Category: treats

Rocky road (of life) brownies.

Guys, I’m sorry. I’m trying really hard to keep up the posts here, but honestly I haven’t been inspired. I’m hoping for some sweet Valentine’s Day inspo soon, but right now the rivers of ideas in my brain have run dry.

However, today, we shall feast like kings.

Rocky road brownies with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

So this happened. Yup. I was sitting home Saturday night, thinking how much I’d love a brownie. Then I saw the marshmallows I made. And the Oxo container filled with walnut halves. And I thought, “Why just REGULAR brownies? Why not SUPER BROWNIES?!” And then while writing this, I realized… rocky road… rocky road of life… because you know, I’m sitting here being dramatic and pouting that I haven’t posted enough at the blog this year (so far). *siiiiiiigh*

The really cool thing about these is that they’re 100% made from scratch. I mean, I didn’t grow the cacao or the walnuts. I probably could- I had an aunt who had a walnut tree in her yard. But I made the marshmallows from scratch, and the brownies. Pretty neat. They’re as homemade as you can get. Look at them:

Rocky road brownies; covered with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

Right? RIGHT?! Insanity. Insane in the membrane. Intensity in 10 cities.

Imagine, if you will, these babies crumbled- or just plunked- on ice cream. I know. Stop. Your brain is gonna explode. Calm down.

Do they make up for the lack of posts from me?

Rocky road brownies; homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts topping rich chocolate brownies.

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Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with brandy icing and sugared cranberries.

Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with sugared cranberries.

So, hey guys… I made some mini-bundt gingerbread cakes. Cutest little things. And add to them some cute little sparkly sugared cranberries. Ugh. Forget it. Are visions of sugarplums- or sugared cranberries- dancing in your head? It’s Christmastime, folks! I know! So exciting. It’s such a busy time of year, I know, but I hope you all take some time to spend with your families and friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget that not only are we all human- but what’s important.

Beautiful things don’t always have to be complicated. Simple is beautiful too. And I promise you that these little mini gingerbread bundts are simple. Don’t be scared by the sugared cranberries!

Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with sugared cranberries.

Gingerbread is so Christmas, it’s practically mandatory. If you let a holiday season go by without making gingerbread, it’s almost sacrilegious. I decided to up the ante and add another holiday favorite: cranberries. And let’s not forget brandy, another holiday staple.

So yeah. Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes. They’re so beautiful… and also just plain adorable. But SIMPLE. Just a few ingredients, a little bit of mixing and tossing and whisking and voila. Gorgeous little cakes to serve after a holiday meal. And they’ll make you feel all Martha Stewart-y.

Mini-bundt gingerbread cakes with sugared cranberries.

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Classic Christmas chocolate chip cookies!

Wow, look at that alliteration in the title. Enough to bring a tear to an English teacher’s eyes. Okay, anyway… cookies! It’s that time of year! Everyone is baking away this month. Between Hanukkah and Christmas and all the parties and events that are going on, there are a LOT of cookies being passed around. Sometimes they’re traditional “Christmas” cookies- gingerbread men, gingerbread trees. Or maybe sugar cookies in the shape of a Star of David with blue icing. I remember making cookies and confections with my mom by the dozen- magic bars, sugar cookies, stroufala, gingerbread, Russian tea cookies, etc. It was the most fun thing ever.

But what about the classic chocolate chip cookie? How come that doesn’t have a bigger place in our Christmas baking?

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A Christmas cookie classic.

Who DOESN’T love a good chocolate chip cookie?! These particular cookies happen to have oats in them, which makes them a little heartier and not just your average chocolate chip cookie. The oats make them a bit chewier, which is nice. Plus they transport well, and are easy to store- not delicate at all!

Perfect for kids, teachers, whoever you want to bake up a gift for.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • one 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets with vegetable oil.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in in a small bowl.
  3. Beat together shortening, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and rolled oats. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes for a soft chewy cookie or 12-14 for a more “Chips Ahoy” texture.
  5. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A Christmas classic cookie.

