The other night I had a bad dream (maybe it was due to the extra slice of veggie pizza). I went back to my home in the San Francisco Bay Area and paid a visit to an ex-boyfriend. It gets worse. I ended up giving him my sweet cat, Zen. In the morning I decoded the dream. During the ups and downs of a hectic author's work week I had lost my balance big-time.
After all, back in April 2011, I went on a mega quest to find the purr-fect cat. I took my finicky cat checklist and went on the big hunt for two challenging weeks to find a special feline to fill the void of Kerouac, my beloved black cat whose nine lives were done. An ad on Craigslist caught my attention. A black/brown and white, blue-eyed Siamese mix, two-year-old male: Adorable, playful, and likes dogs. Born and raised in a rescue home. It took 11 days for "Zen" to adjust to my Type-A Brittany duo and provide a calming balance to my lifestyle.
On Thursday, I couldn't squish in a much-needed swim and hot tub so I turned to baking a batch of double chocolate brownies. The chocolate aroma filled the house so it smelled like a chocolate chip cookie shop. It is an easy recipe that promises comfort with a capital "C". And I decided to healthy it up with stress-reducing, antioxidant-rich nuts in search of finding a sense of calm and let go of the sci-fi type of spooky nightmare.
Super Nutty Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting
1 package store bought premium brownie mix
1⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1⁄3 cup water
1 brown egg
11⁄2 cup mixed nuts (macadamia, pecan, walnuts), chopped
In a large bowl, combine mix, oil, beaten egg, and water. Fold in nuts. Lightly grease (with olive oil) an 8-inch by 8-inch glass square dish, pour and spread brownie mixture. Bake at 325 degree for about 40 minutes. Cool. Frost. Serves approximately 18.
Peanut Butter Frosting: 3⁄4 cup creamy low-sodium, natural peanut butter, 3 tablespoons European-style butter,11⁄2-2 cups confectioners' sugar, 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla. Mix butters with sugar and vanilla.
These brownies are so special. Not only do the nuts (rich in protein, good fat, minerals and vitamins) make these favorite treats healthful (in moderation), but the nut butter frosting is so creamy. A small brownie square served with fresh blueberries or raspberries paired with a cup of hot chamomile tea, and enjoying a content cat like Zen purring on my lap is as good as it gets.
Motto: If you're stressed-out, try chilling and savor a small portion of comfort foods with nature's superfoods.
- Cal Orey is an accomplished author and journalist. Her books include The "Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate and Honey) published by Kensington. Her website is www.calorey.com.