Monday, December 31, 2012

Good-bye 2012!



2012 has been a very tumultuous year...one that I'm thankful I had, but also one I'm thankful to put in the rear-view mirror.  Moving and adjusting to NYC has been, by far, one of the hardest transitions I've ever made (rivaling only college).  Once John finally got here though, I really began to feel more grounded in reality.  I hope 2013 brings us a much smoother road filled with lots of joy.  We're already counting on joy with John's twin brother expecting a new baby, and two weddings (one on my mom's side and one on my dad's side)!  Lots of wonderful things ahead in 2013!
 
As is now tradition, let's take a look back on our favorite 2012 recipes.  There were a LOT to choose from but somehow, we managed to successfully narrow each category to one!

 
 
 
 
Dorm Room Dinner - Chicken Braccioletinne
 
Weeknight Dinner - Sesame Chicken
 
 
Date Night Dinner - French Onion Soup Pizza
 
 
Slow Cooking Supper - Tortellini Minestrone Soup
 
 
Stand Out Sides - Avocado Orange Salad
 
 
 
Time-Out - Strawberry Soda
 
 
 
 
 
 
Friday, December 28, 2012

Fancy Pants App: Boiled Pork Dumplings



A couple Saturdays ago, John looked at me and told me he was craving dumplings.  Knowing that I had planned to highlight a few appetizer recipes this week, I readily agreed to the trip to the food store.  I ground my own pork with two of the many pork chops inhabiting our freezer.  
 
After reading about dumplings and how difficult the wrappers were, we went to a local Asian supermarket and bought ours.  However, I am thinking we will try dumpling wrappers ourselves in 2013.  These were just too good to pass up the chance to learn something new.

These are boiled dumplings which are different than steamed or pan-fried.  But, since this is how the dumpling wrapper package suggested we make them, I went with it.  And honestly, they came out looking so extremely professional that I felt extremely proud of myself!  John made the dip and I have to say the dip was the real star of the dish.  I would dip anything into it.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Boiled Pork Dumplings (adapted from Steamy Kitchen)
Serves:  20 (48-50 dumplings)
1 pound ground pork
3 1/2 cups shredded cabbage (use a bagged cole slaw for ease)
1 cup green onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons sesame oil
50 dumpling wrappers

In a large bowl, combine pork, cabbage, green onion, garlic, and carrots.  Mix in the ginger, salt, and pepper until well-combined.  Mix in soy sauce, sherry, and sesame oil.  Fill a large bowl with water and set next to your work station.  

Put 1-2 tablespoons of the pork mixture into the center of each dumpling.  Wet your fingers and lightly wet the edges of the dumplings.  Fold the dough over the pork mixture and press the edges to close firmly.  Repeat with all the dumplings.  Fill half of a large pot of water and bring to a boil over high heat.  We used the largest we had and still had to do 3 batches.  Place as many dumplings as will fit in boiling water (about 15-20) and add 1 cup of water.  When the water comes back to a boil, cook for 6-8 minutes, until pork is fully cooked.  Repeat until all dumplings have been cooked; serve immediately with Dumpling Dipping Sauce (below).
Dumpling Dipping Sauce (adapted from here): 
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons gochujang sauce (optional)

Whisk all the ingredients until well-combined.  Serve immediately. 
Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Brilliant Brunch: Ham and Cheese Quiche



Are you all thrilled the holiday is over?  Or, do many of you still have people in your house?  Today, John and I are busy driving up to Maine to spend the next week or so catching up with his family.  It's nice to have someplace to get away to that also feels like coming home.

His brother and sister-in-law always let us stay at their house which feels like home now to us, too!  They are so warm and welcoming it's great to visit!  It's hard to travel over the holidays and we enjoy spending so much time with them; it works for all of us.  We take our time seeing his grandparents, mom, dad, cousins, and old friends. 

If you still have people in your house, and lots of ham left over from last night's meal, you're going to love this quiche - easy, quick, you can freeze it, double it, pretty much throw whatever you have in there, and it will taste great!  I love serving this with a big salad for dinner but it's also perfect for brunch, too!  Plus, it's great to serve a crowd.  I can't promise they'll want to leave after tasting it though!!

