Monday, October 18, 2010

Smores Bars

Monday, October 18, 2010
Not quite a brownie, not quite a cake, these smores bars are just plain yummy! They're chewy, chocolatey, and delicious!

The ingredients: 

You'll note that there's a carton of whole milk in that picture - but I actually forgot to add it to the recipe. They came out just fine! I think though, if you add the milk, the bars will come out less dense and chewy. I will post the full recipe below. 

When making these, it's best to line the pan with aluminum foil, and then butter it. I had no problem removing them from the pan with the butter/foil method. 

Then you mix the wet ingredients, add in the dry, and press into the buttered, foil lined pan
The mixture is very thick when you forget to add the milk, but it works!

Throw the pan into the oven and bake halfway. Take the pan out and then arrange marshmallows in rows. Put the pan back in the oven and bake a while longer.  The marshmallows get big, puffy, and golden brown :

Once you take them out of the oven, they "calm down" and flatten. Let them cool in the pan, then cut and enjoy. 

They look a bit  like fried eggs, but let me assure you they taste really good :)

Serve warm - They can be stored for a few days - I recommend popping them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to heat them back up. 

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (make them yourself in a food processor, or get the Keebler ready made graham cracker crumbs) 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter  (room temp)  + butter to line the bottom of the pan 
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup whole milk (optional - use it if you want more cake like bars.. don't use it if you want chewy brownie like bars) 
12-16 ounces semi sweet chocolate chunks (either buy the chunks or cut up some chocolate bars) 
15 marshmallows

Kitchen Tools
13 x 9 baking pan
aluminum foil 
Stand mixer or hand mixer


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  

Line bottom and sides of baking pan with aluminum foil and then coat it liberally with butter. 

Put the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. 

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar (with hand mixer or stand mixer) until the mixture looks creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla. 
Add in half the crumb mixture and mix until blended. 
Here is where you would add the milk if you are using it.
Mix in the remaining crumb mixture, and then stir in the chocolate pieces.  Scoop batter into pan and spread it evenly. 
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and arrange the marshmallows on top of the cake - three rows of 5 marshmallows. 
Continue baking until the marshmallows are golden brown and puffed up - about 15 minutes. 

Take the cake out of the oven and immediately loosen it from the sides using a small knife. Cool the cake, in the pan, on a wire rack. When ready to serve, just lift the foil out of the pan and cut it into slices. 

Serve warm or microwave to reheat. 


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have to say I have never really been a fan of peanut butter.  I hated how it stuck to the roof of my mouth, how it was too gritty, too chunky, or just plan something I just wasn't ever in the mood for. I never craved peanut butter anything.   I didn't even really enjoy Reese's peanut butter cups - I just felt that there were better candy / dessert options out there.  Well, you know how people's tastes change every so often? Mine has - big time.  I now literally cannot get enough peanut butter!  I think I may even have had a dream about peanut butter the other day.

I got a new Kitchen Aid mixer for a wedding present and so I decided to whip up a batch of cookies (peanut butter, of course).  I couldn't just do plain peanut butter - I had to add chocolate chips :)

OK so on to the cookies! Here are the cast of characters:  (I'll post the full recipe below)

Basic cookie ingredients - nothing too fancy - flour, sugar, vanilla, butter, an egg, salt, brown sugar, baking soda, oh, and peanut butter.  I use natural peanut butter because I don't like the idea of hydrogenated oils in my cookies. There's something not quite right about it.  Anyway,  I found some of the natural peanut butters can get a bit gritty - so for these cookies  I used Skippy Natural, which is as creamy as the peanut butter with the hydrogenated oils (so tell me again why we need these silly trans fats??)

I have to say my Kitchenaid mixer is THE BOMB. I love how easy it all was!

Once they were all mixed up, I rolled them into balls and placed them on a cookie sheet.  Then take a fork and smoosh the cookie down till it's flat and has a nice criss cross pattern on it. 

