Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Exercise vs. sweets

So I've decided I need some routine physical activity (really not sure what I was thinking) so I've taken up jogging....got the shoes, got the stroller and the cute little pants...even got my husband all hyped up!  I have to admit, this is the first time I've done anything like this in about 7 years.  So I'm brought back to the good ol' high shool days...gym class...running the ever dreaded mile!!  ugh! I block out those memories...really!  Anyone who knows me, doesn't exactly link my name with physical activity, no!  I'm much happier on the side lines eating a cookie :)  

So, this will be day number 6!  Not bad huh?  Day 1 & 2: totally pumped!  Day 3: Got up at 6am to jog despite the gloomy rainy weather. Day 4:  I'm losing it!  I sluggishly walked while my still pumped husband ran ahead!  Day 5:  ok, I'll go...only to be supportive and encouraging to my husband.  And here we are, day 6!  And what does day six bring....two sweet treats in one day!  And now, it's past noon and still no physical activity yet.  mmmm...not really sure how my baking routine and workout routine are really gona mesh....

So I started out making a lovely lemon berry tart, which was quite tasty and looked very pretty.  Until...I cut it...  then....my insides spilled everywhere.  Apparently my curd wasn't quite what it needed to be.  SO....

I decided I'd then go back to a chocolate almond biscotti that I have tried to make several times.  I LOVE the flavor of these...kind of addicting, which is why I keep trying. They are so incredibly easy too but we start out going strong until I have to cut it into those long biscotti slices...they crumble!  But they taste sooo good!  So, as us moms often do...I decided to improvise...I CAN and I WILL make this work somehow!  So I decided to go with not so biscotti looking cookies and make regular looking cookies that I knew would taste just as good!  Hey...works for me!

So  here we are...not so biscotti looking, biscotti cookies.  The flavors of the almond and chocolate are so good!  Just enough of both...YUM!  Did I mention how super easy these are??!

Something like Biscotti cookies

1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter-room temperature
1 1/4 Cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 Cups all purpose flour
1/4 Cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Cup sliced or chopped almonds

Heat oven 350 degrees.  Beat butter and sugar until blended.  Add eggs and almond extract; beat well.  In separate bowl stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the butter mixture.  Beat until smooth.  Dough will be thick.  Stir in almonds with wooden spoon.

Form small balls of dough and place on non-stick baking sheet.  Flatten balls with the palm of your hand.  Bake for about 20-22 minutes.  They will still be slightly soft.  Let cool a few minutes on pan then cool completely on colling wrack.

Optional: melt white chocolate chips and drizzle over cooled cookies.

p.s. I'll probably make the cookies a little smaller next time than I did in the pictures :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dreaming Brownies....

Ok so maybe I shouldn't be admitting this but yes....I was dreaming of this brownie the other night and couldn't wait another day to make it!!  I found this recipe weeks ago and probably got some pretty crazy looks in the bookstore as I was drooling, and MAYBE making some funny noises over this recipe.  I've been thinking about it pretty much every day and finally after my dream I knew I couldn't wait any longer!! 

Anything that starts out looking like this is a very good start!

 If sweets were rated...this would be like rated XXX...looks like it might be a kid thing but do not be fooled, this is all out MAMAS ONLY!!  Like, invite the girls over and have some fun!

Although.....this may happen if you leave your pan unattended near a two year old!....she likes to break the rules....where did she get that from anyways??!!

Thought it was really cool how these little marshmallows puffed up in the oven....I had no idea!

Ok, I really did share with my daughter....how could I resist??  She's actually my official taste tester....mama's baking side kick!

TA-DA!!!!  What do ya think??!  Dream worthy????

**CAUTION  CAUTION** :  Lots of opportunity to get burned with this one...please be careful.  And do you see that wonderful caramel dripping down these little brownie cups???  Please....when you make that caramel and see it all melty and warm and bubbly, DO NOT get all animal-istic on me and lick your stirring spoon...really, you will lose a layer of taste buds...don't say I didn't warn you!!  Hey sister....don't go pointing any fingers, you would've too if I didn't warn you!

