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Birthday Brownies

2 Oct

Brownies are one of my favorite things to bake, mainly because I am lazy¬† (which should be apparent from my last post). I love brownies because all you have to do is mix everything together, pour it in one pan, and stick it in the oven. Cookies and other treats that require multiple baking sheets and trips to the oven are often too much of a time commitment. As a result, I bake brownies… a lot.

One of my favorite recipes to use is the Tasting is Believing Whole Wheat Brownies.I love love love this one because it’s on the healthier side (compared to normal brownies), fairly simple to whip up, and it’s so versatile. I’m also a huge fan of King Arthur Flour. Here’s what they have to say about their recipe:

These whole-wheat brownies are the treat we serve when we’re trying to convince folks that baking with whole grains doesn’t have to be an exercise in deprivation! Moist, rich, and deeply, darkly chocolate, these brownies are the ones to go through life with. We discovered something interesting when sampling these. Their texture is greatly improved if you wait 24 hours before cutting them. Why? The wait gives the wheat bran a chance to soften and “disappear,” texture-wise.

I tried this recipe out for the first time near the beginning of my first summer at the Outer Banks working for Kitty Hawk Kites and I brought in a big plate of the final result to the hang gliding school the next day. I later learned that one particular instructor (*cough* Eric *cough*) ate four of the brownies and pulled the empty plate out of the trash can to finish off the crumbs. I think those brownies are the reason we ended up together.

Anyways, Eric’s birthday is tomorrow, though he doesn’t want anyone to know, and these brownies immediately came to mind when I started thinking about what I should make him. So I whipped up a double batch to bring some into work and send the rest to Eric in New Hampshire. These brownies are always delicious, but I added about a cup of peanut butter this time and it definitely took them up a couple of notches. They turned out so great it was a little hard to give them all away!

After baking, I started work on a birthday card, which became the perfect opportunity to try a quick project. I’m a big fan of the website Craftgawker and had found a really cool entry that gave a short tutorial on how to make a crocheted heart. So I dug into my stash to find some red yarn and came up with a cute accessory for the card. I’m really happy with how it came out. What do you think?

So everyone wish Eric a happy birthday and try out these brownies yourself! They taste the best when you make them for someone you love.

Lazy Enchiladas

25 Sep

One thing that everyone should know about me is that I love love love Mexican food. Seriously, just ask one of my friends. Our favorite cure for a bad day is to hit up our favorite Mexican joint to talk over a bowl of queso dip.

As a result of this love, I have put more effort into trying more Mexican recipes. One of the first I mastered was a fairly simple chicken enchiladas recipe that I still love to share and it was the perfect choice for dinner when I had my dad over last week.

Lazy Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • Corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 (4 oz) cans green chilies, chopped
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
  • 3 (10 oz) cans enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

 

The first step is cooking the chicken. After preheating the oven to 375 degrees, I start with a pound of good organic chicken thighs (from Costco of all places) and rinse them off. I then like to rub taco seasoning onto them to add a little extra flavor, but I didn’t have any on hand this time so I used Old Bay instead. It turned out quite tasty so use whatever you happen to have in your spice cabinet. Lay the seasoned thighs in a baking dish and fill it up with water until there is about half an inch in the dish. Then bake for about 30-40 minutes. After they’ve cooled, shred the meat and you’re ready to start the sauce.

Shredded chicken

Start the sauce by sauteing the onion and garlic over in a large oiled skillet over medium heat for about 4 minutes until cooked. Then add the green chilies, the shredded chicken, and most of the enchilada sauce (saving about half a can for later) and cook for 2-3 minutes. Fold in most of the cheese, again saving some for later, and remove from heat.

Now, I believe that the secret to making excellent enchiladas is all in the tortillas. I had a life changing experience a little over a year ago at the Outer Banks when I first tried Green House Tacos. There’s a Mexican family that lives in this little green house that sells tacos out of their kitchen made with fresh meat and herbs and toppings straight out of their garden. But the best part was watching the little old grandmother cook the corn tortillas right in front of us. After taking a bite out of my first homemade tortilla, I knew I could never buy them from the store again and went out and bought a tortillas press the very next day.

Tortillas are actually incredibly easy, though a little more time consuming, to make and so worth it for the extra taste. Just get a bag of masa corn flour (I use Masca) from the Mexican section of any grocery story and follow the directions on the back to make tortillas. You can even fashion a makeshift press out of a cutting board and pie dish or rolling pin. Don’t be afraid to try!

My tortilla making station.

Now I call these my lazy enchiladas (despite the extra effort for the homemade tortillas) because I assemble them in what I have been told is the Spanish style where, instead of filling each tortilla individually, you spread the enchilada sauce between layers of tortilla in a way very similar to lasagna. I put four tortillas in the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish, spread half the cooked sauce over them, and repeated the process. I laid the third and final layer of tortillas on top and then poured the plain enchilada sauce I had saved earlier over them, topping everything with the remaining cheese. Then bake for 10 minutes at 375 and broil for another 5 or so minutes to turn the cheese on top a nice golden brown.

The assembled dish ready for the oven.

You don’t have to go out to a restaurant to enjoy delicious Mexican food. Enjoy!

The final product served with refried beans and broccoli.