Deepest Darkest Cocoa Brownies

cocoa brownies

Rating: 5/5 stars. This recipe makes a 13×9 pan of thick, moist, incredibly chocolatey cocoa brownies. Bonus: they’re non-dairy!

I have terrible news. In my attempt to ameliorate #2’s eczema, I have done the unthinkable: I’ve (temporarily) given up dairy. This was not an easy decision for me. I’m not really a big milk-drinker, but cheese, ice cream, and butter are all high on my list of favorite foods. But I’ve now gone ten days without dairy, which is definitely some kind of record for me. #2’s eczema is… perhaps mildly better. Maybe. Which could also be due to the warmer temperatures we’ve been enjoying. But I’ll probably keep up the experiment for a while longer and then reintroduce a bit of dairy to see what happens.

One of the hardest days of this experiment was Wednesday, the day we have advisory groups at school. Advisory at our school is synonymous with snack time. Any actual advising that happens take place over boxes of Dunkin (or if you’re lucky, from the fabulous Chattanooga-based Julie Darling Donuts), bags of apples, Tupperware of homemade cookies, jugs of juice… students take their snack-bringing duties very seriously. And woe be it unto the student who forgets their day to bring advisory snacks. Last Wednesday, one of my advisees brought giant Sams Club containers of both mini-cinnamon rolls and mini-brownies. We also had leftover mini-donuts and Pringles from previous weeks.

Of course I had to check the labels. And of course everything had dairy. And so I spent my day staring at heaps of brownies that I couldn’t eat. It was five periods of pure torture.

That got me thinking–wouldn’t it be pretty simple to make dairy-free brownies? No crazy changes would be needed, especially because I can still eat eggs. So I started doing some investigating, and then some baking, and I wound up with these decadent chocolate treats: Deepest Darkest Cocoa Brownies. They don’t have the delicious papery topping of your typical boxed brownie, but there exists no chocolate craving these fudgy brownies can’t satisfy.

Photo Mar 19, 1 03 20 PM

Time Commitment: The directions here are ridiculously simple. These clock in at 45 minutes to one hour, almost all of which is baking time. I took closer to an hour because of all the “help” I was getting from a certain little someone.

Mess: This whole thing comes together in one good-sized bowl–for me, in the bowl of my stand mixer.

Mom Fails: Pro tip: put your little one’s hair in a ponytail before giving her chocolate-covered beaters to lick.

Deepest Darkest Cocoa BrowniesPhoto Mar 19, 9 11 10 PM

Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s fudge brownie recipe

Makes a 9×13 pan, about 20 brownies

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 c dutch-process cocoa, like this amazing valrhona cocoa from Amazon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 c semisweet chocolate chips, optional (My Guittard semisweet chips are dairy-free, though they’re made on equipment that also makes milk chocolate. That’s good enough for me, but you can also find strictly vegan chocolate chips, if needed.)
  • Sifted powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Beat together eggs, cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso/coffee, and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Add oil and sugar. Mix again.
  4. Add in flour. Mix again until batter takes on a thick, sludgy consistency. This batter is stiffer than your typical boxed brownie batter. Never fear–they will be tender and moist after baking!
  5. Fold in chocolate chips, if using.
  6. Smooth batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center looks firm but still moist. You can stick a knife into your brownies to check done-ness, but you actually want to take these out before the tester comes out completely clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack, then dust cocoa brownies with powdered sugar. Slice, then serve.

Veggie Fried Rice

veggie fried rice

Rating: 4/5 stars. Throw whatever is in your crisper drawers into this healthy, quick veggie fried rice. Works with brown or white rice!

Ways that #1 is a typical toddler:

  • She’s obsessed with Elmo. (Ugh.)
  • She has never met a dog or cat she doesn’t want to hug.
  • She needs at least three drinks of water between bath and bedtime.
  • She loves to “help” with laundry, meaning that she likes to sit on top of the drier and meticulously place each individual sock into the washer, a process that takes about fifteen minutes per load.
  • She refuses to understand that I only have two hands and therefore cannot simultaneously hold her brother, fetch her a cheese stick, read her a book, and help her put her sock back on.

Ways that #1 is not a typical toddler:

  • She is developing an imaginary friendship with the hawk that nests in our woods, whom she’s convinced is going to take her for a ride someday. (This “friendship” wouldn’t be so weird except for the fact that she also “talks to” the hawk about the mice he likes to eat for lunch… the ones whose half-eaten carcasses we find in our yard on occasion.)
  • She’s a huge fan of vegetables.

That’s right, folks. #1 frequently asks for seconds or thirds of broccoli. She eats her peas before her pasta and sneaks pieces of raw onion and pepper as I’m cooking. Though I’d love to claim the credit for her good habits, I’m pretty sure I just got lucky. Or maybe she was influenced by her in utero tenure in the Bay Area, where fetus-Lily got weekly doses of Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Ethiopian.

All of this to say, I made a major miscalculation when I was preparing this veggie fried rice a few days ago. I wanted it to have lots of veggies, but #1 spotted my peas coming out of the microwave and demanded her portion: “No, not little bit. Lots of peas!” AKA half of them. And there went my rice-to-veggies ratio.