Ham and Cheese Quiche
Serves:  6
Crust (adapted from here)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup ice water
1 cup flour
Filling
1 cup ham, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3 eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper

To make the crust, whisk together oil and water with a fork.  Add flour and continue until fully combined.  Knead for 3-5 minutes until smooth.  Roll out the dough and place into a 9-inch pie pan.  Use your fingers to place the dough up the sides of the pie pan and ensure it is even.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place ham, onion, and cheddar cheese into the pie pan.  In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.  Whisk well and then pour into the pie pan.  Cook the quiche for 45-55 minutes, until the top is golden brown and set in the middle.

Make-it-ahead of time:  I made this quiche the night before, stored it in the fridge covered with aluminum foil, and baked it the next day!  Or, cook it and freeze it for a quick and easy dinner in a week or two!

Until the next time my oven is on...



Monday, December 24, 2012

Fancy Pants App: Baked Crab Rangoons



I know I promised some great appetizers for your New Years celebrations.  It's amazing, though, there is so little time from our Christmas celebrations to New Years Eve.  I know this isn't a new thing, but I just keep marveling about time.  Sometimes, time goes by slowly and other times when I reflect on the past, it seems time has passed while I was standing still.
Celebrating the New Year is important to me - it marks a day of reckoning in my life - to look at where I've been and to look at where I'm going.  This is in all things - the blog, personal life, professional life, and cooking contests.  All get equally scrutinized.  All can be improved and the end of a year is a good reminder to continue to improve myself.  I'm thinking about doing 2013 Resolutions for the blog itself so everyone can hold me accountable - is there anything you would want to see?  Changed?  New?  Improved?  Feel free to voice your comments.

One thing that doesn't need to be improved?  These crab rangoons.  John liked them and told me the only thing that's missing is the "oil" which I think meant he preferred the fried version!  These are, admittedly, lacking that satisfying fried dough and cream cheese explosion.  But they're good; they're very good.  And, you can premake all the wontons, baking them as you need them which makes it perfect for a party!


Baked Crab Rangoons (adapted from Iowa Girl Eats)
Serves:  20 (20 wontons)
8 ounces whipped 1/3 less fat neufchatel cheese (cream cheese)
1/4 cup green onions, diced small
2 cloves garlic, diced
2/3 cup lump crab meat 
20 wontons

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine Neufchatel cheese, green onion, and garlic until well combined.  Stir in crab meat.  Set aside.

Fill a small bowl with water.  Lay out the wonton wrappers and place 1-2 tablespoons of crab mixture in each.  Lightly moisten two edges, which will act as glue.  Fold the wonton wrapper over the mixture and seal the edges well, trying to keep most of the air out of the wontons. Place each wonton onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges are browned.  Serve immediately.
Until the next time my oven is on...
Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sassy Sweets: Eggnog Blondies



I really wanted to post these yesterday but thought dedicating the day to remembering the victims of the Newtown, CT shooting was more important.  I am doing the #26 acts of kindness originally started by Ann Curry (find the article here). It's nice to remember how lucky we are to be celebrating with our families when these 26 families are suffering through the holiday season without one of their loved ones. 


When I think about how fast December has gone, I can’t help but put it into some perspective – I feel like this entire year just flew right by me.  I’m hoping I can’t be the only person who feels this way.  Even if the entirety of December has passed you by with nary a cookie or fudge morsel in sight, you can rectify the situation.

Rectify it today.  It's never too late to get into the spirit.  In just 40 easy minutes, you can have delicious blondies that are drenched with the flavors of the season.  I wish I was kidding.  Do I sound like a commercial?  I don’t mean to – I am just so crazily in love with these eggnog blondies.

They’re perfect to wrap up and give out to others, to bring as a hostess gift, or just in general (let’s be honest here) to indulge yourself with a big bowl of ice cream!  Or a mug of hot chocolate.  So even if you haven’t had a second to spare this holiday season, take a few minutes and make these this weekend – even Santa won’t be disappointed you skipped the cookies this year!
Eggnog Blondies (adapted from here)
Serves:  9 (9x9 pan)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (softened)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2/3 cups eggnog
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
2/3 cups white chocolate chips
1/3 cup cinnamon chips (if desired)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray the inside of a 9x9 pan fully with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar, until fluffy (about 3-5 minutes).  Beat in egg and eggnog.  Sift the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon over the eggnog mixture and stir in until just combined.  Stir in the white chocolate chips and cinnamon chips (if desired).  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool.  Then, cut into squares and serve!

Until the next time my oven is on...


