Wednesday, November 21, 2012

pumpkin dulce de leche pie

I made this for a friend's Pie Party last week, and remembered how much love I this particular combination of ingredients. It adds and extra-special twist and uniqueness to this classic holiday confection.This recipe is adapted from my mom's Pumpkin Pie recipe (my all-time favorite) and Recipe Girl's Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Toffee Pie. Combining the two makes for an incredible dessert. Just in time for Thanksgiving!

1 unbaked pie crust that fits in a deep pie dish
3/4 can of dulce de leche (microwaved for about 20 seconds to soften)
1 1/4 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon flour
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400° and move the rack to the second-to-bottom position (this is important—it will bubble over too much if you don't move the rack down). Scoop the softened dulce de leche in unbaked pie shell and set aside. Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices and flour in a mixing bowl. Add eggs; mix well. Add evaporated milk, water and vanilla. Mix well. Pour mixture into shell, on top of dulce de leche. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until center jiggles only slightly. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

guest post: overnight french toast with orange gala syrup

A little while ago—totally out of the blue—I was asked by Appliances Online (out of the UK) to do a guest post for their blog. They asked if I could do something related to family traditions and I immediately knew what I wanted to make, eat and gush about. If you want the recipe for something that has the words "Orange" and "Gala" in the title, I suggest you go to this link.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

candy bar cookies

This cookie is one of my family favorites. I mean, "Candy Bar" is in the title. We typically only had them around the holidays, because they are a bit of work, and therefore saved for special occasions. Well this week, I decided that a special occasion was going to be Saturday, and I needed to make and eat these dudes. Really good decision, I tell you. Maybe you should do the same?

Candy Bar Cookies

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons canned milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour

Caramel Filling:
30 caramels
1/4 cup canned milk
1/4 butter
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Chocolate Topping:
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 canned milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and blend well. Mix in vanilla, canned milk and salt. Blend in flour. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. Cover with plastic and roll out into a rectangle about 1/8" thick. Cut dough into squares or rectangles (trim off uneven edges and roll out and cut again until you run out of dough. Bake at 325° for 12-16 minute until lightly brown. Cool.

In the meantime, melt chocolate chips in the canned milk. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Set aside to cool.

Melt caramels with canned milk in double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.

Spread 1 caramel filling on each piece of shortbread. Top with 1/2 teaspoon chocolate, then top with a pecan. (I found that it was easier to top with all the caramel first, then all the chocolate, then the pecans—rather than fully assembling each cookie, one at a time.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gooey Butter Cake

Three words: Gooey, Butter and Cake.

So you are paying attention now, right? Cause yeah, it's as rich and amazing as it sounds. I have a few friends from what they call, "The Lou" (St. Louis) and this is a classic dessert from that region. One of my best girls Emily gave me a killer awesome Christmas present a few years back, in the form of a binder full of her family's favorite recipes. So she and her mom get all the accolades that this cake deserves. There are quite a few recipes out there for this dish, but I can't imagine anything being more gooey, more buttery and more ridiculously awesome than this particular cake. So, go make this happen in your life, too—it's just necessary. Trust me and the Hintze family.

1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter

1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup flour
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar

To make the crust, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Pat into the bottom and sides of a greased 9x9 pan. To make the filling, beat sugar and butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg. Then add flour and evaporated milk alternately, mixing after each addition. Add corn syrup and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until well blended. Pour batter on the top of crust. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is nearly set. Do not overcook. Serve after cooled in pan till room temperature (after more powdered sugar is sprinkled on top for garnish). 

Monday, October 1, 2012

re-post: flourless peanut butter cookies

(photo via Instagram)

I made these cookies last night and posted them on my Instagram and had a few of my gluten-free friends ask me for the recipe. I've made them before, but I thought I'd re-post, with a few changes and tips that I've added since then. You have to follow the recipe pretty darn exactly, or they just don't turn out quite right. I'm not gluten free, but I would still choose this over a recipe with flour in it. They have the perfect texture I'm looking for in a PB cookie. Chewy and soft, but still a little bit crumbly. Plus, they are crazy easy to make and even easier to shove in your mouth. 

1 cup smooth peanut butter (I've tried natural PB and it doesn't work as well, unless you use Skippy Natural Creamy PB. This recipe is all about the right textures, and you have to use the right type of PB)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°. In a mixer combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla and baking soda and mix for 1 1/2 minutes (before, it called for two, and it seemed too greasy and didn't crumble a little bit, which I like). Use a medium cookie scoop to scoop out the dough, then roll into a compact ball (This size is just right for getting the perfect cookie - however, this makes less cookies than a normal batch, approximately 16, so you may want to double your batch, depending on your needs/self control). Use a fork dipped in sugar to make a criss cross pattern on the top of the cookie. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Rest the cookies for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack—this is important! Let cookies sit on wire rack at least 5 minutes before consuming to your heart's content. 

