Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brownie Pie & PB Greek Yogurt Frosting

Since Walden broke his paw, life has actually been a little easier. We realized with the big cone on his head, we call it his space helmet; he can't get into as much mischief while we are out of the house. Walden has been known to take apart our baking goods in the pantry and spread the flour over the living room floor, drooling 2 towels worth if he's crated, and take drying dishes from the counter and rearrange them into broken pieces on the floor. He's such a cute dog.... However, since the 'cone' aka space helmet, he hadn't appeared to be getting into anything, until last night.

Neal and I enjoyed a nice workout at the gym in preparation for our Teton climb in a few weeks. We were excited to clean up and go to a friend’s house for dinner. I had dessert ready. I baked a lovely loaf of banana bread, and I couldn't wait to share it with my friends. As I walked into the kitchen I saw our banana bread on the floor and partially gnawed, the plate shattered! OH NO! WALDEN! What happened to our well-behaved spaceman!?

It's time for plan B, aka when in a pinch make Brownies.

I didn't want to make just any brownies; I wanted something special, so I put it in a pie pan, added walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

This is the recipe I followed. I recommend adding more cocoa than called for and maybe even a little more butter even though it's not healthy.

I thought that I was going to be done, until I realized I had a hankering for peanut butter. What did I do? I added a peanut butter frosting to my brownies, of course!  Thus making my Brownie Pie with Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Frosting!

Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Frosting

2/3 cup natural honey peanut butter

8 oz. plain or vanilla Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons of butter

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend it all together with a hand mixer and you have the MOST DELICIOUS topping for your brownies!

While I was disappointed we didn't get to have my yummy banana bread, I think the lovely 'brownie pie' made for a delicious dessert!

Let me know what you think if you try my PB Greek Yogurt Frosting!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Day of Summer - Veggies & a Shake!

Happy Summer Solstice! 

One of my favorite things about summer is fresh home grown veggies!  My in laws gave us a bunch of squash, zucchini, and green peppers.  We visited them last week and they have multiple planters full of beautiful vegetables.  While we were there we enjoyed salads with homegrown spinach as well as baked and stove cooked dishes with squash & zucchini. 

Tonight I cooked with some of the squash and zucchini.  I made a dish filled with the colorful veggies and bursting with flavors of garlic, cumin and fresh feta.

It was so simple!

I melted butter and added about 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic.  I let that cook for about 2 minutes on medium heat before adding sliced squash & zucchini along with 2 tablespoons of water and 1/2 teaspoon cumin.  That simmered for 5 minutes on low/medium.  After the veggies were softer with just a little bit of crisp, I added some diced pimentos.  (I really wanted sweet red peppers but didn't have any so I substituted the pimentos.)  After letting that all warm up, I plated it and topped the veggies with crumbled feta cheese. 

The dish was so perfect paired with skillet cooked tilapia.  Neal made the fish seasoned with Penzey's spice Northwoods Seasoning.  It's such a great spice for fish.  It smells amazing and reminds me of the great outdoors with earthy undertones and a bit of a kick. 

To top off the first day of summer, I got a 1/2 off chocolate strawberry shake at Sonic!  I did the Chest, Shoulders & Triceps workout from P90X so I didn't feel guilty at all when I dove into my delicious shake!

Happy Summer!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Daddy, you will always be the first man I ever loved!!!!

This year for Father's Day, instead of asking Dad over and over what he would like, I found something I knew he would use and appreciate.  An etched beer mug that says 'Dad est 8-12-86   5-3-88'.  Now, I loved this gift for a few reasons:
1) I could make it
2) it was affordable
3) it used etching paint and I had always wanted to use etching paint
4) Dad would be able to use it multiple times throughout the year 
5) it would have my birthday on it :)

Why is it important to have my birthday on it?  Dad forgot my birthday this year and it's been SO GREAT to constantly remind him of that!  :)  Granted, my father was in another country on my birthday, but it took him a total of 4 DAYS to remember that he had missed it!  While typing this, I am giggling because it is not something that bothered me all that much, but my dad truly felt awful about not remembering.  It became a great joke between my Neal, and I every time we would get mail or my dad would call, e-mail, or text me the days following my birthday.  Neal said, so did dad have anything he wanted to tell you?  To which I would reply, nope!  He doesn't remember I was born! 

