Black Bean Brownies

I’ve been wanting to try black bean brownies for a long time now. Everyone says you can’t detect the beans at all, and gee whiz, now that I’ve had them I can say … they’re right! I created this brownie recipe after researching tips from other recipes online and struck gold.

They taste even better than they look, and I’m fully aware of how good they look.

Black Bean Brownies 3

Dense and fudgy with an intense cocoa flavor, these brownies are incredibly addicting and that’s ok – because they’re good for you too. If you’re like me, and always seem to have a can of black beans and bananas on-hand, make these immediately. This is not a drill. Go!

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Put all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into a blender or food processor. Process until a smooth batter forms.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and fold into batter.
  4. Pour the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle more chocolate chips on top.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out mostly clean and there are cracks in the top of the brownies.
  6. Cool the pan completely and then refrigerate until chilled. If you used parchment paper, you should be able to lift the brownies out of the pan easily. Cut the brownies as you like. I got 16 squares out of my pan.

Black Bean Brownies 2

Black Bean Brownies 4

Black Bean Brownies

Spaghetti-Squash Pizza Crust

Using vegetables as pizza crust might have changed my life forever.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust 2

Here was the situation: it was two days before Fall break, no food in the fridge, no point in buying more food for the fridge, I had just cooked a spaghetti squash the day before, and had more squash than I knew what to do with.

A quick Google search of “new things to do with spaghetti squash” yielded me results which led to this tasty pizza.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust 3

I didn’t follow the recipe to a T because, again, I had almost nothing else in my fridge. But the crust still turned out really yummy and crispy on the edges. This crust is not as sturdy as other vegetable crusts, and certainly not traditional pizza crusts, but it was a really fun experiment and delicious dinner.

I simply topped with olive oil, raw cheddar, and jalapeños, because that’s what I had. It turned out really well, but you can get really creative with the toppings. Think of what might go well with squash … fall herbs like rosemary and thyme, mushrooms, caramelized onions, chorizo, pesto …. the options are endless!

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Recipe adapted from Shared Appetite 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cooked spaghetti squash
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used raw cheddar)
  • 1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese (I didn’t use this)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Roast spaghetti squash and scoop out the flesh.
  3. Wrap measured-out squash in a cheesecloth, clean kitchen towel, or layers of paper towels and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. I just squeezed it plain over a strainer. The drier the squash, the crispier the crust.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the squash, garlic, olive oil, egg, cheeses, and season with oregano, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Press squash in a thin, even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and form into an approximate 10-inch circle.
  5. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully flip, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add desired toppings and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until done.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

Curry Acorn Soup 3

Sweet Acorn squash. Spicy curry. Roasted garlic. Nutty Parmiggiano. Salty, toasted seeds.

Oh, and warm, homemade bread.

Curry Acorn Soup

This soup is an edible embrace of Fall. So colorful, so flavorful, so warm and yummy.

I learned this trick to bake the garlic inside the squash halves from the one and only, Mr. Guy Fieri. (I mean, not personally, I just read it in one of his recipes.) I had my doubts about Guy at first, but over the years he has earned my respect. Him and his white crunchy hair know what’s up. Maybe that’s the source of all his powers …?

Baking the garlic this way imparts a nice flavor into the squash, while drawing out that unmistakable sweet, roasted garlic flavor. Total sidenote: I love that acorn squash, when cut, look like big cartoon flowers. ❤

Curry really brings out the best in squash, in my opinion, so this recipe is a real winner. It’s a little spicy, and very well spiced, sweet, and just a touch salty. I toasted the seeds from the squash and sprinkled them on top. That will be another recipe for another day. A grate of parm and a slice of fresh bread and you’ve got a knockout meal.

Curry Acord Soup 2

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Sambal (Asian chile sauce)
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut milk (not light)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
  • Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. You can discard or set them aside to roast later. I highly encourage the latter. Cut a flat spot on each end so the squash will sit flat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the squash, cut side up.

Add a peeled garlic clove (or two if they’re small) in the cavity of each squash half. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast until very tender and starting to caramelize and collapse, approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle, remove the squash from the skin. Reserve the garlic with the squash.

In a large saucepan, add the other tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is hot, saute shallots until tender then add curry powder and other spices. Let the spices toast for a minute or less and then deglaze the pan with half of the stock.

Add squash and garlic into the pot and allow the flavors to meld. Add in the rest of the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, carefully puree soup until smooth and creamy. Return to pot and stir in coconut milk. Cook over low until heated through.

Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano, toasted squash seeds, and fresh bread.

Curried Lentil Kale Soup

Lentil Soup

I’m a lover of lentils. They know it, I know it. We have an understanding. I use them all the time because they taste good PLUS, they are a great source of protein and fiber. They give me the nutrients I need, while not weighing me down like meat often does.

