Friday, February 20, 2009

let them eat....pie?

Lent is among us, people. Yes, that time of fasting and giving-up delicious things for all us Catholics is coming near. What will I blog about during Lent?! Real food?? Sheesh...I really don't know if I can handle that.

Sooo, Spring Break has officially begun! Why they call it Spring Break in February is really beyond me...but hey, I'm not gonna complain. Being at home-home before heading off to Florida with some friends in a few days, my mom requested that I make a dessert, as she pelted a pie crust mix at me.

Okay, okay, she didn't exactly launch the box at me and, really,
it never really did fly mid-air, but her request for pie tonight was pretty strong.

So away I went, making chemical pie crust and rolling it out. And yes, pie crust and I are still on bad terms, even when I have a mix to help me out. Oh well. Can't be in love with every aspect of baking, right?

And there it is! I really don't like fluting pie crust edges, because I never can seem to get it right for some reason. So due to my fluting-deficiency, I chose to fold down the jagged edges...for simplicity's sake.

Oooh, look at the yummy pineapple. No, this did not go into the pie, though the idea of pineapple cream pie does sound pretty delicious. Hmmm, maybe that will be a post-Lent challenge. :)


Yessss. Nice n' ugly. Just the way I like it.

Hmm, so what next? Melted chocolate, of course. This chocolate layer got kind of hard once the pie was finished, and it tasted like biting into one big chocolate chip. Yummm.

Next: sliced bananas, to be lov-ely layered over the chocolate....

What next, what next? Vanilla pudddding...which kind of had an eerie neony yellow aurora to it. Hmmm, strange. Yay chemicals. They'll preserve us for later, you know.

So by now, you might have noticed a fishy in the background of some of these pics. Please meet, Sam, my new finny friend! Yes....Lance has had a...err, "burial to sea", if you will, as of a few weeks ago. Poor baby. :(

So during my four years at college, I've learned something. No, nothing to do with Organic Chem, Calclueless, or Human Phys. I've learned that I am a fish person. Sure, I'll probably want to get a puppy-friend once I have my own home one day, but for now, fishes are where it's at. Goldfish, more precisely. They're just so plump and gold and happy. I just love seeing Sam flippin' and floppin' in his tank. :)

This recipe on Allrecipes.com called for a whopping 1 1/2 cups of coconut. Not being a huge coconut fan, I felt the need to find a solution to this dilemma. Enter, Resee's PB Cups.

And I guess while I've been away from home-home, my fam has become fans of the TV show,
30 Rock. They enjoy quoting the show, to much of my confusion...as I have no TV-life beyond The Office and Food Network. But anyways, I have picked up on one 30 Rock quote, and I feel that it applies to this situation. So in the words of Tina Fey.....

"I want to go to there."

Behold: the aftermath of The Great Resee's Chop. Eep. Looks like some kind of crime scene or something. Or...like a Chocolate Monster took over. These chopped Resee's got folded into the vanilla pudding. I could've used a few more mixed in there, but there was a limited supply. But anyway, still delicious just the same.

Top it all off with whipped cream, and you've got yourself a great way to kick-off Spring Break. :)

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie
Altered from Chocolate Banana Cream Pie from Allrecipes.com

1 9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled
2 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. butter
2 bananas, sliced
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 (3.5 oz.) package instant vanilla pudding mix
Resee's PB Cups, chopped
1 1/2 cups whipped topping

Combine chocoalte, 1 tbsp. milk, and butter in a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Spread evenly in pie crust.

Arrange banana slices over chocolate.

Pour 1 1/2 cups milk into large bowl. Add pudding mix, and beat with wire whisk for 2 minutes. Stir in chopped-up Resee's. Spoon over banana slices in crust.

Spread whipped topping over pie. Refrigerate. Devour.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

happy valentine's <3

Ohhhh, V-day...what a perfect excuse to bake something cutesy for the special people in your life (if your single) or your hunny (if you're not). In my case, I've got five super duper housemates that deserved something sweet in their life............me.