***I can't stress enough how you have to follow this recipe exactly to get the perfect PB cookie. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

grandpa's favorite butterscotch brownies

A few weeks ago, we had an impromptu family reunion on my dad's side to celebrate a large milestone in my Aunt's life. All of my cousins on that side, except four came out to celebrate with her. My sister was kind enough to put together a luncheon for everyone and she had asked my Aunt Donna what desserts she would like. Aunt Donna's first response was, "My dad's favorite Butterscotch brownies." My Gramps used to LOVE these. He loved most treats, but these were his all-time favorite. So, they have a special place in my family history (which of course is food related—we may have a problem—but we don't care—you don't know our life!) These guys are addicting. So when you make them, which I suggest you do immediately, make sure there are people to share with—or you may wake up in a haze with an empty pan of brownies next to you.

Grandpa's Favorite Butterscotch Brownies

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease an 8x8 pan. Combine the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl; set aside. Mix the eggs, butter and vanilla together until combined. Stir in dry ingredients. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. While brownies are baking, make the frosting.

Combine brown sugar and butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add milk and powdered sugar, and beat until thick. If you overbeat, the frosting will be too dry, so stop when it becomes thick. Spread frosting onto hot brownies and cool to room temperature before slicing and stuffing your face.

Monday, September 10, 2012

streusel coffee cake

When I was in New York last year, I finally got to try the Clinton Street Baking Company for breakfast. I wanted to eat every single item on the menu. My Mom has had the cookbook for a while, so I knew I needed to go to the real thing while I was there. It was a crazy wait, but like all good things—worth it. My parents gave me the cookbook this year for my birthday and I couldn't have been more pleased. I am so excited to make everything from this book! I found this recipe for Buttermilk Streusel Coffee Cake and I knew I had to make it. I didn't have buttermilk, which was a problem, but I did have greek yogurt and some left over half and half from another recipe and decided to take the gamble and substitute this concoction for buttermilk. The gamble paid off, everyone loved the cake, and now I have a new favorite in the arsenal of breakfast coffee cakes.

Streusel Coffee Cake, adapted from Clinton Street Baking Company

Streusel Topping

3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup graham-cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups greek yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup half and half or milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan. Mix all the Streusel Topping ingredients together in a mixing bowl and set aside.

For the cake, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, two at a time, mixing until well blended. Mix in the greek yogurt mixture and vanilla extract. Sift together and sir in the remaining dry ingredients. (Mixture will be very thick, almost like cookie batter)

Fill the pan halfway with the batter. Sprinkle with two-thirds of the Streusel Topping. Add the rest of the batter. Top with remaining on-third streusel.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (My bundt pan may have been a little small, cause some of the batter spilled over while baking, so make sure you have the right size pan and put foil on the bottom of your oven, just in case.)

Cool. To unmold, place a plate firmly on top of the pan and flip, being carful to preserve the streusel.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

peanut butter-chocolate chip pie

Whenever my 2.0 comes into town, her family is nice enough to invite me to Sunday dinner. I always like to bring a dessert, because that's how I do. This family is a chocolate loving family. Like, for serious rich, decadent, chocolate insanity loving. I mean—the grandkids eat dark chocolate squares for dessert snacks—if that tells you anything. It took me to get to my 30's before I was down for the dark side like that. So, I always feel like I have to bring my chocolate A-game to these events. This time I brought my favorite combo, peanut butter and chocolate. My offering was a success, and it's safe to say that I will be invited again in the future. Phew!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Pie, adapted from one of my very favorite food blogs, Bake or Break.

1 package Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips, pulsed a few times in a food processor (I like the mixture of big pieces and fine pieces that come from doing this step)

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all crust ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring until moistened. Press mixture on bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Mix cream cheese, peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until combined. Whip cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Fold in already processed chocolate chips. Pour filling into baked crust. Refrigerate for about 4 hours, or until set, before serving. Keep pie refrigerated.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

blueberry peach crumble

So... peach season... it is upon us with all of it's glory. If there was one perfect thing that Mother Nature ever put forth on this earth, it is the glorious peach. It's like happiness, sunshine and summer—all in one place. It makes everything that accompanies that much better. Waffles? Check. Sweetened Condensed Milk? Check. Check. My face? Triple check. For these peaches however, I chose blueberries. In my humble opinion, crumbles and crisps are the best way to devour these amazing summer fruits. I adapted this recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod and shared their splendor with the Summer Olympics (let's take a moment and pour some out for the hole that has been left in my life since they ended) and some friends. Good times were had.

Blueberry Peach Crumble

3 cups blueberries
4 cups peeled and sliced peaches
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose Gold Medal Flour

For the crumble topping:
1 cup all-purpose Gold Medal Flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
10 tablespoons cold butter, diced

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine blueberries, sliced peaches, lemon juice, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, and flour. Gently toss until fruit is well coated. Let the fruit mixture sit while you prepare the crumble topping.

3. For the crumble topping: in a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir together with a whisk. Mix in the butter with your fingers until the mixture comes together and you have big crumbles.

