Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

When I first saw these brownies over at Carmen Cooks, I couldn't wait to try them.

And after I made them I really couldn't wait to share them with you.

And I'm not even the least bit discouraged to post these although I have to be almost the umpteenth blog to showcase these gorgeous brownies over the past few weeks.  Some of you might have heard about this food blogging group, Tuesdays with Dorie, who sample recipes by Dorie Greenspan, acclaimed food writer and cookbook author.  Each week, "the choosen" blogger picks a recipe for each person in the blogging community to make.  Then the members of the community post their thoughts, opinions, successes and failures of the dish on their blog...on Tuesday.  But only "the choosen" blogger posts the actual recipe.

The idea is great and I have thought about joining. But it is a commitment that I wouldn't want to mess up. I don't want to be that blog.  Plus, it is a rather large community which means a looong list of people before it will even be my turn to choose a recipe (they are up to 260 bloggers and they are currently on 81).  So I'll continue to think about it and just make the desserts that look irresistible. Even though I am not a part of Tuesdays with Dorie, I am going to respect their tradition and just give you the link to the recipe instead of reprinting the recipe below. Warning: she makes the brownies look sinful!!!

Not to toot my own horn or anything but just look at how gorgeous mine turned out. I opted not to use the suggested sour cream topping because I thought they were just too pretty.  But I strongly encourage you to try these brownies as soon as you can.  They are simply gratifying with the brownie bottom and the cheesecake topping as to not overpower the chocolate-y espresso flavor. YUM-MY!!

By the way, Mr. Foodie wanted me to let you all know that being a "chocolate connoisseur", he highly recommends these.  In other words, he really liked them and ate more than his fair share.


Homemade "McMuffin"

During the weekdays, I try to keep breakfast very simple. Usually oatmeal, not instant, cereal or an open faced egg sandwich.

I want to make sure we do eat something since breakfast is such an important meal of the day, but I also want to make sure I get lunch prepared (I prefer to make it in the morning than the night before...maybe not the most time conducive but it works for me). It's much healthier and more economical these days to take our lunch instead of eating out. Those days when I don't pack a lunch, my indecisiveness rears it's ugly head, I don't end up eating until 2 or 3pm and it's usually not something that ends up sitting in my stomach for a few hours (thanks Mickey D's).

Now don't get me wrong, I love McDonald's. In fact, it is one of the few fast food chains I do eat. They just have fast food down to a science. No matter where you are, you can count on Mickey D's. One of my best friends always tries to remind me of that movie about McDonald's food....Super Size Me. But I tell her I think moderation is the key to just about every food we consume.

As a child, I definitely preferred McDonald's over BK (just like I preferred Michael Jackson, R.I.P, over Prince...and I was a child true to my convictions). McDonald's was always me and my Daddy's special treat on the weekends. So basically, it's in my blood. I won't stop eating McDonald's, but it definitely is no longer a weekly ritual as it was when I was a child.

Since I am a McDonald's fan, including their breakfast menu (love the sausage McMuffin with egg), I decided to jazz up our weekday breakfast menu with homemade sausage and egg "McMuffin"

I used fresh ground chicken sausage, that I seasoned with ground fennel, salt and pepper, so this treat added maybe an additional 5 minutes to the usual open faced egg sandwich. And I tell you it was worth every bit of 5 minutes.

The beauty of making your own "McMuffin" is that you can choose whatever kind of cheese (American, cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack) or meat (fresh, frozen, patties, links, bacon) you want. Since Mr. Foodie doesn't eat pork, whenever we do eat McDonald's for breakfast he has to get an Egg McMuffin without the bacon, which I think is truly a tragedy in itself. Needless to say, this truly appeals to his appetite.

I won't even go into the nutritional and economical benefits of making the homemade version. I did find an article that goes into a little more detail and will most likely convince you more than I could. I can just tell you it tastes great and can be custom fitted to your liking. Can't get much better than that.

Homemade "McMuffin"
Printable Recipe
serves 1

*There really is no exact recipe for this sandwich. You can really play around with it to suit your preferences. I'll just tell you how I made mine.

ground chicken sausage, approximately 1/4 cup, seasoned with ground fennel, salt and pepper
1 English Muffin (I prefer Thomas' brand)
handful shredded jack and colby cheese
butter, for frying egg
1 egg
salt and pepper for seasoning

Spray a small fry pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Form the chicken sausage into a flattened patty. Cook the sausage until done and browned, approximately 3 minutes per side. Set aside

Break the English muffin apart, using a fork. You want to keep the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the cheese on both the bottom and top halves of the muffin. Put in toaster oven and toast until cheese has melted.

