Brownies are a welcome dessert treat at my home and there seems to be always room for brownies right after dinner! It`s a favourite for my older daughter to have the home smelling of chocolate brownies as she returns form school. But some how i always end up making them a little before dinner so ends up that their appetite for dinner is mysteriously lost! I have recently started slightly modifying my weekly kitchen prep plans a little based on the produce on sale at the local farmers market or at Sprouts. I had two packages of cream cheese for a buck and I thought it was really high time I try the Oreo Cheesecake that I have eyeing for quite some time and the Cream Cheese Brownies Swirls. It was very flavorful and moist and chewy yet deliriously chocolatey with the hint of sweet salty from the cream cheese swirls. Try it and there`s really no looking back!
1 1/2 Sticks of butter (3/4 Cup).
2/3 Cup Cocoa.
1 2/3 Cup Sugar.
1/4 Tsp Salt.
2 Eggs at room temperature.
1 Tsp Oil.
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence.
1 Cup All Purpose Flour.
1/3 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips ( Could be substituted for any good quality chocolate).
Cream Cheese Filling:
4 oz softened cream cheese.
4 tbsp Sugar.
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence.
The best part of this batter preparation is that its completely fool proof AND its all done in one go – one vessel over the stove, a whisk and some measuring and adding!
- Take a deep dish with a strong base, and add the 1 1/2 sticks of butter to it. Place a whisk in to the dish and allow the butter to melt slowly on low flame.
- Meanwhile butter an oven proof dish and preheat the oven to 350F/180C. I always like to line by dish with parchment and allow it to hang on either side so there is no messy clean up.
- Lay out all your ingredients in an assembly line on the counter so you can reach to them when they are needed.
- Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and a little egg white until its nice and smooth. Set aside. ( I used a little egg white from the 2 whites reserved for the brownie itself).
- Measure out the 2/3 Cup of cocoa powder and slowly dunk it in to the melted butter.
- The cocoa laps up the butter happily and glistens.
- Continue whisking and add the 1 2/3 Cup pf Sugar, and the 1/4 tsp of salt.
- Whisk and at this stage it gets a little gritty with the sugar crystals. Keep going!
- Add the eggs one at a time and whisk them in. This stage gives the brownie batter all the body it needs. You are still on low flame so make sure you keep whisking.
- Flavour the brownie with the vanilla essence and mix it all in.
- Now measure out exactly 1 cup of flour and add it to the pot. Slowly fold the flour it to the silky batter.
- At the last stage add the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and let them melt in.
- Pour this brownie batter in to the baking dish.
- Empty out the cream cheese filling on to the top of the brownie batter and using a butter knife cut out marbled swirls.
- Bake for about 35-40 minutes depending on the capacity of your oven. Do keep an eye on them and do not let them burn.
- Remove and allow to cool for a good hour or so before attempting to slice in to little squares.
- Makes a a great return gift for a kids birthday party!
The Taco Bell Cantina Bowl is my all time favourite one bowl lunch option! It has carbs from the rice, protein from the beans, fat which are abundant in avocados, the smoothness of the green goddess dressing, tart and crunchy corn salsa, all doused with the undertones of cilantro and lemon in every bite. The original Cantina Bowl has tonnes of sodium and a total of 540 calories. By substituting ranch with thick curd, it makes it more healthier with lower fat and of course fresher. The probiotics in the curd are extremely beneficial to the body and then there is the special relationship between the beans, the cilantro rice and the dressing all tied together with douses of fresh lemon juice! Try it and life would never be the same again!
THE TACO BELL CANTINA BOWL TYPICALLY HAS:
- Bottom Layer of the herby cilantro lemon rice.
- The next layer of spice blended cooked black beans.
- A bed of crisp romaine lettuce.
- Liberal douse of citrusy fresh Green Goddess Dressing.
- A dollop of Guacamole.
- 2 Tbsp Pico De Gallo.
- A handful of lemony grilled corn.
- 1 Tbsp of sour cream( Optional).
- Garnish of tortilla chips(Optional).
HERBY CILANTRO LEMON RICE:
1 Cup Basmati or Long Grained Rice.
1/2 Onion sliced long.
1 Tbsp Chopped Garlic.
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro.
1 Tbsp chopped parsley.
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice.
- Cook the basmati/long grained rice with a few drops of oil and a few drops of lemon juice.
- In a wok, saute onion and when pink, add all the herbs – garlic, cilantro and parsley.
- Add the cooked rice and mix and finally add the lemon juice. Add salt as needed.
- Add more chopped cilantro to enhance the flavour.
- This forms the bed of the Taco Bell Cantina Bowl.
1 Cup Black Beans soaked overnight and cooked in a little salt.
1 pinch of seasoning salt.
A pinch of paprika.
A few drops of Lemon Juice.
- Combine the cooked black beans with the seasoning salt, paprika and lemon juice. Set aside.
2 Hass Avocados .
1 Small Ripe Tomato.
1 Lemon`s Juice.
1 Garlic Pod.
Cilantro to garnish.
- Split the avocados in half, remove the seed, and scoop out the flesh. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
- Immediately squeeze the lemon juice over the avocados to prevent oxidation and mix it in.
- Add the sliced jalapenos, tomatoes, salt, pepper, crushed garlic and mix it all with the back of a spatula.
- Add a dash of chopped cilantro for garnish.
PICO DE GALLO:
1 Fresh Tomato chopped very fine.
1 Onion chopped fine.
1 Jalapeno~ chopped fine.
Chopped Cilantro to garnish.
A few drops of lemon juice.