4. Place the fruit mixture in a 3 quart ceramic or glass baking dish. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit. Place the pan on a baking sheet pan lined with a Silpat or parchment paper and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

raspberry peach jam

(photo via Instagram)

Ya'll know I love jam. Ya'll know I love peaches. So when I saw this recipe for Raspberry Peach Jam, I knew I had to make that happen. It's super simple to make, and even easier to eat. I want to eat it all day, every day. You should try it. Let's eat jam together, yeah?

Homemade Raspberry Peach Jam adapted from America'

2/3 cup sugar
1 pint of raspberries
3 fresh peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, sliced ¼ inch thick, and each slice halved crosswise
3 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Place metal spoon in freezer to chill. Heat sugar in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Add raspberries and continue to stir until raspberries release their juices, about 1 minute more. Stir in peaches, increase heat to medium-high, bring to boil, and cook until peaches are just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and mash fruit with potato masher.

2. Return fruit mixture to boil and cook until mixture thickens to jam-like consistency, 8 to 10 minutes. To test for set point, remove saucepan from heat. Dip chilled spoon into jam, and allow jam to run off spoon; jam should slowly fall off spoon in one thickened clump. If it is runny, return jam to medium heat and simmer 2 to 4 minutes before re-testing. Using large spoon, skim foam from top of jam. Stir in lemon juice.

3. Transfer jam to jars with tight-fitting lids, let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. Jam can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

lemon cream pie with biscoff cookie crust

This is the Lemon Cream Pie I mentioned in my last post. Another winning pie that was so good, I had to make it myself when I got home from the reunion. 2.0 originally found this recipe, and when she made it, she used Biscoff cookies for the crust (my other sister has made it with a normal pie crust, which is extremely delectable, as well). I went with the Biscoff option, cause, I mean, have you tried Biscoff Spread? And how can you go wrong with the flavor of "crisp, caramelized biscuits"? I'm telling you—you can't. You just can't. So get up on this. As soon as you can.

Lemon Cream Pie, adapted from

1 package Biscoff Cookies
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, plus about 1 tablespoon more for serving
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350° F. In a food processor, process the Biscoff cookies until fine crumbs form. Add the butter, granulated sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the salt and pulse until moistened. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate, using a straight-sided dry measuring cup to help. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the edges are dry and set, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, condensed milk, lemon zest and juice, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake until set in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool and then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
Using an electric mixer, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread on the pie, sprinkle with the additional zest, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

blueberry pie

I'm not normally a berry pie person (except for Strawberry Pie, cause, well... doi). Usually berry pies just look like sad jam languishing in crust. Recently, we had a little family reunion, and needless to say, when we get together, there are many pies made. There was Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse, there was Granola Pie, and a Lemon Pie (recipe coming soon). When my Mom made this recipe that my sister found, I was blown away. It was so good, I had to make it myself the next week for one of my best girls that was visiting. She loved it as much as I did—which I consider a great success!

Blueberry Pie, adapted from

3/4 cup white sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 cups fresh blueberries (we used the entire container of blueberries from Costco)
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1 tablespoon butter
Turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon, and sprinkle over blueberries. Line pie dish with one pie crust. Pour berry mixture into the crust, and dot with butter. Cut remaining pastry into 1/2-3/4 inch wide strips, and make lattice top. Crimp and flute edges. Sprinkle sugar on the top. Bake pie on lower shelf of oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. (If the crust edges start to get too brown after 30 minutes, cover with foil.)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

strawberry rhubarb crisp

I have been lucky enough to have a rhubarb supplier this year, and therefore, able to consume one of my favorite seasonal treats. I typically like my rhubarb unadulterated, especially in pie, but this Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble recipe from The Smitten Kitchen sounded like a summer-time dream come true—and it sure was. 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields 6 to 8 servings.

For the topping:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (or turbinado sugar aka Sugar in the Raw)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

For the filling:
2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
Pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars, and nutmeg; add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.

2. Prepare filling: Toss rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cardamom and a pinch of salt in a 9 or 10 inch dish.

3. Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping. Place pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling beneath, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

healthy snack: blueberries with greek yogurt, honey, and graham crackers

This is not rocket science, but who needs that when, in minutes, you can have something that is very delicious and very simple. In the summer, I like to gorge myself on fresh produce, and eat non-cooked meals. Has everyone indulged in Avocado Toast, yet? Oven-less morsels and meals are what I crave when it's too hot to function. I saw this greek yogurt snack idea from and it has definitely been on my mind. Then, when I saw a crate of blueberries, I went to work and whipped up this simple treat.

