Saturday, January 10, 2009

Brownies, Muffins and Bread and Some Stuff In Between

If I get nothing else done today, I'm happy that besides helping the kids with all their chores, I also got all the Christmas stuff put away!  Quite the accomplishment that I was putting off and dreading.  Sure looks bare in here.  Bye-bye Christmas!  (Sam wasn't thrilled to see it all go away.)
Last night Kevin decided to play a guessing game with a bag of M&M's.  I think it was the 14 oz. size.  He had each of the boys and he and I write down how many we thought were in the bag and also how many of each color, this was a holiday bag, so there was red, green and light green.  Then each of the boys counted a color and we added them all up.
No, that's not M&M's all over Sam's face, it's pizza from dinner!
And the results of the counting?  First of all none of us were even close.  My guess was just about as bad as the kids, 182 I think.  Even Kevin's guess of 350 won for the closest guess, but wasn't really anywhere near the 540 M&M's we counted!  And RED (279) far out numbered the greens by more than half I think.  Fun and learning!  Let's go count the 45 oz. bag of plain colored M&M's I got Kevin at Christmas!  (NOT!)  He did count a 14 oz. bag of peanut M&M's with the boys the other day and what color do you think has the most?  Just for fun--there were 25% orange, 20% blue, 18% green, 16% yellow, 11% brown and only 10% red.  Red didn't win on that one!  FYI, Just in case you were wondering all this.  I know I couldn't sleep at night thinking about it! jk  Kevin, he's a numbers guy (professor of accounting) and this kind of stuff thrills him!  He also collects M&M dispensers--hence the reason he gets M&M's at all the holidays.
Okay, on to the real good stuff--baking! ; )  More Black Bean Low Fat Brownies!
I know, my last post was all about this, but would you ever in a million years guess  that these brownies have black beans (pureed) instead of oil?  I wouldn't.  And especially after tasting them.  You. Can. Not. Tell.  I followed the recipe I posted last time exactly again, but I left out the extra chocolate chips and walnuts.  Again, only because Taylor prefers a plain ol' brownie.  I also added Andes chopped chocolate mints to half the 9x13 pan after they came out of the oven, when they melted, I spread it out, you can also just leave them chunky.  After they cooled, I cut them into 24 bars.  Half plain, half with the mint.  I waited a bit too long into chilling to cut the chocolate mint, and it cracked a lot, but darn it, the brownies were/are good.  My goal is to not have any today!  These are very low fat and so good.  They ARE a bit cakey, I've decided, but moist and fudgy and in my opinion, more brownie-like than cakey.  Try them and decide what you think.  You'll be having a treat and getting some extra protein and fiber in your diet!
Moving on.....
I had three (small) very ripe bananas on the counter (I actually usually always do, I buy extra on purpose).  Not wanting to make my usual low fat mini banana muffins, I did a quick (as in I found these without even looking) search for something to do with the bananas and found none other than Nick, The Peanut Butter Boy to the rescue.  I whipped up a half batch of his Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread (link above) and made 8 large muffins.  These are whole grain and low fat and they are yummy!  I used Gharidelli 60% Cacao chips and those are huge, so I chopped them up a little to distribute the chocolate a little more.  I wanted a bit of crunch, so next time I'll either use crunchy peanut butter or add in a few chopped peanuts, maybe even peanut butter chips--then you're getting into the not-as-healthy category, but....Thanks, Nick!
Do you think I should do some laundry?
This is just one closet full, Taylor helped load them up.  Uh, we needed another basket!  Sigh!  I love laundry.  Please hear the sarcasm in my voice.  Back to baking!  : )
Go read this NYT article by Jim Lahey all about this amazing bread.  It is so good and SO effortless!  This is the kind of crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-flavorful-on-the-inside bread you often get at restaurants.  I LOVED it, so did Anna from Cookie Madness who got me interested in trying it.  I will probably never knead bread again.  Okay, maybe, because this is different from a good old fashioned loaf of bread, but it's great when you just want to throw a dough together, forget about it for a day and then bake it!  Did I say it's good?  It's GOOD!  (Dad, you'd love it!)  If you are subscribed to Cooks Illustrated, they also have a No Knead Bread that is good, too!  I have adapted a version taking some ideas from both recipes.  
No Knead Bread adapted from a New York Times article from Nov. 2006, by Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman  Read the article for the how to and their recipe.  Here is what I did.
No Knead Bread My Way
1  1/2 cups bread flour
1  1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1  1/4 teaspoons salt
1  5/8 cups water, room temperature
In a large bowl, combine flours, yeast and salt.  Whisk together.  Add water and stir until combined.  The dough will be sticky!  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let dough rest in a warm place for 12-18 hours.  The dough will look bubbly.
Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough on it.  Add a little flour and knead the dough over a few times.  Cover  with plastic wrap and let it rest on work surface for about 15 minutes.  Using a little more flour, shape dough into a ball.  Sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal on a cotton towel.  Set dough ball on it and cover with towel.  Let rise for about 2 hours. 
About a half hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees.  Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot in the oven as it heats.  (Cast iron or enamel is best, but Pyrex or ceramic works--of these, I only have a Pyrex dish and that is what I have used--A cast iron Dutch oven is on my wish list!)  Remove pot from oven.  With hand under towel, turn dough into pot, seam side up is okay.  Shake pan to evenly distribute dough.  It's okay if it's rustic!  Cover with lid and return to oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and bake another 15-30 minutes, until loaf is nicely browned and crispy.  Cool on a wire rack. 
Look at this airy, chewy, crispy bread!
I made this loaf, too, following some of the ideas from the CI recipe, it uses some lager or ale in place of some of the water, but I used all water (1  1/4 cup),  3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar with the 1  1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon yeast.  Seems a little daunting, but mix this up, forget about it, shape it to rise and bake.  It's really so easy.  This all white flour loaf I made was even better than the wheat loaf!  The crust was PERFECT and the inside, even MORE PERFECT!  I can't even tell you, you need to make this bread!
I've got another loaf in it's 18 hour "rising" stage right now that I've used 1  1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 1  1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour, 1/4 cup 10 Grain Cereal Mix.  Can't wait for this one to be baked!  I'm scared to try all whole wheat flour, but that eventually is my plan--gotta get those good carbs in!  Thanks to Anna for opening my eyes to this recipe I hadn't seen before.  Some others who have made the bread and blogged about it are Jaden at Steamy Kitchen (how cute is her son whipping up a batch of the bread!!!), Karen at Family Style Food (added herbs to the bread, yummy!) and Sue at Basically Baked (awesome looking loaves--one with walnuts and dried cranberries added--gotta try that!).
Get ya'self some buddah and make this bread!
How would you take this bah-bah away from this cuteness?!
He was just walking around with the blankie wrapped around his head and plopped down on the floor in total happiness!  Sigh.
And now, I'm signing off.  I started this post this morning and now at 11:00 p.m., I must go to bed!