Dad, I love you!  I am glad it's not just me with the horrible memory.  If only I could remember to take that Ginko!  Now back to your gift...

Etched Beer Mug Supplies
Mugs - I bought a 4 pack at Target for $15
Armour Etch - Hobby Lobby <$10, use the 40% off printable coupon if not on sale
Stencil - I created my with my Cricut using 2 cartridges, 'Thinking of You' and 'Winter Frolic'
since I made my own stencil, I used a vinyl cut-out w/ a paper to transpose it.
Paint brush

First I made my stencil by cutting out a border tag with the 'Thinking of You' cartridge and then in the center of that I used the font from 'Winter Frolic' to cut out DAD.  I skipped down 10 paces between the following:  est.  /  8-12-86  /  5-3-88.  I probably could have done a little less spacing to keep it closer together, but I still liked how it turned out. 
I carefully aligned my vinyl with my transposing paper onto the mug.

Then I prepared my sink area with the Armor Etch and paper towels.  Be very careful not to get the Armor Etch on your skin.  It burns the glass, not just paints an etched look, so it will burn your skin!
After about a minute an a half rinse off your paint and lightly tap off the excess water w/ a towel.
Peel your stencil, and Wah-la!  You have a great personalized etched gift!
I can't wait to etch more things like wine glasses, coasters, decorative gifts, and Pyrex dishes!  I also have 3 more mugs like this...hmm whatever shall I do?  I am sure you will see more of these from me in the future :)
Happy Father's day to all you dads!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chocolate Steak and Salad!? Oh my!

If you thought chocolate was only for dessert, you were wrong. 

If you thought chocolate was a secretive sweet indulgence to hide from your roommates or husband, you were wrong. 

If you think chocolate should be enjoyed with every meal, then this is a post for you!  :)

"Inspiration", that's where this recipe was found.  The Fresh Market puts out their specials and some recipes in a monthly newsletter titled "Inspiration".  This month, I was totally inspired when I saw a dinner recipe that consisted of cocoa!

Is that greenery, strawberries, feta cheese and CHOCOLATE flakes you see?  You bet it is!

What a great combination, strawberries and chocolate.  Now let's take that to the next level and try to justify it by making it seem even healthier than we already convince ourselves of this decadent combination.  Let's add it to a salad with tasty goat feta cheese and a chocolate balsamic dressing! BOOM!  That's magical! 

To please the man in your life, or just if you are a steak lover such as myself, you should make him a steak he won't soon forget and you will enjoy to the last bite.  What do you need for this steak?  Chocolate of course!  Don't fear, you cannot mess this pan seared steak up.  All you need is some salt, pepper, honey, olive oil and of course the COCOA powder!  To make this even more tempting, try the MERLOT BUTTER! (found also at link below).

To find the recipe and instructions, check out the Fresh Market's "Inspiration" newsletter this month, or go to the links on their website here here.

Garlic Olive Oil
Both the salad and the steak call for the Fresh Market's "O" Roasted Garlic Olive Oil.  I didn't purchase this and instead flavored some olive oil with garlic powder, to taste.  If I had planned ahead better, I wold have infused some olive oil with fresh crushed garlic cloves overnight.  Now that would be tasty!  Growing up we used to dip fresh bread into olive oil with a garlic olive oil with Parmesan seasoning would be TO DIE FOR!  I am getting all sorts of ideas for garlic olive oil and will need to try that one later :)

Try both recipes won't regret it!  It's quick and actually very simple to make.

If you try this recipe, tell me what you think!