1 cup greek yogurt
1/3(ish) cup fresh blueberries
1/2 of a graham cracker
honey to taste (or you could sub in agave, if that's your thing)

Thats it! Just mix it and then copious amounts of it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

apple streusel coffee cake

(pic via Instagram)

I really super hate grocery shopping, so I seem to always run into the problem of, "I want to bake something, but I am out of ingredients x, y, and z, but dangit, I really want to bake something!" So, when I'm looking for a treat to concoct, I tend to look for recipes where I can easily swap ingredients— or that call for items that I already have on-hand. Recently, I was gifted a few cookbooks (lucky me!) and one of these wonderful new books is a breakfast cookbook called, The Perfect Start To Your Day. My friend who gave this to me knows me very well. My friends can attest that I think breakfast is pretty much the best. Always n' forever. Me + breakfast = true love, etc. So, this cookbook led me to this recipe for Apple Streusel Coffee Cake. I easily adapted the recipe to fit my pantry-deficit needs and here you have it! Awesome breakfast cake in no time! It's a win for us all.

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake, adapted from The Perfect Start To Your Day

10 tablespoons softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup almond meal
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 golden delicious apples, thinly sliced

2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon water
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°, grease and line 8" round pound with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and almond meal in a small bowl. Add to butter mixture. Stir in greek yogurt until incorporated. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the sliced apples on top. Spoon remaining batter on top. 

To make the topping, combing the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and incorporate the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the water and pecans and break into lumps. Sprinkle over the cake evenly. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

re-post: peanut butter banana chocolate chip cake

Since I posted about this cake, the last time, I've made a few changes—thanks to my sisters. They made it a bunch, but thought it would work better in a 9x13 pan, and doubling the topping. This is still one of my all-time favorites, and with the new adjustments, it's a dream come true. Such great flavors and textures, all working together to make my tastebuds so, so happy. So, do yours a favor and make this. Make it now.

For the cake:
4 very ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups chocolate chips

For the topping:
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13 square pan. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas well with a fork or potato masher. Add the eggs and vanilla, and stir well to combine. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon—then add to the banana mixture. Add the peanut butter and when that is combined, add the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon and granulated sugar. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the pan, then sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Friday, June 1, 2012

guest post: Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie with Fudge Sauce

My lovely sis wrote this post for me, knowing I had a crazy few weeks and wouldn't have time to bake and post something myself...

Banana, peanut butter and chocolate together in any form is the key to Caroline’s heart. Hence, this recipe (for my sweet little sister, in honor of her birthday last week): Peanut butter banana cream pie with fudge sauce. It is by far one of the best B,PB,C combinations out there. Another one I have yet to try: thick-sliced banana bite topped with a spread of peanut butter, then frozen, then dipped in chocolate. Yes? But that’s for another time.

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie with Fudge Sauce
-adapted from Southern Pies, by Nancie McDermott

Pre-baked piecrust for 9-inch pie, cooled.

For Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons milk
3 cups heavy cream, divided
3-4 bananas, sliced
¼ cup granulated sugar

For Fudge Sauce:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
½ teaspoon vanilla

To make the filling:

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and milk. Beat on med-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.

In another large bowl, beat 2 cups cream until it thickens and holds firm peaks. Add the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture and fold gently to combine evenly into a smooth, thick filling. Add the sliced bananas, mixing gently, and then pour the filling into the baked piecrust. Smooth out the filling, mounding it up into a nice peak in the center of the pie. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

To make the Fudge Sauce:

Combine the half-and-half, sugars, and butter over med-low heat. Cook, stirring often, to melt the butter and dissolve the sugars into a smooth sauce. Add the chocolate chips and stir constantly just until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and cool to room temperature.

**When ready to serve, combine the remaining 1 cup cream with ¼ cup granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Beat on high speed until the cream holds firm peaks. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the chilled pie, and cut into 8 slices; arrange on plate. Drizzle (or pour) fudge sauce over top of each piece of pie.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

cinnamon chocolate mousse pie

This last Saturday, I entered a food contest called Füd Feud, in the dessert category. I wanted to re-make this Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse Pie but doctor it up a little bit. So I re-worked the recipe and came up with something I'm REALLY happy with. It's richer, more decadent, and even more legit. So legit, in fact, that it won the Taster's Choice award for the dessert category! I'm so pleased! Thanks to my helpers and tasters and supporters. It was a fun experience! So, if you feel like knocking anyone's socks off anytime soon, maybe try out this recipe. It makes one large pie, or five smaller 5" pies (with some leftover cream, which goes great with strawberries, bee tee dub).

 Finished pie with chocolate shavings.

 Pre-baked shells.

 Yummy, slightly salty meringue.

 The baked meringue, painted with chocolate.

 Some serious chocolate mousse.

 Topped with cream.

All finished up.

 Ready for the contest!


Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse Pie

5 5"-inch pre-baked pie crusts
2 eggs, separated
1/2 t. vinegar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup mascarpone
1 cup sugar
1 t. cinnamon
Chocolate shavings (optional)

Beat together egg whites, vinegar, and salt until stiff but not dry. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff. Spread meringue over bottom and up sides of pre-cooked pie shells. Bake in 325° oven for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden. Set aside and cool. Melt chocolate chips with milk. Lightly beat egg yolks and whisk into chocolate mixture until well blended. Spread 4 T. of chocolate mixture over cooked meringue. Set aside the rest to chill. Beat together heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar and cinnamon until very thick. Divide cream into two portions. Fold one half into the chilled chocolate. Pour this mixture evenly over the chocolate painted pie crusts. Add the rest of the cinnamon cream on top. Top with chocolate shavings, if desired. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

cinnamon toast bread pudding

She did it again!

