Chipotle chocolate brownies

ALSO technically known as Cinco de Mayo pt. 3, but it is really too late in the month for me to include that in the title. Shame on me.  SHAME.

My half-week blog neglect came as a result of this kid visiting Ottawa for the past few days.  With Matt having left last night, I declare today to be my day of refocus.  I intend to clean my bedroom (which is a complete hole), do piles and piles of laundry, and clear out the grocery store in a haul that is worthy of a king (on my bicycle of course).  I start my summer job at University Affairs magazine tomorrow, and am hoping to quickly get into a routine that sees me working, biking, and food-ing out in a hardcore way.

But first, I must tell you about these brownies.

Yum, yum, yum.

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to do a spiced chocolate/Mexican chocolate brownie adaption.  My choice of dessert was also swayed by sheer laziness, and a lack of desire to create the complicated (but traditional) deep fried banana/ice cream combinations that Cinco de Mayo websites were suggesting.  And so, the chipotle chocolate brownie was created.

I half made up the recipe, combining a variety of ingredients and instructions from a few different websites.  The result was a gigantic 9×13 pan of brownies.  Please note, there are currently two people living in my house.  Much brownie was eaten for breakfast, lunch, supper and the occasional midnight snack.  Half was given to my landlord’s wife as a “thank you for fixing our dryer/thanks for letting us live in this awesome house” gift.

I bake for people, that’s just what I do.

Turns out my spontaneous purchasing of a $6 bottle of chipotle chili pepper was totally worth it.  The brownies had a divine spicy kick and were moist and slightly undercooked on the inside (just the way I like them).  On top, a generous spoonful of dulce de leche ice cream to cool off the spiced hotness of the brownie.  Delicious on so many different levels.

And with that, my friends, I bid an “adios” to Mexican cuisine for another few months!

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Cinco de Mayo, pt. 2: tortilla, ground beef and avocado tower

I can’t help but think that any food with the word “tower” in its name should be the subject of its very own fairy tale.  Originally when I started to write this post, I was going to make up some lame little story to accompany it, before realizing it excruciatingly difficult to write a fairy tale where the protagonist was locked up in a tower made of ground meat.  Kind of kills the romanticism factor, huh?  I guess I’ll leave the fairy tales to Disney.  I’m in it for the food.

Obviously when planning my Cinco de Mayo feast, I realized my meal wouldn’t be complete without some sort of:

a. Tortilla usage
b. Spicy meat
c. Avocado

Since I really wasn’t in the mood to make tacos, and since there was only one of me, I did the next logical thing: created my own dish.

Yeah, I know, it looks pretty simple, but the flavours were actually incredibly effective and satisfying.  This tower of Mexican joy also allowed me to utilize one of the new food rings I bought in Kensington Market a few weeks ago.  Basically, a food ring is a large, well ring, with built-up sides.  It kind of looks like a really clean piece of pipe.  The point of a food ring is to be able to stack your food nicely and compress it in such a way that it doesn’t become a crumbled mess (partial failure on my part, yes).  It also allows you to achieve the presentation seen on all your favourite cooking shows – including TOP CHEF CANADA, which I am now completely obsessed with.

To go along with your food ring, you’re technically supposed to have this flat piece that fits exactly inside the ring.  This piece is meant to press down everything you have inside.  Despite the urgings of the store clerk that this compressor piece was absolutely and completely key, I, of course, did not buy said item.  Come on, it was an extra $13.  I insisted on using a spoon.

It sort of worked, and I consider myself the winner of this food compressor debate.  Take that Mr. Kensington Market Vendor.

As you’ll see below in the recipe, I got to make some more homemade tortilla chip-like things, something I love doing.  Slice up the tortillas (while snacking on one), pan fry them with salt and chili powder and life is grand.

Super easy and semi-impressive looking for a summer night out on the porch.  I ate this on my stairs as the dog walkers and scooter enthusiasts passed by in (what I assumed to be) sheer envy.

PS: THE BEST part of my Cinco de Mayo dinner is coming up next.  I know, it is now the 11th of May.  Shame on me.

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Cinco de Mayo, pt. 1: Black bean, red pepper and corn salad with a lime dressing

Cinco de Mayo always makes me nostalgic for the Spanish class I took back in grade nine.  My teacher was one of those fantastically exuberant educators who would bounce around the classroom, laughing playfully as your face contorted as you attempted to pronounce a word.

Our class fell in the second semester of the school year.  Needless to say, that teacher loved Cinco de Mayo.

As I ate my leftover green pepper and mushroom quinoa yesterday for lunch, it dawned on be that it was May 5.  Well that was that – the cardinal rules of food blogging say that a themed holiday must not be overlooked.  Sitting on the floor of my living room (we don’t have a single chair in our house yet), I started sketching out my dinner plans.

(Aside: This whole planning my dinner while eating my lunch thing is starting to become a dangerous trend, I’m practically living from meal to meal)

In true Hilary fashion, I ended up going all out for my fiesta last night.  As a result of my hard work and kitchen toils, I’m going to be doing three different posts, one for each of my three course.  That’s right.  On a Thursday night, I cooked myself a three course meal.  I am the queen of indulgences.

For my first course, I decided to make a salad that was inspired by a nacho dip my mom makes at home.  As my good friend Gord informs me, this is also quite similar to a sante fe salad he made back last September.  Please visit and shamelessly refresh his blog.

I had red pepper and red onion lying around already, meaning that I just had to run out (bike) and get a few more things at the grocery store.  At the last minute, I realized I had accidentally bought kidney beans instead of black beans (I tend to do a lot of incorrect buying, tsk, tsk), so get this – I ran to the corner store that is literally ten steps away from my front door, and bounded back to the kitchen in a record-breaking 30 seconds.  I love my house.

One more thing – in a complete and utter Cinco de Mayo fail, I realized we didn’t have chili powder.  Yeah. I know, what sort of sad Mexican-inspired meal doesn’t have this spice?  Luckily, a combination of oregano, cumin and hot pepper sauce saved my life.  Thank you Yahoo Answers.

The salad turned out to be refreshing and fast/inexpensive to make, meaning that it would be the perfect potluck/BBQ/quick dinner meal for any night this summer.  ENJOY.

PS: Just ate this for a leftover dinner.  The leftovers are actually BETTER.  A little bit of refrigerator chill time will make all the difference.

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