Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cookies and Cream Bars

Hello friends, it's been awhile. I took a little unplanned three month sabbatical while exploring my new city. I wish I could say I've got a beautifully decorated home and a ton of new recipes ready...but I don't. Instead, I've been drinking a lot of local beer, eating some really amazing food, and seeing some beautiful places. San Antonio had a handful of gems but this city is FULL of them. Now that the weather has cooled off I can turn on the oven without making the entire house unbearably hot. The change in the weather is making me crave all the fall things and I can't wait to get back in the kitchen.

When I saw Trader Joe's new cookies and cream cookie butter I had no doubt that it would be as good as it's speculoos counterpart. Trashing up some bars with it was my first thought and these guys are the result. They have a fudgy brownie-like bottom and gooeyness on top. You can also enjoy the cookie butter on it's own with your choice of dippers. This new cookies and cream flavor got me thinking about making my own homemade cookie butter, which I'm going to have to try out next. Try my Chocolate Cookie Butter Bars if you love the original speculoos flavor. 

Cookies and Cream Bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Cookies and Cream Cookie Butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
12 Trader Joe's Joe- Joe's, crushed
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 13x9 baking pan with foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a large bowl with a hand mixer) cream together butter, granulated and brown sugar, until light and fluffy, then beat in cookie butter.

4.  With the mixer on low beat in the egg and then the vanilla.

5.  Then gradually add in the flour mixture until just combined.

6.  Turn the dough out into prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula, bottom of the measuring cup, or your hands, whatever works.

7.  Drop a few teaspoons of the cookie butter over the dough, as little or as much as you'd like. I used about 7 teaspoons.

8.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips and crushed Joe-Joe's over the dough, and drizzle the sweetened condensed over the top.

9.  Bake in preheated oven for 26-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. You don't want to over-bake these. Then let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before lifting out of pan and cutting.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

All-in-One Cake & Frosting

Good things come to those who wait…

Or so they say…I…on the other hand, am sort of impatient. Something I need to work on now that we've moved to Portland, OR. It doesn't seem like they are in a hurry to do anything. Thankfully I don’t know where the heck I am going so I blend into traffic pretty well. I’m ready to take on the more laid back approach to life. Why be in a hurry, what are we in a hurry to do anyway. We need to enjoy our surroundings and the people we're with as much as we can.

So I was waiting…in a waiting area when I decided to pick up a Family Circle magazine to flip through to pass the time, when I came across this recipe, All-in-One Cake and Frosting. You make the frosting first and reserve some and then in the same bowl with the rest of the frosting you make the cake….what!? I don't know if this was proper etiquette or not but I ripped the recipe out because I just had to try it.

The original recipe was basically just a vanilla cake with a cream cheese frosting…which is good…but I had to tweak it a little. First of all I am not a big fan of overly sweet frostings and I could tell that this was going to be one of them. So I turned it into a chocolate cake with a chocolate frosting instead. I added some melted bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and subbed chocolate milk for regular. Looking back I would probably add even more chocolate. You can never have too much chocolate! I think this would also be amazing as a lemon or an orange cake as well. The cream cheese lends to a very moist cake. The other half says it's dense like a pound cake. Anyway you decide to do it, I'm sure it will turn out wonderful. This is one of those recipes just waiting to be played around with.

All-in-One Cake & Frosting
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 (2 lb) pkg powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, divided
2/3 cup chocolate milk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup water, room temperature

*The items italicized were my additions to the original recipe. Please feel free to leave them out and try it the original way, or add your own additions like the juice and zest of a lemon or an orange. The possibilities are endless.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a Bundt baking pan. (I used my trusty baking spray)

2.  In a large bowl, (I used my stand mixer with a paddle attachment) beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and cooled bittersweet chocolate; mix well.

3.  Add powdered sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder alternately with chocolate milk; mix well. Remove 2 1/2 cups of the mix, place into a plastic sealable bag; set aside.

4.  With mixer at slow speed, add eggs to remaining frosting; beat until well blended.

5.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to mix alternately with water; mix well.

