Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Twix Brownies

I haven't been baking much lately.  I wish I could say it was because I've been eating tons of vegetables....um, no.  Pretty sure you wouldn't believe me anyway.  No, I've just been busy, busy.  Busy with parties, kids, egg hunts, life, book reading, Scandal watching, oh....and eating Easter candy, lots and lots of Easter candy.
Brownies are perfect when you need a great baked treat.  These brownies only require one pot and some very simple ingredients.  I decided to take these brownies up just a notch.  I folded in some chopped up snack size Twix.  Also, some caramel bits, because I can.  Maybe I should have tossed in some Easter candy.  Oh yeah, I ate all of it.
Twix Brownies
makes one 8x8 pan
12 Tablespoons butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup flour
1 and 1/2 cups chopped Twix bars
1/2 cups caramel bits 
Preheat oven to 350.  Line an 8x8 pan with foil, leaving a large overhang for removal.  Generously coat the foil with cooking spray.  
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter.  Remove from heat, whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Add the cocoa powder and flour, stir until just blended, careful not to overmix.  Fold in Twix and caramel bits.  Bake for 40 mins.  Brownies may appear underdone, but don't bake longer than 45 minutes.
I shared some, okay one, with Darling Husband and he didn't love the Twix.  I shared the rest with some friends and they loved the Twix.  I guess you better get in the kitchen and come to your own conclusions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mini Double Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Cute, cute, cute! I just love mini things! Especially those that taste good. These cupcakes are a perfect little bite of vanilla.  I have had a real cupcake deficit in my home the past few months.  I used to make cupcakes regularly and take them to the office for co-workers birthdays.  Now that I have no office to go to, I don't regularly have an excuse to make cupcakes.  It's pretty sad really.
This craving for cupcakes just hit me.  I think I've mentioned that my favorite cupcake is vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.  Some may say that's boring, but I say it's a classic.  This recipe is anything but boring.  I got this recipe from Crazy for Crust, one of my daily reads, especially for sweet treats.  Everyone needs a basic vanilla cupcake recipe. This might just be your new favorite.
The original recipe makes about 12 standard sized cupcakes.  At the last minute I decided to make a mini version.  I rarely make mini cupcakes, but I think I'll be doing it more often.  It's a little dangerous though, mini cupcake are very easy to just pop right in your mouth. You don't think much about eating one, it's so tiny!  Might as well eat another, the first one didn't really count anyway.  Now I've lost count of how many I ate....oops.
Mini Double Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
For the cake:
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3/4 cup buttermilk *make your own by combining 3/4 cup milk and 1 teaspoon white vinegar and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes
For the frosting:
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1-2 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 and line mini cupcake tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer, beat together melted butter and sugar, about 30 seconds, until thick and yellow
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in vanilla bean paste.
Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk alternately, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat until just combined, scraping the sides as needed, careful not to overmix.
I used a small cookie scoop to fill each mini muffin tin.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting: Again using your stand or hand mixer, beat butter for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and creamy.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until it is completely added. Beat in vanilla bean paste and one Tablespoon milk, add the other tablespoon if needed.
*I got about 40 mini cupcakes out of this recipe.  This made enough frosting for about 35 of them.  The cupcakes are plenty sweet and have enough vanilla flavor even without frosting..perfect for my little taste-tester.
My favorite way to eat these cupcakes; take off the bottom, place it on top of the frosting, and you have a perfect little cupcake sandwich. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Oatmeal Scotchies

I've been a little absent from the blogging world lately.  I have a lot of things on my mind.  I tell Darling Husband nightly how my wheels are turning.  I've got a couple big parties coming up (one involving my favorite almost-2-year old) and I'm dreaming of lots of things I'd like to do around the house.  All of this amounts to me spending way too much time on Pinterest! Another thing that was on my mind? These cookies.  I had a serious craving.
Oatmeal Scotchies are not a cookie I usually crave.  
No peanut butter?!?! No chocolate??!?! No thank you. For some reason I just had them on the brain.  I really just had to make them. Only thing was I had no butterscotch chips!  I had to go to two stores to find them.  To avoid this problem in the future, I bought two bags.  Crisis, and cravings, averted.
Oatmeal Scotchies
adapted from Averie Cooks
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butterscotch chips
In a medium bowl whisk together oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
Using your hand or stand mixer, beat together butter, egg, sugars, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
With your mixer on low speed, add in dry ingredients until just combined.  Fold in butterscotch chips.
For optimal results, this dough needs to chill prior to baking.  Form mounds of dough, about 2 Tablespoons each, and place on large plate.  Flatten dough slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to 5 days.  I baked mine after about 5 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.  Bake chilled dough for 8 to 10 minutes.  Edges will be set, but the centers may appear underbaked.  I felt that 9 minutes was perfect for my oven.   You definitely do not want to overbake, cookies will continue to firm up while cooling.  Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack.
The moral of this story is that life can get hectic.  In my opinion the only real way to deal with it all is to drop everything you are doing and bake, and eat, some cookies.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

