Wednesday, February 19, 2014

NSOCM

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bourbon Brownies with Brown Sugar Bacon



This is the one and only time anything really good has come out of Nick purchasing alcohol. When he walked in with this I was a bit excited. I enjoy drinking Bourbon. The taste, and smell, the sweetness, and something just feels warm about it. So after having a sip or two of Bourbon I started to think of how I was going to get more out of this bottle.

I spent a while looking for a recipe that I really loved, but all of the brownies appeared to me as very cakey, and had about 6 eggs in them and two different kinds of chocolate. I needed something that I didn't have to go to the store for. After a long search with no results, I figured I would have to figure this out myself. I started off with a base recipe for some fudgey brownies and adapted it to really get a bourbon brownie.

These brownies are not for whoosies! They have a strong bourbon taste, verk oaky mixed with a rich chocolate taste. They are definitely for a mature palate - and someone with an acquired taste for bourbon. I like to think of them as man brownies, I mean, come on, they have bacon! This recipe could easily be changed into bacon brownies sans the bourbon and substituted with water.

  • 1 and 1/3 cup of flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup bourbon, you could also use 1/4 cup
  • 1 package of bacon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper leaving enough for an overhang. Line a baking sheet with foil for the bacon.
  2. Place bacon onto your baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Now, In a saucepan melt your butter. Once melted add your sugar, vanilla, bourbon and if you're feeling extra fun, a teaspoon of bacon grease once your bacon finishes. 
  4. In a large bowl sift together your cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add your bourbon mixture to the flour mixture and mix till just combined being sure not to over mix.
  6. Add your eggs and using a whisk, mix well. You should now have a smooth batter
  7. Chop your bacon into thin slices. Add half of the bacon into the batter and stir. 
  8. Pour your batter into prepared 8x8 pan. Sprinkle the last half of bacon onto the top of the uncooked brownies. Set aside.
  9. Using the same baking sheet, add three pieces of bacon (or however much really, this is the crispy topping) sprinkle your bacon with brown sugar and pecans. 
  10. Place brownies and bacon in the oven. Bake brownies for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist bits of brownie, but not wet. Cook bacon until crispy.
  11. Once done, cut the brown sugar bacon and pecans then sprinkle onto brownies. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"better for you" brownies


A while back Nick had his friend from Seattle come down. This friend was super health conscious. He would get visibly upset when he missed his meals at whatever designated time they were suppose to occur. Apples smeared with peanut butter anyone? Well during that time I had some fun. I got to make healthy treats that not just I would eat. But then again, Nick decided he wanted to eat it too - which left little for me usually. This guy will seriously buy 5 apples and have them rot, but if you cut up some apples, arrange it on  a plate with some yogurt mixed with cinnamon then hey! - you better make sure you make enough for him to demolish over half of that plate alongside his best friend - because suddenly, he's into that kind of thing. 

But you should have known that already. You really really should have. 

Well back to the brownies here. I was craving something sweet but I wanted to make something we would all feel good about it eating. It was easier to be more health aware when he was here because I wasn't the only one in this boat, he was too - which meant Nick wanted to hop on board as well. So after a few glasses of cheap Trader Joe's wine, I came up with this recipe. I posted it to an app called Snapguide and got almost 8.5K views and also got some mixed reviews. Well mostly good reviews actually, but there was this one (we'll call her girl) girl who told me "this was easily one of the worse recipes she's ever attempted to make" - or something along those lines - she told me it became one huge ball - I honestly do not know how that could have happened - but my thoughts and prayers are out to her - because she did something very wrong. I mean, the pictures above show that I did not come up with some huge ball, and hey - I was a little drunk too. 


This recipe is so easy - even a drunk person could do it.

