Monday, July 29, 2013

Mint Chocolate Brownie Bites

This will tell you how far behind I am in my posts for you all - I first made these mint chocolate brownie bites back last year during the holidays. I told you it was awhile go, but these mint brownies are well worth the wait. That I can promise you. A chewy slightly minty brownie bite coated in chocolate and crushed Andes candies. Ya, my whole mouth just filled up with saliva. And not to forget, they are great any time of the year - not just the holidays. Just putting that out there. Let's be honest, who can say no to a minty brownie. Not me and I am sure I am not alone here. At least I hope not.

After making oodles and oodles of my salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars during the holidays, I wanted to switch it up and try something new. When I saw this recipe for mint chocolate brownie bites on one of Pioneer Woman's Saturday airings, I knew I had to make these. For one, I had never made brownie bites and two, brownies with Andes candies? I just had to make them them! There is just something about those minty chocolate little candies that are so so good. Please tell me you've had them before? I sure hope so! If you haven't, the best place to find Andes candies will probably be at your local drug store or Target (don't even get me started on Target - it's a slight addiction!). They are usually readily available and you shouldn't have too hard of a time finding them (they come in a box and you will probably need two of them!). If you do, just ask someone at the store and they should be able to direct you to them or tell you where you can find them. Just try not to eat them all on the way home or before you make the brownies. Those little things are addicting. Just a little warning. And no, I did not eat a whole box on the way home. Okay, maybe half a box. Just kidding. Well, maybe. You'll never know.

These brownie bites are so simple to make that you'll wonder why you never made them before. Seriously. You just throw together butter, sugar, eggs, flour, unsweetened chocolate and a few other minty goodness ingredients and that's it. See, I told you it wasn't all that complicated. The minty flavor of the brownie comes from melted Andes candies and a splash of mint extract. Just be careful when using the extract - a little goes a long way and one trip and extra spill and your brownies could turn into toothpaste brownies. That doesn't sound too good. Once the batter is all made up, you scoop a little bit of dough into a well sprayed mini cupcake pan and bake until they are just cooked. You don't want a dry brownie here! Just when you thought the brownies were done and yummy, we take them to a whole new level - coat and dunk them in bittersweet chocolate. Oh ya, you had me at dunk. If you thought that was good, you then sprinkle them with chopped Andes candies. Just because dunking them wasn't enough. Yes, I so went there and I am totally not sorry. Not in the least bit. These brownies are a little bit minty, a whole lot chocolatey and just the right size. Make them for the holidays or make them just because you want something a little extra special. Just promise me you'll try these. I promise you'll love them!

Christina, please don't eat all the candies before you make the brownies.

where all good things happen - creaming the butter and sugar!

adding in the melted chocolate and candies!

minty brownie batter all ready to go

scooped and ready for baking

cooling brownie bites (and apparently an action shot too)

dunking station

almost to pretty to eat - almost!

Mint Chocolate Brownie Bites (slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman)

50 whole Andes Mints
1 stick 1/2 cup butter, Softened
1 cup sugar
2 ounces, weight unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs
3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
1 Tablespoon butter
1 ounce, weight bittersweet chocolate, chopped 


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray mini muffin pan generously with baking spray (don't skip this step or you'll be sorry when they stick all over the pan!)

Melt unsweetened chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Remove from microwave and stir in 8 Andes mints until all melted. Let cool slightly. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream 1 stick of butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. With the mixer on low, drizzle in the cooled chocolate mixture slowly, mixing until it's combined. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, add mint extract, then mix again.  Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, scoop batter into mini muffin tins. Bake until done, about 13 to 15 minutes. Turn upside down out of pan and allow to cool.

Combine 25 unwrapped Andes mints in a bowl with the tablespoon of butter and chopped bittersweet chocolate. Microwave and stir until melted and smooth. Dip the brownie bites in the chocolate, concentrating on the top "cone" part. Allow to set for a few minutes. Chop the remaining Andes mints and sprinkle them on the top. Set in the freezer for 10 minutes if you need them to set right away. Enjoy!

