Mama Rita’s Brownies

These brownies are so decadent and delicious. I had a hard time just naming them “Mama Rita’s Brownies” because they sort of need a name like Mama Rita’s Off-The-Charts Brownies, or Mama Rita’s Crack Brownies or Mama Rita’s Talk-to-Me Brownies… but you get the idea. Might be a bit hard to google down the road, so I just left it alone. ANYWAY, these are the brownies to make when you want something special, but have no more than 10 minutes to pull it together. Mama Rita, if you didn’t know, is my mama, and anything that comes out of her kitchen is worth a blog post, really. This is the only brownie recipe for me, and so after a solid 12 years of baking these, I realized this recipe had to be shared.

A dear old friend from the Lone Star State just spent the weekend with us, and he’s got a thing for chocolate too. Rather than slaving away in the kitchen, I prefer to cook food that still allows me time to hang out and catch up. So, this was an easy thing to mix together right after dinner, and fun to serve the guys as we all put our feet up and sat down to watch Sons of Liberty. An all American show and an all American dessert!

TheTrianglePlate Brownies_edited-1

Mama Rita’s Brownies

recipe by Rita Salazar Dickerson

Note: the extra dark chocolate and the nuts sprinkled over the top are completely optional, and sometimes I even put the nuts on just one side to give everyone their favorite nut-free or nut-full brownie. So, do what you want! Makes 9 brownies, or feel free to do this in a 9″x13″ baking pan if you want to feed more mouths…they will just be half as thick (so a bit anti-climactic for me) and you’ll need to pull them from the oven after about 25 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c butter, melted
  • 1/4 c regular olive oil
  • 3/4 c baking cocoa powder (I like to use an organic, fairly traded cocoa)
  • 1 and 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 big pinch of salt (or 1/4 tsp if you want to be nit-picky or need a visual)
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 (or so) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c (or so) chopped pecans

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Butter an 8″x8″ baking pan.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine melted butter with oil and cocoa.
  4. Whisk in eggs, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
  5. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon and mix well.
  6. Pour into baking pan, using a rubber spatula to spread evenly.
  7. Sprinkle the chocolate and nuts over the top.
  8. Bake for about 35 minutes or so, until a toothpick comes out clean (but it may have a couple moist bits on it, which is a good thing).
  9. Allow to cool and cut into squares before serving (or just throw that thought out the window and eat them piping hot with a fork…they won’t be firm brownies until cooled, but sometimes, a hot brownie is the way to go!).

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Hearty Lentil Soup

Well, it’s been a year. Lots of water under THAT bridge. I received several expressions of “missing” The Triangle Plate from some of you that enjoy reading and cooking from this blog. The thing is, I’ve been cooking as much as ever (because I haven’t stopped enjoying good food), but wanted to make a few adjustments on the blog before starting again. And finding time to do that in the midst of a normal week just wasn’t happening. But as I love sharing my food discoveries and old favorites with you, getting the blog up and running again has been a New Year’s resolution. Meanwhile, I’ve been using Instagram as my outlet for documenting my cooking, so feel free to follow along there @sbkunstle if you enjoy having lots of visual inspiration.

So, in the spirit of firing this thang back on up… I’m just doing a quick post on a favorite winter soup. A totally mundane recipe for a busy weeknight in my mind, but whenever I serve it I hear “this is sooo good!” and “can I have the recipe?” I realized that some things that I find kind of non-exciting are new to others (and vice versa!), and so I promise I’ll start sharing more of those this year.

The short story on this soup dates back to nearly twelve years ago in a forest in Bavaria. We had gone for a gorgeous hike on a drizzly day with my cousin, Aaron, who was visiting and a colleague of Dave’s who was showing us around our new stomping grounds. It was a beautiful trail that wound up the mountain, and to my total DELIGHT there was a hut at the top that was just bustling with other hikers who had stopped in for a beer and a hearty soup or sausages. Hiking in Colorado is just breathtaking and rivals anywhere in the world with beauty, but little huts serving freshly cooked food for any old person who might show up, it has not. So I was excited. We sat down to the most delicious lentil soup with sausage that from that day on, changed the way I saw lentil soup. Previously, it was just health food to me that was hard to get too worked up about. And when you are in your twenties, hiking about mountains and eating up soup with pork sausage is just perfect. Now firmly planted in the latter half of my thirties, I’m using chicken apple sausage so the heartiness will be more about a happy tummy vs. looking hearty.

TheTrianglePlateLentilSoup

Hearty Lentil Soup

recipe by Stephanie Kunstle

Note: You can make this in a crock pot and cook on high for 6-7 hours, or you can do it stovetop for about 2 hours cook time. Totally up to you and your availability. If you do it stovetop, just make sure you keep adding water as much of it will cook away in this faster cooking process.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, ends trimmed, slit lengthwise and chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped in whatever chop floats your boat (I like to half or quarter mine lengthwise before chopping)
  • optional: 2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 chicken apple sausages (about 1 lb.) or sausage of your choice, slit lengthwise and chopped into bite size chunks
  • 2-3 cups green lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. Better than Bullion chicken base or 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • water to cover about 2 inches above lentil mixture (6-8 cups or so)
  • salt to taste (do not season until after soup is cooked)

Preparation:

  1. Stir well to combine all ingredients EXCEPT salt in crock pot or a large pot on the stove.
  2. If you are using a crock pot, just put the lid on and set the time for 6-7 hours on high. Walk away and have your day! I prefer this method as I think the lentils are just more flavorful after so many hours cooking together with the sausage and veggies.
  3. If you are doing this on the stove, you will bring the ingredients to a boil over medium high heat, then turn down to simmer the soup for about 2 hours until lentils are tender.  You will need to add water as needed, so be sure to stir occasionally and check the water.
  4. Once the soup is cooked, add the salt. Adding it prematurely can make it tough for the lentils to soften and you may end up with salty soup. The sausage and bullion have salt already, so that will season the soup quite a bit.
  5. Add salt to taste (may be around 2 tsp or so).
  6. Serve with a a rustic bread and a fresh salad!

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Truffles “Nocciola”

Maybe it’s my new year’s resolution to eat healthy that’s causing the deviance (ahem- that means, dessert is no longer a snack food), but lately I’m sort of just looking for an excuse to make truffles. I was biding my time until Valentine’s Day, but just recently, some friends asked if I would teach them how to properly make risotto and they would plan a dinner party around it. When I think of risotto, I think of the Sagre in Asti, Italy, that Dave and I enjoyed so many years ago, and the Barolo Risotto we were served with shaved Parmegiano scattered over the top. Just delicious. So, I recommended we take a Piemontese route for our menu, and a lovely evening was born! Continue reading

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