6.  Pour into prepared bundt pan and bake 65-75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Now it may be that my new oven runs a little hot, but both times I tried this recipe I took it out earlier than the original recipe suggests. I suggest checking on it when you have about 15 minutes left.) Cool 30 minutes. While cake is still warm, use a knife to loosen the cake edges from the pan. (I skipped the knife step, my baking spray releases the cake without any problems.) Cool completely before removing from pan. Top with frosting.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Missing in action, but I have a good excuse....

I have to apologize for my recent absence. I promise, I have a good excuse….

I moved! The other half and I picked up and moved to Portland, OR. We were tired of the heat in San Antonio and were looking for a change so we took the plunge. Luckily, his company transferred us here and now we have an incredible new city to explore.

We took our time driving up here and made a little trip out of it. We saw so many beautiful places on the way.

We spent our first night in New Mexico, visiting family, and eating Mexican food.

Our second night was spent in Arizona, where we visited the Petrified Forest, the gorgeous city of Sedona, and of course the breathtaking Grand Canyon.

We ended up staying one night in Vegas! Cause who could blame us? I may or may not have had a few cocktails in that picture.

The next day ended in Lake Tahoe, which is beautiful, but the casinos there, the other half and I both agreed, is like old people Vegas. Which is not bad cause I don't think you would really go there for the casinos, it's just like a perk. I'd love to go back in winter though because I bet it would be amazing.

Then on the last leg of our trip we had to stop at Crater Lake in OR. Wow! It was amazing...so beautiful.  BUT. OMG the hugest mosquitos I have ever seen in my entire life. Like dinosaur mosquitos...and it wasn't just one or two...the other half turned around and there was like 20 hanging off the back of his shirt. Needless to say we enjoyed the rest of the views from inside the car.

It was a wonderful, fun, exciting trip and now we are super excited to be in Portland. 

So stay tuned....yummy treats will be coming soon! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Black and White Cookies

The other half and I went on trip to New York and Boston last fall and I swore I was going to try all the desserts, but I'll be damned if I forgot one until it was too late. We had cannolis and torrone in little Italy. One of my favorites was Momofuku Milk Bar, we stuffed our faces with crack pie and cereal milk milkshake, it was glorious! On the last night of our trip, we were walking around downtown in Boston, after traveling all day from New York when it hit me, I forgot to try a black and white cookie! So we visited a handful of bakeries in Boston with no luck. I knew then that I had missed my chance so my only option would be to recreate them.

I looked for recipes here and there and bookmarked a few to try out but just never got around to it. Luckily I have this wonderful, sweet, beautiful friend, Ashley. She was sweet enough to sent me a lovely little cookbook, Sweet Chic by Rachel Schifter Thebault of Tribeca Treats. Thanks Ash! :)

This cute little cookbook had a foreword written by Isaac Mizrahi and all of the sweets were compared to fashion. As I was flipping through I came across buttermilk cookies, the pearl earrings, and lo and behold there was a recipe for black and white cookies! I knew when I saw it I had to make them! Now I don't know how true to NYC these little cookies are compared to their larger big city equivalent, but they were pretty darn good, and super cute as well.

Black and White Cookies

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk

For the Glazes
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl and set aside.

3.  Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at high speed until it is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

4.  Add the sugar and continue to mix on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through mixing to ensure that the butter and sugar are well mixed.

5.  Add the eggs and mix until combined. Again, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure that the ingredients are incorporated.

6.  Add approximately half the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until the mixture is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and buttermilk and mix until combined, about 15 seconds.

7.  Add the remaining flour and mix until combined, about 15 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure that the flour is fully incorporated. Compared with other, drier cookie doughs, this dough has a more pasty consistency.

8.  Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon measure, scoop the cookie dough about 1 inch about apart onto the prepared pans. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans once halfway through, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the pans to room temperature.

9.  While the cookies are cooling, prepare the white glaze. Sift 1 cup powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons buttermilk and mix thoroughly with a fork.

10.  Once the cookies are at room temperature, flip them over and, using a small offset spatula, spread the white glaze over one half of the bottom of each cookie.

11.  While the white glaze sets, sift 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup cocoa powder into another bowl and add 2 tablespoons buttermilk.  Mix thoroughly with a fork. Using a small offset spatula, spread the chocolate glaze onto the other half of each cookie. Allow the cookies to set for 20 minutes.