- Combine all the above ingredients in a shallow bowl. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
FIRE ROASTED CORN SALSA:
2 Cups Sweet Corn.
1/2 Cup Cilantro .
2 Japaleno Peppers.
1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder.(Optional)
Juice from 1 lemon.
- Thaw the sweet corn and pat it dry. Flavour it with salt and a little lemon juice.
- In a food processor puree the cilantro, jalapeno and lemon juice to a rough paste.
- Marinate it over the sweet corn kernels for about ten minutes.
- Grill it on a stove top/ grill/ oven until lightly brown.
- Adjust salt and garnish with more cilantro and a few more drops of lemon juice.
- This is one of the ingredient to garnish of the Taco Bell Cantina Bowl.
ASSEMBLING THE TACO BELL CANTINA BOWL:
The Cantina Bowl is assembled for every person in the bowl in which they would be served in. So individual portions are made as per preference and served, as follows:
- In the serving bowl layer a bed of the herb and citrus flavoured rice.
- Next, add a ladle of the seasoned black beans, over the rice.
- Drizzle a layer of chopped romaine lettuce over the beans. This provides crunch and is a surprise layer.,
- Slather a ladleful of the fresh and citrus bursting Green Goddess Dressing.
- A big dollop of Guacamole is served on top of the dressing on one side.
- Another spoonful of sour cream is served on the other side.
- These are sprinkled with the prepared Pico De Gallo.
- The entire bowl is drizzled with a handful of grilled corn.
Can anything else beat that???
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
Baking my own loaf of bread has been a revelation – lessons in patience and perfection, that comes only by practice. There are times when you have to allow things to happen on their own and all you can do is watch and wait. It`s such a basic truth of life. My bread baking has been inspired by so many blogs – The Kitchn Blog, and of course this one. Try this just once and enjoy the aroma of bread wafting in your kitchens!
3 Cups Bread Flour/ All Purpose Flour.
2 Tbsp Sugar.
1 Tsp Salt.
1 – 1 1/8 Cup Water.
2 Tbsp Olive Oil.
1/2 Tbsp Yeast.
A few notes about Yeast:
What is yeast? Why is it required to make soft fluffy airy bread loaves?
Bread wouldn’t be bread without yeast and yeast can’t work without sugars. Yeast is alive—living organisms—and living organisms need food for fuel, in this case, simple sugars. Yeast needs to feed on these sugars and multiply to create two byproducts—alcohol (ethanol) and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is what leavens the bread—carbon dioxide gases filter through the bread and creates beautiful air pockets and the alcohol evaporates during the process of baking.
Proofing of Yeast:
Every packet of dry active yeast is used in making many different kinds of breads, cakes, loaves etc. Since its the very basic requirement of any bread, it is important that we know that the yeast is going to work its magic and multiply, thus fermenting the dough to make it rise. Some times, the yeast is old and not active and hence will not “proof”. We need to “prove” that the yeast is good enough and active and will aid in the baking process. All one has to do is to take a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water and add some form of sugar – sugar crystals/ honey/ agave nectar/ maple syrup which is required for the yeast to start its process of “proofing. Then add the yeast and mix it in. leave the bowl undisturbed for about 7-10 minutes. The surface of the water will slowly bubble and get frothy. Allow it to stand for the full ten minutes. If the surface is all bubbly and frothy (yes it is a little smelly!!!) then the yeast has “proofed” and can be added to the flour to make bread etc. If this does not happen, dump the water and start the process afresh.
- Measure out 1 1/8 cup of water in a glass jar and microwave for about 30 seconds. When you insert the finger in to the water it has to be just warm it should not be hot,as this would kill the yeast.
- Yeast needs a sweet medium to multiply, so next add the 2 tbsp of sugar. Now add the yeast, give it a stir and let it sit for about ten minutes.
- While the yeast is “proved”, we can get the dough ready.
- In a mixing bowl, measure out the flour and salt and sieve once. Add the olive oil and the yeast+sugar+water mixture.
- Using a spatula or a wooden ladle, mix it until you get a sticky dough. Add flour or water as needed until you get a smooth dough.
- Oil the base of the mixing bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Smear more oil on the surface and cover it up with a moist kitchen cloth.
- Keep for about 1 1/2 hours in a warm place undisturbed until the dough doubles in size.
- Punch the dough lightly and remove the air inside and fold it a couple times until its shaped as shown.
- Grease a loaf pan and place the dough inside.
- Lightly cover with a thin kitchen cloth and place inside the oven with the light switch on, or in a warm place for another 45 minutes, until the dough rises.
- Preheat the oven to 375F or 190 C and place the loaf pan in the middle rack.
- Spray a couple squirts of water on the sides of the oven. This step is optional but helps keep the outside of the loaves moist and supple so that the bread can spring for as long as possible. Once the outside of the loaf begins to dry out it hardens, preventing further spring. Then the crust begins to form.
- Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the top of the loaf sounds hollow and the crust is a beautiful golden brown.
- Cool for about 30 minutes before slicing.
STORING HOME BAKED BREAD:
- I have always found that baking bread at home is extremely therepautic and energising, but when it comes to storing home made bread for even 3-4 days, its a challenge.
- Many people recommend placing it the sliced side down on to a cutting board.
- Some suggest a bread box, but I have not found it too helpful.
- I did see an online bread storage bag like this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000VLGIY/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p79_d1_i2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1WFPVF7AATRM6RSP6ZM4&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846 but did not read very many good reviews.
- I have this time around, sliced my bread, but fashioned them as a loaf, moved them to a plastic grocery bag, and then stored it in an air tight rubbermaid container, to keep fresh for at least 4 days. I am not a fan of mold at all.
- How do you store your bread??