Just when you thought brownies couldn't get any better.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Skinny Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

I don't know about you all, but I have been pretty much sweating for several weeks straight. With temperatures being well over 100 degrees (most of the time pushing 110!), I have been melting like a popsicle in the Sahara Desert. Seriously. Not to mention, we decided to move into our new house (that's going to take a whole other post to tell you all about!) on the hottest weekend of the year. Go us. This girl can only take that kind of heat for so long, but at least I can't complain too much - our air conditioning works really well and hasn't given out on us yet (thank goodness!). Needless to say, when it's this hot out, the last thing I really want to do is turn on the oven. As much as I want to use our new oven and stock our freezer, I just can't do it - yet. So, when the hot weather comes like this, the best way to make a yummy dinner is in the crockpot.

I am always on the hunt for new and yummy crockpot recipes (ideas are welcome!), and recently came across one for crockpot meatballs. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? I thought so. For a Sicilian girl, you'd think I'd have the meatball down cold, but that's not necessarily the case. I've tried several recipes over the years and either they are too big, too dry or just lacking in flavor. I'm still not quite sure how the latter occurs considering I use enough garlic to cure a family of the plague. Nevertheless, when I saw this recipe for crockpot meatballs, I had to try it. I was determine to make a fantastic meatball! To be honest, I think my lack of meatball skills was making the captain question my Sicilian heritage! Now we can't have that, now can we? No way jose.

These meatballs are a snap to throw together (you can even make them the day ahead or freeze them for when you are ready to make this fab dish!)- just mix ground turkey breast, bread crumbs, garlic and lots of it, seasonings and fresh parmi. That's it. Simple right? Now comes the fun part. Rolling the meat mixture into balls. Make sure the meat mixture is well mixed, but don't over mix. Am I confusing you now? The only reason I say don't over mix is because it will make your meatballs tough and no one likes a tough meatball. Ones the meatballs are all rolled out, place them in your crockpot with either a quick and easy homemade sauce (recipe is below and you won't believe how easy it is to make!) or your favorite tomato sauce. You can make your own or use your favorite store brand. Whatever you use, just make sure you like it. It's just like cooking with wine - use what you'd drink! Once everything is in the crockpot, go around the pot once (or twice) with a splash of red wine (totally optional!), put the lid on and in 4-6 hours you'll have some of the most tender and yummy meatballs you've ever made. They are perfect just the way they are with a little fresh parmi grated on top and a salad, in a sandwich or even with fresh homemade pasta - yes, I so went there, but don't worry, I'll show you how to make your own pasta soon! Even better these turkey meatballs ring in at 200 calories for four (yes four!) big meatballs. Now that's what I'm talking about!

the line up

everybody into the pool

meatballs rolled and ready to go (you can totally do these ahead of time!)

don't forget the bay leaf

add the meatballs!

toast up a little garlic

dinner is served!

Skinny Crockpot Turkey Meatballs  (slightly adapted from Skinny Taste)

For the meatballs (makes 24!)
20 oz (1.3 lb) ground turkey breast, lean
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmi cheese, grated
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 egg
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt + fresh pepper
1/2 cup red wine, optional

For the sauce (or use two jars of your favorite sauce!):

1 tsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, smashed
28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil or parsley
In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic and cheese. Using clean hands, mix all the ingredients and form small meatballs, about 1/8th cup each. In a small saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden, being careful not to burn.  Pour crushed tomatoes into the crock pot with bay leaf. Add garlic and oil.
Drop meatballs into the sauce, add wine (if using) cover and set crock pot to low, 4 to 6 hours. When meatballs are ready, adjust salt and pepper to taste and add fresh chopped basil or parsley. Serve with more parmi, over pasta, enjoy with French bread or even in a sandwich!
Meatballs aren't so scary anymore!