Bake them and enjoy the aroma of cookies. There's nothing like the smell of fresh baked cookies!

Take them out of the oven and try to let them cool off a bit before you eat them.  I couldn't wait that long and burned the roof of my mouth. Some day I will learn about restraint. 

Serve with a big glass of cold milk !

Here's the recipe: 

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Kitchen Tools Needed:
Mixer (either a stand mixer or hand mixer) 
Cookie Sheet (s) 
Wire racks for cooling 


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Cream butter and peanut butter in mixing bowl. Beat until smooth - about 1 minute. 
Add sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla - beat until combined. 

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together, and gradually add into the wet mixture. Mix until well combined. 

Add in chocolate chips and stir gently. 

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, or a sheet lined with parchment paper.  Press flat with a fork in a criss-cross pattern. 

Bake until golden brown - 10-12 minutes.  Be careful not to over cook, these can get a bit dry.. 
Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. 

  • Skip the chocolate chips
  • Add butterscotch chips
  • Add peanut butter chips 
  • Combine peanut butter and chocolate chips together
  • Add in some chopped nuts 
The options are pretty much endless :)


Monday, January 25, 2010

Nigella Lawson's Nutella Cake

Monday, January 25, 2010

My sister loves Nutella. But honestly I have never met anyone that didn't love Nutella. So for her birthday she wanted a Nutella cake. I found Nigella's cake and decided it looked really amazing and I had to make it for her.

The cake is flourless, making it gluten free as well. It's surprisingly simple to make, too!

Besides a springform pan, you will need the following cast of characters: (Note: I'll list the amounts and exact directions below)

First step is to grind up the hazelnuts into a powder. I used a blender. If you use a blender, be sure to only pulse it so that the heat of the blades doesn't liquify the nuts. They should look like this when done:
Next, melt the chocolate and set it aside so it can cool. I had to try not to "accidentally" stick my fingers in there to taste it.
Now, whip up those egg whites!

Then make the rest of the cake batter (which only contains Nutella, egg yolks, butter, rum, and melted chocolate.) Yum.
After the batter is done, fold in all the egg whites and pour it into a buttered pan and put it in the 350 degree oven.

Now, toast up some hazelnuts in a frying pan (don't use oil or anything). Use med/high heat and mix them CONSTANTLY. They will burn and get ruined and you will be sad, and have to throw them away.
Once they are heated through and starting to brown (some of the shells will fall off in the frying pan), transfer them to a towel and rub them, and most of the rest of the skins will come off as well.
OK.. Then make the ganache.

By now the cake is out of the oven. Let it cool! Top with ganache and toasted hazelnuts, and voila!
Complete Recipe

1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 13-ounce container Nutella
1 tablespoon rum or Frangelico (I used aged rum)
4 ounces semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate, melted and
cooled (I used 72% and it came out great. Use what you like!)
pinch of salt (approx 1/8 tsp)

4 ounces whole hazelnuts
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
4 ounces semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate (I used 72%)
1 tablespoon rum or frangelico


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Don't skimp, make sure the butter gets into all the crevices of the pan. We don't want this lovely beauty to stick!

Next, In a large bowl (metal works best, but I used glass and it was fine),
whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. I used a hand mixer. Start first on low, then once it starts to get thicker you can gradually increase the speed. Start out too fast and there will be egg whites all over your walls.

In another bowl, with a mixer, cream the butter and Nutella, then add
the rum/frangelico, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts.

Fold in the melted chocolate gently.

Add a scoop of beaten egg whites to the chocolate batter, and mix gently until well-combined. Best to use a rubber spatula and be very gentle so as not to break the egg whites.

Fold in the remaining whites a scoop at a time, mix very gently but thoroughly.