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sassy Sweet: Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies



Here we are: my one and only Christmas cookie recipe this year.  As I said in an earlier post, I am daring to be different this Christmas.  All of December I’ve seen hundreds (literally) of Christmas cookie posts, do you really need more?  If so, tomorrow I will link all of my Christmas cookies from the last few years in its own post.  Just for you.  Meanwhile, I hope this one will do my holiday spirit justice.    

John couldn’t believe it when he saw on the shopping list “cinnamon chips”.  He looked at me with that dubious expression of his which says, “okay lady, you’re really weird but I’m not going to argue about it”.  Then, again, as I’m searching through bags and bags of chocolate chips (because of course everyone in the store threw the bags all over each other?  Who does that?  And more importantly, why?).  Finally he says, “I don’t think cinnamon chips exist”. 

And, just like that, my hand closed in on the very last bag of cinnamon chips in the store.  Success!  Ha John!  In your face!  No…I never would have said that.  What I meant was yes, honey, here they are.  Anyway, once we got them, I needed to make something that did them justice.  John LOVED these cookies, calling the cinnamon chips, “a little burst of cinnamon flavor in every bite”.  Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from the back of the Hershey's cinnamon chip bag)
Serves:  24 (48 cookies)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups cinnamon chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat butter and sugar until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Then, add flour and baking soda.  Beat well until fully combined.  Stir in oats, cinnamon chips, and cranberries.  Drop tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1-2 inches apart (I can fit 12-15 cookies per sheet).  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned on top.  Let cool and then place in an airtight container to store for up to 1 week.

Until the next time my oven is on…
Monday, December 17, 2012

Brilliant Brunch: White Chocolate, Craisin, and Pistachio Bread Pudding



Bread pudding is one of those dishes that could be dessert and could be breakfast.  I'll admit this is a little on the sweet side for breakfast; however, if you're having people over for Christmas brunch it's the perfect showstopping ending! 
A lot of my recipe ideas come at night so I keep a little journal by the bed.  John will frequently awoken by me reaching, fumbling, and grasping for the pen and paper.  More often than not, the pen falls through the cracks hitting every bed rung along the way.  I wish I was kidding.  Since one of Dad's favorite desserts is bread pudding, it wasn't surprising to me that I tried to adapt my "Christmas flavors" into his favorite dish.

I made this Saturday afternoon and then kept it until Sunday night when I served it.  I can honestly tell you this was one of my most raved about recipes in December (my poor family are my guinea pigs).   It's perfect for the not-so chocolate lovers in the family (like my dad) and it has the perfect Christmas colorings (red, white, and green from the pistachios). 

If you don't like white chocolate, or you are craving that chocolate flavor, I recommend substituting dark chocolate or bittersweet.  But the white chocolate really lets the eggnog shine through!

White Chocolate, Craisin, and Pistachio Bread Pudding (adapted from here)
Serves:  12
1 Challah loaf
2 cups eggnog
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped pistachio nuts


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 11x7 baking dish with cooking spray.  Set aside.  Dice the Challah into one-inch pieces.  Set aside in a small bowl. 

In a large bowl, whisk eggnog, eggs, and vanilla until well-combined.  Add sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and continue to mix well.  Fold the Challah pieces into the eggnog mixture and toss until all the pieces are coated.  Then fold in cranberries, white chips, and pistachios. 

Transfer the mixture to your prepared baking dish and bake 50 - 60 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. For best results, serve warm.

To make ahead of time, bake the bread pudding as instructed above.  Let cool and then cover with tin foil or plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator.  Ten to fifteen minutes before serving, bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until heated through.  Serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Friday, December 14, 2012

Sassy Sweets: Eggnog Cinnamon Bark



Earlier this month I decided that I wanted to make little baskets of goodies for all our neighbors.  Genius!  I thought to myself.  We really only know a few of the childless neighbors.  The ones with children keep to themselves.   What better way to introduce ourselves than with a little sweet surprise?

We've already been slowly transforming our floor (yes, I give us all the credit).  For Halloween, I put decorations on the door.  We're the first door when you get off the elevator so people see these things.  I was thrilled when we also had a few trick or treaters.  For Thanksgiving / fall, I made a gorgeous autumn wreath that hung with honor until we got our act together and took it down (last week).  This week, surprise!  Another neighbor has put a wreath on their door!  I added my Christmas wreath to my door!  We're really getting into the spirit over here!

