Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

BLOG_July 29, 2014

Two of my favorite things in one decadent dessert, alright alright alright. These are BIG brownies, so they are meant to be cut into small squares, but if you want to eat the whole pan I won’t judge you.

The peanut butter top is made with cream cheese (I used reduced fat – in case you’re also inclined) so it’s actually not overwhelmingly sweet, but a mild creamy peanut flavor that pairs perfectly with chocolate. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Brownies
Author: Q&DK
Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour 30 mins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate brownie mix
  • 2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 and 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I used 1/2 of a 4 oz. Ghirardelli baking bar)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Bake the brownies according to the box instructions in an 8×8 pan. Let cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and peanut butter until combined. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Using a spatula, spread the mixture over the brownies and smooth evenly.
  3. In a heat-proof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Add the whipping cream and stir until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and let cool. Drizzle the cooled melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer. Place in the refrigerator and let chill until firm. Cut into bars and serve.

 

How to Make Crepes

Crepes are one of those things I just assumed must be difficult to make, so even though I LOVE them, I always ordered them out. But thanks to America’s Test Kitchen great recipe, I finally made them at home and was shocked at just how easy they were to make. Easier (and faster) than regular pancakes in my opinion.

I devoured almost the entire batch (10 crepes!) with fresh squeezed lemon and a dusting of sugar – so delicious! You could, of course, fill these with anything – fresh fruit, jam, chocolate, nutella … the list goes on.

If you follow the instructions carefully these are really so simple. But this is not the type of recipe you can leave for any amount of time, they cook in a matter of seconds so you need to be at the stove at all times.

How to Make Crepes

Author: Slightly adapted, America’s Test Kitchen
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • Any desired toppings/fillings
Instructions
  1. Place oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet set over low heat for at least 10 minutes. Prep your butter by melting over stove top or in the micro (I suggest 10 sec increments so you don’t overdo it); set aside and let cool.
  2. While skillet is heating, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Add half of the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add the butter and whisk until incorporated. Whisk in remaining milk mixture until smooth.
  3. Using a paper towel, wipe out skillet, leaving a thin film of oil on bottom and sides. Increase heat to medium and let skillet heat 1 minute. Test the heat by placing 1 tsp of batter in the center and cook for 20 seconds. If the mini crepe is golden brown on bottom, the skillet is properly heated; if it is too light or too dark, adjust heat accordingly and retest.
  4. Pour 1/4 cup batter into one side of the pan and tilt/shake gently until batter covers the bottom of pan evenly. Cook without moving until the top surface is dry and crepe is starting to brown at edges, about 20 seconds. Loosen one side with a rubber spatula and flip, using your fingertips to help if needed. Cook about another 20 seconds unitl the second side is lightly spotted. Transfer crepe to a wire rack to cool and continue cooking until batter is gone, letting the pan reheat for about 10 seconds in between crepes.
  5. To reheat, stack on a plate and invert a second plate over the crepes. Microwave until warm, about 30 seconds. Top crepes with desired fillings and fold into quarters, roll, or stack flat like pancakes. Serve warm.

 

Blueberry-Lemon Banana Bread

BLOG_July 01, 2014

Blueberries are in season, so why not include them in fabulous banana bread? This is a Cooking Light recipe that was quite delicious. The recipe included a glaze, and I include instructions for one below, but next time I will skip it. The bread is definitely sweet enough without a glaze. If you decide to use a glaze, I would only pour it on right before eating. Enjoy!

Blueberry-Lemon Banana Bread
Author: Cooking Light
Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour 30 mins
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • Cooking spray
  • For the glaze (optional):
  • 1/4 cup low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add the banana, egg substitute, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until blended. Add the flour mixture; beat at low speed until just moist. Gently fold in blueberries and lemon zest.
  3. Spoon batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool bread for 10 minutes and then remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
  4. To make the optional glaze – combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. I had a hard time getting the cream cheese smooth, so I used a mini food processor. You could also substitute sour cream for the cream cheese or make a simple glaze with milk and confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle over the loaf immediately before serving.

 

Chewy Oatmeal Bars

BLOG_July 09, 2014-3

I am eating one of these as we speak … or in between typing to be more exact and they are freakin’ delicious! I’ve always loved oatmeal cookies and these take it to another level with intense, sweet spice flavor and soft, chewy texture.  I’ve been eating these for breakfast, snacks, and dessert – they are that good.

I’m not surprised because the recipe comes from Cook’s Country, which is from the same people behind America’s Test Kitchen and I absolutely love their recipes. I know it’s still July, but some of us may be thinking about back to school mode – teachers, parents, and maybe? kids. These are definitely going in my bag of tricks for school snacking and eat-in-the-car breakfasts. I already see these making a great accompaniment to my morning smoothie. If your kids like oatmeal cookies and granola bars, these are a beautiful marriage between the two and they will love ’em. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Chewy Oatmeal Bars
Author: Cook’s Country
Serves: 24 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon/leveled)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 8 tbsp. vegetable shortening
  • 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup molasses (regular, not blackstrap)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use instant)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
  • GLAZE
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat to 350 degrees. Prep two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a bowl and set aside. Beat the shortening and sugar together on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add molasses and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, and mix until just combined, scraping bowl as needed. Add oats, raisins, and nuts if using and mix until incorporated.
  3. Form 2 dough logs on each baking sheet (for a total of 4) – place them 3 inches apart (at least) and make them 9 by 2-inches, about 1 inch tall. It helps to put cooking spray or flour on your hands when doing this because the dough is very sticky. They will spread a lot and become large bars like pictured. Bake until lightly browned and set, 16 to 19 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cool on the sheets and them move to a cutting board and cut into bars. Let cool completely and add the optional glaze.
Notes
*Use fresh, good quality cinnamon to get the best flavor. I love King Arthur’s Vietnamese Cinnamon – it is decadent and smells amazing. [br]*I did not use nuts in my recipe, but I’ve included options in the recipe if you prefer nuts in your sweets. [br]*This recipe includes a glaze, which I made for the pictures, but I don’t think these need it at all because they are already so sweet. I would bake them and taste, and then decide if you want the glaze. [br]*Make sure not to use instant oats (I used a generic grocery brand old-fashioned oats and they were great) and do not use blackstrap molasses, which is too strong.

 

Cake Batter Cookies

BLOG_May 18, 2014-2

Cake batter cookies – everything great about cake, now in cookie form.

Mind. Blown.

These are super easy to make – basically making some additions to a box of cake batter. I played with chocolate and vanilla cake mix with funfetti-inspired sprinkles, but I can imagine some other fun flavor combinations.

You can make these with any flavor cake mix, so feel free to get creative. Rainbow-themed cookies, lemon, red velvet … the ideas go on and on. Enjoy!

~~ Cake Batter Cookies ~~
Author: PureWow Recipes
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 16 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 box cake mix (any flavor)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup sprinkles (optional)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the cake mix with the baking powder and sprinkles to combine (be sure to break up any lumps).
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the oil with the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla to combine. Add the oil mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Scoop out the cookie dough and place tbsp. sized mounds of dough onto each prepared baking sheet. Leave about 3/4 inch between each cookie – they spread as they bake. Bake until the surface is crackly and the cookies are slightly golden around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Place extra batter in the fridge as you wait for cookie sheets to cool between batches.
 BLOG_May 18, 2014