Pour into the buttered springform and bake for 40 minutes.
Test for doneness by inserting tester, which should come out mostly clean; lightly pressing finger into top to check for a slight bouncing-back; and observing edges beginning to separate from pan.
Let cool completely, in pan, on a rack.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet shaking them around frequently.
Do this until they are lightly browned. If the hazelnuts came with the skins on, simply put them in a kitchen towel after toasting and rub around. This will remove most of the skins from them easily. Cool them completely before using them.

For the Ganache, break or chop up the chocolate, and add to a sauce pan with the heavy cream and the rum or frangelico. Heat over medium to low heat until mixed. Whisk it until it is silky and gorgeous.
Important - let it cool!

Take cooled cake pan out of springform pan. Top with cooled ganache. I like to let it drip over the edges. You can be neat about it too if you like :)
Sprinkle or arrange the hazelnuts on top.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps - pretty AND delicious

Monday, January 11, 2010

I went to a cookie exchange party in December and made these. They came out so pretty and everyone really loved them. They almost taste like a cookie/brownie. I got the recipe from Martha Stewart's website and wanted to share with you all. They are really, really good.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons instant espresso
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon milk
Confectioners' sugar, for coating, about 1/2 cup to maybe 3/4 cup.

First step, be sure to melt the chocolate so it has time to cool.

Next, In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt.

Then cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (use an electric mixer). Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined. The dough is going to be tough.. but it will all mix together!
Lay out some plastic wrap and plop the dough on it. Flatten it into a disk and then wrap in plastic.
Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. (Your hands WILL get dirty. Embrace it.).
Pour confectioners' sugar (about 1/2 cup) into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.

Place on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Try not to eat them all at once :)

The recipe indicated that it made 18 cookies. I must've made them a bit smaller because I got about 28 cookies out of each recipe.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Roasted Broccoli / Cauliflower that anyone will LOVE

Sunday, January 10, 2010
Let me start out by saying I HATE broccoli and I DESPISE cauliflower. Truly. I hear their names and think "blech". Something about all broccoli and all cauliflower just turns my stomach.

Until now.

I have found a way to prepare broccoli and cauliflower that is not only healthy but fan-freakin-tastic. I wouldn't lie to you!

The secret is roasting it at high high heat and few tricks along the way...

1. Get a fresh head of cauliflower or broccoli. No frozen and not pre-chopped in a bag. It is too "moist" and won't turn out right. In fact it will be down right awful. It must just be the head of the broccoli or cauliflower. I know it's going to be weird buying it. If you don't like broccoli or cauliflower, you'll be thinking, "I just know I'm going to hate this". Buy it anyway!

2. Now, this may sound gross but don't wash the broccoli/cauliflower. It's going to be in the oven at 425 degrees, it'll kill anything on it.  If you must wash it, you have to dry it so that there is not a remaining drop of moisture on it.

3. Get out a cookie sheet and cover it with aluminium foil. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

4. Cut up the broccoli (I'll just use 'broccoli' for the rest of the instructions -- but it's the same whether you are using broccoli or cauliflower). Now -- you must must must cut the broccoli into small pieces. If the pieces are too big they won't taste good. Only use the crowns and cut them into pieces no bigger than 1" square. As you cut them, throw them onto the cookie sheet.

5. Get out some olive oil. Give the broccoli a good drizzle (1-2 tbsp) and then sprinkle with kosher salt and use those hands to mix it all together. You may find you need to add a bit more oil. The oil will cook off and also be left in the pan, so don't think that because you're adding all that oil that you will be ingesting all that oil. Besides, olive oil is your friend. Arrange the broccoli so it's in 1 layer on the cookie sheet.

6. By now the oven should be heated up. Put the broccoli in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. I know right now you broccoli-haters are thinking, "I am going to hate this". I thought the same thing. I didn't believe I could like, no wait, that I could LOVE broccoli. You can too!

7. After the 15 minutes are up, take the broccoli out and mix it around a bit. Rearrange it on the cookie sheet and throw it back into the oven for another 12-15 minutes.

8. When the timer goes off, take the broccoli out of the oven. You will know when it is done. The edges will be "crispy" looking and it will have gotten lots smaller and darker in color.