Soups like this are perfect for when you don’t have much in your kitchen, but still need to make a meal. I pretty much always have lentils and some sort of greens around, so this is a staple for me. It’s spicy and spiced, silky from the coconut milk, and rich with legumes. It’s lovely on its own, but paired with some crusty French bread it would be perfection.

Curried Lentil Kale Soup 

Recipe adapted from 40 aprons 
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 4-6 cups stock
  • 1 scant tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (more or less to taste)
  • Handful of torn or chopped kale (I used a mixed assortment of greens from the farmer’s market)
  • Splash of coconut milk (amount dependent on preference)
  • Salt to taste
Preparation:

Rinse the lentils in a colander and pick out any stones. Combine with 4 cups stock  in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet and sauté the onion over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes or so. Add the garlic and spices and fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Scrape into the lentils and add coconut milk and kale. If soup is too thick, add up to 2 more cups stock.

Bring soup back up to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until soup is reduced slightly and kale is tender. Add salt to taste.

Healthy Banana Bread with Walnuts and Dark Chocolate

This is a great recipe that you can feel good about. It’s perfect for breakfast, a snack, dessert, late-night craving …

If I don’t have healthy treats around that I can nosh on when I get the urge, things can get preeeetty dicey. Like, late night chocolate cake making or cheesy pasta dicey. If I have something like this delicious bread sitting around, I have nothing to worry about because it’s easy, tasty, and full of good things!

This bread is one of the best healthy banana bread recipes I have tried. The recipe I used as inspiration had unsweetened applesauce instead of Greek yogurt and olive oil, but I improvised and used what I had. I am a big fan of using applesauce in baked goods though – it’s perfect for adding natural sweetness and moisture. If you omit the chocolate chips in my recipe (which I clearly could not do), this is pretty much guilt-free. I don’t even feel guilty for the chocolate though, because it’s good for the soul. #truth. 

banana bread

Healthy Banana Bread with Walnuts and Dark Chocolate 

Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen 

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 mashed banana (overripe is best)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt (Fage)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (more or less to your liking)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (more or less to your liking)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.

In large bowl combine mashed banana, yogurt, olive oil, honey, egg, almond milk and vanilla until well combined and creamy. In separate medium bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.

Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely. Keep bread tightly wrapped to maintain moisture.

Enjoy!

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips

Zucchini bread

The whole food internet world is lamenting over their excess of zucchinis. Every other day I see a post that tells you what to do when you’re fed up with zucchini, or how to control your squash population problem. It’s a serious crisis. Everyone needs to just calm down and take a breather. Stop making ribbons, stuffing, and pureeing. Just get back to the basics and make a damn cake. That’s basically what zucchini bread is anyway. Who gets tired of cake?

Zucchini bread is so welcoming, fragrant and charming; how can I say no when my zuke is just begging to be made it into a bread? This one is not quite as healthy as my last, but it’s still mostly healthy! It’s hard for me to abandon my health-nut nature entirely, so I simply lowered the sugar content by swapping in naturally sweet applesauce in lieu of more sugar, and used whole wheat flour and olive oil. I threw in dark chocolate chips for good measure, without measuring.

Although I studied other recipes in making this one, I’m proud to say this recipe is entirely my own!

One trick I find helpful, that I haven’t seen in other zucchini bread recipes, is to add the salt for the bread directly onto the grated zucchini. This draws out excess moisture.

While the zucchini is draining, get all of your other ingredients ready.

Zucchini Bread 1

Mix all of the wet ingredients.

Zucchini Bread 2

Then mix all of the dry ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix well. Then distribute between loaf pans, muffins tins, or whatever else you might be using.

Zucchini Bread 4

Zucchini Bread 3

Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. It could be more or less time, depending on your oven.

Zucchini Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips

Yield: 2 loaves, or; 1 large loaf and 6 large muffins, or; 24 small muffins 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups grated zucchini (1 large or 2 medium)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (more or less to your liking)
  • Optional: chopped walnuts or pecans

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8×4 inch loaf pans. Or if, like me, you only have 1 loaf pan; grease 1 loaf pan and a muffin tin.

First things first, wash your zucchini and then grate on a box grater into a strainer. I mix the salt with the zucchini at this point, because it helps draw out some of the moisture. Let the zucchini sit and drain for about 10 minutes, then take a thin kitchen towel or cheese cloth and squeeze the excess water out.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in the applesauce, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Then stir in the grated and drained zucchini.

Combine the flour, spices, baking soda, and baking powder. Add in the chocolate chips at this point too so the chips get some flour all up on them and don’t sink to the bottom when they bake.

Stir the dry mix into the wet mixture. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared loaf pans, or into 1 loaf pan and a muffin tin. You can also make ALL muffins if your heart so desires!

Bake loaves for about 50 minutes. It might need more or less time, but at this point test and see if a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Muffins will only take about 20 minutes, but test them the same way to ensure they are done.

