Potato Chip Dusted Frosted Brownies

by April on March 24, 2015

There something about traveling that just hits the spot when life begins to feel like a repetitive cycle of work, sleep, repeat. Traveling forces a breaking of the routine and keeps the mind engaged in not getting lost going somewhere less or totally unfamiliar, about finding where your next meal will come from, and making sure that the effort put into actually taking the time to travel yields new and exciting experiences. What’s the fun in going to somewhere over and over again only to do the same things?

At the end of February I headed east on I-26 to a place I’ve been many times, but this go round was for a different reason- Brewvival! It’s a big outdoor beer festival held at the end of every February at COAST Brewing in North Charleston. I’ve heard from many friends that it’s THE best beer festival of the year, and this is coming from some seasoned drinkers, the kind who travel hundreds of miles for beer festivals.

I was there to work, pouring beers for a few hours and it was set to be a fantastic weekend full of new beers and amazing Charleston food, and just a weekend out of same ole Columbia. But I was sick with a nasty sinus infection and on day two of antibiotics when I drove down. That wasn’t stopping me though, as I had splurged on a hotel room instead of trying to sleep on someone’s couch for two nights, something my back and well, my whole body really, isn’t a fan of doing. Despite the sniffling and hoarseness, I went on and poured beers at the festival for a few hours before the cold overcame me and I just couldn’t stick it out anymore.

Before I left though, I really wanted to grab something from one of the food trucks at the festival. Some of the ones I’ve only followed on social media were there, like Auto-Bahn, and Diggity Doughnuts! I stood in line for 30 minutes to get some of those sweet vegan doughnuts that I’ve heard so much about, and ended up choosing a chocolate frosted with crushed potato chips, and a strawberry-jalepeno one.

The chocolate and potato chip one got consumed in the car, sticky brown frosting smudged on my face from the sheer size of these doughnuts. These big boys are not playing around. And despite their size, they aren’t heavy and dense liked vegan baked goods of the 90s. If you like the sweet and salty combination of salted potatoes and chocolate, you’ll like this one (dip fries in your Frosty? Enjoy those chocolate covered potato chips from Trader Joe’s? Yep, that’s what I thought).

The strawberry jalapeno hung out in the fridge in my hotel room until later that evening when it was consumed in bed after a long medication induced nap. But the chocolate and potato chip one, that one really stuck with me and I thought about ways to recreate it that didn’t involve buying a doughnut pan. A chocolate frosted bundt cake with crushed chips? Fudge? No, brownies. Frosted brownies with delicious crushed pieces of potato chips sprinkled on top.

I used this recipe from Taste of Home and added some chocolate chips for extra gooeyness inside, and did some work on the frosting recipe. Actually, I ended up with enough frosting to do about seven more pans of brownies so in this recipe I scaled it back by half, as well as thinned it out with extra milk to make it a bit more spreadable and sticky so that the potato chip pieces are sure to cling to it and not just fall into the floor.

Potato Chip Dusted Frosted Brownies

Modified from Taste of Home

Ingredients

Brownies:

  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Frosting:
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk (pour in a little at a time until the consistency is like hummus or to your liking)
Topping:

Directions

  1. In a microwave safe dish, zap the butter for 20 seconds, then 10 more seconds until softened but not melted completely.  Stir in cocoa and let it cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar until blended. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture. Stir in vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips.
  2. Spread into a greased 13 x 9″ baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
  3. For frosting, in a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cocoa and vanilla. Add enough milk until the frosting achieves spreading consistency. Spread over brownies. Cut into bars.
  4. Right before serving, gently crush potato chips in a quart sized Ziploc bag until the pieces are small and uniform, sprinkle liberally on top of brownies. Like potato chips do, they stale quickly when exposed to air, so only add chips before serving because they will not keep well.

Since these bad boys are obviously not healthy and shouldn’t be consumed only by two people, I took the pan over to hang out with friends for a not-in-Five-Points-St.-Pat’s-Day get together. But I still might have had a few fancy cocktails like this Moscow Mule.

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My Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

by April on March 4, 2015

Sometimes what food writers don’t tell you is that their favorite recipes are the hardest ones to post.

It’s not because it’s to protect a sekrit family recipe, or to save it for a future restaurant or cookbook publishing. It isn’t even because the recipe is so near and dear that the thought of having one single jerk ask if they will get the same results if they substitute one ingredient so key that it’s in the title of said recipe. Nah, it’s because we love the recipe so much, that it’s so intoxicatingly delicious, that we eat it all before there’s even a flash of a thought to remember to photograph it. There, I said it. I gave up the reality.