The best way to cap off a great year is with sweets.  On Facebook, I've been talking a lot about John's love for eggnog.  I thought about making eggnog cookies but I couldn't figure out how to get the taste to really shine through.  I have more great eggnog recipes next week for breakfast / desserts but I wanted one quick and easy that would be a good addition to our baskets without a lot of work...enter, my newest creation - eggnog cinnamon bark.  If you ask me, this should be even bigger than peppermint bark.  But who's asking, really?

Eggnog Cinnamon Bark (made by The Growing Foodie)
Serves:  10
3 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan combine white chocolate chips and eggnog.  Stir until melted.  Meanwhile, microwave cinnamon chips, until melted.  Pour the white chocolate chip/eggnog mixture onto the cookie sheet.  Drizzle melted cinnamon chips on top.  Dust with cinnamon and nutmeg. Place in the fridge to firm up, about 10-25 minutes (or freezer for 1/2 the time).  Break it lightly with your hands (I like to use a hammer...get out some aggression) and store in plastic bags until ready to use. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sassy Sweets: Homemade Peanut Butter Cups



John's favorite candy is peanut butter cups.  My mom has just about every chocolate mold in the history of chocolate molds so when I was thinking of sweet treats for the holidays that did NOT include the ubiquitous cookie, these were the most requested in my house.Of course, in my house it's just John and I.  And I don't normally make requests of myself.  You do the math.

Anyway, Mom heard us discussing it and offered up her mold.  The one problem? It only makes 7 cups - as fast as I can make them, John can eat them. I managed to hold on to a few for these pictures. In order to just save these, I had to resort to spying, stealing, lying, and hiding.  Probably not the best attributes but a blogger has to do what a blogger has to do.  I made these with dark chocolate and then again with milk chocolate.

The milk chocolate ones taste most like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but the dark chocolate adds a surprising twist that I, personally, really like.  I am not a peanut butter AND chocolate lover, although I love each separately.  However, I could get used to the dark chocolate / peanut butter combo.  If you're not a mold holder like my mom, put these in small cupcake liners in mini cupcake tins.  They'll be a bit bigger, but I've never heard anyone complain about being too big, right?
Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
Serves:  14 (14 cups)
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar

In a microwave safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips for 2 minutes on heat power 5 (1/2 power).  Stir the chocolate chips until smooth.  In the chocolate mold, pour a little of the chocolate (about 1/2 teaspoon) and brush it up the sides so there are no clear spots showing.  Let harden in the fridge for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine peanut butter and brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 1 minute on full power.  Stir so it is liquid-y but smooth.  Fill each cup with peanut butter, leaving about 1/4 inch from the top.  Pour remaining melted chocolate over each top and smooth.  Let set in the fridge (about 20 minutes).  Remove from molds and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, December 10, 2012

Brilliant Brunch: Cranberry Coffee Cake



I've been thinking a lot about the holiday season over the past few weeks.  I love the whole feeling that you get walking around the city, looking at Christmas trees, and drinking warm eggnog and mulled wine.  I try to hold onto my love for the season when we're standing in line for 30 minutes to buy a Christmas tree at Home Depot, or when someone cuts John off for that parking spot at the mall. 
I also think the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas go way too fast; once the calendar hits December 1st, it's rush, rush, rush until January.  I'm super busy at work, I'm busy at home, and I'm wondering when I will find the time to shop, wrap, and send my Christmas cards!  The more I thought about it, the more I thought that other people HAVE to also be feeling this way, right? 

I really wanted to bake for all the apartments on our floor but with the weeks rushing by, I knew I was going to have to try something different.  I'm going to put my emphasis on Christmas morning and Christmas treats.  I only have one cookie recipe planned for you (gasp) but have seen so many floating around lately, that I thought we could all use a break!  I hope we can still all stay in the holiday spirit but dare to be a little different.  Starting with this coffee cake.
Cranberry Coffee Cake (adapted from King Arthur's Flour)
Serves:  24
Filling:  
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice

Cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups flour

 
Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cups flour
5 tablespoons butter

Filling: Make the filling first.  Combine water and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat.  When it starts to boil, add the cranberries, and turn the heat to medium.  Stir while the cranberries "pop".  Once they have all popped, add the orange juice.  Continue to cook for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is thickened but still lumpy.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Cake:  Grease a 9x13 baking pan.  Beat butter and brown sugar until well-combined.  Then beat in eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract.  Beat in baking powder, baking soda, and flour.  Pour two-thirds of the batter into the greased baking pan.  Top with the cooled filling.  Drop remaining batter over and swirl.  Set aside while preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Topping:  Combine sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and flour.  Then, cut in the butter, until the butter is pea-sized.  Using your hands, clump the topping together and drop evenly over the cake. 