Better for you brownies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Almond Flour (Trader Joes $4.00)
  • 1 Banana (preferably very ripe)
  • 3/4 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 4 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions:

  1. In a medium size bowl, add honey and dark chocolate cocoa powder.
  2. Gently mix. It won't fully combine, but that's okay.
  3. Heat your banana in the microwave for one minute.
  4. Add into your mixing bowl.
  5. Mix thoroughly. Heating the banana helps extract natural sugars and also makes it easier to mix by gently heating the honey but not enough to burn the chocolate.
  6. Add your vanilla extract, baking powder, salt and coconut oil. Mix well.
  7. Add almond flour. Mix well.
  8. Lastly, add your egg, mix until incorporated.
  9. Line an 8x8 brownie pan with parchment paper, you want the paper to come up the sides as well for easy removal.
  10. Pour batter into pan and give it a gently shake to even out. Bake in the oven at 325 for 25 - 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out with slightly gooey - but not liquidy - brownie.
  11. Let cool before removing from pan and cutting. These brownies are rich and have a mild banana flavor. They taste like a brownie but are full of better for you ingredients.
Tips/Alternatives: For moist brownies bake for 25 minutes. For moist but firm brownies bake for 35 minutes. I have made this and cut back the almond flour to 1 cup and made very moist brownies too. Add almonds, pecans or walnuts. Sprinkle with coconut or even chia seeds. Try leaving out the egg for your vegan friend - thicken up the batter for cookies maybe? Be creative! This recipe is pretty moist so you could probably go without the coconut oil, and egg as long as you use the banana. You could even cut the honey down to 1/2 a cup.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

German Apple Cake


Fall has officially hit my house and what better way to bake then to make some fresh fall fruit cake? Not that nasty fruit cake you get on Christmas, but a deliciously spiced apple (fruit) cake that supposedly was made by some Germans. I can smell it now! And I wish it wasn't already consumed when I made it last week... and ate 1/4 of it in one sitting. I felt sick the next day but hey, it was worth it. At least I had some apples, that's fruit, so it counts, right?

Well this cake is definitely interesting and if you are an experienced baker, or maybe even experienced in boxed cake, you might think that this recipe is messed up. I did. But I hadn't made anything like this before, so I gave it some hope and it was awesome!

For this cake I used some super duper in season apples from Trader Joes. They were Honeycrisp apples and man were they good. I was tempted to just keep eating them as I chopped them up. Even Nick had a few, which is a major surprise. And what was EVEN MORE SHOCKING was Nick had a slice of this. And he also had another slice the next day. I was so shocked I almost cried happy tears. He normally doesn't eat my sweets unless it's stuffed in his mouth by force. But don't get me wrong, he does like sugar, just in different forms - like in the form of beer. Lots of beer. Scratch that! I didn't say that did I? Oh well.

Did I mention how incredibly easy this is?

Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups peeled chopped honeycrisp apples (I used 2 large apples)

Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin peeling and chopping apples. I chopped mine into small chunks but you can go as big or as little as you like.
  2. In large bowl, beat eggs and oil until smooth.
  3. Add next 6 ingredients and mix well.
  4. Fold in apples, it wont look like you have enough of the cake part, but it will be fine, I PROMISE. 
  5. Pour into greased pie dish or 9 x 13 pan. I topped mine with pecans. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Oatmeal Cookies with Browned Butter




Lately, I've been obsessed with browned butter. No, I don't eat it straight, but I think maybe I could... If you haven't had browned butter you need to. What is browned butter? Basically you melt your butter in a sauce pan and you cook off the milk fats, it starts to turn brown, almost resembling beer - foam and all - and it becomes fragrant of toasted nuts. It's truly amazing and I can't stop going the "extra" step in any recipe that requires butter. When you brown your butter, I think its best to use salted. It just makes it taste wonderful when you add it with your sugar. It almost taste like toffee. Mmm!

So let's get to the point here, browned butter is awesome and it makes a wonderful addition to these Oatmeal Cookies. I had been wanting oatmeal cookies for quite some time, and when I bought Oatmeal, I bought Steel Cut Oats...completely forgetting why I was buying Oatmeal in the first place! Steel Cut Oats are awesome for a breakfast type thing, but they just dont cook up like rolled oats. So I ventured off and bought some rolled oats in hopes of an oatmeal cookie.

And it happened. Crispy edges, chewy center, nutty - cinamonny taste with a crunch of pecan. YES. This is what I wanted, which is probably why I ate 6 of them today. Six. I know, I hope I don't gain 6 pounds considering I already lost 7. That would suck!

Side Note:
This recipe does not contain little dead flies ... I mean raisins. But it can if you are into that sort of thing.


