Skillet S’More’s

It’s the last day of June!

Which means……holy smokes…………. 82 days until MY birthday.

*** big grin ***

Yes, I’m going to start counting down, because this birthday is going to be really special. I mean, last year, I was in Italy on my birthday – which, by far, was the best birthday EVER!

Thank you Mom and Dad :)

But this year, I’m in a new state, with my posse and my beloved J……. all that’s missing are my parents, but hopefully I can persuade them to come out, because I think know we will all have an epic time.

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I’m already planning my cake….. and you can bet your last dollar that it will contain mass quantities of chocolate :)

Skillet S’More’s – adapted from cookies and cups

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (Or cut large marshmallows in half, which is what I did)
  • 8-9 Giant Marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350°
In bowl of stand mixer beat butter and sugar together for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla and mix until evenly combined, scraping sides as needed. Add in baking soda, continue mixing until incorporated. Whisk together the baking soda, graham cricket crumbs and flour, then stir into the butter mixture.

Spread half of the dough into skillet, then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough. Top with mini marshmallows. Cover marshmallows completely with remaining dough. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.

While cookie is baking cut your giant marshmallows into thirds. Remove cookie from oven and top with marshmallows. Return to oven for 10 more minutes. If the marshmallows aren’t browned enough, turn oven onto broil and toast for 15-20 seconds until golden brown.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Malted Chocolate Chip Bars

Each morning when I wake up, the first thing I say to myself is, “Self, what are you going to do to make today memorable?” Because every day is memorable in some way or another, if you stop and think about it.

And some days, I don’t even have to try to be the one that makes it memorable. 

Why just yesterday, in fact, Dyna the Destroyer chewed up another pair of my shoes.

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So innocent when she’s sleeping……

So the day was memorable, indeed it was.

Pleasant to have teeth marks in my shoes? Not in the least.

Dang dog….. of course she doesn’t touch J’s shoes…… only mine..……

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Malted Chocolate Chip Bars – adapted from Picky Palate

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Carnation Malted Milk Powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 10 ounce chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate 
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper.
Place butter and sugars into stand mixer and beat until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine. In another bowl, whisk together flour, malt powder, and baking soda. Add to the mixer bowl along with the chopped chocolate and chips. Stir on low until just combined.
Spread the dough evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and baked through. Let cool completely then cut into bars.

Some really great dinner recipes…and two desserts

If you remember (and I’m quite sure your memory is much better than mine these days), a few weeks ago I mentioned that I have been cooking and baking every.single.night, but also have been seriously lax in procuring photographs of the finished product.

And I just realized, seriously, that we have not eaten out in three weeks. I even asked the posse for verification.

They verified.

Astounding.

Well, I finally got my act together and made my list.

I even checked it twice :)

Vegetable Strata – gourmet magazine via epicurious

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallion (I used shallots)
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • enough Italian bread cut into 1-inch cubes to measure 9 cups (about 1 1/2 loaves)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • Tabasco to taste

In a large skillet cook the onion, the scallion, and the mushrooms in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the bell peppers pepper to taste, and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated and the peppers are tender. Arrange half the bread cubes in a buttered large shallow (4 1/2-quart) baking dish, spread half the vegetable mixture over them, and sprinkle half the Cheddar and half the Parmesan over the vegetables. Arrange the remaining bread cubes over the cheeses, top them with the remaining vegetables, and sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, the mustard, the Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste, pour the egg mixture evenly over the strata, and chill the strata, covered, overnight. Let the strata stand at room temperature for 15 minutes and bake it in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it is puffed and golden and cooked throug

Sesame Noodles with Chile Oil and Scallions – Bon Appetit

  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped (I used regular black peppercorns)
  • 12 ounces spaghettini
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar

Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12-15 minutes; let chili oil cool in saucepan.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well.

Whisk tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 2-3 tablespoons chili oil (depending on desired heat) in a large bowl; season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and drizzle with more chili oil.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja – serious eats

  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup sliced, pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive brine

Season meat generously with pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the meat in a single layer (working in batches if necessary) and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is well browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer meat to slow cooker.Add broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, red pepper, garlic, and cumin to slow cooker. Season with pepper and stir to combine. Cook on low until tender, about 8 hours. Shred meat using two forks. Add olives and olive brine and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with pinto beans and rice.