My sis wrote a rad post and made something super delicious and made me feel like I should just hand over the blog to her, cause seriously, I want to make these things and eat them voraciously. Also, remember how she's a writer and I'm not? Now I'm off to go find something with cinnamon and sugar...

My family totally dissed me today.

While on the elliptical this morning I was watching one of my favorite to-exercise-to
shows, Sunny Anderson’s Cooking For Real (don’t ask me why or how watching food
motivates me to exercise in any way), and I was inspired to make this incredible looking
bread pudding and skillet egg dish for dinner. Being an eat-breakfast-whenever-you-feel-
like-it kind of person, I immediately went to the store (after taking a shower) and bought
all the needed ingredients for my breakfast-for-dinner meal.

Little did I know that the husband and three of four kids would golf all afternoon, only to
text me at 8pm with the news that they WENT OUT TO EAT.

First I was angry. But after my first serving of bread pudding, I only felt sorry for them.
See for yourself! Oh, and this is an adaptation of Sunny’s dish, only because I wanted a
more cinnamony crust (more cowbell) and less custard, plus I thought I was feeding six.
Also, Sunny added grapes in her custard…and cooked grapes just seem wrong.

Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
8 (1-inch) thick slices French bread
5 eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
juice from 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla
maple syrup, for drizzling
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Microwave for about 15 seconds
to slightly melt butter for easier spreading. Generously butter both sides of French bread
with butter mixture. Toast on a baking sheet in oven about 8 minutes, or until bread turns
golden brown. Set aside. When slightly cool, cut toast on a diagonal into triangles and
arrange in prepared baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, yogurt, orange juice and vanilla. Pour

over bread slices in baking dish. Let rest 10 minutes for bread to absorb some of the egg
mixture, gently pressing down a few times to help absorb. Bake 20-25 minutes until crust
is golden and crispy in parts and custard is set. Remove from the oven, drizzle with maple
syrup and dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Adapted from Sunny Anderson on The Food Network.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

things i love: killer knives

I've mentioned before how killer awesome my parents are at gifts. I have what I like to call my "dowry" pretty well stocked thanks to their great taste, willingness to buy gifts way in advance (I've had an All-Clad pot and pan set with my name on it since I was about 10 years old) and love of kitchen gadgets. They've been hooking me up with knives more recently, and I got this Shun Classic 8 inch Chef's Knife - Hollow Ground for Christmas. I'm in LOVE with it! Look at the apple slices below. PAPER THIN. This knife is so legit. So, if you are looking for a great knife for yourself or your loved ones, make this happen to your/their life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

key lime pie: guest post by big sis courtney walker

You may have noticed, if you've been reading this blog for very long, that I have a super rad family who is just as obsessed with food as I am. I've gotten many recipes over the years from my sisters and I keep pestering them to do some guest posts for me. Finally, one of them got worn down enough to hook a sister up! Courtney is the writer in the family and even published a novel—it's called On The Fringe and it's amazing! You should definitely read it. So here is her post (the photos were taken by her brother-in-law, Paul Walker—no, not THAT Paul Walker) so, check it out!

(Doesn't it look amazing???)

Caroline, my favorite little sister, has hinted/suggested (no bribing yet) many times over the past year that I do a guest post on her awesome baking blog. I happen to be a writer; though please don’t judge me. Normally I write young adult fiction with a lot of angst and super sticky situations in which only teenagers find themselves—not intros to recipes. Caroline is much better at this, I promise. However, I do love to bake as much as she does, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to help her out—plus, I need to start documenting some of the yummy things I make and eat too fast.

Sunday afternoon is my favorite baking day because after church and a big lunch/ dinner…I either want to nap or bake, depending on my mood. Sometimes both. Yesterday I managed a long nap and then woke up, ready to make whatever pie my kids suggested. Their vote? Key Lime Pie. I couldn’t argue with that —not only do I love it, but it is very quick and easy to make. So, I tweaked a few recipes, taking the best out of each one (which is what Caroline always does, right?). And this was the perfect, scrumptious result. Pictures included!!

Key Lime Pie with Chiffon Whipped Cream

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 325.
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix together and press into regular (not deep-dish) pie pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray just on the bottom. Press onto the sides and bottom of pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

For the filling (this is the easy part):

Preheat oven to 350.
1 can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup sour cream
¾ cup key lime juice
grated lime zest from 1 lime

Mix above together in a bowl until smooth; pour into baked piecrust. Bake in oven for 8 minutes, or until pinhole bubbles burst the surface of the pie. Don’t over bake. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Place in fridge until ready to serve, even overnight, if needed.