Zucchini Bread 2

Zucchini Bread 3

Zucchini bread open

Zucchini bread open 2

Nom nom

Zucchini Bread 5

Poached Cod with Tomato and Saffron

Sea bass 1

My dear friend, Lauren, invited me over for a cooking date one weekend, and the picture above was part of the deliciousness that we made.

Lauren is a trained chef (unlike me, who learned from the Food Network and binge-food blog sessions, with one hand on the keyboard and the other elbow deep in a box of frosted mini-wheats…), so everything that girl makes is good. Lauren had some saffron she had “come into possession of,” so we decided to put it to good use. We wanted something light and summery, but rich and satisfying … cue in, the tomato and saffron poached cod!

We tied on our aprons, poured ourselves some fancy Moscow Mules, and cooked this beautiful seafood dish along with some pesto roasted cauliflower, using ingredients from Lauren’s garden. We paired the dish with fresh baker’s bread and ended with vanilla-scented peaches and cream for dessert. It was a picture-perfect summer dinner and I can’t wait until we do it again.

Poached Cod with Tomato and Saffron

Recipe from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ½ crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 5-oz. skinless cod fillets

Preparation:

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook, stirring often, until fragrant (garlic should not take on any color), about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you add them, wine, bay leaves, saffron, and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until flavors meld, 5–7 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to medium-low; season cod with salt and pepper and place in skillet. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, 5–7 minutes (thicker pieces will take longer to cook).
Gently transfer cod to shallow bowls and spoon poaching liquid over.

 

Orange, Olive Oil and Chocolate Cake

Last week I was on vacation in Naples, Florida.

Sun, sand, copious amounts of seafood, and lots of cooking.

Every year we buy or make a key lime pie and have it for dessert at least twice during the week. Not being a huge fan of key lime pie myself (gasp!), I wanted to do something different this year. A dessert with a primary ingredient of sweetened condensed milk just doesn’t impress me. Go ahead, you can call me a snob.

I wanted to make something this year that really celebrated one of Florida’s greatest assets – the orange. So I did some research and found an incredible Olive Oil Orange cake recipe. The blogger I borrowed it from had just returned from a trip to Naples, Italy, and was inspired by the citrus fruit there as well. This cake uses an entire orange, rind and all, so it seemed a perfect match for my intentions.  I also really love olive oil in desserts. In fact, I started swapping out butter for olive oil in many of my cookies and cakes long before I realized other people were doing it too!

This recipe is really quite simple, just a bit time consuming in the beginning, but absolutely worth the extra effort. I halved the cake recipe, as there were only 5 of us and we were leaving very soon, so the recipe below will actually make a cake twice the size of mine. I did not, however, halve the frosting recipe. One of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time …

Totally beautiful and delicious dessert. Please let me know how you like it when (not if) you make it. 🙂

I realize the picture quality isn’t the best, but still, how good does that ganache look cascading down the sides of the orange cake?

Orange-Olive Oil and Chocolate Cake, with flaked salt
Makes one 8 x 3-inch round cake
Recipe courtesy of Desserts for Breakfast

For cake:

  • 2 medium-sized oranges
  • 2 1/3 cups (467 gr) sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (350 gr) flour
  • 2 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 2 tspn orange blossom water
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbspn extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbspn fresh orange juice

For frosting:

  • 5 oz (142 gr) unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 Tbspn butter
  • 1 cup + 1 Tbspn (215 gr) sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • flaked finishing salt
  1. Make the cake. In a pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Trim 1/2-inch from the tops and bottoms of each orange. Once the water is at a boil, submerge the oranges and cook briefly, about 1 minute. Drain the oranges, discard the water, and repeat the boiling, cooking, and draining two more times.
  3. Combine the blanched oranges, 1 cup (200 gr) sugar, and 4 cups water over medium heat. Cook for about 30 minutes while stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves and the orange rinds are fork-tender. Let cool until room temperature.
  4. Drain the oranges and remove the seeds. Reserving the cooking liquid for glaze.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 8 x 3-inch cake pan and set aside.
  6. In a bowl, mix to combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  7. In a food processor, blend the cooked oranges (including rind) until a chunky puree.
  8. Add the remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, 1 tspn orange blossom water, and flour mixture. Process for 2 minutes until well-incorporated.
  9. Gradually drizzle in the olive oil and process until incorporated.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out cleanly. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  11. Meanwhile, mix to combine 2 Tbspn of cooking liquid, 1 tspn orange blossom water, and orange juice.  Remove the cake from the pan. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork and brush the liquid on the cake.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  12. Make the frosting. Chop the chocolate and butter and set aside.
  13. In a saucepan, bring the sugar and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 minutes. Do not let the saucepan overflow.
  14. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and butter until melted.
  15. Stir in the vanilla extract. Let the frosting cool completely, whisking occasionally during cooling. Once completely cool at room temperature, the frosting will be spreadable.
  16. Sprinkle the frosted cake with finishing salt.