Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chocolate Brownies with Fudge Frosting

I don't know why but thi week I've had a MAJOR yen for chocolate. Chocolate bars, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!!! Given the fact that I am leaving for a cruise in less than a week in which I will be eating and drinking nonstop, this craving is really not so good for my waistline. But hey, there's not much I can do and I refuse to ignore my cravings.

Here's a yumtastic recipe from Betty Crocker's cookbook for chocolate brownies with fudge frosting. I put peanut butter morselfs in mine because nothing is better than peanut butter and chocolate!!!

Suggestions for additions to the batter:
1/2 cup peanut butter, stirred in before baking
Chocolate chips
Peanut Butter chips
Heath Bar, crushed up

Cocoa Brownies
2 cups sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix together sugar, margarine/butter, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread in a greased 9x13 pan.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool. Frost if desired.

Fudge Frosting:
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons margarine or butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix granulated sugar and cocoa in saucepan. Stir in milk, margarine, corn syrup and salt; heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Boil, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Cool. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Add enough powdered sugar to desired spreading consistency.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just One More Reason to Get That Beauty Sleep

Lacking Sleep Boosts Risk of High Blood Pressure, Study Finds
By Nicole Ostrow
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Sleeping less than seven or eight hours a night as a routine puts people at risk for high blood pressure, a study found.

The less the adults participating in the research slept, the more likely they were to see their blood pressure rise, according to research published in yesterday’s Archives of Internal Medicine. For every hour of missed sleep, odds of developing the condition rose an average 37 percent over five years, said Kristen Knutson, the lead author. Skipping two hours sleep raised the blood pressure risk 86 percent.

More than 73 million American adults have high blood pressure and about 70 million suffer from chronic sleep problems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney failure, according to the American Heart Association.

These study’s results “confirm what we’ve seen in the lab that there are health consequences to not getting enough sleep or not sleeping well,” said Knutson, a research associate and assistant professor at the University of Chicago. “People don’t respect sleep relative to diet and exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

Researchers in the study followed 578 adults who had their blood pressure and other health signs measured between 2000 and 2001. At the start of the study, the participants were aged 33 to 45 years old. The scientists also measured how long each participant slept using a sensor on the wrist that chronicles rest and activity at two different points in the study.

After five years, each participant’s blood pressure was checked again and each was asked about their sleep.

Six-Hour Average
The adults in the study slept an average of six hours each night. Only seven participants averaged eight or more hours of sleep each night, the researchers found.

In the study, 14 percent, or 75 people, developed high blood pressure during the trial, the authors said. A U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the rate of high blood pressure among those aged 25 to 74 years old was 15 percent, she said.

Lack of sleep may affect the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which controls how the body responds to stress through the fight or flight response, Knutson said. Chronic lack of sleep or sleep problems may have a long-term effect on the cardiovascular system, increasing high blood pressure, she said. Not getting enough sleep is also related to obesity and diabetes, affecting overall heart health, she said.

People should focus on sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes diet and exercise, Knutson said. Future studies need to examine whether improving sleep reduces a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure, she said.

The study, sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was part of a larger trial called the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, which recruited patients aged 18 to 30 years old in 1985 and 1986 from Chicago, Minneapolis, Oakland, California, and Birmingham, Alabama. The study’s results only included participants from Chicago.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Chocolate Toffee Crescent Bars

Just got back from Little Rock, AR where I stayed at the Capital Hotel. This place is gorgeous and has THE best toffee in the world. This isn't the recipe but for relevancy's sake, I figured I'd post it anyways because it's yummy.

Chocolate Toffee Crescent Bars

1 8 oz. can refrigerated quick crescent rolls
2/3 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts, your favorite
6 ozs. (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375 F. degrees
2. Unroll dough into 2 long rectangles.
3. Place rolls in ungreased 15" X 10" jelly roll pan, pressing over bottom to form crust, sealing perforations.
4. In small saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar, boil 1 minute.
5. Pour evenly over dough and sprinkle with nuts.
6. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips.
8. As the chips melt, slightly spread them over top.
9. Cool completely; cut into bar