I like using wide mouth Ball or Kerr jars to gift them in. Just stack ’em up in the jars once they’re cooled, close the jars with lids & bands and then tie pretty ribbons and gift tags on them. I also like using cardboard pastry boxes from places like Pick Your Plum or Wilton. It just dresses them up a little.

Can I tell you that these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever? They are. My co-workers are STILL TALKING ABOUT THEM and I brought them in the week of Thanksgiving. I am not joking. I’ve had requests for them every day since.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!

If you want to make them look a little more festive, you can replace the chocolate chips with either red & green M&M’s or Nestle’s red & green colored semi-sweet morsels. You can also add nuts if you like. They’re great the way they are, but a little cookie experimentation never killed anyone.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

  Suggestions for use: eat ’em!
Soundtrack: “Merry Christmas” – The Waitresses
Sources & credits: 16 ounce (pint) Kerr wide mouth jar; freshpreserving.com

Dutch apple-pumpkin crisp.

One particularly nasty, cold, and quite rainy afternoon in late October, I decided to use the remainder of my leftover pumpkin puree and the apples I had left (that were barreling straight towards being “too soft to use”). I knew I had to use up both of these things sooner rather than later, and I couldn’t imagine in what way I’d do it. Two apples aren’t really enough for a pie, and these weren’t pie apples anyway. And one scant cup of pumpkin puree is probably enough for muffins or cupcakes, but… been there, done that, yanno? How many pumpkin muffins can one person eat!?!?

I contemplated pumpkin-applesauce, but two small apples aren’t really enough for a good amount of sauce. I didn’t think it was worth the effort.

Dutch apple-pumpkin crisp.

Thankfully, Google is our friend. I found this recipe by Betty Crocker and adapted it to suit my needs (I do not currently own a microwave). It’s a great way to use up leftover pumpkin puree that may or may not be on the verge of tossing, and maybe a few straggler  “soft spotted” apples, too.

I love making these “crisps” or “breakfast thingies.” I’ve made summer stone fruit versions, and berry varieties that were more cake-y. The addition of oats not only makes it heartier but makes it versatile; it almost screams HAVE ME FOR BREAKFAST, TOO! And it’s so cool and autumn-y out. The leaves are all pretty reds and yellows. Ya just need somethin’ like this to eat on a November morn.

dutchapplepumpkincrisp3

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Ossi di Morto and Day of the Dead.

Feliz Día de Los Muertos, everybody! And if you’re a person of faith, Happy All Souls Day. Today is a date on the calendar that holds a lot of tradition and meaning, in many cultures.

Ossi di Morto cookies, aka bones of the dead.

Traditionally, these cookies are Italian cookies used to celebrate All Souls Day, which is today. The name is Ossi di Morto or Ossa de Mordere, and that means “bones of the dead.” Because of the tie-ins between Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and All Saints Day/All Souls Day, my idea was that they’d be a fantastic way to celebrate both days and both celebrations together, as one. They are so similar it seems only right… and we’ll get to that in a sec.

OSSI DI MORTO, aka bones of the dead cookies.

Growing up, my nana told me all about All Souls Day. My nana was 100% Irish, born to a mother who was a first-generation American, and her mother in turn was right off the boat so to speak. The tales and superstitions were a plenty. I grew up hearing all about them, and all about the reverence and respect for the dead this time of year is about. Traditionally, today is a Christian day to remember the souls of the departed, which to Catholics is known as the Commemoration of The Faithful Departed. Its a day to pray for those who’ve passed on, to remember them. You may be thinking, “Uhm, thats the same thing that the Day of the Dead is.” And you’re right. But you might not know that originally, the Day of the Dead was celebrated in summertime.  During the 16th century Spanish colonization, Mexicans moved their celebrations of Día de Los Muertos to October 31, November 1 and 2 to coincide with the triduum of All Saint’s Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. November 1st is All Saints Day, however in Mexico it’s known as Día de Los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) or Día de Los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) and is primarily honoring deceased infants and children. The prayers were traditionally posed to the goddess known as Lady of the Dead, now known as La Calaveras Catrina– the popular skeleton woman we see in drawings and depictions.

