Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

I love pretzels.  I love peanut butter.  I love brownies.  Peanut butter pretzel brownies?  Now we've traveled out of this world.  Add a drizzle of chocolate on top that's literally the icing on the cake.  Yes, peanut butter, pretzels, brownie, and chocolate all together in one bite.  Perfection, I kid you not.

As mentioned in the very few posts I wrote this winter, I was part of a truly magical 200 hour yoga teacher training.  Not only did I leave with a deeper understanding of yoga and many pathways to continue to explore, but I gained 22 new incredible friends.  Honest to goodness, I love my yoga family in a way that I can't put into words.  I rest easy knowing that I have a lifelong connection with each of them, whether near or far.

How on earth does yoga teacher training relate to peanut butter pretzel brownies?  (I was getting there!)  It is the dessert I brought to our graduation celebration.  I couldn't settle for anything but delicious and over-the-top sweet and decadent for my lovely yogis--I knew that others would take care of the kale salads, quinoa, and veggies (which were all incredible).  :) 

These brownies are more like little bites of enlightenment.  Crunchy on the bottom, soft and slightly chewy in the middle, soft and creamy on top.  Add some salt, peanut butter, and chocolate and the experience in blissful in your mouth.  It's a good thing we do lots of yoga to burn off the calories that are surely in each bite (no one is can have another one).  The only unfortunate thing is that I never got any photos of the brownies sliced because they were gone before I got around to it.

I can't wait to make these again!  However, when I do, I'll always think "23 yogis all lying in bed...."

Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies:
Adapted from this blog that I want to continue to explore.

For the crust...
  • 2 1/2 liberal cups of pretzels (I used Snyder's minis)
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter
For the brownies...
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 bag of peanut butter chips
  • 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 generous teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 eggs
For the frosting...
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, softened
  • a very liberal 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter (not the natural will separate)
  • 2ish or more cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 generous teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of milk (maybe more depending on consistency)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick tinfoil.
  2. Measure the pretzels and put them in a gallon sized plastic bag.  Use your rolling pin (or wine bottle) to smash the pretzels.  I like this method better than a food processor because in the end it is faster and the consistency ends up providing more crunch.
  3. Add the crushed pretzels, sugar, and melted butter to a medium bowl.  Mix together then press into the bottom of the lined pan with the help of a fork.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, melt the butter and peanut butter chips in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir consistently until the whole thing is just melted and creamy.  Remove from heat.
  6. Stir the rest of the brownie ingredients together in a bowl, then add the warm peanut butter mixture.
  7. Spread over the fresh-baked pretzel crust and bake for 30 minutes or so, until a toothpick comes out clean.  (Note:  it will not rise much at all.)
  8. Remove from the oven when it is done and cool completely.
  9. While the brownies are cooling, make the frosting... 
  10. In a stand mixer, beat the softened butter and peanut butter.
  11. A little bit at a time, add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla a little at a time.  Beat into smithereens between installments.  Continue to mix until smooth and creamy and meets your desired consistency.  
  12. Spread over the brownies.
  13. In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips until just liquidy (be careful to not overcook).  Spoon into a plastic bag.  Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag.  Drizzle the melted chocolate over the frosting.
  14. Cut into bars.  Enjoy!! 
  15. Try to beat your friends to the last piece.  :)
  16. Do some yoga.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Super Awesome Spinach Smoothie

Uh oh, friends.  By the looks of things, the last post I wrote was on April 11th, which was exactly two months ago.  That's bad.  Trust me, I have been thinking about you!!!  To my credit, though, it's been really busy.  Since then, I graduated from Yoga Teacher Training, completed the school year, bought a new house, got a new job as an assistant principal, have traveled all over the state with my best friend, built our garden, hiked and biked and run all over the place, and so much more.  Phew.  I am exhausted just thinking about all of that.  What great fun it has been!

To power me through many 16 hour days, I relied heavily on this super awesome spinach smoothie.  Yes, I am completely on the green smoothie bandwagon.  (I can guarantee it is much better than being on the cruise-through-the-drive thru-because-it-takes-three-minutes bandwagon.)  Admittedly, I was skeptical of the green smoothies until I tried the Spiritual Greenster at a little cafe a few doors down from my beloved yoga studio.  The first time I had a Spiritual Greenster, my socks were completely blown off!  Holy smokes!  Who would have ever imagined that spinach (and kale in that case) would be tasty in a smoothie?  There have been more than one occasion where I have had very little motivation to go to yoga and have used a post-sweat Spiritual Greenster as the incentive.  Makes sense to me.

Anyhow, the time came for me to try my hand at the green smoothie on my own.  Drum roll please--it was a resounding success.  A little bit of sweet and a little bit of spice blended into a nutrient packed smoothie.  Not only is it extraordinarily healthy, but it is also filling and super delicious.  I make a ton in one go so that I can sip it throughout the better portion of the afternoon.  This keeps me from snacking on whatever carb-laden finger food I can find.  Trust me--you'll like it.  Also, I have experimented with both pears and pineapple as the fruit-based sweetener and prefer the pineapple.  I am looking forward to trying mango and coconut too.

This smoothie is delicious.  And a great way to say hello after a little blogging break.

Super Awesome Spinach Smoothie:

**This makes a ton in one go.  I'd guess about 32 ounces.**
  • 2 cups spinach (I sort of pack--but not smash--it all into a 2-cup measuring cup)
  • 1ish cups of pineapple or pear
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger paste (more if you want it spicier)
  • 2 cups of ice
  • 1 1/2ish cups of water
  1. Add all of the ingredients to the blender and blend until it is the consistency of your liking.
  2. Add more water if necessary.
  3. ENJOY!!!