Gah, just kidding, people. What they needed were heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies, of course. So I decided to put my perfected bar cookie recipe to good use and jazz it up a bit for the special day.

Ohhhh, and can you find the heart in the cookie above?? Kinda like "Where's Waldo", huh? :)


Ummm, so I am....ashamed? Proud? Yes. I am proud that I concocted these puppies between the hours of 4 and 5am on a Thursday night...errr, morning. Granted, I did not have class the next day, thank God, or else I would've been one heck of a sorry soul. For that reason, these V-day surprises needed to be concocted sans mixer, in order to prevent wakage of those unsuspecting housemates.

Muahaha. How sneaky.

Mmmmm, I love love cookie dough. I don't know where that came from, exactly. Maybe from the fact that Valentine's Day is the time to express your undying love for someone. Or....something. :D

You know what else I love? As in a lot? When Meijer has sales on cake mixes and cans of frosting for only A DOLLAR each! Heck, what a bargain. Yeah, yeah, I know homemade frosting is so much deliciouser than the canned stuff. But really, when you're in a crunch, and it's 5am, and you're finally getting a tinsy bit sleepy, this stuff really does the trick...a life saver, really.


Ohhhhhh yeeeahhhh. Look at that shiny gleam. Those seductive creamy curves. Those candy sprinkles of deliciousness just waiting to be crunched and nom nom nomed into. So good, so good. And even better when smoothered a top a freshly baked HEART-shaped cookie.

Look how cute they are!!! I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of my free-hand cutting of these hearts. They came out nicely whimsical. The key to a clean cut heart is to freeze the tray of cookies almost immediately after they're finished baking for about a half hour. You don't want these guys too frozen, though, or else it'll be just as difficult to cut them into shapes as when they first popped out all warm and gooey from the oven. It's a delicate balance, really, between partial frozen-ness and rock-hard-I-could-use-this-puppy-as-a-weapon hardness.

See? Ta-DA! So cute. And even cuter when frosted and chocolate chipped. This can be done as you please and with whatever ingredients are begging to be used that day. Some other ideas besides frosting and chocolate chips?

Melted peanut butter
Hot fudge
Chocolate shavings
Sprinkles
Chopped up candy bars
Chopped up malt balls
Chopped peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc.

Use your imaganation, I believe in you :)



V-day Lovers Cookies


One recipe Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
1 can frosting, your choice...I chose rainbow chip, just for those happy sprinkles
Chocolate chips

Prepare Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars as directed in link above. Cool finished baked product in freezer for 30 minutes. With a sharp knife, cut heart-shaped cookies out of the cookie bars. Reserve scraps for another use...or eat them now. Or save them for your friends. Or put some peanut butter on them already, gosh dangit.

Take your heart cut-outs and frost 'em up. Decorate as you will with chocolate chips.

Nom nom nom. <3

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

eat me if you like chocolate a lot a lot

Oh my goodness. These are good. No, like really good. And it's kinda monumental that I actually made a cookie not in bar-form! Leah kinda crushed my pride, though, when she reminded me that biscotti are, in fact, formed into a long bar before they are cut into slices. Fine, fiiiine. But hey now, I feel like I deserve at least some credit for deviating from the 13x9 pan. :)

So the inspiration for this recipe came from two sources: 1. Foodgakwer.com, a phenomenal site where all your food-blogging dreams can come true, and 2. The lonely-looking almonds sitting in the back of my cupboard. And really, what can get better than sweet decadant chocolate and lightly salted almonds? Not much, my friends, not much.

Actually...I could think of a few things that are better than the chocolate + almond combination, but this mix is pretty dang good. So let's not question deliciousness, okay? :)

So those of you who might be intimidated by biscotti.....do not fear! Bascially, it's just like an ordinary cookie except you mold the dough in log-form (as pictured above...and which looks like something questionable, use your imagination), bake 'em, slice 'em, and then bake 'em again. My grandma is an expert biscotti-baker, but she would shudder if she knew that I made them chocolately. She makes biscotti using anise extract, which is the traditional Italian way to bake up these treats. Don't get me wrong, they are so so delicious, but we all need a little chocolate in our lives, right? And especially with Valentine's Day right around the corner.

