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Guilt Free Brownies

I’ve been pinning like a crazy person this morning and came across this recipe for brownies that I just HAD to try. They’re flourless, sugar-free, and do not contain any weird ingredients like beans or tofu or avocado, just plain stuff you probably already have in your kitchen: bananas, peanut butter, honey, cocoa, chocolate chips, and vanilla. The recipe calls for an 8 x 10 pan, which is weird but I made mine using just an electric mixer, and put them in an 8 x 8 pan then baked them for 35 minutes. The bottom got a little too brown, so I’m not sure if it’s because of the recipe, or if it was me. I have a feeling it might be because of the lack of flour or leavening. I might add some almond flour and cook them at a lower temperature for longer next time. They turned out very gooey. Reading through the original recipe comments I decided to use only one and a half bananas and I’m glad I did. You can definitely taste the banana. I also added 4 Tbsp of cocoa instead of three and they’re still not quite as chocolatey as I would like. Next time I might add another Tbsp to see if that does the trick. These are probably not “lite” since if you cut them into 16 squares, each will have a tablespoon of peanut butter in them which is 100 calories. All in all, it’s a decent recipe that you can play around with and make your own. I ate 2 and didn’t have that need to overeat like with regular brownies, so that alone makes this recipe worth it in my books :)

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Flourless Chocolate Banana Brownies

1 cup peanut butter
6 ounces banana or 1 1/2 – 2 bananas
¼ cup honey
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

dash of salt

oil for greasing the baking dish (or just use parchment)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the first 6 ingredients to a food processor and process on high until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Next, add chocolate chips and pulse several times until the chips are combined. {I just used a cake mixer for the whole thing, mashing the banana first} Spread the brownie mixture evenly in a greased 8 x 10 baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Notes
These brownies taste best when warm. Leftover brownies can be reheated for about 5-7 minutes in a 350 degree oven or toaster oven.

Adapted from: http://www.loveyourselfgreen.com

Engagement Ring Options

No, I am not engaged, but it looks like someone in my immediate family /friends circle might soon be. ;)  I’m just posting this for any young couples out there that might be interested in having a beautiful ring without the huge price tag. Once I learned about how the diamond companies operate, I have been a huge advocate of conflict free diamonds and diamond alternatives. In these trying economic times, it pays to look into your options. I’ve done a lot of research online about diamond alternatives and more economic diamonds, then created this handy guide. There are price comparisons for natural diamonds, enhanced white and enhanced blue diamonds, lab created diamonds, Moissanite, and diamond “hybrids”. With all these great choices out there, I think everyone from any tax bracket can find a ring they love.

Here’s a great article as well, from the New Zealand Herald with links to a Huffington Post. How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? ;)  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11204767 Fun little excerpt:

The De Beers marketing machine continued to churn out the hits. They circulated marketing materials suggesting, apropos of nothing, that a man should spend one month’s salary on a diamond ring. It worked so well that De Beers arbitrarily decided to increase the suggestion to two months salary. That’s why you think that you need to spend two month’s salary on a ring — because the suppliers of the product said so.

Note: All rings are about .69-.75 carat weight or equivalent. I have seen moissanite in person and absolutely love it! It has beautiful sparkle and tons of fire.

Some sources: http://www.BlueNile.com   www.angara.com    www.biggestrocks.com  www.moissaniteco.com   www.brilliantearth.com   http://www.miadonna.com  www.betterthandiamond.com   www.quorri.com 

Click below for PDF document

RingComparisons

Moissanite ring set in rose gold in etsy shop RosadosBox

I absolutely love sparkly rings and am thinking I might use that as an incentive to finally get off my butt and start working out and eating better. If I get to my goal weight I would treat myself to a lovely right hand ring. What do you think? Have any of you tried this type of reward system for weight loss? Did it work?

Cuisinart Griddler + Steak Marinade

Life has been absolutely insane lately. I work at a non-profit and the end of the fiscal year is beyond stressful. Last week we were pestering people to fill out participant forms and I had to work at home a few hours last weekend just to get the year end report done before the last day of my contract on the 31st. I wasn’t keen on cooking when I got home from work, and my 3.5 year old is on the chicken fingers and fries kick again. I’ve made some old standbys and ordered pizza more than once in the past 2-3 weeks. But I do still make a mean breakfast on the weekend. I got a Cuisinart Griddler for Christmas and also invested in the waffle plates. Love it! I find it still takes about 7-8 minutes to make a waffle, rather than the 3-4 they suggest, and I’ve made steaks on it a couple of times now and I have no complaints. The only thing to watch out for is bone-in meats. The plates will make contact with the bones but not the meat and it won’t brown properly. Last weekend I made a version of “Classic Marinade for Steaks” from my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook. I subbed onion powder for the chives, and garlic powder for the minced garlic but it still turned out quite well.