And for me, this slow cooker vegetable soup with cheese rind infused broth, is my true recipe love. I have eaten an entire five quart slow cooker of it in one day, all by myself, with no regrets. I’ve had Patrick wake up to the smell of it in the morning after I’d set it to slow cooking the night before, and he would think “Oh, I’ll get some for dinner.” Except… I ate it ALL. Breakfast, lunch, snack, and my own dinner. With no regard I can and will take down that entire vessel because I can’t get enough of it. And the best part aside from the fact that I just ate like three days worth of vegetable servings, is that the contents of the slow cooker can vary a bit but the results are consistent and flavorful.

And given that I don’t exactly measure or use the same combinations of ingredients every single time, the below recipe is going to have several notes in the ingredient list about ways to be flexible with this recipe. Add an -ish to these measurements to your favor and always remember that it’s easier to add more or something than to try and take it away.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 quart or enough vegetable stock to completely cover contents of crockpot
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced small
  • 1 russet or Yukon potato, diced small, peeled if desired
  • 2-4 ribs celery, diced small
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (or any combo of frozen/fresh that includes peas, corn, carrots, lima beans, green beans)
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 1 cup or so Parmesan or other hard cheese rinds, cut into bite sized chunks (I save rinds in a bag in the freezer especially for this soup- Earth Fare also sells Parm rinds under the name “soup bones” or something like that. Cut off any printing or wax before adding.)
  • 1 Edwards & Sons Not Beef bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt, to taste (add a little to start, more at end of soup’s cooking)
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • shake of caynne, to taste
  • optional extras: dried lima beans, frozen shelled edamame, fresh tomatoes, 1/2 cup small lentils (red, green, brown)
Directions
  1.  Heat the slow cooker on high with the lid on while chopping the vegetables. Add the tablespoon of oil.
  2. Add the diced onion, celery and garlic. Stir to coat with the oil and keep preparing the remainder of the ingredients. Keep lid on.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, making sure to leave adequate room in the slow cooker (about an inch below the edge of the cooker).
  4. Add extra stock or water to cover the vegetables and cheese.
  5. Stir well and cook for four hours on high or eight hours on low.
  6. Remove bay leaf before serving.

You may be wondering about the cheese rinds and whether or not to remove them. NO WAY! They are perfectly edible and in fact are a great way to use what is normally considered food waste. They are chewy, warm, melty, cheesy chunks of umami flavor and really make the whole soup. And that is how you do a vegetarian vegetable soup that’s so good that it’s practically impossible to photograph!

 

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King Cake Alternatives

February 16, 2015

The past two years I’ve brought king cakes to my offices, which in turn made people like me more and question my heritage. While I’m always welcoming of people liking me more, I just have to put it out there that I’m not from Louisiana, nor is anyone in my family. The king cake tradition [...]

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We’ve got a lot of jelly in this house. It’s not because we’re avid canners, or have generous friends who are. No, it’s because we have a pantry that’s packed and someone (not me) is a “If I can’t see it without moving anything, we ain’t got it” kind of grocery procurer. And that’s why [...]

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New in Columbia – Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom

February 1, 2015

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Earth Fare Treat Trip

January 21, 2015

These sunny days in January are a treat that we forget we have nearly every year, so when they come along on a weekend or a holiday it’s even more luxurious. MLK day is the last holiday I’ll have off until July 4, so today is all about relaxing and enjoying the day. Despite a [...]

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Soda City Suds Week

January 19, 2015

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, five friends and myself have formed a nonprofit to support and organize a week of publicly supported drinking craft beer education and appreciation events. But in all seriousness, as I reported in the Free Times last month, craft beer is giving South Carolina a serious economic [...]

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#MadeWithChobani Herbed Potato Salad

January 13, 2015

Not everyone would enjoy a 10 lb bag of potatoes as a Christmas present, but I had no objections when my dad handed me a big sack of russet taters at our annual Christmas day lunch. Two weeks later and there’s nary a sign of aging on them, just a few eyes sprouting but I [...]

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The Year In Food

January 8, 2015

I was asked to contribute some thoughts to the past year in food as well as the future year in food for the Free Times (in Columbia, SC). While there’s quite a variety of topics in this list, a few things stood out to me: 1. Columbians LOVE local. If it’s homegrown, we support it! [...]

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Looking Back at 2014

January 1, 2015

I love looking back at these reflective surveys each each and seeing what I was thinking, feeling, and experiencing at the time. Some things never change, and some things do, radically. Here are ones from New Year’s Eve 2013, 2012, 2011. 1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? I went to Disney [...]

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