. 126), to name just a few!

My complaints are few and relatively minor. Some recipes reference other recipes – to return to the Mac and Cheese Bake, the Cheese Sauce is its own recipe, located in a different section of the book – but don’t include a page number alongside the recipe title, thus forcing the reader to consult the index in order to find it. A minor annoyance, compounded by the index’s lack of user friendliness. (I find it counter-intuitive and difficult to use.) An estimated cook time and rating for difficulty on each dish would have been nice too, but I suppose both are easy enough to gauge by reading through the instructions.

I also ran into issues with two of the recipes – the Almond Joy Bar Cake and the Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, and Hash Brown Quiche – which I’ll explain below. Still, out of twenty recipes, two small glitches? Not so bad! Especially when you consider my lackluster track record with baked goods. Brownies, why you no like me?

What follows is a run-down of all the dishes I’ve tried thus far. I’ve only tackled about half the items on my to-do list, so I’m far from done with this cookbook! I’ll post additional pictures as I take them, so keep an eye out for those.

 

  • Pesto Chicken Pizza with Creamy Garlic Sauce (page 85)

    2012-02-18 - Chik'n Pesto & French Fry Pizzas - 0009

    This was the first recipe we tried out, and quite possibly it’s also my favorite! The pureed white beans, seasoned with vegetable broth, nooch, and garlic, makes for a savory and filling pizza sauce, and the Basil Pesto is simple yet delicious. Enjoy this pizza with a fork and bib, though – it’s a messy one!

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  • Bonus Iron Chef!: Chocolate Chip Brownies with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

    Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

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    What! You didn’t think that I’d be able to stay away from sweets entirely, did you? Coconut and chocolate, chocolate and coconut – they go together like…well, like me and pizza! Or me and dogs! Or me and pizza dogs! (And that, my friends, is how magnets work.)

    Anyhow, enough with the silliness. Desserts are a serious biz. And this one hits the coconut trifecta: coconut milk, coconut extract and shredded coconut (in the brownies, frosting and garnishments, respectively), all without overpowering the dessert. For this Iron Chef Challenge, I started with one of my favorite brownie recipes, replacing the soy milk with coconut milk. As it turns out, this didn’t make a huge diff, as the original recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of soy milk. If you want the brownies to have a stronger coconut flavor (or any coconut flavor at all), try adding in a teaspoon or two of coconut extract. (Likewise, if you don’t have any coconut milk on hand, just use soy or almond!)

    In contrast, 1/2 a teaspoon of coconut extract goes a long way in the buttercream frosting, giving it a sweet – but subtle – taste of coconut. Top it all off with sweetened, shredded coconut and chocolate sprinkles (vegan, of course!) and you’ve got yourself a triple coconut, triple chocolate masterpiece.

    Also: a sugar hangover headache the next morning. BUT SO WORTH IT!

     

    2011-10-21 - Chocolate Coconut Brownies - 0037

     
    Chocolate Chip Brownies with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

    Ingredients

    …for the brownies

    1/2 cup canola oil
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    1/4 cup coconut milk
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
    1/2 cup unbleached white flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    1/2 cup cocoa powder
    1/2 cup cup sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

    …for the buttercream frosting

    1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
    1/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
    1 cup powdered sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

    coconut shreds and chocolate sprinkles to garnish

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    Vegan S’mores Brownies FTmofoW!

    Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

    For veganmofo iv, I’d like to try my hand at veganizing a few non-veg recipes…but, seeing as I’m no domestic diva, my ambitions are somewhat, shall we say, modest. Instead of going all Project Just Desserts on your asses, I’m sticking to recipes that require only a few modifications and substitutions.

    Such as these S’more Brownies I found on NabiscoWorld.com ages ago. To say that I veganized this recipe is a little generous, actually, since I mostly just swapped out non-vegan products for cruelty-free ones: Dandies for Jet-Puffed minis, Honey Maid Grahams for vegan crackers, eggs for NRG, etc. But still, yum!

    As good as these s’mores are warm and freshly baked, they’re even tastier (if harder to slice) the next day. The “brownie” portion of this dessert is more fudge-like than crumbly, and leaving it out overnight gives it a chance to firm up a bit.

    Happy noming!

    (Vegan) S’mores Brownies

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    Ingredients

    10-15 vegan graham crackers
    3/4 cup margarine
    4 1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
    2 cups sugar
    A vegan egg substitute, equivalent to 3 chicken eggs (I used NRG Egg Replacer)
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 cup flour
    2 1/2 cups Dandies (or the vegan marshmallows of your choice)
    1 cup vegan chocolate chips or chunks

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    VeganMoFo, Day 30: Green Tea Cupcakes & Black Bean Brownies (Oh my!)

    Friday, October 30th, 2009

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    Since VeganMoFo is coming to a close, I decided to spend the afternoon experimenting with two recipes I’ve been meaning to try, namely, Green Tea Cupcakes and Black Bean Brownies. You may recall that I vowed to try the former at the beginning of the month – and what kind of VeganMoFo’er would I be if I broke that one teensy-weeny little promise?

    (Actually, funny story. When making the black bean brownies, I spent five+ minutes trying to coax the cover of the food processor to lock into place. Turns out I had it on backwards the whole time. But wait! That’s not all! Later on, I set the oven timer to what I thought was 30 minutes. It went off 30 seconds later. Oy. Turns out I’m not much of a MoFo’er after all!)

