Monthly Archives: June 2013

Kale Chips

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So my best friend’s mom introduced me to these (or rather, the idea of these). I was over at her house working and she was like “oh here are some kale chips” and in my head I’m like “what the heck is kale?” Turns out, it’s a rather awesome green that has some great uses when cooked. In this case, it was a substitute for potato chips. And the recipe is SO EASY.

Ingredients:

  • 1 rinsed head of kale. Make sure it’s dried all the way before using!
  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • spices! I personally used some salt, ground pepper, and cumin.

Directions:

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Preheat the oven to 275 F. After the kale has dried completely, remove the ribs of it and rip it into about 1.5 inch pieces. Don’t do any smaller than that, because otherwise it’ll burn to a crisp. And not in the good way.

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Spread the pieces out on a good ol’ baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and spices. One thing I learned is that 2-3 tbs may not seem like a lot, but it is. If you use too much, then the kale will take FOREVER to roast….trust me on that one. Finally, roast the kale for 20 minutes, turning it halfway through. Honestly, it may take more or less time. Just keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn black. After 20 minutes, I checked it at 5 minute intervals until it was done. Eventually, it all turned out, and I got out of it a wonderful little healthy snack for a dinner party 🙂

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Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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So my mom isn’t really thrilled about how I like to bake healthy things. She doesn’t eat healthy desserts. But. She LOVES oatmeal raisin cookies. So I figured ya know what I’ll make some oatmeal raisin cookies because well, late night baking is kinda my thing. So I searched for a recipe on Food Network and the first one that popped up were Ellie Krierger’s Honey Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies. I didn’t even realize they were healthy until I read the recipe and saw there were macros at the bottom! But they wereeeee. And they seemed yummy. So I made them, with a few minor tweaks, and voila! They turned out very yummy! Then I gave one to my mom. She really liked them! Then I told her “oh yeah and they’re healthy!” And she immediately gave me the death glare. “I mean…they were alriiiight.” She said. Oh please, mother, you loved those cookies.

Anyways, so the recipe is as I said from Ellie Krieger from Food Network. So:

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray, like Pam Nonstick Baking Spray
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (although I think regular dairy milk would work too)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray two baking sheets.

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Mix the whole wheat flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside. Plop the butter, canola oil, honey, egg, almond butter, and vanilla in a bowl and mix together until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix until smooth. Add the milk, and mix again until smooth. Mix in the rolled oats and raisins. Once everything is distributed evenly throughout the batter, spoon onto the cookie sheets. I was able to fit 12 on a 10×15 inch cookie sheet. In total, I was able to make 42 cookies. So once you spoon these out, bake for about 8 minutes, or until the edges look just slightly brown. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy as breakfast, dessert, or a sweet snack 🙂

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New Orleans Double-Chocolate Praline-Fudge Cake from Southern Living

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Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. What could be better? Plus the praline? It’s like the sweet-salty smooth-crunchy cake. I actually have a funny story about this cake. See, I was making for the second time for my grandmother’s birthday, so it was late Decemberish. It’s a three layer cake. So. I had just finished baking all the layers and transferred them to wire racks. My mom moved them over to the window sill to cool.

Bad idea. Window sills are not strong. So one of the layers ended up doing a bit of a flop on my deck. It’s a sad night when you have to demote a three layer cake to being a two layer cake. Good news is, my mom was making a vanilla cake the next weekend and the same thing happened to her ;). You would have expected us to learn our lesson. But no. Anyways, it made a fun couple of nights late night baking with mom. She taught me all I know about food and baking, so I always love being in the kitchen with her. Until we get in each other’s way. Then things can get a liiiiiitle tricky 😀 But that usually doesn’t happen.

Anyways, yes, the cake! One of the best cakes you’ll ever make! It takes a while to make it, but it is completely worth it. Without further ado:

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Part 1: Assembly of the cake

Preheat over to 350 F. Grease the bottoms of 3 8″ round cake pans and line them with wax paper. Grease and flour the wax paper sides of pans. So basically it’s butter-wax paper-butter-flour.

