Thursday, February 14, 2013

spicy spiced brownies

i am inspired! and i love being inspired :)

you know what's great when you're passionate about something?
no amount of failures or disappointments can stop you.

i cannot tell you how many disasters i've had in the kitchen.
i literally could not count them all!

but no matter how many failures i had,
i still have hope that the next thing i make is going to be great.
and not just great.... possibly the most amazing thing i've made yet!

why not? :)

i hope you feel inspired this valentine's day!
to pursue something or someone that you love,
with no fear of failure or disappointment,
but with that reckless abandon
that only comes when you are INSPIRED! :)


recipe via smitten kitchen

yields about 24 brownies

1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
(dark if you have it!)
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
11 oz dark chocolate (60% - 72% cocoa), coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon instant espresso
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
5 eggs, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
butter the sides and bottom of a 9x13" glass baking pan.

2. in a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, cocoa powder
and spices (chipotle, cinnamon & cardamom) together.

3. put chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl 
and set over a saucepan of simmering water, 
stirring occasionally, until they are melted and smooth.

(i cheated and did this in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds) :)

4. turn off the heat, but keep bowl over the water and add sugars.
whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan.
the mixture should be room temperature.

5. add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
add remaining eggs and whisk until combined.
add vanilla and stir until combined.
*do not overbeat batter at this stage!

6. sprinkle flour mixture over chocolate mixture.
using a spatula (not the whisk), fold the flour mixture 
into chocolate until just a bit of the flour is still visible.

7. pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
bake in center of oven for 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through,
until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs.

8. let brownies cool completely. 
serve & wish everyone you know a happy happy valentines day :) xo

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

acai breakfast bowl

i can't stop thinking about the most amazing acai bowl i had from backyard bowl.

recipe via yummy mummy

makes about 1.5 cups
(1 large bowl or 2 small bowls)

7oz frozen acai 
(available in freezer section at whole foods)
1 cup frozen fruit OR
2 cups loose packed spinach
ice cubes
1 banana
1/4 cup granola
1/4 cup fresh berries (optional)


1. blend acai, fruit, spinach and a couple of ice cubes in a a blender until smooth.

2. top with slices bananas, fresh fruit, and granola.

3. enjoy! :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

vanilla bean ice cream sandwiches

i've been dreaming of getting an ice cream maker since last summer.
but honestly, how could i justify it??
i don't have the space.
i would likely use it only a few times a year.
the list went on and on.

and then i realized. I CAN TOTALLY JUSTIFY THIS!
life is short and i'm pretty sure i NEEDED an ice cream makers.
(i obviously learned NEED vs WANT very well. my mom would be proud!)

so, since i ordered my kitchenaid ice cream maker attachment,
i've been pretttttty obsessed.

i'm only on my third batch of ice cream, but so far all have been successes!

this was my first batch (vanilla bean)
i've also made espresso and maple syrup,
but i'll share the deets on those next week.

i can't wait for summertime!!!!


both recipes courtesy of the ever inspiring martha stewart :)

vanilla bean ice cream

8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups skim milk
1 vanilla bean split and scraped
2 cups heavy cream


1. in a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together egg yolks, 
sugar and salt until blended. gradually whisk in milk.

2. cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon,
until custard thickens slightly and evenly coats the back of a spoon
about 10-12 minutes.

3. stir vanilla bean seeds into custard.
cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

4. pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl set over ice.
stir in cream. let stand, stirring occasionally, until chilled.
(you can also pop it into the fridge at this time to speed up the process)

5. churn in your ice cream maker for about 20-30 minutes 
or until it's the consistency of fro-yo.

***TIP: i watched this video for a bit of prep/research***

6. you'll want to scoop your ice cream into freezer safe 
containers and fully freeze your ice cream before enjoying! :)

mini-chocolate chip cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips


1. preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
add sour cream, egg, and vanilla, beat until smooth.
with mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture.
mix in 1 cup chocolate chips.

3. using 1 rounded tablespoon per cookie, 
drop mounds of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart on your baking sheets. 
(this should make about 25-30 cookies)
bake until golden, 10-12 minutes.
transfer to a rack to cool completely.

4. scatter remaining chocolate chips on a plate.
place about 2 tablespoon ice cream between 2 cookies,
bottoms facing in, press slightly.
roll the sides of each sandwich in chips

(this was a bit messy! place a tray in your freezer ready 
and waiting for your sandwiches as they are being made!)