For Chiffon Whipped Cream (prepare this right before serving):

2 egg whites
4 Tablespoons sugar, divided
sprinkle cream of tartar
1 ½ cups cold whipping cream

Whip egg whites until soft, about 2 minutes; then beat in 2 tablespoons sugar and cream of tartar until medium-stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

In separate bowl, beat whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar until medium-stiff peaks form (don’t overbeat – just make sure it is stiff but still creamy). Fold egg whites into whipped cream and then spread over cooled pie.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

I found this recipe last summer, and made it with my good pal, Julia last summer along with another favorite jam, Rhubarb Raspberry Jam. With the recent influx of good strawberries, I decided to have another go at the recipe. It's super easy to make, and the balsamic really brings out the flavor of the strawberries and adds more depth. So, if you find yourself with an extra basket or two of strawberries, I suggest you make this happen!
Easy Balsamic Strawberry Jam Recipe
2 cups of chopped strawberries
1 cup of sugar
2 Tbl. of balsamic vinegar
Cook strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a medium pan on med-high heat for about 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally. I usually eye-ball the thickness of the sauce to determine when it is done. When the jam mixture has reduced to the consistency of thick honey or 220 degrees F. remove from heat and allow to cool. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

restaurants i love: mama's plantation

I feel like maybe I should have been born in the South. I love comfort food more than any other kind of food. I've always been in love with mac n' cheese, peach cobbler, cornbread, yams and other Southern fair. My first real experience with Southern Comfort Food was at Folks in Atalanta as a teenager. I couldn't get fried green tomatoes off the brain. When I visited my friend Liz in New York years ago, she knew about my love and took me to Spoonbread in Harlem (funny story, that's where I met my good friend Rachel for the first time, but we didn't become friends until years later—when I first moved to Salt Lake). I've also become a convert to Roscoe's Chicken n' Waffles in LA thanks to Broek and Renée. I have long since lamented the lack of this kind of food here in Utah, and how it seems that I have to globe trot to satiate my cravings, but recently went with some friends to (the new to us) Mama's Plantation in Sandy. I've been back about 4 or 5 times since my first visit in late February. I LOVE this place! I love the catfish, fried okra, yams, and the cornbread is sooo amazing. This is definitely one of my new favorite spots, and recommend it to anyone and everyone. You will be full for like two days afterwards, but it will be a fullness of food, comfort and joy.

(all my photos were taken with my phone in low light, so forgive the excessive use of filters to make up for this)
 delicious cornbread

 amazing fried okra

scrumptious yams

delightful peach cobbler

PS: If this post seems like a name-dropper post, I apologize, I just happen to know super legitimate people and they love food like I do. We can't help it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

dinner rolls with rosemary and flaked fluer de sel

(Sorry this photo is so crappy, but it's hard to take pics when you are busy and stressed while making food for 30 people!)

I made these rolls for another dinner I worked on with my awesome chef friend, Tom Call. He asked me to come up with some yummy and buttery dinner rolls. I went to my Go-To Baking Mentor (my mom) and asked what she would recommend trying. She suggested this recipe from Sarabeth's Bakery cookbook. I'm so glad she did! It looks like a lot of instruction, but it's pretty simple to put together. Plus, I added the rosemary and fluer de sel to try to make them a little more special. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. For the dinner, we made these more of a "tasting size" in little mini muffin tins instead of making them in the two pans like in the recipe below. If you make them that way, I would suggest using a scale and weighing the dough. Each mini roll weighed about 30 grams.

Dinner Rolls with Rosemary and Flaked Fluer de Sel (adapted from Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours)

3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk, divided
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, as needed
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, well softened
4 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary, divided
1-2 tablespoons flaked fluer de sel

Sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup, 105° to 115°F, milk in a small bowl. Let stand until the yeast softens, about 5 minutes, then stir well to dissolve. Pour into the mixing bowl. Add 3/4 cup cold milk, the sugar, egg, and yolk, whisk to combine.

Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed, adding 2 cups of the flour and the salt. One tablespoon at a time, beat in the butter, letting each addition become absorbed before adding another. Add another cup of the flour and 2 teaspoons of the chopped rosemary to make a soft dough that cleans the sides of the bowl.

Using a silicone spatula, scrape the dough into the center of the bowl. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed until the dough is supple, about 4 minutes. One tablespoon at a time, add as much of the remaining flour as needed for the dough to become smooth.

Generously butter a medium bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a ball. Place the ball, smooth side down, in the bowl, and turn right side up to lightly coat the ball in butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Cut the dough into 18 equal portions (if you have a kitchen scale, each portion will weigh 2 ounces.) To shape into balls, one portion at a time, place the dough on an unfloured work surface. Cup one hand over the dough and move your hand in a tight circular motion, letting your palm gently touch the top of the dough. For each pan, arrange 7 balls inside the perimeter of the pan, with 2 balls in the center, spacing the balls equally apart. There will be space between the balls until they proof. Choose a warm spot in the kitchen for the proofing. Cover with a tea towel. Let stand until the rolls look puffy, about 45 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Remove the tea towel and spray rolls with water, sprinkle with the last two teaspoons of fresh rosemary and lightly sprinkle with flaked fluer de sel. Bake unti the rolls are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans, then separate the rolls from each other and serve hot.