Cook the butter/margarine, cocoa, and water in a heavy bottom metal pan over low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat to cool. Beat the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla with a mixer until smooth. Add the butter mixture to the buttermilk mixture, beating until blended ***remember, the butter mixture should be cooled off before you add it to the buttermilk mixture. If not, the eggs will curdle. Scrambled eggs are bad in this case.*** Combine the sugar, flour, and salt, gradually add to the buttermilk mixture. Beat until thoroughly blended. Southern Living warns that the batter will be thin, and that’s okay. Just pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Let sit in pans for a little bit before flipping them out, about 10 minutes. Then flip em, remove the wax paper, and cool completely on wire racks. Tip: don’t put them in the windowsill. The layers will be thin but that’s okay because there’s also the chocolate ganache that goes between the layers to fill em up a little bit. Speaking of which…

Ingredients for chocolate ganache:

  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels (aka chocolate chips)
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, cut into pieces.

Part 2: Making the ganache

Microwave the chocolate morsels and cream on medium for 2-3  minutes until they are melted. Check the chocolate chips as they heat in the microwave to make sure they don’t burn! Stir until all the morsels blend together and they are smooth. Gradually add in the butter, whisking until smooth. Cool, whisking often, for about 25 minutes so the ganache reaches spreading consistency. It should yield about 2 cups. This is where you start putting your cake together! Once the layers are cooled, put it together by laying one layer out on a plate, put some chocolate ganache on top, then comes the other layer, ganache, then the final layer, ganache. Don’t use too much for the filling because you still need to have enough ganache to frost the outside!

Ingredients for Praline Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted**

Part 3: Making the praline.

**Note on how to toast pecans. Set the oven to 350. Chop pecans. Roast them for about 5 minutes, but keep an eye on them because they burn really easily really quickly. Take out of oven and let cool.

Bring the butter, light brown sugar, and whipping cream to a boil in a heavy bottom pan. Stir often as it boils for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the toasted pecans, stirring gently for 3-5 minutes or until the frosting becomes cool and thickens slightly. Pour the frosting over the cake immediately. Let the frosting harden a little before serving.

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Heart Attack Brownies

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It was a dark, story day in late January. Actually, it was really sunny. But. It was a bad day. Why? CT indoor sprints. Death. Evilness. Bad bad bad. For those who don’t know, the way rowers train on land is with a very devilish piece of machinery called an ergometer, aka, an erg. Since we can’t go on the water in winter (as usually the river freezes), we are trapped on these things. And on them, we have to do painful time trials to see how fast we can row 6k or 2k. The CT indoor sprints is a 2k erg race. So basically there a bunch of these lined up in the middle of a huge gym thing with risers for adults, an annoying announcer, and a bunch of people dying as they try to finish their race. The ONLY good thing about this event is that it gave me an excuse to try something new for the bingefest the team had after. And the new creation? Heart attack brownies. Artery clogging amazingness.

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See, I got the original recipe from Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook. Buuuuut I changed a couple things. As in a lot of things. For one, I accidentally added…twice the amount of chocolate…haha whoops. I also added things like white chocolate chips and graham crackers. I mean if you’re eat a brownie that already has twice the amount of chocolate than it should, may as well go all out and totally dec it out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened CONDENSED milk. Not evaporated. Evaporated is runny. Condensed milk is thick. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Assembly:

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Sift together flour, sugar, and cocoa in large bowl. Cut in 1/2 cup/ 1 STICK of butter until the mixture resembles corse crumbs. This means to mush the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers and mix it all together until it resembles a crumby mixture. DO NOT use a beater. Add the egg, and mix well. Yes, now you are allowed to use a beater. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the mixture, and press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

In the mean time, place the sweetened condensed milk and the chocolate chips in a double boiler. This is so the chocolate doesn’t burn. To create a double boiler, get a stainless steal bowl and a heavy bottom pan that holds 4-8 cups of liquid. Fill the heavy bottom pot with water, leaving about an inch from the top. Place the stainless steel bowl over the heavy bottom pot and MAKE SURE the water does not touch the bottom of the pan! If it does, dump some water out. And there. You have a double boiler! So place the chocolate and the condensed milk in the double boiler so it gets all melty and smooth. Pour over the crust.

