Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two-Bite Brownies

Festive for Canada Day and 4th of July celebrations - any summer party, really - small chocolate brownies iced, sprinkled with colored sugar, then placed onto skewers in a watermelon. Very fun! And how about a pumpkin for Halloween, with orange sprinkles, of course?!

Did I mention that these brownie bites add up to only one Weight Watchers point, even with icing and nuts? Now that's a quick treat worth a celebration all its own, no watermelon required.

Two-Bite Brownies
This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published throughout the summer of 2009.
With a free e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

BATCH ONE The first time I made Two-Bite Brownies, my notes read, “VG, but use VB”. Huh? That would be code for Very Good but next time, use my long-time favorite recipe for Vanilla Brownies and bake in a mini muffin pan.

Ha. That first batch disappeared so fast I considered a name change, something like Two-Minute Brownies or maybe Get-One-While-You-Can-But-You’d-Better-Move-Fast Brownies.

BATCHES TWO & THREE The second and third times I made Two-Bite Brownies, I did indeed use that recipe for Vanilla Brownies – you see, I wanted to be able to report that any ol’ brownie recipe, << your >> own favorite brownie recipe, say, would work just fine. But the brownie texture that works so well in a square, well, it just doesn’t work in a mini brownie. And besides, my Vanilla Brownie recipe makes something like 32 Two-Bite Brownies which is a real pain when the mini muffin pan has room for just 24.

BATCH FOUR with a LITTLE CANADA DAY & FOURTH OF JULY FUN So the fourth time I made Two-Bite Brownies, I went back to the original recipe. Taste-wise, these little brownie bites need no adornment, they're full of chocolate goodness all on their own.

But for a party, I added a creamy-chocolate Brownie Icing, sprinkled the tops with patriotic Red, White and Blue sugar (or for Canadians, just Red and White) stuck the brownies onto skewers, then stuck the skewers into half a watermelon.

Was all this fuss necessary? Nope, all by themselves, the brownies are already VG, verging on VVG. But the kids’ faces sure did light up!

BROWNIE ICING

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes enough for 24 Two-Bite Brownies
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Milk (start with a teaspoon)

In a mixing bowl, mix butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add just enough milk to thin to the desired consistency.

TWO-BITE BROWNIES

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes 24
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso or instant coffee dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 cup flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
    BROWNIE ICING (see left), optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, mix until well combined. Add the coffee liquid and vanilla, mix until well combined. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients until combined.

Spray a mini muffin tray with baking spray. With two small spoons (one to scoop, one to scrape), fill the cups with brownie batter, smoothing the tops a bit when through. Bake for just 12 to 15 minutes until a bit puffy but still soft to the touch. Let cool for 10 minutes. With a small knife, gently work the brownies out of the pan.

Brownies may be made the day before but should be iced and sprinkled with colored sugar only a couple of hours before serving. Gently insert the blunt end of a skewer into the brownie, then insert the pointed end of a skewer an inch or more into a watermelon half.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Brownies only, with/without nuts, Per Brownie: 69/61Cal; 3/2g Tot Fat; 2/1g Sat Fat; 22mg Cholesterol; 49mg Sodium; 10g Carb; 1g Fiber; 8g Sugar; 1g Protein; Weight Watchers 1 point
NUTRITION ESTIMATE Brownies with icing, with/without nuts, Per Brownie: 88/71Cal; 4/2g Tot Fat; 2/1g Sat Fat; 25/22mg Cholesterol; 56/49mg Sodium; 13/12g Carb; 1g Fiber; 11g Sugar; 1g Protein; Weight Watchers 1 point
I'm grateful to two of my favorite food blogs for inspiring this fun treat. The brownie recipe is adapted from Dinner with Julie and the Brownie Icing and watermelon idea from Whisk.

Easy & Festive Look


Two-Bite Brownies

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. In 2009, Kitchen Parade celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special collection of my mother's recipes.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gingerbread Muffins

The Recipe: There's so much to love about these quick and easy muffins. That deep molasses sweetness, just like hot squares of fresh gingerbread. That they're low-fat and low-calorie (thanks to half the butter in typical muffin recipes) yet still keep a moist and delicate crumb. Plus, they're made in a flash with a few pantry ingredients. But most of all, they just taste good. What's NOT to love?

The Conversation: Waking early on Saturdays to make muffins.

Gingerbread Muffins, low-fat, low-cal, moist and flavorful muffins made in a flash with a few pantry ingredients. | Weight Watchers PointsPlus 3 | KitchenParade.com

BZZZZZZ. The alarm buzzed with insistence until groping fingers located the snooze button. Still half-asleep, my mind began to sketch out a typical busy Saturday. Exercise! I promised. Then stops at the grocery, the shoe man, the car wash. A birthday present for a friend, flowers for a neighbor with cancer.

I checked the weather with just-opened eyes. The sky was unmistakably threatening, the wind unseasonably fierce. Was it February or almost June? Those sounded like blizzard winds!

Muffins! I thought. Postponing the day’s busy-ness, I jumped from bed and headed for the kitchen where I knew the pickings were slim. What about that recipe for gingerbread muffins, a family hand-me-down? Surely those few ingredients were on hand?

Thirty minutes later, warm muffins and hot coffee were on the table. Ah, there’s nothing better than a busy Saturday kicked off by muffins-as-motivation.