Hear of Darkness Brownies
From Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor 

1 1/2 Cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate baking bars
2 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar
6 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup chopped pecans (optional but suggested)
1 Cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional depending on your level of chocolate love)
5 full size (2.07 oz. each) snickers bars, cut into small chunks
3 Cups mini marshmallows

6 oz.(about 25) unwrapped caramel candies (or I found little caramel balls in the baking isle)
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray standard muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray...be careful not to spray too much or your baked goods will be soggy.  

Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together (but them both into smaller pieces, helps them melt easier) in small saucepan over medium low heat and stir until smooth.  Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl and stir in the sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Sift the flour and salt into the chocolate mixture and stir just until combined.  Stir in the chopped nuts, chocolate chips and candy bar.

Fill each cupcake cup halfway with batter. Bake until the surface of the brownies are glossy and starting to crack a little, about 20-22 min. remove from the oven.

**And just because I like you and want you to experience all life has to offer....I'm going add a little something special for you....take some of your little caramels and shove 'em down inside the top of these bad boys (why do I keep calling everything "bad boys" this week??)  Strange!**

 Top each one with 1/4 cup of mini marshmallows.  Return the brownies to the oven and cook just until the marshmallows start to melt and puff up a bit, but not browned too much...about 3 min. or so.  If you cook then too much they'll melt and be kind of flat over the top of the brownie (still taste fine).  Transfer to a wire rack to cool just enough to handle, then to remove from the cupcake cups, run a knife around the edge of each brownie to loosen it from the cup.  Let cool completely on the wire rack.

While the brownies are cooling make the caramel drizzle:  Combine the caramels, cream , vanilla and salt in a microwave safe bowl.  microwave, uncovered on high for one min.  Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth.  If the caramels are not completely melted, continue heating in 30 sec. increments, stirring until smooth.

Drizzle the brownies with melted caramel and let cool completely.  Do not chill.  Serve immediately or store in air tight container.  If eaten later throw them in the microwave for a few seconds to warm them up...so much better!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cobbler! #2

So here's the second cobbler I made....more of a traditional recipe with the dough dropped on top.  So if you're a little more into cherries than nectarines, give this a try.

I've never pitted cherries before....honestly, I don't think I EVER will again!!!  Why can't I be the person that goes and buys a can of cherries??!  I insist on making everything so difficult!

It took FOREVER!!!  AND my hands were stained and still are the next day....why didn't anyone warn me about this deathly horrible process?!  (yes, I am slightly dramatic...runs in the family)

****side note....this is the sweet little frog my husband came to show me while I was pitting these stupid things!  Isn't he the cutest???!!

As I was sitting in my daughter's dance class last night...it hits me...even through the migraine producing noise of tap shoes...tap, tap, tap....how wonderful is the combination of cherry and almond??  And then, the regret of not adding almond extract to this pretty little dish....so to save you from the same disappointment, I included almond to the recipe....do with it what you will!

Cherry Almond Cobbler
found on foodnetwork.com and tweaked by ME

6 cups tart red cherries, pitted-about 2 1/2 lbs
1- 1 1/4 cup sugar (start with 1 C. and add to taste)
1/4 cup water
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 Tablespoons butter

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 400 F.  In saucepan, combine sugar (I started with 1 cup and added more later to taste) water and cornstarch.  Cook until combined, add cherries. (after a few minutes taste and add more sugar if needed)  Stir until thick and bubbly.  Remove from heat and stir in almond extract and butter.  Pour into square baking dish.

In mixing bowl stir together flour, sugars, baking powder and cinnamon.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  In separate bowl, mix together milk and egg.  Add to flour mixture and stir with fork just until combined....don't over mix.  Drop by tablespoonfuls on top of filling.  Bake about 20-25 minutes until browned and bubbly.