9. Now if you are a salt person give it another sprinkle of salt. Then take some lemon juice (I use "real lemon" stuff but you could use an actual lemon).  I use about 2 tsp worth of lemon juice. Sprinkle it all over the broccoli. Then, get some fresh grated Parmesan cheese (I use the Trader Joes pre-shredded kind -- it comes in a tub and is very convenient).  Grab some of that and sprinkle it all over your broccoli. Now mix it up. Don't be scared.

10. Serve it up, eat and enjoy. Seriously I eat like 3 crowns of broccoli this way. It's soooo good!!!

I think the trick is that the olive oil almost 'oven fries' them. The fact that they are so small, all the moisture is removed. All of that bad broccoli/cauliflower taste goes away and you are left with something magnificent.

If I could eat pasta on my diet I would toss the roasted broccoli in with some pasta, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, white wine, and crushed red pepper. Maybe even add in some shrimp or chicken breast. Now that would be delicious!

But as it is, I devour it just as it is, as a side dish. I'm not a vegetarian but I could easily make a meal out of it with maybe a sweet potato on the side.

I am pretty sure you can do this with other vegetables too -- I have tried Brussels sprouts - which I also LOATHE and they came out "just okay".  I realized that my problem was that they were too big - I cut them in half but I think they need to be smaller. So I would recommend quartering them instead of halving them.

That's it.. enjoy!

Lighten up your Chicken Pot Pie!

I have not ever heard of a person that does not love chicken pot pie. It's comfort food at it's finest. We decided to make chicken pot pie the other day and every recipe I found had either light cream, half & half, whole milk, or condensed mushroom soup in it. I thought there has to be a way to lighten up chicken pot pie a bit.

So I set off to device a lower in fat and calorie chicken pot pie recipe that still tasted good. Turns out it was pretty easy! My basic substitutions were to eliminate the bottom crust, and to substitute skim/nonfat milk for the cream/half & half. I don't use any soup mix at all. The result? A pie that was so amazing, I literally could not tell that it was a healthier version.

So, I get that even my lighter version is still not the pinnacle of heath (I wouldn't eat it while on my diet) but for a "cheat day" or day when you want to splurge a bit, why not try my lower-fat chicken pot pie?

Katie's Lower-Fat-But-Still-Delicious Chicken Pot Pie
serves 4-6

1 pound of chicken breast, boneless, skinless, cut into cubes
1 bag of frozen vegetables (any kind you like, really) - I use a blend of peas, carrots, lima beans (or whatever's in the freezer)
1/2 cup (approx) celery -cut up into small pieces
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups (16 oz) chicken broth or turkey broth or vegetable broth (I prefer the low sodium kind)
1 cup skim/nonfat milk
1 ready made pie crust

Preheat the oven to 425

In a medium to large sauce pan add the chicken, frozen vegetables, celery, and enough water to cover it and boil it for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
Same pan, medium heat, add in butter and onions and cook until they are soft.
Stir in flour, cook until flour is mixed in - maybe a minute or so.
Slowly add in the chicken broth (or veg broth or turkey broth) and milk. Simmer on medium-low until thick.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the chicken & vegetables into the pie pan. Pour hot liquid mixture over the veg/meat mixture.
Cover with the pie crust, seal it, and cut a few slits to vent it.

Bake 30-35 minutes
Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Variations: Use turkey instead of chicken. Use really any kind of frozen vegetables. Add mushrooms. Whatever you do, it'll likely be delicious!

Nutrition Info:

6 Servings, Amount Per Serving

Calories - 339.5
Total Fat - 15.8 g
Saturated Fat - 7.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat -1.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat - 5.5 g
Cholesterol - 66.7 mg
Sodium 612.7 mg
Potassium - 438.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate- 26.2 g
Dietary Fiber - 2.7 g
Sugars - 4.9 g
Protein - 22.8 g

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