Of course, the Mexican way of “celebrating” these days are actual celebrations; food- yes, those sugar skulls too, parties, parades, decorating ancestors graves and of course prayer too. The Catholic version of All Souls Day is more somber, however in Italy they do light candles in the streets and have a bigger, louder celebration of today than perhaps most other Europeans. Brazilians also have a similar way of celebrating today, they call it Dia de Finados and it’s a public holiday.

I did grow up loosely Catholic- so I’m well aware of the ins and outs of these days and I prefer the Mexican version myself, even though I am not of Mexican heritage.

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This is Halloween!

Well I do sincerely hope you’re all decorated and ready for tomorrow. I hope you have your costumes, your candy and treats, and scary movies ready. And I also hope you’ve carved your jack-o-lanterns too! Don’t disappoint me, people.

My jack-o-lanterns are all carved up. See?

Trick or.... treat.

the 2015 jack-o-lanterns!

Every year I try and do something new or unique; last year I did Oogie Boogie & a dapper pipe-smoking pumpkin man in a fedora, the year before I did a cat and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas, and the year before I did Edgar Allan Poe. And before that I did the Bride of Frankenstein and more (sadly the photos were shit because my old camera wasn’t the best). Some of those just can’t be topped, really, so this year I decided on doing just text, or typography. They came out pretty cool, I think.

I especially like the background effect of the “trick or treat” pumpkin. How did I do it? I carved “trick or” backwards on the top of the back of the hollowed-out pumpkin- after carving “treat” on the front. Ta-da! Instant pumpkin magic. Just be careful, measure carefully. You don’t want to see the back text through the cut-outs in the front.

In case you’re also in desperate need of some last minute edible inspiration, I’m here to help. Halloween party? I got you. Just lookin’ for some treats for the kids? Gotcha. A more adult take on Halloween? Yep. That too. Take a peek:

Have a (safe and) spooky night tomorrow. In the spirit of such, here’s my mother and I in the early 90’s… the original Hocus Pocus?

My mom and I in the early 90's- the original Hocus Pocus!

Roasted pears with a whole bunch of good shit.

Maple brown sugar roasted pears with bourbon whipped cream!

Usually this time of year is filled with Halloween-themed posts. I don’t usually do many non-Halloween things, because I love Halloween and for the entire month of October my life is ruled by all things Hallows Eve. But this year, I found my inspiration lacking. I had a lot of other ideas- like that apple pie– and I wanted to do those. So pardon me for deviating from my norm. I promise you won’t be mad, though, cause these recipes are FIRE.

Yes, I did just say that. But how can you go wrong with maple & brown sugar ANYTHING??

Pears!

This all started when I bought a bunch of pears and had no clue what I was going to do wth them. I ended up making some small-batch jam (which you’ll see in a few weeks or so) and then I left the rest until they were getting mushy. I kept saying, “I’m gonna make a pear cake.” I swore up and down I was making a cake with them. I felt them every day, said to myself “Ugh, they’re getting too soft…” then laziness took over and I never did anything with them.

Peeling pears to roast with maple syrup & brown sugar.

Indy loves pears, and he had some major oral surgery, so I promised him one of the softest ones. But that left me with two more. So I said, “Self, we’re finally gonna do something with these pears!” I mean, I can’t let the fruit flies have them. And so I did this. Roasted pears. Maple & brown sugar roasted pears. With bourbon whipped cream. Made with a lil brown butter of course.

And the whipped cream, because I mean, why not? I love bourbon whipped cream.

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