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, browned
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts or any nut (optional)

Directions:
  1. Start by browning your butter. Place your butter in a medium saucepan and crank it to medium high heat. Watch as your butter melts! ( If you are a bit more risky, crank it up to high to achieve this browned butter quicker, but if you are scared, just stick to medium high - it'll just take longer. ) Gently stir your butter until it starts becoming brown - or amber. It will start to take on a nutty smell and you will see little crispy pieces on the bottom of the pan. If you spoon some up, the color should resemble beer - a beer like Blue Moon or Belhaven. It will even have foam. Once it's done set it to the side to cool.
  2. In another bowl combine your brown sugar and egg. Stiry until it becomes nice and creamy. Now add your browned butter slowly into the bowl and stir.
  3. Now add your cinnamon, baking soda, salt and flour. Stir well. 
  4. Lastly, add your rolled oats and pecans, or chocolate chips, or maybe even cranberries? Stir to combine.
  5. This step is optional but its what I did. Place your bowl into the freezer and freeze for about 10-20 minutes, how ever long you have or can wait. This will help with scooping and help the thickness of the cookies. Preheat your oven during this time to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Roll or scoop your cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are browned and the centers have lightly set. Don't over cook these or they will just be crunch - yet still delicious - (if this happens you could crumble it onto some ice cream.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

breakfast pizza with puff pastry



I love making breakfast, cliche to say,  it's one of the most important meals of the day. But it can become redundant, even with the most creative mind, especially with picky eaters in the house. But who doesn't love pizza? And who doesn't love easy pizza that only takes a few minutes to prepare, I do!
Puff Pastry Pizza

Ingredients:
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of cheese (or more!)
  • 1 tomato
  • green onion
  • salt & pepper


    So like I said, this is super easy! Here's what you do.

1. Defrost puff pastry according to the package, or wrap in a tea towel and microwave at 5 second intervals. Be careful not to heat it to much! It should be just easy enough to lay out flat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place your puff pastry sheet on a baking tray, score the edges about an inch from the edge, this is the crust. Take a fork and prick the area of the pastry you will be placing your cheese and other toppings, this will prevent it from rising.
3. Spread your cheese out up to the crusts edges. Crack two eggs on top and lightly swirl them into the cheese with a fork and gently hand.
4. Thinly slice your tomatoes to resemble pepperoni slices. Scatter across pizza.
5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
6. Garnish with green onion and serve.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

vanilla bean frosted birthday cake


I just recently started working at a bakery, and it seems like everyone is asking me to bake them cakes outside of work all of a sudden! Where were they when I was just doing this as a side job? Well a good friend asked for a favor, and it was to make a cake for his Grandfathers 70th birthday. When it came to the cake, my friend was near clueless. So I decided to make a cake that incorporated many flavors, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Like Neapolitan but better!

For this frosting I used a product called Nielsen - Massey Vanilla Bean Paste, I had read about it before and have seen it on many cake blogs and I decided to splurge on the small jar. It tastes so wonderful and its much cheaper then buying vanilla beans and scraping out its contents. It takes your frosting to a whole new, and natural vanilla, level. Yum!

This is actually a four layer dark chocolate cake filled and frosted with vanilla bean buttercream, topped with chocolate dipped strawberries and decorated with white chocolate edible art. The buttercream gave me a bit of trouble in this Texas heat, but its nothing a quick trip in the fridge couldn't fix. The edible art helped me fix some minor imperfections and the strawberries gave the cake a vibrant touch.

Dark Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Hersheys.com

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2  eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "ESPECIALLY DARK" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings

Vanilla Bean Paste Buttercream:
Recipe adapted from FoodNetwork.com

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste (I use Nielsen-Massey)
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions :

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Top with dipped strawberries: I expected to serve 9 so I used 9 berries and placed them where the cake should be sliced. I used a ziplock bag to pipe melted chocolate on wax paper to create decorations for the sides of the cake. Super simple way to hide any imperfections!

Monday, September 9, 2013

two ingredient (healthier) "ice cream"

So this is some pretty interesting stuff right here, this is definitely something worth trying for anyone who wants to feel less guilty when cheating diets! I amped up this recipe to make it a bit more decadent but it's easily a very healthy treat without my alteration. The texture is amazing, it takes very little time, and it gets rid of those bananas that you have wasting away on the counter.

So what exactly is this stuff? I don't know. Frozen banana mash? It definitely is NOT Ice Cream, but it could fool you if you didn't know any better.

So let's get to it. Let's make this frozen - banana - mash stuff that looks like Ice Cream.

-Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe bananas. (Really it doesnt matter how many, weather its 1 or 20, I suggest at least 2 for one serving)

-Special Equipment:
  • Blender or Food Processor

-Add ins:
  • Nutella
  • Cocoa-Almond Spread
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Coco powder

Directions:

1. Get your over-ripe bananas off that counter top and be happy that you aren't gonna toss them in the trash or make some banana bread for the millionth time.
2. Peel them.
3. Slice them into coins/slices. I sliced them about 1/4 in. thick but they could be sliced thinner so they freeze quicker. 
4. Put them in a bowl, tray, plate, or pan. I used a cake pan to keep them cool even after the freezer. 
5. Place them in the freezer for about 1 hour. 
6. After an hour check them, they should be frozen already.
7. Put them in the blender or food processor and blend till it reaches a smooth consistency. 
8. Pour into the pan and freeze for 1 more hour. After an hour it should reach the perfect ice cream consistency.

If you are going to follow my alterations, skip step 8 and go back to step 7. Add in the 2 tbs. cocoa-almond spread (Trader Joes take on Nutella), or Nutella. I also added 2 tbs of  Dark Chocolate cocoa powder. Blend. Pour into pan and freeze 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

Enjoy your frozen banana mash. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

swordfish steak and haricot vert


-photo by me

Swordfish steak is like, well, the steak of fish! It has such awesome flavor, and it is very filling. It is one of the few fish that Nick will eat other then salmon, so when I had the chance, I jumped for it. I had never made swordfish before, but nick talked of his parents and how they use to eat it when he was young, Its good to get a break from the usual fish we eat (salmon) so I came up with a recipe that was quick, healthy, and easy.

Swordfish Steak and Haricot Vert
1 lime (for two steaks)
1 tbs of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tbs of black pepper
1 tbs fresh or dried parsley

Foil
Olive Oil 

2 bunches Haricot Vert
Salt and Pepper to taste
Almonds, cherry tomatoes (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set your swordfish steaks in a bowl big enough to have each lay flat. Squeeze lime juice over the top. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and parsley. Let sit while oven preheats.

Take a piece of foil long enough to fit each steak and create an envelope over the two. Place the swordfish steaks in the middle of the foil, drizzle a small amount of olive oil or a dab of buter and fold each corner of the foil inward. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep your haricot vert by trimming of any ends. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick pan and add tomatoes and haricot vert. Saute for 2 minutes and then add almonds. Sprinkled with salt and pepper. 


This recipe is very easy and quick. I enjoy recipes that I can quickly make and ones that I don't have to run to the store for! This took very little effort and hardly any clean up (the best part)


german pancakes with crushed berries

 -photos by me

I love breakfast foods and often I find myself being the most creative with breakfast food because you can combine so many things with eggs, there are endless pancake recipes, and its so easy to make something more healthy and interchange ingredients.

I read about German Pancakes in Mens Health magazine, they deemed these pancakes as an easier, more impressive version of a pancake, and I think they are exactly that. When they come out of the oven they are puffed up and lightly set back leaving a rippled texture that just make them look more interesting to eat. And why they were featured in Mens Health? Probably because it was an easy recipe, so easy, a man could do it! All jokes aside, this recipe is quick, easy and delicious.

German Pancakes
Recipe adapted from RealSimple.com

Ingredients :
  • large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk, preferably whole
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Directions: 
  1. Heat oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to combine. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the milk, salt, and vanilla and mix until incorporated; set aside. 
  2. Add the butter to a large cast-iron skillet and transfer to oven until the butter melts. Remove from oven and quickly pour the batter into the hot skillet. Return to oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.

Adaptions:

Instead of using a cast-iron skillet, I use two round cake pans (8x8's) I use the 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter by halving it and putting one tablespoon in each cake pan. When the butter has melted, I pour half the batter into each pan and cook for the same amount of time, 15 minutes.



I then serve it with a light dusting of powdered sugar with lightly crushed berries that I have microwaved for about a minute to extract juices to serve as a 'syrup' like sauce.

- serve with nutella and berries
- a drizzle of lemon and sugar
- warm bananas and cinnamon
- butter and sugar
- jam or marmalade
- maple syrup


I hope you find the time to make this recipe, It can be doubled and made in different pans for a different effect and texture!