While the muffin is toasting, cook the egg. Add butter to the small fry pan and melt, allowing the butter to coat the bottom. Break the egg into the pan. Gently pierce egg yolk with spatula and season egg with salt and pepper. When the egg white begins to set, flip the egg.

Assemble the sandwich by placing the sausage on the bottom half of the muffin, place the egg on top of the sausage and top with the other half of the muffin. Serve and enjoy


Indian Spiced Chicken Thighs

When it comes to chicken, fried chicken that is, I've always been a wing and a leg woman. And then of course I'll do a chicken breast for various dishes, sauteed or pan fried and for salads. Yet chicken thighs have always eluded me. Until this summer that is.

While visiting my mother this summer, she bar-b-qued and one of the meats she cooked was boneless, skinless chicken thighs. My mom kept telling me how good they were and how much I needed to try it. So in addition to the usual chicken wings on my plate, I decided to sample the chicken thighs. After a few bites, I was once again reminded of why I listen to my mother. Besides always giving me the best advice and being there when I need someone to talk to, my mother knows what she is talking about when it comes to food. The chicken thighs were tender and juicy, not at all dry as chicken breast can be sometimes.

I was convinced I needed to try more recipes using chicken thighs. Well that immediately led to Take Out Chicken, which was undoubtedly a hit. Chicken thighs were on a roll in our house...two for two. So I decided to try a recipe I found in Rachael Ray's Everyday Magazine for Indian Spiced Meat. The recipe called for boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs or beef sirloin or lamb chops. Of course I picked...you guessed it....boneless, skinless, chicken thighs.

This recipe is basically a great meat rub with a whole bunch of flavor. I made this on a weeknight since there was not much involved in the process and served it alongside sauteed spinach and smashed potatoes. A delicious but simple recipe which gives the use of chicken thighs a two thumbs up for the third time in a row.

Indian Spiced Meat
Printable Recipe
serves 4

2 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoon grill seasoning
2 teaspoon tumeric
2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (or whichever meat you prefer)
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, grill seasoning, tumeric, allspice and paprika. Rub the spice mixture all over the meat and let stand for at least 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-heat. Add the meat and cook for 6 minutes per side

Transfer to a plate and serve.

adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray


Blueberry Crumb Bars

Mr. Foodie and I just got back from an "end of the summer" vacation. We traveled to Paris and Amsterdam and had an amazing time. From the sightseeing and the great weather to just the sheer beauty of both cities, it was a great way to say goodbye to the summer and welcome in the fall. And I'd be remiss if I did not mention that the food in both cities was absolutely delectable. I will definitely share my European food experiences with you next week as I settle back into my daily routine (i.e work) and finish uploading our 1000+ photos.

In the meantime, I want to share with you this yummy dessert I made before we left. I love blueberries and buy them all the time. Yet often times, they sit in the refrigerator for days before I even touch them. Such a pity, I know. But these last bunch of blueberries were so big and plump, I couldn't let them wilt on me before I included them in a great dessert.

Enter Blueberry Crumb Bars. I revisited a dessert I first made last summer after spying it on Deb's blog. These crumb bars are perfect for a morning snack with a cup of coffee or tea or even an after dinner dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Hey, they are also tasty all by themselves. They are slightly tart, extremely buttery and very crumbly, just like a good crumb bar should be. Trust me, these suckers don't last long in our refrigerator.

So if you enjoy blueberries, even half as much as I do, I say go ahead and give these a try. A simple and easy dessert, you won't be sorry you made them.

Blueberry Crumb Bars
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups flour
2 sticks butter, cold
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, zest and juice
4 cups fresh blueberries
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour and baking powder. Stir in the salt and lemon zest. Add the butter and egg to the bowl. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend the butter and egg into the flour mixture. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the greased pan.

In a separate bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently fold in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture over the crust, evenly. Using your fingers, crumble the remaining dough on top, over the berry layer.

Bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

*You should get about 16 medium sized squares out of your 9x13 baking pan
*These bars keep best if stored in the refrigerator

adapted from smittenkitchen.com originally from allrecipes.com