Inspired by Anna Olson (and a Triple Chocolate Brownie Recipe)

I’m feeling inspired.

Anna Olson's triple chocolate brownie recipe is the only brownie recipe you need | www.pickytoplenty.com

After drooling over the food porn during Anna Olson’s presentation, I went home to make a batch of her incredible triple chocolate brownies

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a conference and hear the fabulous Anna Olson speak about her rise to the celebrity chef she is today. And I have to tell you, I am feeling inspired by Anna Olson. Anna was speaking to a room full of women entrepreneurs at the GWEN 2015 Conference (Growing Women Entrepreneurs) about building her brand. For Anna, that brand is based around respect: respect for the ingredients, respect for the technique and most importantly, respect for the people she is cooking for. Respect is at the core of every decision the seven-time cookbook author, cooking show host and pastry chef makes. While respect has always been at the core of what Anna has done, she never considered it to be her brand until she was asked to describe her brand in an interview.

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Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Thins for Valentine’s Day

I’m not sure if I am feeling much love for February. It’s cold out there. The poor bunnies need frequent water changes and the chickens haven’t left the coop in days. Even the dogs don’t want much to do with the outdoors.

We are half-way through February which means we are that much closer to spring. Today I am busy planning my gardens and preparing for the next post in my garden planning series, but with it being Valentine’s Day tomorrow I thought would share a quick recipe for an easy, healthy and tasty chocolate treat. I have made several batches of these in the past few weeks and they disappear as fast as the Coconut Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Five-Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Thins | www.pickytoplenty.com

Five-Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Thins | www.pickytoplenty.com

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Baking with beets

Sneak veggies into dessert with beet brownies | www.pickytoplenty.com

Sneak veggies into dessert with beet brownies | www.pickytoplenty.com

Had I tried these as a kid, I would have been fooled.

I had to be tricked into eating most vegetables growing up. The list of vegetables I would eat without a fight was short — celery, lettuce, artichoke. The last one throws everyone off, not the typical favourite of a picky eater but what can I say, I wasn’t your typical kid. One way my mom always had success was to puree the veggies.

This brownie recipe features pureed beets and will trick even the finickiest of eaters. I should know, I am a recovering one.

You would never know by biting into one of these rich, moist, fudgy brownies that they contain beets. I was expecting an earthy flavour with traces of dirt. These brownies were full of flavour and it wasn’t dirt. It was chocolate. Rich, dense, fudgy chocolate. A beet-loving coworker slowly ate her brownie searching for traces of beet flavour but couldn’t find a trace. Neither could anyone else. The husband was hesitant to try them but was pleasantly surprised by their rich, chocolatey, beetless taste.

Even better, these brownies were made with beets fresh from my garden. I will definitely be making these veggie-full brownies again.

Buried Beet Brownies. No one will guess there is beet buried in these rich, fudgy brownies | www.pickytoplenty.com

Buried Beet Brownies. No one will guess there is beet buried in these rich, fudgy brownies | www.pickytoplenty.com

Buried Beet Brownies

(You’ll never know it’s there)

Adapted from The Way to My Family’s Heart

• 2 large beets
• 3 large eggs
• 2/3 Cup brown sugar
• 2/3 Cup vanilla sugar
• 1/2 Cup coconut oil
• 1 1/4 Cup cocoa powder
• 3/4 Cup all purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
• 1 Cup chocolate chips

Peel beets and boil until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain and puree (You will likely have to add some water to the food processor during the pureeing process or you will end up with tiny bits of beets. The water will help bind it). Put aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar. Add the beets and whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients. Slowly add to wet mixture,  stirring to incorporate as you add more. At this point, I had to abandon the whisk and grab a spoon, the batter got thick and it was too much for my whisk. Finally, toss in the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into a greased 9×13 glass baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and be amazed at the beetless taste of these buried beet brownies.

Bake with your veggies. Buried Beet Brownies at www.pickytoplenty.com

Bake with your veggies. Buried Beet Brownies at www.pickytoplenty.com

 

 

Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars and dreams of a backyard farm

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It never seems to fail, the May 24 weekend is too cold to plant — again. At least we didn’t get hit with rain — or snow! After this winter, it could have been possible. Instead of planting, I am gazing at my seedlings dreaming of what our backyard gardens will look in just a few months.

Yesterday wasn’t totally unproductive in terms of gardening however. It’s the long weekend and there are plant sales every where. I chose two that I knew of that were selling organic, heirloom seedlings just a short drive away, Linda Crago’s Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm in Wellandport (the sale continues today until 3 p.m.) and The Sentimental Farm in Grimsby, which is operated by Rob and Chris Croley. Today I picked up a few new tomato varieties (one called Isis, how could I resist?), a hot pepper, some different kales, mint and the best raspberry jam that I have ever had. If you live near Grimsby, I suggest you head to the Sentimental Farm on Ridge Road and pick up a jar of Chris’ raspberry jam, it is amazing and this is coming from someone who rarely reaches for jam.

With two jars of this amazing jam now in my possession I was inspired to bake. Since I can’t plant food, I might as well cook it. I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration and came across these Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars from Deliciously Sprinkled that I had pinned a while back. While the original recipe calls for whole raspberries it suggests you can use jam if you don’t have fresh or frozen, so I subbed in the delicious jam with fair trade chocolate chips and organic ingredients. The only non “clean” ingredient I used was the condensed milk as there was no organic version available at my local grocery store. Anyone know of a good alternative to condensed milk?

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Here is my take on the recipe

For the crust and crumble

  • 1 Cup organic, unsalted butter
  • 2 Cups organic, all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
  • pinch of salt

For the layer of chocolate

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Cup organic, fair trade chocolate chips

For topping

  • Seedless Raspberry Jam from the Sentimental Farm
  • more chocolate chips
  • left over dough

Set oven to 350.

Cream butter in a mixer. Add flour, brown sugar and salt and mix until it forms a crumbly dough (make sure you add the whole 2 cups. I initially didn’t and could not figure out why it was so creamy not crumbly). Press the crumbly dough into the bottom of a greased baking pan. Mine was about an inch and a half thick. Bake 15 minutes.

While the bottom layer is baking, pour the can of condensed milk in a saucepan with a cup of chocolate chips, I used semi-sweet. Heat, stirring constantly until combined.

When crust is golden, remove it from the oven and top with the delicious, chocolate. Top this with left over crumb, blobs of jam and more chocolate chips.

Bake 30 minutes.

Let it cool, slice and indulge. These pie bars are a perfect combination of indulgent chocolate, buttery shortbread and tart raspberries. I will definitely be making these ones again. Picky to Plenty’s official taste tester approves. He says the edges are especially tasty. He says this is one of the best desserts I have ever made.

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