    First up: Green Tea Cupcakes with Matcha Glaze from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Two words: Fucking. Awesome. Seriously, these things rock. Assuming you like green tea, which I totally do.

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    The Matcha Glaze is kinda funky; before looking the recipe over, I thought the frosting would be a variation of Isa’s iconic vegan buttercream concoction, but as the name implies, it’s really a glaze. It’s different, but nicely so. Also a bit of a relief, because the sugar-heavy buttercream tends to give me a sugar headache. (Any tips for reducing the sugar content? Should I just add more shortening/less sugar? Anyone?)

    Matcha is on the expensive side, but most recipes don’t call for all that much. I originally purchased a small box to try out in the Green Tea recipe from Wheeler del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop (also awesome, btw); now, methinks it’ll remain a pantry regular.

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    Easy Vegan Summer Treats: Frozen Banana Slices

    Friday, July 10th, 2009

    Because I’m a crazy awesome doggy mama, I’m always on the lookout for toys and treats with which to spoil my dog-kids. So when I saw this recipe for banana “Ice Cream” at It’s a Vegan Dog’s Life, I knew I wanted to try it.

    But, alas! – We don’t own any ice cube trays! (Drats, foiled again.) Ice cube trays are now on my shopping list, somewhere between plastic canisters and pastry flour, but some good that does me today.

    Instead, I decided to try freezing banana slices as a quick fix. The dogs used to love chewing on plain ole ice cubs, but we had to put the kibosh on that when one of Rennie’s teefies came loose. (“Too much hard chewing,” admonished the vet.) That, and I’ve heard talk on the internets that ice cubes (and extremely cold, icy water) can cause digestive problems in dogs. Possibly this is an urban legend; but I thought I’d throw it out there, just in case.

    When frozen, bananas aren’t nearly as dense and hard as ice cubes, so they make for a nice, cold snack on a hot summer day. A nice, cold snack that won’t snap your furkid’s teeth in half! Plus, you can always half-freeze the slices or let them thaw a little before serving. Don’t let them thaw completely, though, as freezing and thawing changes the banana’s cell structure, such that a frozen-and-defrosted banana becomes very mushy and gooey.

    Take it from me; I learned the hard way (naturally!):

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    Mushy or not, the dogs still gobbled ’em up.

    In human food news, last night I tried out Vivacious Vegan’s Best Brownies Ever. Super-yummy, and very easy to make. It’s a vegan recipe, so no pesky egg or dairy substitutions. Which actually makes this recipe easier than a boxed mix, even. I have a horrible track record with brownies – somehow, I always manage to burn them – but even I couldn’t mess this one up.

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    As you can see, I used Dandies marshmallows in place of the walnuts. It was a risky choice – given my aforementioned ineptitude at brownie baking, and Dandies’ official status as a precious natural resource (shinier than diamonds, more valuable than a brick of gold, I tell ya) – but in the end, it totally paid off. Vegan win!

    (One suggestion should you choose to try this recipe with Dandies, or any vegan marshmallows, for that matter. Fold the marshmallows into the batter last thing, preferably as you’re pouring the batter into the baking pan. This will keep the Dandies from browning and/or burning before the brownies are done baking.)

    That’s my Friday food blogging. What have y’all been up to in the kitch?

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    Product Review: Cherrybrook Kitchen Brownie Mix

    Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

    A few weeks ago, I raved about Cherrybrook Kitchen’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. They were seriously awesome and, better yet, the mix doesn’t require eggs (for us veg*ns, this means egg replacer and the associated risk of lumps of egg replacer).

    Last week, I broke out the box of Cherrybrook Kitchen Brownie Mix I had stashed in the pantry. With the memory of fluffy chocolate chip cookies still fresh in my mind, I had high expectations for this brownie mix. Alas, the brownies fell a wee bit short.

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    The cooking instructions for the brownies are pretty straightforward: add margarine, water and vegetable oil; cook at 350 degrees for 16 minutes for fudge-like brownies, 18 minutes for cake-like brownies (2 minutes less for dark pans). Quick and simple.

    I wanted fudgey, gooey brownies, so I removed the pan from the oven after 14 minutes and let them cool a bit. Ten minutes later, I tried to cut myself a piece and…got a butter knife full of batter. So back in they went.

    I didn’t want to overbake them, so I checked in every two minutes to see how done the insides were. I ended up baking them an extra 6 minutes or so, but despite my best efforts, I ended up with cakey brownies. Maybe I was having bad luck, or perhaps I was just tired and cranky after a day of holiday baking – I dunno. Not my best batch of brownies, though. They’re good, just not very brownie-like.

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    (Even the chocolate chip cookie pictures came out better!)

    So…I’m not sure what to rate these. 3 out of 5 stars, maybe? 4/5?

    Meh. Mom and dad, please to send me some more chocolate chip cookie mixes!? *nudge-nudge wink-wink*

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    Tagged:

    Tofurky -n- Tots

    Saturday, November 24th, 2007

    As promised, more veg*n food p0rn!

    Here’s our Thanksgivingliving day menu, along with the obligatory food p0rn pics. Obviously, it’s too late to try any of these dishes this t-day (unless you’re a hardcore procrastinator), but you’ve got plenty of time to prepare for Christmas x-mas FSMas, assuming that one or more of the following dishes strikesyer fancy, of course.

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    Recipes and photos after the flip.

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