Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Easy Smore's Brownies

Hello! I am in a great mood today because I am graduating in FOUR days!!! Can't believe that I've made to to the end of this amazing journey and onwards to a new chapter, but I'm glad it's happening. So of course, I have to keep the selection of sweets and baked goodies coming! This is a delicious and super easy recipe for some campfire-style brownies! These take only a bunch of ingredients to throw together and produce a tasty, decadent snack that you dont have to actually build a fire for.

I started with a boxed mix from Trader Joe's for time conservation reasons. Trader Joe's Brownie Truffle Baking Mix produces a delicious, fudgy brownies and I would definitely recommend it! [Sidenote- it might seem like am a secret Trader Joe's spokesperson, but as much as I wish I could get paid for advertising them I really just love their products and value!] I cut these up into really small bites so I had 48 brownie bites in my 9 x 13 baking pan and they went like wildfire!!

mmm, gooey

Here's what you'll need:

1 (good quality) boxed brownie mix + needed ingredients (see back of box - my mix called for two      eggs and a stick of melted butter. Or if you're feeling fancy, make your brownies from scratch!)
2 cups marshmallow fluff

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Now we will get the graham cracker crust ready. To start, melt 1/2 cup of butter in a small bowl. Place pieces of graham cracker in a ziplock bag and seal. Roll a rolling pin over the cookies, which should start to break up into small crumbs. Repeat this process until all cookies have been turned to crumbs and you have enough to fill 1 cup. Save the bigger chucks for garnish.
In another small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Pour into bowl of melted sugar and mix with a fork until it is clumpy and sticks together between your fingers. Pour mixture onto bottom of brownie pan and press down with fingers.

Make brownie mix according to box directions. Pour batter into pan over graham cracker crust. Bake according to directions. Let cool and cut into pieces.
When brownies are cool, place a dollop of marshmallow fluff onto each brownie and garnish with a piece of graham cracker.

I ate mine with ice cream!!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Old- Style Lasagna

Just wanted to share some pictures of Lasagna I made on Easter!! My mom probably makes the best lasagna made by a non-Italian lady this half of the hemisphere, and I've always wanted to emulate this dish. This is a cheesy, hearty, lasagna that is always gobbled up in record speed by friends and family members alike, and I'm proud to say that mine turned out pretty good!

Easters with my family are always about getting together, celebrating the family, and of course, everyone cooking and eating their specialty dishes! As I'm away form home at school, I didn't get to see my family this Easter, but this comfort food dish definitely made me feel better about that. Maybe one year I can take over the lasagna- making at a big holiday gathering. My mom uses the recipe on the Barilla box so I tried that with a few adjustments (as usual). I used Trader Joe's no-boil noodles and the Barilla no-boil noodle lasagna recipe found here. I usually like lasagna noodles with the little frills on them, but Trader Joe's version was still delicious! I also added a couple extras that I had in the fridge like sliced cherry tomatoes, a little prosciutto, and my own pasta sauce!

I must say, I am quite pleased with myself for this one. And my roommates loved it too!! 

Take Care!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chocolate Cranberry Bars

Good Afternoon!!

Thankfully Spring-y weather has retured to Pittsburgh and this post is coming to you from outside a cafe with a cup of pineapple juice and sunshine =]. The school year is winding down with one week of classes left to go, and with my fashion show coming up (tomorrow!!) I have been super busy! But never, ever to busy to bake. I made these white chocolate + chocolate chocolate cranberry bars last week because I'm always looking to try something new! They came out delicious and were SUPER EASY because the recipe called for boxed cake mix and just a few other ingredients! I got the original recipe from Betty Crocker and modified it a bit in my usual way. These yummy bars are great as an on-the-go snack or you can eat them on the couch with friends and a movie like I did.

What you'll need:

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 Tbsp water
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup white vanilla baking chips  (6 oz)
1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom and lightly flour 13x9-inch pan, or spray with baking spray and flour.
In large bowl, mix cake mix, butter, water and eggs with spoon until dough forms (some dry mix will remain). Stir in cranberries and baking chips. Spread evenly in pan.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
Melt the chocolate by putting chips in a mug or bowl and placing inside a saucepan filled with water (like pictured below). Heat to a boil, stirring chips until melted.

Drizzle over finished bars. Cut bars 6x4.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chocolate Chip Expresso Shortbread

Even though I have been busy with an upcoming fashion show and my impending graduation, I have somehow found time (and a budget!) for some more baking! Here's a recipe I found through Pinterest from Smitten Kitchen via Use Real Butter. I've never made shortbread before and was intrigued by the espresso component, so I decided to go ahead and try them and they were delicious! The recipe seems lengthy but it was not that difficult and totally worth it!

What you will need:

1 tbsp instant espresso powder (I brewed some actual espresso and used that!)
1 tbsp boiling water
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting 

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips


Dissolve espresso powder in boiling water. Set aside to cool to tepid. 
Beat butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. 
Beat in vanilla and espresso, then reduce mixer speed to low and add flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. 
Fold in the chopped chocolate or chips with a sturdy rubber spatula or spoon. 
Using the spatula, transfer dough to a gallon-size zip-loc bag. Put bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. 
When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days. 
Preheat the oven to 325°F. 
Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. 
Transfer the squares to the baking sheets.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point (I bake one sheet at a time). 
The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.
Makes about 3 dozen.

Enjoy with some warm milk or tea!!