ALANNA'S TIPS The batter will be quite thin, don't worry, it will bake up just fine. The method of mixing the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients is unorthodox but I've used it successfully with cookies and quick breads for many years. If you like, however, stir the dry ingredients separately before adding to the butter-molasses mixture. For a recent batch, I stirred finely chopped dried apricots into the batter. Yummy! Currants or raisins would work too.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

GINGERBREAD MUFFINS

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes for mini muffins, 40 for regular muffins
Makes 24 mini muffins or 12 regular muffins
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) salted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1 cup flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 125g
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

Heat oven to 350F/175C.

Place water and butter in a small microwave dish (such as a Pyrex measuring cup). Heat in microwave in ten-second increments until water boils and butter melts.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg well in a mixing bowl. Add sugar and molasses and mix well. Add water and butter mixture and stir well. Add remaining ingredients. Without touching the wet mixture below, lightly stir together the dry ingredients to combine, then stir them into the wet mixture until just combined. (Over-stirring the wet and dry mixtures will create holes in the baked muffins.) Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake for 10 minutes for mini muffins and 20 minutes for regular muffins. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Mini Muffin/Regular Muffin or Two Mini Muffins: 57/114 Calories; 2/4g Tot Fat; 1/3g Sat Fat; 13/27mg Cholesterol; 94/189mg Sodium; 9/18g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1/2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 1/2 & PointsPlus 3. MY APOLOGIES (2014) Weight Watchers who count points, my apologies. A careful reader, Sabina, questioned the point calculation for this muffin recipe. I re-calculated the points and sure enough, using the system I use now for calculating points versus the one I used back in 2003 when this recipe was first published, the calculations turned out much different. The nutrition information and Weight Watchers points have been updated.
Adapted from my cousin Diane's muffin recipe published in our family cookbook

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Baked Bacon
Gingerbread Muffins (recipe above)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Perfect (Unsweet, Unboozy) Sangria

At last, perfect for summer parties, a big pitcher of dry sangria that's fruity and refreshing, not cloyingly sweet and dizzyingly boozy. For anyone who's ever been turned off by sangria, this recipe will be a revelation.

This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published throughout the summer of 2009.
With a free e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

In my life, the idea of sangria has always outsold the reality. I idealized a tall glass of Spanish wine served cold and spicy on a steamy summer’s day. The sorry reality: a cloyingly sweet wine punch with so much alcohol that a glassful dropped me into a doozey of a dozey daze. Instead, I wanted a summer sangria to sip, one that deserved and allowed a second cup.

So in a moment of inspiration, this perfect sangria was born. It added to a happy party one night, was appointed the drink of choice for the ‘family kitchen staff’ at a large party the next, and I sipped on the dregs for the rest of the week. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Finally, the idea and the reality of sangria become one.

ALANNA's TIPS Cloves? Yes, cloves! The spice adds depth and dimension to the wine and the fruit both. Feel free to play with the fruit, grapes, peaches, plums would all be great. Do include some citrus, it adds a needed sharpness. Choose an inexpensive Spanish wine such as a rioja or a Grenache. I find great choices at Trader Joe’s for about $7 a bottle. Trader Joe’s also carries great sugar-free diet sodas from Hansen’s with delicious fruity flavors, Mandarine Lime and Ginger Ale. They’re perfect for sangria. If the wine is quite fruity, no agave or honey may be needed at all. Taste before adding! If you have time, freeze a big block or two of ice ahead of time, just be sure it can be dropped into the pitcher. A big block melts more slowly, preventing the sangria from getting watered down. We like to freeze red grapes to use as ice cubes in the glasses.

SUMMER EASY:
MY PERFECT SANGRIA

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 5 cups
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 tablespoons agave or honey, optional (see TIPS)
  • 1 bottle red wine, preferably Spanish (see TIPS)
  • 1 12-ounce cans diet fruity soda (see TIPS)
  • Ice (see TIPS)

Core the apple, slice into thin rings. Slice the tips off the orange, lemon and lime, then cut into rounds. Drop << half >> the fruit into a pitcher, add the cinnamon stick, cloves and agave (see TIPS). Put the remaining fruit in a large bowl and ‘muddle’ (that is, smash) with the back of a wooden spoon to release the juices and oils. Place a colander over the pitcher, add the muddled fruit to drain the juice into the pitcher. Pour the wine and soda over the fruit through the colander into the pitcher. To allow the flavors to meld, refrigerate for an hour or so. Just before serving, add a big block of ice to the pitcher, otherwise, serve in glasses over ice.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Cup, With/without Agave: 176/125Cal; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 6mg Sodium; 19/5g Carb; 0g Fiber; 16/2g Sugar; 0g Protein; Weight Watchers 3/2 points This recipe has been 'Alanna-sized' with reductions in sugar and alcohol and increases in no-calorie flavors.
'Muddling' the fruit to release the juices and the oils.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. In 2009, Kitchen Parade celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special collection of my mother's recipes.
How to print a recipe on Kitchen Parade.
If you like Kitchen Parade, forward this recipe to a friend who might too!

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atop Herbed Saltines

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Old-Fashioned Homemade Lemonade Mango Lassi My Perfect Sangria (above)
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