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Time Commitment: This really only takes about 30 minutes. Chop your veggies while you cook your rice. Then everything stir fries up in no time.

Mess: Low mess–a frying pan, something to cook the rice, and a single cutting board

Mom Fails: Not predicting my daughter’s (utterly predictable) appetite for peas

Special Equipment: Due to my limited storage space, I’ve never had a rice cooker. But this would probably be a great place to use yours, if you’ve got one.

Veggie Fried RicePhoto Mar 15, 6 38 35 PM

Feeds 3-4 as a main dish or 6 as a side

Adapted from this, this, and this recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 c rice, cooked according to package directions, omitting salt (I used jasmine rice, but any long-grained variety should work–brown or white.)
  • 1 c frozen peas, cooked and drained
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Veggies I might add next time: broccoli, mushrooms, snow peas, baby spinach
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp oil (sesame oil is great if you’ve got it, but olive oil worked fine for me)
  • 3-4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • Chili paste or hot sauce, to taste

Directions

  1. Cook your rice and peas according to package directions, but don’t add any salt.
  2. Heat your oil in a large frying pan or wok. Toss in veggies (reserving veggies that cook quickly or are pre-cooked, like peas, spinach, mushrooms, etc) and stir fry for about five minutes, or until tender. Then crack eggs into the pan and push around until cooked.
  3. Add rice, soy sauce, and vinegar and stir fry for another couple of minutes.
  4. Add chili paste to taste and serve.

“Bacon” Cheddar Cauliflower Soup (Guest post!)

Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

Note: This recipe is a guest post from one of my [Emily’s] very oldest and dearest friends–reader, writer, and hiker extraordinaire, Jessica. I don’t really have cauliflower in our family’s dinner rotation, but after this post, I’m convinced to give it a try. Enjoy!

Emily asked if I would write a guest blog for The Supper Files. As a reader of Emily’s blog, and a long-time friend,  I’m happy to contribute a post!

Our cooking adventures extend back to high school where our first attempt to make pizza from scratch left us with unleavened crust as we forgot to add yeast to our dough! Fast forward to 2016 and even though we don’t live in the same state anymore, we still bond over cooking adventures. This year we are challenging ourselves to baking a cake each month, as suggested on Food & Wine’s cake baking bucket list.

Besides the trend of monthly cake baking, my latest cooking obsession has been cauliflower. If you are anything like me, you might know cauliflower as that unwanted vegetable next to celery that’s always leftover on any appetizer veggie tray. You may have also arched a skeptical eyebrow at pinterest pins proclaiming cauliflower as the primary ingredient in pizza crust.

Or the idea of grating cauliflower to create imitation fried rice. Perhaps even making twice-baked potatoes…without the potatoes!

Cauliflower Fried "Rice"
Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Dear reader, I was skeptical too. All these posts for uses of cauliflower seemed downright blasphemous! Replace the beloved potato with cauliflower? In any recipe–why would you? Well, as a vegetarian, our diets can stack up heavy on the carb side if we’re not too careful. Why is that a problem you ask? Too much of the wrong types of carbs can result in unwanted weight gain and other problems. Granted carbs are just about in everything and my motto is all things in moderation so to help with the diet balancing act, enter the wonderfully versatile cauliflower. And who couldn’t use more cruciferous veggies in their life?

One of my new favorite cauliflower recipes is this Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower soup, adapted for a vegetarian diet from Iowa Girl Eats.

Time Commitment: I haven’t timed myself making this, but on average, it seems every recipe I put my hand to takes about an hour (including prep, cook time and clean-up).

Mess: While this soup can be made in one pot, the messiest part will be grating the cauliflower, which brings me to:

Special Equipment: If you have a food processor, that will make your cauliflower shredding job SO MUCH easier. I use the blade for shredding cheese and my cauliflower florets are sliced up in no time. Otherwise you can use an actual cheese grater (mind your fingers), or toss in a blender and pulse a few times.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with your favorite crusty bread and a side salad.

Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

IngredientsJessicaCauliflowerSoup

  • 8 slices veggie bacon, chopped (I use LightLife’s Smart Bacon)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 4+ cups shredded or grated cauliflower (1/2 large head-1 large head), personally I don’t think you can add too much!
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 c hot water + 2 “chicken” bouillon cubes= 2 c “chicken” broth
  • 2 c milk
  • 3-4 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • Toppings: green onions, bacobits, and sour cream

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour and 1/4 cup chicken broth in a small bowl then set aside.
  2. Saute bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until crisp. Add celery and garlic to the pot then season with salt and pepper and saute until vegetables are tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower and onion powder  to the pot then stir to combine. Add water then place a lid on top and steam cauliflower until tender, stirring a couple times, about 5-7 minutes. Add remaining chicken broth and milk then turn up heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Slowly whisk in flour/chicken broth mixture while stirring, then turn down heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until soup has thickened. Puree soup in blender then return to pot (you may also use an immersion blender instead).
  5. Turn off heat then stir in 2 cups cheddar cheese a little at a time until smooth. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce if necessary. Serve topped with bacobits, green onions, and sour cream.