Updated Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Sunday was a very important day in my life.

No.....I'm not pregnant. You all are as bad as my kids. Last week I told them I had something to say and the older three asked if I was having another baby.
You see, Sunday was the day I perfected my Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar recipe. I thought I already had them down pat, until my hubby announces that my friend makes them better than I do. WhAt?!?**?!?.....how could that possibly be true???

I got the recipe from HER.

I smelled a saboteur.

After some deep interrogation techniques, my friend admitted to making her bars with a few alterations. So in an effort to continue the high quality and integrity of my blog, I share with you the true version of this home run recipe that was declared "absolutely perfect" by my husband.

The two alterations are very minor but result in a quite a different bar. This updated version is much more dense and moist than my first recipe. I would almost describe it as a brownie like texture. These simple changes make this an absolute must have recipe!!!

Change #1: Substitute the butter flavored Crisco for cheap old margarine.
Change #2: Don't use whole oats. Use quick oats. If you only have whole oats, pulse them 6-7 times for one second in your food processor. Don't over process or you will end up with too fine of oats and very dry cookies.....that is spoken by experience :)

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

I hope I don't insult anyone with this post. I mean, come on. How hard is it really to boil an egg in water?
While it is an easy concept, a few little pointers will do away with the two negatives most people have with hard boiled eggs:

#1 - Yolks that are so dry they crumble to pieces.
#2 - The nasty green ring around the yolk after they cook.

Problem number one is done away with by the gentle rise in temperature this method uses and by not overcooking them. Problem number two (which is a chemical reaction of the sulfur in the white and the iron in the yolk) is obliterated by an immediate soak in ice water when they are finished cooking.

The result is a perfectly cooked egg that has a soft, firm yolk and no hint of that green ring!
Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
1. Place your eggs in a saucepan. You want to keep the eggs snug in the pan so they are less likely to crack when cooking, so don't use too big of a pan. Cover with cold tap water.
2. Place over high heat, uncovered. As soon as the water has come to a full boil, put on the lid, remove from the heat and let the eggs sit for 10 minutes.
3. Drain away the hot water and fill the pan with ice water. Allow the eggs to come to room temperature before removing them from the ice water.
4. Peeling tips:
  • Crack the wider, bottom of the egg first, being sure to break through the clear membrane between the shell and the white of the egg. Next crack the top of the egg, again being sure to break through the membrane. Then roll the rest of the egg to loosen the rest of the shell. Begin peeling at the bottom, being sure you are under that membrane.
  • If it is sticking a bit, run the egg under some warm water to help release that membrane from the egg white.
  • Fresh eggs will always be easier to peel than older eggs.

Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers

One of my favorite foods is a really juicy (loaded with a million toppings) hamburger. I don't consider summer officially started until I've thrown some hamburgers on the grill.

Unfortunately, my hamburger days are forever gone. I haven't had one since June and I'm still in the mourning process. How can life go on???

You see, my pancreas doesn't seem to like beef anymore. Even a very tiny amount makes me hate cows and begin planning their extinction. Stupid pancreas.
I won't lie to you. These taste nothing like hamburgers. Their texture doesn't even resemble a hamburger. If that is what you are looking for, keep on looking!

However, they are a very delicious black bean burger. I love the flavor the mushrooms give the patty and the bit of heat from the jalapeno. I made some thick and some thin. We much preferred the thinner patties.

If you are blessed enough to have a loving relationship with beef, then please, treasure every moment you are given with your hamburgers. You never know. Your time with them might come to a painful and abrupt end. Throw some sliced avocado on your next one for me, would ya?
Black Bean Mushroom Burgers
(adapted from The New Vegetarian Grill)
1 Tb canola oil
1/2 Tb butter
1 C finely chopped onion
8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
4 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 ounces goat, feta or cheddar cheese, crumbled or shredded
1/4 C chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
8 english muffins, toasted

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the mushroom and garlic and cook until mushrooms have reduced and released their moisture, about 6 minutes. Add in the cumin and paprika then set aside to cool.
2. Tear toasted bread into pieces and pulse in the food processor until crumbs form. Dump them into a large bowl. Add the mushroom mixture, beans, cheese, cilantro, salt and pepper to the processor and pulse. You do not want a smooth mixture, but you need small uniform pieces. Scoop the mixture into the bread crumbs and stir well to combine.
3. Using a level ice cream scoop, divide the mixture into 8 even portions and form them into patties. Place them in a hot skillet or electric griddle brushed with oil. Cook for 5 minutes on each side until crisp. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings. You can try avocado, salsa, sour cream, mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cheese.

Cocoa Layer Cake

So how goes your diet?

If it is going well, please stop reading now. Don't scroll down. I would hate to be accused of being a saboteur!

If you have already given up, then to you I dedicate this post!

This cake is quite delicious and easy, as far as a from-scratch cake goes. Generally I prefer cakes made from melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder but this one has a nice chocolate flavor and is really moist.

Unfortunately, the chocolate buttercream frosting was pretty unremarkable, so I didn't include the recipe for it. I'll have to let you know how the next recipe for frosting goes. If I'm going to inhale these kinds of calories, and tempt you all to do the same, I really want to them to be worth it!

Cocoa Layer Cake
(makes two 9 inch rounds)
1 C boiling water
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 C superfine sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 C butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
3/4 C buttermilk, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla

1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray your cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. Beat together the boiling water and cocoa. Set aside. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter with the two sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time and scrape down the bowl after each addition.
4. Add the vanilla and buttermilk to the cocoa mixture.
5. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mixer just until combined. Then add 1/2 of the wet and mix to combine. Repeat again, being sure to end with the dry. Do not over-mix.
6. Divide batter evenly between the pans and bake for 32-36 minutes until cake tester inserted is clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then remove to wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

Fish Tacos

As a favor to any of my readers who have "lose weight" on their resolution list this year, I give you this very delicious, very healthy recipe.

Please excuse me for a minute though while I go back a few posts and salivate over my dueling chocolate pies.....
You can certainly substitute your favorite toppings in this taco and use flour tortillas. I really love the crunch of the cabbage since the fish has so little texture. Also, corn tortillas are the original and work great with the fish.

Fish Tacos
recipe by Bobby Flay
Marinade:
1 pound firm white fish such as mahi mahi, flounder or orata
1/4 C canola oil
1 lime, juiced
1 Tb chili powder
1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper

8 corn tortillas
thinly shredded white cabbage
sliced avacado
sour cream
thinly sliced red onion
cilantro
salsa

1. Mix together the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow dish. Add the fish, turning to coat and allow to marinade for 20 minutes. While the fish is marinating, heat your grill to medium-high. Cook the fish on a hot grill for 4 minutes on one side then 1 minute on the second. Allow to rest for 5 minutes then flake the fish with a fork.
2. Heat the tortillas on the grill, then load with fish and all the toppings. Serve immediately.
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