12.  Serve the set cookies immediately, or keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up

So I found out this week that I am not good at working 60+ hours a week. I thought I was going to die or kill myself, one or the other. That being said I didn't quite have enough time to bake. Although I did have time to have a drink when I got home before passing out from utter exhaustion.

Got my first Birchbox this week. I signed up late in the month so this is February's box. It's $10 a month and they send you beauty samples to try.

This box had Beauty Protector - Protect & Oil, Dr. Brandt - Pores No More - Pore Refiner, Joan Vass - L'eau de Cristal, OPI - Sheer Tints in Don't Violet Me Down, and a couple of Harney & Sons Fine Teas.

Haven't gotten a chance to try them out yet, but will let you know if it's something I can't live without.

Every Sunday as the sun starts to go down I start getting that uneasy feeling thinking about how soon my weekend is going to be over, and then I realize that The Walking Dead is about to come on! I am so glad it airs on Sunday night or it wouldn't have anything to keep it from sucking. Maybe it's the thought of facing a zombie apocalypse that makes facing the work week not so bad.

Had a friend come and stay with us this weekend from out of town and got to enjoy some time catching up, drinking, and eating. We ended up making some pulled pork tacos and skillet pizzas and a few cocktails. We made cherry old fashioned cocktails and this moonshine cocktail, where we saw on all places, bar rescue.

One of my girlfriends was sweet enough to send me this cute little cookbook. I can't wait to try out some of the recipes. I think she deserves some cookies for thinking of me.

Hopefully in the coming week I will have a little more free time to bake and experiment. I hope you all have a good week!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up

For the month of February I vowed to get more organized. I wanted to feel better, eat better, exercise more frequently, and for the most part I have been sticking to it. I've been making lists and writing everything down and even created a little inspiration board on Pinterest to look at when I was feeling less motivated. Then the other half went out of town this week and it's like leaving a teenager at home alone. Happy hours and take out are not good for my healthy, organized self.

Digging this beer brewed with dandelion from Magic Hat. I'm also a big fan of their #9.

Been catching up on House of Cards this week. Oh my lawd it's hard to stop. Watched 3 episodes in a row today before making myself turn it off.

I started reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and oh man, is he a great story teller. My first job and all through my twenties I was working in the restaurant and bar industry. I love his view on food.

I made these Bloody Hell cocktails from the Beeroness. Blood oranges, bourbon, jalapeƱos, and beer. What?! So good!!

Also made some skillet pizzas. Love this method!! Learned from How Sweet It Is, I made pulled pork and pineapple, but tried the original recipe first, which was brussel sprouts and bacon. Holy yum!

I posted Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake on the blog this week. I got from an old 70's home town cookbook.

I started running again this week and I want to work on gaining some mileage. Work is going to be extremely stressful this coming week, software upgrade, so I plan on hitting the gym to clear my mind.

Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake

This cake is simply delicious. Perfect for snacking.

I have this old hometown cookbook from the city I grew up in. I grew up in a really small town in New Mexico and this cookbook is full of recipes from the women there. The cookbook was put together in the 70’s and I have been loving flipping through all the classic recipes. I found it interesting that in reading the directions they really didn’t go into too much detail. It’s more like just mix all this together and the pour it in the pan. It makes me wonder, was this because there was just an understanding that everyone knew the technique to use, or were they just not aware that different techniques would yield different results. Maybe they didn’t care, maybe the recipes were written to just throw it all together. I love the simplicity of it all. Now the recipe that I chose to try I did re-write the directions and added a couple things, but it was still pretty easy. The cake just got better as it sat, it almost got moister, if that's even possible. Very happy with the recipe! More retro recipes to come. :)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake
By Jamie Baer

1 3/4 cups hot water
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (all I had on hand were mini's)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 13 x 9 baking pan. (I used my trusty Bak-klene bakery spray)

2. In a medium bowl, pour hot water over oatmeal, set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a hand mixer cream together butter and both brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy.

5. Beat in eggs one at a time and vanilla, then stir in cooled oatmeal. Scrape down sides as needed.

6. Beat in flour mixture until just combined (I added mine in three additions), and stir in 1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

7. Pour into prepared baking pan and sprinkle with the rest of the semi-sweet chocolate chips and pecans, and then bake for 35 to 40 minutes.


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