Post # 218 Brownies Gone Wild

February 5, 2014 at 6:30 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 218 Brownies Gone Wild

I made brownies yesterday and I wanted to take a picture of them for the blog, but they’re all gone.  Okay, maybe there’s one left.  I haven’t looked recently.  Yesterday was a baking day for me.  Apart from the normal writing/editing that I do about ten hours a day (and if you think I’m kidding just talk to anyone in my house), I also cleaned the kitchen, did laundry, took the dog to the vet, did a small bit of grocery shopping, and cooked dinner.  In the midst of all that, I made a batch of sandwich rolls, 18 to be exact, and a pan of brownies.  And like I said, they’re almost all gone.

The odd thing is, this is the second pan of brownies I’ve made since Saturday.  In my house, when we find something we like, we tend to go a little overboard.  So it happened that I was going to make Jennifer’s Grandmother’s Chocolate Vinegar Cake ( because we were all in the mood for something sweet and chocolaty.  As I was pondering the recipe, I was reminded how it was reminiscent of brownies.  Then I thought how good brownies would be.  The best brownie recipe I know requires melting baker’s chocolate but all I had was cocoa.  I’ve substituted cocoa in that recipe with some oil, but it’s never quite as rich.  Then I wondered if I could find a good recipe on the ‘net.  I’ve looked before but have been vaguely disappointed with the results.  But, hang on! I told myself.  I’ve never searched for a recipe for Cocoa Brownies.

My computer is necessarily always on from the moment I get up in the morning until I’m yawning and bleary-eyed at night.  You know how those porn searches get you sidetracked.  So I parked my butt in the chair, brought up my favorite search engine, and in a matter of seconds (ya gotta love the information superhighway – Thank you Dan Quayle) I was wandering through lists of cocoa brownie recipes.  I’m a smart enough baker  to know how recipes are going to work as I read them and most of them were pretty bland.  But I hit on one that looked really good, and it sounded really familiar.

I got all the ingredients together and then added my own stamp to it (this time my stamp was mini chocolate chips which the recipe did not call for)(oh, and sunflower seeds cuz the partner/spouse likes them in chocolate)(well, so do I, but that’s a different story) and stood at the stove slowing melting a half-cup of butter.  I added the cup of sugar (which I increased to a cup and a quarter cuz well, just cuz) and was stirring when I suddenly realized the recipe I was making over was a makeover of the recipe I grew up with wherein I melted a stick of butter and three oz. of baker’s chocolate!  I had re-found my favorite recipe but with cocoa!

Okay, I thought, this is going to be good.  No added oil, as I did when I was younger.  I only did that because all the substitution lists said 1 oz. of baker’s chocolate could be switched with 3 tablespoons of cocoa and one tablespoon of oil.  This recipe didn’t call for that.  Once the butter and sugar were blended and the sugar mostly dissolved, the recipe went on just as I remembered it.  But, uh oh!  I didn’t have a 9×9 pan!  I’ve been slowly switching from my metal pans to glass baking dishes for a couple of reasons.  Metal scratches, rusts, etc.  Glass bakes evenly and give a wonderful crust to the dishes you’re cooking.  Plus you can see it easier.  So I used the next best thing, my 8×8 glass dish and figured I’d adjust the cooking time.

After the required 25 minutes, I stuck a toothpick into the brownies.  They had that wonderful light brown and flaky crust on top of the dark baked cake underneath.  The toothpick came up wet and gooey.  It was like the cake hadn’t cooked at all.  So I set the time for ten minutes.  Yeah, still not done.  So I set it for another ten minutes, but five minutes later I thought I smelled scorched chocolate which no one like.  I stuck yet another toothpick into the brownies and came up with perfection.

Later that afternoon, I cut the first row of brownies and we sat and ate a delightful and decadent treat that took me back to my teen years.  This was the recipe with the makeover that I needed!  The chocolate chips, and seeds, and a few crushed pecans made it that much better.  They were gone by the next day.  On Monday, we all mourned the fact that there were no more brownies.  So yesterday, I made another pan of brownies.  I just checked.  There are two left.  I’ll probably continue to make brownies until we’re either sick of them, or I run out of cocoa.

cocoa brownies

On the batch I made yesterday, I didn’t add the chocolate chips or the seeds or the crushed pecans.  I put whole pecan halves on the top of the brownies which caused it to not rise quite as high as before.  But it gave everyone who was cutting them a “guide” as to how many brownies were in the pan.  Then, before anyone else did, I just cut the whole pan, put them on a plate, and said, “Here.”