Becky said...

I'm loving your little Sam, or should I say Linus. How cute to love a blankie so much. None of my kids were blankie babies.

Those black bean brownies are my next chocoholic anonymous, I'm starting weight watchers on Monday, ACK! Wish me luck.

Anonymous said...

Love the bread, it looks awesome! So soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. I think I will actually have to try this recipe

Tanya said...

Wow, what an eyeful of goodness! I'm hungry now...and I just ate breakfast :)

Anonymous said...

Your loaves look great! I'm glad you got a chance to try the bread, and that they turned out so well for you!

RecipeGirl said...

You sure have been busy baking! Those bread loaves look beautiful, but I'm most intrigued about the brownies. Will have to give those a shot sometime for sure!

Anonymous said...

My word, I'm coming over to all those goodies. The baby's face was so cute...I was hoping it was M&M's though becuase Only a kid could get M&M's smeared like that.

Elissa said...

I love reading your blog Katrina, you always have the best recipes, I cant wait to try the bread, I think my family is tired of the one kind I make all the time (I am trying to perfect it before moving on.) Hope to see you around don't go to Walmart much anymore though.

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Good gracious, Katrina, I can see why this post took you all day. I would need a week to write up all those activities. The M&M adventure would be something we would have loved when my girls were younger. Actually they'd probably still love it!

I'm super excited about the bread. My biggest issue is the pan. I'm pretty sure I don't have a qualifying lidded pan bigger than 3 quarts. More pot and pan purchases in my future, it looks like. I will be making it soon. Many, many thanks!!

Anne Marie said...

Those black beans brownies look amazing. And, I love the M&M counting idea. Sounds like the perfect way to teach a little math while having fun.

Julie said...

Both loaves of bread look SOOO good!

Max and Deborah said...

I am making a turkey today, this bread looks like it would be a wonderful addition to the meal. I will have to make it. Great idea!!!

Your Sam is very cute. Love the Linusness (is that a word?)

As a dental hygienist, the only thing you have to watch out for with a bottle is that his teeth are not getting cavities... there is more of a tendancy to give milk or a sugar drink and sip all day. It will cause lots of cavities. And I just would not want your adorable child to have to go through all that mess. I am sure you knew all of this, I just had to explain, it is ingrained into me. Please don't take this as me being bossy (cuz I am never bossy) or nosey (we all know I am never nosey) I will just blame the Hygienist in me. Love ya

Sara said...

Wow, everything looks great! I love no-knead bread, I make it all the time. It's great with olives or walnuts added to it too.

jesse said...

Black beans in brownies? Sounds weirdly YUMMY! I wish I could have a bite right now... =(

Your kids are too cute! And that bread is just so... golden and simply perfect. Yum!

The Peanut Butter Boy said...

I still haven't gotten to making these black bean brownies yet but soon! I'm so glad you enjoyed the muffins, I agree with you about the crunch and more so with the muffins than the bread. I liked toasting the bread and spreading some crunchy peanut butter on top which gives you all sorts of crunchiness!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I tried the NKB also a while ago. First I tried the "normal way" and then I also wanted to be good and try a whole wheat one. I did an half and half like you and came out pretty good, but the 100% whole wheat was not good. I've then read about it and you can do it but add a bit of gluten to the dough. I never got around to try it...
Fun M&ms game by the way!