Mario Batali’s Chicken Saltimbocca – Food and Wine

  • Eight 3-ounce chicken cutlets, pounded 1/8-inch thick
  • Ground pepper
  • 16 sage leaves
  • 8 slices of prosciutto
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vin santo (I used white wine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbs. butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Season the cutlets with pepper and place 2 sage leaves on each cutlet. Wrap each cutlet in a slice of prosciutto, pressing to adhere. Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in flour, dusting off the excess; transfer to a baking sheet.
Set a rack over a baking sheet. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and chicken.
Add the vin santo, stock and lemon juice to the skillet and boil over moderately high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, 4 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Pour half of the sauce into a bowl. Add half of the chicken to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until hot, 2 minutes. Season with pepper; stir in half of the parsley. Transfer the chicken to plates and pour the sauce on top. Repeat with the remaining sauce, chicken, and parsley.

Dark Chocolate Brownies – Pioneer Woman
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, whisking occasionally until smooth and melted. Sprinkle in cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Stir in sugar and vanilla until just combined. One at a time, stir in the eggs. Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir just until combined. Pour batter into a greased 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 baking pan. (Square pan will result in thicker brownies.) Spread to even out the top and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, then check the brownies with a toothpick. If it is overly gooey/messy, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes.Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into small squares.

 

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 8 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour Bundt pan; set aside. Whisk baking powder and 3 cups flour in a medium bowl. Combine sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl; using your fingertips, rub together until lemon sugar is well blended.
Add 1 cup butter to lemon sugar. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula, until mixture is light and very fluffy, about 4 minutes longer.
Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake cake until golden brown and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; remove pan and let cool completely.

Bourbon Blondies

I had the dubious task of breaking a bit of bad news to my bosses the other day.

And by “a bit”, I mean I gave them notice that I was leaving the company.

In short form, I quit. 

It wasn’t an easy thing to do, because I’ve been here for 4 1/2 years. Since day one of the business, really. And I’m going to miss them, in a strange kind of way. But the time has come for me to move on.

By moving on, I mean I’m moving away (but that’s a story for later).

So, being the nice person that I am, I made a batch of blondies to soften the blow. I figure now’s the time to be extra kind to their ravenous sweet tooth, and try out some new recipes that I’ve been saving for a rainy day. Although the temps are in the 70’s here, without a drop of precipitation in the forecast…. unlike the southern states, which are getting pummeled with ice and snow………

Anyway, these were a hit. Chewy, crunchy and sweet, I will definitely make them again. And, like all brownie/blondie recipes, they are infinitely adaptable and changeable with add-ins (i.e., chocolate chips, coconut, broken pretzels, corn flakes, etc.).

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Bourbon Blondies – adapted from serious eats

8 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted nuts, chopped
 
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8- by 8-inch pan with butter. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla; beat until well combined. Beat in bourbon. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into pan and bake just until golden and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the blondies comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

One Bowl Brownies

Every now and then I like to surprise people.

It keeps them guessing about my mental state…which lately, seems to be questionable at best….

Here’s a “for example” for you … when I first started working for my current bosses 4 years ago, I used to bring in baked goods all the time. I was very ambitious then and always had something new for them to try. Now, some of my creations they liked, some they absolutely loved, and some they wouldn’t even consider taking a bite of, but through trial and error, they learned to expand their culinary repertoire and become a little bit more adventurous.

After a while though, when circumstances in my life changed, I wasn’t baking as much and therefore the steady supply of sweets stopped.

Which, incidentally, did not go unnoticed. “How come you never bring in anything anymore?”, they’d ask. Well, because my motivation dropped and quite frankly, people around the office started expecting the little pink box to appear on my desk every day.

And, to quote, “Expectations are the root of all heartache……William Shakespeare. 

So keeping in mind that I was duly unmotivated and chafing against expectation, eventually everyone stopped asking and resorted to store bought goodies.

Sucks for them…..

Last night, however, I was inspired and motivated to bake something. I was in the midst of multitasking to the extreme and was drawn to the recipe on the back of the Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate box for One Bowl Brownies. Now, I’ve made many, many batches of brownies in my day (for evidence, click here), but for some reason, I’ve never made this particular recipe. It was, as promised, a “one-bowl recipe”, and the end results are deeeeee-licious.

My bosses were very surprised and very appreciative today.

As they should be :)

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One Bowl Brownies – adapted from Kraft

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup  butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp.  vanilla
1 cup  flour
1 cup  coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line an 8 x 8 square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Spray foil with cooking spray.

Heat chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and nuts; mix well. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely. Use foil handles to remove brownies from pan before cutting to serve.