Another thing you want to do is mix the crushed graham cracker crumbs with the remaining 1/2 stick of MELTED butter. Yes. Melt it. Otherwise it’ll be impossible to cover the graham crackers in butter. So yes combine that all. Then, sprinkle the mixture over the crust. Also sprinkle the remaining flour/sugar/cocoa mixture over the crust, and the white chocolate chips. Stick it in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool completely in pan then cut into bars. And eat.

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Sleepy Milk. Yes, you read that correctly.

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So. I remember way back when like 10 years ago when I first had this stuff. It was at my friends house, and I was having one of my first-ever sleepovers. A BIG deal for a 5 year old. Like, huge, right? Right. So. To help us jittery 5 year olds fall asleep, my friend’s mom made us a treat; it was called sleepy milk. Warm milk with some cinnamon and vanilla extract. I had it sometimes over the next 10 years, but not a bunch.

This past summer, I was having difficulty sleeping. No idea why. So this is when the old childhood memory came back to me! But I modified it a little. Instead of using whole milk, I used unsweetened Almond milk. To help flavor the almond milk, I used a spoonful of Swissmiss’ low calorie blend. Then add cinnamon, vanilla, and fat free whipped cream.

Whatcha need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 spoonful Swissmiss’ low calorie blend (75 cal per 1/4 cup)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • fat free whipped cream

Mix it all together, heat, and enjoy. And then, after about 5 minutes, fall asleep 🙂

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Pumpkin Pecan Cookies with Maple Whipped Cream Topping

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So one of my all time favorite desserts in the world is pumpkin pie. But making pies are rather difficult on a day-to-day basis. For example, if I have the urge to bake something, I rarely say “oh well why don’t I just bake a pie or a cake.” No. I make something like a cookie, brownie, muffin, etc. Something low labor and relatively easy. But how do you incorporate pumpkin into a cookie…? Here’s how. Pumpkin Walnut Cookies via Magnolia’s Bakery, with my own twist. For one, I changed the walnut component to pecan, and instead of using a brown butter frosting like suggested, I used a whipped cream to lighten everything up. These turned out to be very light, kind of like a mini muffin.

Ingredients:

For Cookies:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 4 tbs (1/2 of a stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For Topping:

  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • pecan halves

how to:

Preheat oven to 375 F. To make cookies: Combine flour,  baking powder, salt, all- spice, cinnamon, and ginger. Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients. Beat again. Make sure no dry ingredients are stuck on the sides! Stir in the pecans. Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about a tablespoon each. Allow room for expansion during baking. While the batter seems softer than most, Magnolia says that it will firm up during baking (and I agree based off of personal experience hahaha.) Bake for 12 minutes. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 10-12 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let em cool completely.

For whipped cream: literally all you have to do is combine the brown sugar, syrup, vanilla, and whipping cream in a bowl. Beat on the high setting of a mixer until the whipping cream has firmed up so that when you stick your finger in for a taste test, the gaping hole of whipped cream you just stole sticks. Drop a small amount of whipped cream onto each cookie AFTER THEY HAVE COOLED COMPLETELY. Then garnish each cookie with a pecan half 😀

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Oatmeal Muffins from Magnolia’s Bakery

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Yet another muffin of the breakfast sort! But who doesn’t like something sweet in the morning, really? Oatmeal is something that is extremely underrated, even though there’s so much you can do with it! Seriously. Plain oatmeal, oatmeal mugcakes, oatmeal muffins, oatmeal cookies, you can make a recipe healthier by subbing all purpose flour for oat flour (pulverized oats), they’re the base for granola…seriously, so much. But these of course aren’t healthy. They are oats in the most wonderful of things: warm, soft, and chewy muffins. soooo…

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking, although it isn’t the end of the world if you do use quick cooking. They will just be a little bit dryer)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin. You might need to grease more in the end if you have an excess amount of batter.

In a medium size bowl, mix the oats and the milk and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center (basically a huge hole that dips down into the middle of the mixture). Stir in the liquid ingredients, oatmeal mixture, and chocolate chips  until just combined. Be careful not to overmix! The batter can be a little lumpy. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes until lightly golden or a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with moist crumbs attached.

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