Classic Marinade for Steaks

(Makes about a cup. Enough for 4-5 individual steaks or one 2 pound steak.)

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup extra light olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 very generous tablespoons minced green onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
2 generous teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Combine all ingredients except balsamic vinegar. Transfer 1/4 cup marinade to bowl and stir in vinegar: set aside. Place remaining marinade and steaks in 1 gallon ziplock bag, press out as much air as possible, and seal the bag. Refrigerate for an hour, turning halfway through to ensure even marination. Remove steaks from marinade, letting any excess drip back into bag. Discard bag & marinade. Grill steaks as desired. Transfer steaks to shallow pan and pour reserved marinade over top. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 10 minutes, turning meat at the 5 minute mark. Slice steaks or serve whole, pass with reserved marinade if desired.

Fairy House

I was just going through my Pinterest folders and realized I hadn’t posted photos of my fairy house I made out of a Fun-kin (faux pumpkin)! I thought I would share. I simply cut out the shapes for the door using regular pumpkin carving tools, and made the door out of popsicle sticks that I cut with pruning shears, and glued together with “Goop” glue, then added a piece from an old necklace. The little hinges were taken from a birdhouse I found at the dollarstore. The mushrooms and gazing ball were made with Sculpey and marbles. The fairy figurines I found at Michael’s. The lights were bought online at Wise Mall = $4.29 Warm White Mini 40 LEDs Wedding Party Christmas Fairy String Light: Amazon.ca: Tools & Home Improvement.

It really was a lot of fun making this and Miss M. kept trying to help but she’s still a little too small. She had fun using the pumpkin as a house for all of her little figurines. The neighborhood kids also liked taking a peek on Halloween night. :)

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Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Chives

I really am late getting my posts up. I was so sick last week I was afraid to be alone because I had such a terrible headache I suspected an aneurysm. And Valentine’s Day / Chocopalooza was a pretty much a bust. I tried making red velvet pancakes by combining a buttermilk pancake with some cocoa powder and food colouring and it was a rubbery, disgusting mess. I tried sneaking a little into my daughter and Little Miss was not impressed. She came out to the kitchen with her mouth open and chewed pancake on her tongue. “Yucky!!” I told her it was a new recipe and every weekend since she asks if it’s a new recipe or an old recipe for her Saturday morning pancakes. This past weekend I tried Ricardo’s oatmeal pancakes and they were also gross. Too cooked on the outside and gummy on the inside. I do not recommend them.

But back to Chocopalooza – I made a brunch blowout and invited Mr. M over, (will post a recipe soon) then for dinner I made steak and garlic mashed potatoes, which was a big hit. For dessert I just ate Godiva chocolates. At least the steak and spuds were great! The potatoes were super creamy and flavourful. They have been my go-to special occassion side for the past 10 years. I hope you like them too.

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Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Chives

INGREDIENTS

1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut top 1/4 inch off head of garlic to expose tops of cloves. Place in small baking dish. Spoon oil over; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until garlic cloves are tender, about 45 minutes. Squeeze garlic cloves from skins and mash in small bowl.

Cook potatoes in heavy large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 18 minutes. Drain; return to pot. Stir over low heat to allow excess water to evaporate. Add whipping cream, butter, sour cream, and roasted garlic and mash together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in chives and serve.

Source: Bon Appetit magazine, September 2003.

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

I’ve been seeing a lot of good recipes being shared on facebook lately and decided to save this one for later. I don’t know the original source so I apologize for not giving credit. I decided to use pork tenderloin cutlets and slow roast them in the oven and it turned out okay. I should have stuck with the original recipe because it was a little too dry. The sauce itself was fine but it felt like it was missing something but I don’t know exactly what. I think I will use honey instead of maple syrup next time to make it more like a honey garlic sauce. I’ll let you all know if I get around to doing this.

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

2 pound Pork Tenderloin
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 TBS Yellow Mustard
2-3 TBS maple syrup
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS Diced dried onions
1 1/2 TSP Garlic Salt or Powder

Mix ingredients above. Pour over Tenderloin in the crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.

Chocopalooza is upon us again!

Heather’s annual single girl chocopalooza extravaganza is upon us again, this Saturday, February 14th. I’m running out of chocolate breakfast ideas so I think I’m going to extend my choices to include red velvet, which will allow for red velvet waffles or pancakes.  A friend of mine whom we shall refer to as Mr. S or Stevius Octavius will be joining us for dinner and I’m making steaks, but for dessert I’m still deciding. I was thinking of making woopie pies but it just doesn’t quite scream ultimate chocopalooza indulgence. I am open to suggestions. Here’s a look at my Pinterest Chocolate Desserts folder:

These look insane!

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