NOTE: If you need to re-heat the rolls, generously sprinkle them with water and put them in a 350°F oven for about 5-10 minutes. Just keep a razor sharp eye on them so that they don't get too golden and dry out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

re-post: wheat germ chocolate chip cookies

I realize I've done a few re-posts lately, and I hope that's not harshing on anyone's gig (I know that's a ridiculous phrase, however, someone said it to my friend once, and I thought it was amazing and therefore immediately added it to my vocabulary). I just like to refer to my favorites now and then, and think they deserve a double spotlight for their ability to stand the test of time. I originally posted this recipe without a picture so I added that, and I wanted to re-write some of the instructions, exactly as I make them, instead of showing what the original recipe was and how I changed it. I had changed it so much that when I'd refer back, I would occasionally miss a step. So here it is, exactly how I make them. These are pretty healthy for a cookie and definitely one of my all time favorite and most requested cookies. 

3/4 cup old fashioned whole rolled oats
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (chopped finely)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped very finely chopped pecans

(Makes approximately 30 cookies)

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease cookie sheets or line with a Silpat.

Mix oats, flour and almond meal, in a medium bowl. Add baking soda, salt, cinnamon and whisk until mixed in. Whisk in wheat germ, flax, coconut and chopped pecans.

Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, egg and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. Add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill the dough in a refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough should be semi-firm before proceeding with next step.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough and arrange, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies, until firm around the edges and barely golden on top, about 9 minutes. Remove baking sheets from the oven immediately and cool the cookies for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks with a spatula to cool. 

NOTES: I think the cookies actually taste the best the next day. Also, the dough can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator, tightly covered for up to a week. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

re-post: best ever sugar cookies

I first posted the recipe for these way back in 2007. They have been the standard, go-to sugar cookie for my family for a while now, and like I said before, the fluffiness and the hint of lemon really put this cookie over the top. They aren't the kind you roll out and cut into cute shapes, BUT they are the kind that you stuff in your mouth, with both hands. Repeatedly. So, I had to post again, just as a reminder to us all, that once a good recipe, always a good recipe.

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar

Beat in:
4 eggs
2 T. milk
4 t. vanilla
1 T. lemon extract (this slight lemon flavor really sets these cookies apart. it's not enough that a citrus hater would be turned off)

4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
5 cups flour

Chill 30 minutes to an hour. Form into balls then smash down with bottom of floured glass (about 1/4 inch thick, these cookies should be about the same thickness as those pink grandma sycamore's cookies and a little smaller in circumference). Bake at 375° for 6-8 minutes.

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. shortening
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt
4 c. powdered sugar
2-4 T. milk

(food coloring, as desired)

In large bowl, beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt. beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl. add 2 T. milk; beat at high speed until light and fluffy. Add enough additional milk for desired spreading consistency. **(This frosting may be made up to 2 weeks in advance and kept in and airtight container before serving. Bring to room temperature before serving)**

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

almond-maple granola clusters

I really love making and eating granola. I am a bit of a snacker, and I don't feel guilty when I eat granola—especially if it's homemade, hence the many posts of new granola recipes. I was looking for one that had the texture of those Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, cause they are so great for an on-the-go snack, and I found this one from one of my favorite sites, Serious Eats. I like that it makes so much, and can keep for a long time, cause who doesn't love a time-saver? Also, the recipe is originally gluten-free, but I made this using wheat flour, and less salt than originally called for.

Almond-Maple Granola Clusters, adapted from Serious Eats
yield: makes about 7 cups of granola, active time 15 minutes, total time about one hour

6 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup (use the real stuff)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 °F;. Line an 18 by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with a slipat or parchment paper. Set pan aside. In large bowl, toss together oats, almond flour, wheat flour, and salt. Pour canola oil evenly over the mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat mixture evenly with oil.

Combine maple syrup and dark brown sugar in a medium pot. Warm mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about six minutes. Gently stir the mixture frequently. Remove pot from the heat. Add vanilla extract. Stir to combine.

Pour sugar-mixture over oat-mixture. Stir with a wood spoon to combine. At first, the granola will be thick and sticky. Continue stirring, breaking up an lumps of sugar/oats with the back of the wooden spoon, until the sugar-maple is evenly distributed.

Press mixture very firmly into prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and aromatic, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Immediately score granola into bars. (The granola might break into smaller pieces when scored. This is fine.) Allow granola to cool. "Snap" bars into bite-size nuggets. Store granola in a covered container for up to two weeks.

