Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blondies Have More Fun!!

By the time this post is published it will probably officially be March. You know what that means, right? Spring is coming!! In like a lion, out like a lamb as they say, and I can't wait for the cute fluffy lamb that is Spring to frolic back into the Pittsburgh area and bring some sun with it! 

Until I can have mild, sunny days and sunshine, I've been contenting myself with lots of baked goods. Now this isn't the best of things for my Spring Break bod, but the great thing is I share everything I make and spread the love (and calories) around! I was really on a brownies and bars kick in February and decided to switch things up and try some blondie bars, which are basically brownies except not cocoa-based and with more fun fillings. Or like a chocolate chip cookie bar. In this case, a white- and milk-chocolate-chip-craisin cookie/blondie bar! Easy stuff, right? I based my recipe on Guy Fieri's Blondie with Dark Roots recipe because, who doesn't love the show Diner, Drive-ins and Dives? I also tweaked it a lot to go with what I liked and because a little recipe experimentation never hurt anybody, well not yet, anyway. Go ahead and add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of whatever nuts, chocolate, or other fun cookie filler you like (coconut, banana chips...go wild!)

Here's what you will need:

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi sweet or milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup craisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use tablespoon of butter to grease the sides of a 9 by 13 baking pan.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. 

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese together until fluffy (Can use hand mixer, stand mixer, or good ol' whisk and willpower). Add packed brown sugar and continue beat until well incorporated. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix in dry flour mixture just until it appears well mixed (can't see anymore dry flour in batter). 

Now for the fun part; fold in all of your fun mix-ins, like craisins and chocolate chips.
What's in your bowl?

Spread the batter in your buttered pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You know you wont be able to wait until they're cool to try one, but put them on a wire rack anyway and pretend.

To scale picture: stack of blondies = laptop keyboard... just kidding.
 In case you're in an exceptionally gratuitous mood, these blondies ship to friends fairly well when frozen after cooling and sent in a sealed ziplock inside a USPS-approved shipping bubble envelope or package. Enjoy often until they are all gone!!

And just an update to my previous post's Valentine's Day frenzy, just wanted to share these fun chocolate bon bons I made before the holiday and gave out to all of my many, many not-so-secret admirers. To sum up the recipe they are basically chocolate cake mixed with cream cheese, rolled into balls, chilled and dipped in melted white or dark chocolate, and garnished with loved-themed sprinkles.

Yum! Always cook with Love,


Monday, February 4, 2013

Spread a Little Love! Treats for Every Valentine of Your List

Happy February lovely people! If you're like me, you probably love February for its sun flurries, the promise of Spring on its way, and public displays of affection towards friends, loved ones and strangers [And Happy Black History Month!!]. If not, you're probably just glad its the shortest month so it can be done and over with ASAP! Either way, I think its important for even the biggest love humbug and hopeless romantic to remember that Valentine's Day is not just for couples. It can be a day to celebrate the love between family and friends, pets and pet owners, and lovebirds alike!

Me and my good friend from Brillant & Wild (she's a beautiful photographer - check out the link!) had a little soiree and prepared some of the most easily adorable V-Day themed treats I ever saw! Pink white chocolate - covered pretzels, marshmallows, and strawberries, because you can't go wrong with anything covered in chocolate and sprinkles, duh. We also had a fancy cheese plate, spicy buffalo chicken dip with chips, brownies and a pink sangria!

Unexpectedly, my favorite part of these delectable treats was not eating them up and developing cavities, it was sharing them with the friends who stopped by! We even sent some with a friend to her sister who was getting discharged from the hospital, and I'm posting some of the pretzel rods to a friend who is about to have a baby any day now (I hope they dont break too much in the mail-- I'll use a lot of bubble wrap)!! I want to send these cute pink treats to everyone I know, near and far, like a Valentine's Day cheer vigilante!! 

And last but definitely not least, who's to say you can't be your own Valentine? Treat yourself to some things you like - a nice bubble bath and a glass of bubbly, a sappy (or scary - whatever) movie, some yummy treats of your own, or a fun night out with the friends you love. Most of all I think if you try, not just on Valentine's Day but any day, to share a smile or spread a little love as you go about your day, you might finally get what all the hubbub about love is about! It cant be measured in chocolate or diamonds, its a feeling inside that makes your heart smile :)

Happy Valentine's Day Friends!!