But really, though, whoever invented the biscotti....Mr. Biscotti, or whoever, probably rolls over in his grave every time a chocolate biscotti is baked. Yes, chocolate biscotti could be a form of heresy, but I'm willing to risk that.

Sheesh. Look at all those biscotti...layin' around on that baking pan without shame, like they gots no care in the world. They should be ashamed of themselves.

So if you end up making these puppies, really let them cool for awhile before slicing them. I was a little too eager to get these done, so I started slicing too early, resulting in a few broken biscotti. Anita and I took care of those no prob, though...

...and then we proceeded to schmear some peanut butter on those broken biscotti. Because......SAY IT WITH ME....everything is better with peanut butter on it!

This is fact.


And here they are, the biscotti beauties!!! I didn't second-bake them for the full 10 minutes like the recipe said, though, because I didn't want them super hard and crunchy.

Ohhh, they're like...a Lincoln Log house of biscotti! Or a new version of Jenga! Sigh.....yessss, I play with my food. I suppose I'll never really grow up.


Chocolate Almond Biscotti

adapted from Gourmet, December 1994

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted and cooled
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour a large baking sheet.

In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in almonds and chocolate chips.

On prepared baking sheet with floured hands form dough into one slightly flattened log, about12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Bake log 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.

On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool biscotti on a rack. Biscotti keep in airtight containers 1 week and frozen, 1 month.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

insomniac shortbread

Okay, okay, so I don't mean to steal Insomnia Cookies' brand name, but bear with me here. For those of you who are not aware, Insomnia Cookies are a fabulous invention that await at a college campus near you! And for those of you who are at college, then you are in luck, my friends. Basically, there is this shady-looking truck that lurks in dark corners in front of college dorms and social centers...example: The Michigan Union, South Quad, West Quad, etc. You go up to the shady little window, knock the secret code, and there you will find the most delicious cookies of multiple varieties at your purchasing convenience!

Okay...so there's no secret knock, but that would be pretty sweet if there was. But anyway, basically Insomnia Cookies is your tool to successful study-fuel; your go-to sweet treat if the
stress is hot n' heavy and midterms are among you.

And now it sounds like I am writing a commercial for Insomnia Cookies. I mean, they are
delicious, don't get me wrong, but when you really come down to it, it's this simple relationship that helps me chose which cookie to buy when I've got the urge:


No offense, Insomnia, but just look at that wacky cookie you've got going on there. Sheesh. Modernity is really taking its toll on the cookie industry. What's this world coming to?!

Wow. Am I off topic or what? But this is totally legit because it is very late at night, and I am putting off this terrible lab report that is due tomorrow at 5pm. It's 1:30am, FYI. But as my friend Elizabeth says, "If you only have 15 hours to finish a lab report, it can only take you 15 hours." Such wisdom, that girl has. Ah, the life of the college student. Welcome to my world. :)

So sometime between 10 and 11pm, I thought it'd be a brillant idea to bake something, that mayhaps baking would take my stress away...magically leaving me with the sudden inspiration to type brilliant motor control-related conclusions.

WRONG.

Dang it. But I did get a yummy new bar-cookie out of this unproductive night, which I am calling Insomniac Shortbread in honor of my mad procrastination abilities.


Insomniac Shortbread
Altered from La Fuji Mama's
Brown Sugar Shortbread

1 stick butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
White chocolate chips
Raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mash together the butter, flour, and sugar. Press into bottom of pan. Spread as much preserves as you'd like over cookie. Sprinkle on those chocolate chips. Really, any kind would taste fab here. Be creative!!!

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until brown around the edges. Devour as you please. I swear I won't judge you.