**Note from Serious Eats author: The recipe makes a generous amount of granola. If you don't have an 18 by 13-inch baking pan, divide the granola between two 13 by 9-inch pans. Squeezing all the granola into one 13 by 9-inch pan causes the granola to bake unevenly and the finished granola isn't crisp.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

buttermilk biscuits

I love cookbooks. I could collect all of them for days and I wouldn't have enough. Even it it's just to look at them. I have a huge wish list that is ever-growing. My mom got the Sarabeth's Bakery cookbook last Christmas from my dad, and I made no secret of my envy. Imagine my delight when I received it this year from my parents! It's so simple and clean and I want to make and eat everything in it. This biscuit recipe is the first recipe I've made from it, and oh my goodness, they were divine. Salty, buttery, light and flaky. In a word: Perfect. Next time you want/need a savory baked good, make this happen to your face and belly.

Adapted from Sarabeth's Bakery

3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 1 1/2 cups milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Add the butter. Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces of butter. Add the buttermilk (or milk with lemon juice), mixing just until the dough barely comes together.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until the dough is smooth. Sprinke the top of the dough with flour and roll our a little more than 3/4 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, dipping the cutter into flour between cuts, cut out the biscuits and place 1 inch apart on the pan. Gently press the scraps together (do not overhandle the dough—this is very important!). Repeat rolling and cutting.

Bake until the biscuits are well risen and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm. To reheat the biscuits, wrap them in aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

granola pie

My oldest sister had been telling me for a while that I needed to try this recipe for Granola Pie that 2.0 made for their family before. For some reason, I slept on it trying it. I guess the title Granola Pie doesn't quite indicate just how amazing this pie is. It's like Pecan Pie and Toll-House Pie had a gooey-mouthwatering pie baby. A pie baby that I want to adopt, then consume on the regular. It's an amazing comfort food dessert. Warm, rich, chocolatey, scrumptious. So, the next time you want people to have to pause after taking a bite, just to function, make this pie. Then work out a lot afterwards.

Adapted from Pillsbury

1 Pie crust
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Nature Valley® Oats 'n Honey crunchy granola bars (2 pouches from 8.9-oz. box), crushed (3/4 cup)*
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

*To easily crush granola bars, do not unwrap. Use rolling pin to crush bars.

Heat oven to 350°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate.

In large microwavable bowl, microwave butter on high 50 to 60 seconds or until melted. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup until blended. Beat in salt, vanilla and eggs. Stir crushed granola bars, oats and chocolate chips into brown sugar mixture. Pour into crust-lined pan.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set and crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream. (I added cinnamon to my whipped cream.) Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

**disclaimer, all my photos are taken with my phone, until I get a nicer camera, my pictures will be not that awesome. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

banana bread: re-visited

One of the dreamiest smells in the world is banana bread—baking in the oven. Another joy in life is eating this warm, aromatic bread right out of the oven. I've tried a lot of banana bread recipes over the years, and whenever I try a new one, in the back of my mind, I think about re-visiting this one. I remember how crispy the edges were, and how dense and moist the center was. I tried this again without any nuts, and used two ripe bananas from the counter, and ripe bananas from the freezer. (Remember how we learned from this Ultimate Banana Bread recipe that when you thaw them out, you get some awesome juices that add a lot of flavor?) So, the results are: I seriously LOVE this bread. The texture is seriously perfect. Even the next day, when most banana breads get sort of slimy on the edges, this still has crispiness, but still so... you know... moist on the inside. Also, I mentioned this before, but toasting day old banana bread before eating it is incredible.

Here is the recipe again:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas (two of them frozen and thawed)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated; no need to overly blend. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don't get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; that's no mistake, it's typical. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning. Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Note: The top of my bread was getting too brown, so I placed a piece of foil on top after about 45-50 minutes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

chocolate peanut butter bars

I saw the recipe for Peanut Butter Mud Bars on one of my favorite food blogs, Bake or Break, and I couldn't get the idea of eating these out of my head. Sometimes these things happen, and when I'm in the throws of a craving like this, I cannot be stopped. Even if I am missing some of the starring ingredients. I'm on a mission, and I need chocolate peanut butter bars, post haste. So, I just go for it, swapping and substituting till I try my new concoction, with fingers crossed. Sometimes things turn out great, like my cherished Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cake (if you haven't made this yet, seriously just go and do it now—it's insane), and sometimes things do not turn out in my favor. Which is obviously not documented, and I try to erase The Mistake from my memory. This experiment turned out pretty good, not as epic as Pumpkin Bread Pudding, but I kept going back for seconds, so that's a pretty good sign, wouldn't you say?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (heavily adapted from Peanut Butter Mud Bars via Bake or Break—recipe originally from The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa (I might even try more next time)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (might try more of these, as well)

1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tbs. sifted powdered sugar.

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and lightly flour a 9″x 13″ baking pan.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add peanut butter and beat well. Mix in egg and vanilla.

Gradually add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.

While base is baking, combine the chocolate chips, peanut buter and powdered sugar in a small saucepan and cook on low until melted and evenly incorporated. Turn off heat once melted, but keep mixture on stove (the heat from the oven will keep the mixture warm).

Remove from oven, let cool for 20-30 minutes, then top with frosting. Let cool at least 30 minutes before eating.