I have a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine.   I love receiving it and picking out recipes I want to make. These cookies came straight from the magazine.  The title was Chocolate Brownie Cookies.   How could I resist?  Also the ingredient list is about 6 things.  You don't even have to soften butter.  Everything mixes together in one bowl!  They are so easy I made two batches in less than 24 hours.  Have I convinced you yet??
These are the ultimate cookie for a chocolate lover.  There is cocoa powder, chopped chocolate, and I added mini chocolate chips.  They remind me of that first bite of brownie; that bite of the top layer.  The chopped chocolate and mini chips add a different dimension.  If you want a brownie in a cookie form, you've got it.
Chocolate Brownie Cookies
makes 2 dozen
3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 egg whites
1 egg
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
Whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk in egg whites and egg. Lastly fold in chocolate and chocolate chips.  Spoon batter by the tablespoonful onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between, batter is somewhat runny.
Bake, rotating sheets once, until cookies are puffed, cracked and just setting around the edges, 14-16 minutes.  Allow to cool completely on cookie sheet before removing, they'll firm up while cooling.
I was told by one of my closest friends that this is the best cookie I've ever made....I'm pretty sure she wasn't just sucking up to me.  I might have to make her some more just to make sure though.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Peanut butter and Jelly Muffins

A PB&J sandwich can instantly make you feel like a kid.  I love the simplicity of it, yet it holds a lot of weight.  Like I mentioned, you can instantly be transported to your childhood.  You might be taken back to school, your favorite lunch box, and a tiny carton of milk.  You might think of warm summer days, having a picnic lunch, going to the pool.  My most recent memories of peanut butter and jelly are from my pregnancy and now sharing lunches with Peyton.  I love how adults and children alike both love this sweet little sandwich.
These muffins are about as easy as the actual sandwich.  Mix together wet ingredients and stir them into dry ingredients, toss in some jam, wait by oven.  These are perfect for snack, lunch, or with scrambled eggs for breakfast.  Muffins are a favorite here in our house, but don't worry, nothing can ever replace our favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins
makes 12 muffins
1 and 2/3 cups all-puropse flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup of your favorite jam, I used strawberry
Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.  
In a large bowl whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a medium bowl whisk together milk, peanut butter, oil, egg, and vanilla.(The peanut butter may still be lumpy)  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.  Scoop about two tablespoons of batter into the bottom of each muffin cup (I used an ice cream scoop).  Spoon a heaping teaspoonful of jam on top of each scoop of batter. Top jam with another tablespoon or two of batter, using all remaining batter.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins turn light brown and are firm to touch.
Better act fast...little hands just can't resist them!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Are you guys lovers of Valentine's Day like us?  I hope so and not just because of the lovey-dovey stuff.  Mostly because of the treats that go along with it.  And everything heart-shaped and pink and red. Peyton and I have been getting into the spirit and decorating and spreading the love.
It's such a bummer for me when Christmas is over and it's time to take down all the decorations.  Enter Valentine's Day and cheery decorations.  In our new house we have a fireplace so I decided to dress up our mantel and make some things for P's playroom.

The heart garland is actually a table runner from Michael's.  I bought the paper X and O at Jo-Ann and covered them in glitter paper.  The tassel garland was really fun and easy to make, I followed this tutorial exactly.  I will definitely make more of these!
This heart garland frame was another simple DIY project.  I bought a simple frame at Michael's and painted it bright red.  The hearts were punched from cardstock using my Recollections 2 and 3/8 inch heart punch, found at Michael's.  I used double stick tape to attach them to twine and taped the twine to the back of the frame.  Easy and inexpensive!
These same hearts were used in Peyton's raining hearts umbrella.  I bought a big piece of red poster board at Target and just drew the umbrella free hand.  Thanks to Darling Husband I have miles of fishing line on hand and it works so great for crafting!  I taped the hearts to the fishing line in varying numbers.  Those lines were all just taped to the back of the umbrella.  Just be careful not to get your raining hearts tangled!
I wish you a Happy Valentine's Day whether you like it or not!!  We have a low-key day planned , celebrating with a Heart Baker pizza from Papa Murphy's.  I'm sure chocolate will also be consumed...that's something we can all celebrate!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie cake

Dear Little One,
Some days, okay most days, we have our struggles.  We also have the best of moments, that's for sure. My days are better because of you.  My days are also full of a lot of work because of you.  But with this work comes a lot of smiles.
Like your smile when you saw this cookie cake.  You stood next to me, asking to be picked up.  Asking to look at this cookie cake.  Asking, without asking, for a bite.  You laid your head on my shoulder (as you always do when you want something you are pretty sure you can not have).  You pointed and smiled.  I replied with a no.  You again pointed at the cookie and your mouth.  I did my best to divert your attention, but we both really wanted some of that cookie.  
You want to play with all my glass dishes.  I want you to play quietly in your toy room.   You want me to carry you around the house.  I want to be carried to the couch for a nap.  You want a graham cracker...wait, you don't want a graham cracker???
You want your drink out of the BLUE sippy cup.  I'll take a glass of wine..in any cup.
You want cookie cake.  I want cookie cake.  
Heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups M&Ms or chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare pan with cooking spray, (I also lined with parchment paper). In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Using your hand or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined. With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients.  Fold in M&Ms, dough will be thick.  Spread evenly in the bottom of your pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Allow to cool completely in pan before removing.  
(I used this Wilton icing tube in red for decorating)
At the end of the day, we both had some cookie cake. We both earned it. Baby girl I envision many more bites of cookie cake.  I envision many more days of battles.  I envision many, many more days of smiles. We share this virtual cookie cake with all of you, for those days when you just need it.