Here’s the recipe:  (I recommend stirring by hand)

Melt a half cup of butter slowly in a heavy pan. When butter is completely melted, turn off the heat.   Add one to one and a half cups of sugar (depending on taste) and mix until most of the sugar is dissolved.  Add one teaspoon of vanilla (not more or it will take on a stronger vanilla taste than you’ll care for, trust me.)  Add two eggs and mix completely.  Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cocoa depending on how chocolaty you want it.  If you’re adding other chocolate flavoring (like chips) stick to the lower end.  Stir that in carefully since cocoa tends to fluff about.  This will take a couple of minutes if you’re doing it carefully.  Once all the lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth, add a 1/2 cup of flour, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder.  Stir in all at once, as slowly as you did the cocoa.  Once the batter is smooth and silky, add any chips, nuts, seeds, candy, etc.   Spread in a prepared 9×9 inch pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out relatively clean.  Alternatively, use an 8×8 pan and bake for 34-40 minutes for a higher, gooier brownie.  You can also frost the brownie once it has completely cooled.


Post # 217 Burritos for Breakfast

February 3, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 217 Burritos for Breakfast

Just over a year ago, I moved back to the land that raised me, the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.  I moved away back in 1987, and except for a few visits of a couples of weeks or so, I had not spent any significant time here since then.  I did have a couple of work trips to Tijuana, Mexico, but didn’t get to my home for more than a day.  Being back has been an orgy of Mexican food.  We have tacos a couple of times a week, and go to our favorite Mexican restaurant a couple of times a month.  I just never seem to get tired of the stuff.  I wandered over to my sister’s one evening to beg a glass of wine and they were in the middle of eating tacos, too.  It’s the thing to do.

In my late teens, I used to work at a blue jeans factory in my home town.  It was a fun job, but sometimes involved working on Saturday.  On those Saturdays, we’d order breakfast burritos from a nearby market.  They’d arrive hot, fresh, and tasty.  Allowing for memory, they were still the best things on those Saturdays.  They were the size of a football, and jammed with fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon, and peppers.  When I stopped working at the factory, I stopped eating breakfast burritos.  Mostly because I couldn’t find one that came anywhere close to being as good as those at the factory.

In researching burritos, one of the things I learned is common consensus says burritos were developed in Ciudad Juarez.  I always assumed it was a Tex-Mex creation.  The traditional Mexican version is fill a flour tortilla with beans, or beans and meat, fold and roll, and eat.  Tortillas are usually heated to make them more pliable.

A lot of people don’t know the fold and roll for making a perfect burrito.  My ex-wife used to fold ’em till it was all corners and tuck in.  So in the interest of educating people everywhere, I offer this:


Heat a flour tortilla; place the filling in the center of the tortilla and spread; fold the sides partway toward the center; roll tightly tucking in as needed; eat.  Easy peasy.

Once the burrito made it across the border, Americans changed and added to the traditional fillings to create as many burritos as there are people who make a burrito.  One of those variations is the breakfast burrito.  Basically, the breakfast burrito is filled with anything you’d have for breakfast that can be contained by a flour tortilla, so no cold cereal or oatmeal.

Usually, it filled with scrambled eggs and cheese with some kind of breakfast meat.  But I like them with a little kick, so when I make them, granted it’s not often, I put salsa in them, green chilies, eggs, crumbled bacon, and a ton of cheese.  Once, at the factory, I bit into one and got a mouthful of jalapeño.  I coughed, choked, teared up, tried to swallow and breathe at the same time, all the while chewing and making it worse.  I finally managed to swallow it and grabbed for a glass of water but the guy next to me stopped me and handed me some milk.  I hate milk, but it killed the fire.  Of course, all the other guys were laughing at me.  When I make them, I use a milder chili, a Poblano or Anaheim.  And I make sure the seeds and ribs are GONE!

breakfast burrito

The best thing about these is you can make several ahead of time, wrap them in foil or plastic wrap, freeze them, and heat them later.  We tend to mix up the fillings with various types of meat, cheese, etc.  Other people I know will cook the egg onto the tortilla then add filling on top of that.  It seems nearly every culture has a burrito style sandwich, from crepes to gyros to pigs in a blanket.  It’s hard to keep a good idea to yourself.


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