5. freeze sandwiches until firm, about 2 hours.
then enjoy!!!

i don't have a pic of the final product.... SORRY!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

peanut butter & jelly cupcakes

a couple of weeks ago i cleaned out my car.
first of all, this was a complete miracle.
second of all, you probably haven't noticed because it's dirty again.

regardless, i found some pretty amazing treasures in my trunk.
let's just say it has a special knack for collecting random things,
and then storing them there for years and years at a time.

my life could pretty much be summed up with this quote:

"one of the advantages to being disorderly is that one 
is constantly making exciting new discoveries" 
~ a a milne

well, one of these 'exciting new discoveries' was an album 
of about 100 old CD's that i probably hadn't seen in a good 8+ years.

some of them were legit CDs... but just old (boys to men, ace of base, etc)
but i would say a good 75% of them were mix tape style... 
a random compilation of songs that now mean nothing to anybody.

although i'm sure they were significant at the time.
 i tossed most of these in the garbage immediately.

i did decide to keep a handful that had intriguing titles... 
like 'breakup mix' 'mixture mix' and 'a little bit of this and a little bit of that' 
(hilarious, i know)

so i popped one of these albums into my CD player 
during a long drive a couple of weeks back.
but YESTERDAY when i played the CD again 
(totally forgetting it was in even in the player)

this is not a joke friends. 
i don't know who i was 10 years ago or who i was friends with, 
but this song got on a playlist. 

i can't decide whether i'm embarrassed or just the funniest person of all time.


moving right along.

when i was put in charge of a 'sweet treat' for our superbowl party, 
it took a while to get inspired... but finally the lightbulb went on, 
and i knew i had to make a peanut butter and jelly cupcake. obviously.

it was definitely a 99% peanut butter cupcake with a dollop of jelly,
but nonetheless enjoyable, especially if you're a pb lover :)

 recipe via martha stewart

cupcake ingredients
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

cupcake directions

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
line muffin tins with paper liners.

2. whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3. cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
add peanut butter and beat well.
add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. mix remaining wet ingredients in a bowl, including vanilla and sour cream.
add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, 
alternating with wet ingredients and end with the dry ones.
scrape sides of bowl and divide batter among muffin cups,
 filling each to the top.

5. bake cupcakes about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
cool on wire racks and frost (see below)

frosting ingredients
6 oz cream cheese
1/3 powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
raspberry or strawberry jam :)

frosting directions

1. beat cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium.
add salt, then peanut butter, then vanilla.
whisk cream until soft peaks form, and then fold into peanut butter mixture.
use immediately, or cover and refrigerate.

enjoy :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

change your life bruschetta

i've been really good at making friends lately.
my nights have been filling quickly with coffee dates, happy hours, and new friends.

i love getting to know people.
there is something fun about learning them...
their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their personality quirks.

and don't you love that we're all so different???! 

PTL not everyone is exactly like me.
the world would be a horrible place!!! :)

in other news. this bruschetta changed my life.
i had it at a dinner party a couple of weekends ago,
and had to recreate it myself the following week because 
i could not stop thinking about how amazing it was. 
thank you pioneer woman!

recipe via the pioneer woman

1 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved 
1 pint yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
16 whole basil leaves, roughly chopped
salt & pepper
1 baguette
8 tablespoons butter


1. in a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute, 
removing garlic before it gets too brown.
pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

2. add tomatoes, balsamic, basil, salt & pepper.
toss to combine, then taste and add more basil, salt and pepper if needed.
cover and refrigerate for an hour or two (if you have time).

3. cut baguette into diagonal slices 
to allow for the most surface area possible.
melt half the butter in a large skillet and grill half the bread 
on both sides, making sure they are nice and buttery.
cook until golden brown on each side.
repeat with other half of butter and other half of bread.

(you can also brush your bread slices with butter or olive oil for a 
healthier version and broil them in the oven until just toasted and golden.)

4. to serve, give tomato mixture a final stir, 
and spoon generous portions over the bread.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

chocolate cinnamon sugar cookies

valentine's day... a perfect excuse to make adorable sweet treats. duh!

instead of a classic sugar cookie... i decided to go the chocolate route.
these cookies have a cinnamony crunch to them
and are perfect to top with all your favorite decorations :)

recipe via pioneer woman

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened


1. combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa powder in a bowl.
whisk together and set aside.

2. in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
add flour/cocoa mixture in tow or three batches,
mixing well after each addition.

3. place dough into a large ziploc bag and flatten slightly.
seal and refridgerate for two hours.

4. to make cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
remove dough from bag and place on a floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. 
roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with a heart cookie cutter.
consolidate and re-roll dough as you go.

5. place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
bake for 12 minutes or until set (but not browning at all)
remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

6. decorate with a chocolate buttercream frosting 
or anything else your heart desires.

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