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is browned and the cake is set.  A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.  Serve immediately.  Or, let cool completely and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.  To serve, defrost the cake for 2 hours on the counter.  Serve.
My favorite part about this cake?  It freezes really well.  I made it right after Thanksgiving and pulled it out last week.  For any of you who follow me on Facebook, you know John LOVES coffee cake, and he woke up happier than ever the past few days. 

Until the next time my oven is on...

Friday, December 7, 2012

And the Winner is...




What a crazy week - I do not think there is anyone else on the planet right now that is HAPPIER than me about this FRIDAY! 

The winner of this contest was Lisa from Jersey Girl Cooks, a great blog where she cooks for her family and friends.  She always has lots of great ideas and giveaways of her own, so definitely check her out.

I am hoping for a fun and festive weekend for you all!  I'll be posting our adventures on Facebook and Twitter, so join me and follow along!  We're going to get a TREE!  John and I have been looking forward to this for a few weeks now.  We collect ornaments wherever we go and we have been doing this for about 2 years.  And finally, FINALLY, we have a tree all our own. 

Until the next time my oven is on...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sassy Sweets: Chocolate Candy Cane Cream Puffs



It's December so that means I can break out the eggnog and candy canes officially right??  I am hoping so, because that's what I'm doing today!!  Last month, when I made the Cinnamon Cream Puffs with Pumpkin Pie Filling, I was thrilled at how well they came out.

That first foray into the cream puff pastry world sparked dreams of making cream puffs with any flavor combination!  And, so, when it came time to decide what dish I would send to Hodgson Mill's Have a Grain Holiday contest, I went back to my lovable cream puffs.

You can make each section the day before.  Store the puffs in an airtight container and store the cream in the fridge.  You can put them together a few hours beforehand and put them in the fridge; whisk them out to the delight of everyone.  Great and easy way to impress your guests!
Chocolate Candy Cane Cream Puffs (adapted from my Pumpkin Cream Puffs)
Serves:  16 (48 mini puffs)
Choux Pastry (Puffs):
1 cup Hodgson Mill's Pastry flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, cut in pieces
1 cup water
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Filling:
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup marscapone cheese
1/2 cup crushed candy canes 

Make the Choux Pastry:  Whisk together Hodgson Mill's Pastry flour, sugar, salt, and cocoa powder in a small bowl.  In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add water and turn the heat to medium-high and wait for the mixture to boil.  When the mixture starts a rolling boil, remove it from the heat and stir in the flour mixture.  Return it to low heat and continue to cook until the mixture is a big dough ball.  Remove from the heat.   Beat the mixture with an electric mixture on a low setting for a minute, until it is no longer hot to the touch.  Beat in the eggs until fully combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray two 13x9 cooking sheets with cooking spray.  Then, spoon out** the pastry into small bite-sized spheres (I made mine about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches in diameter), keeping the dough about 2 inches apart so they don't rise into one another.  Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees and then decrease the temperature to 350 degrees.  Allow them to cook for another 20 - 25 minutes (when you touch the tops they should be hard, and make no indents).  Then, shut off the oven and open the oven door, letting the puffs cool slowly.  While they are cooling, make the filling.

For the filling, beat together the heavy whipping cream and sugar until hard peaks form.  In a separate bowl, fold together marscapone cheese and crushed candy canes.  Gently fold the marscapone mixture into the whipping cream, careful to only just incorporate.

Cut the puffs in half (they will be hollow inside so this takes a good knife and a careful hand).  Fill the bottom of the puff with candy cane cream filling and place the puff top back on.  Serve immediately, or, place them in the fridge for a few hours where they will soften up (this way they taste more like the frozen ones you can buy...and I like them better this way!  They melt in your mouth!).

**You can also pipe out the dough but, I am bad with a pastry bag...just trust me on this. Plus spoon?  Way easier!
Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, December 3, 2012

Sassy Sweets: Don Tomas' Mocha Brownies



As many of you know, John's love for coffee is expansive.  He isn't limited to one flavor or roast, he will try any and all of them, and love them, too.  So, when Don Tomas reached out asking if I'd like to try some of their Nicaraguan coffee (shipped right to my door), I could not turn down the offer.  Or else, risk the wrath of the caffeine-deprived boyfriend.

This was about a month ago now but with Hurricane Sandy, my coffee got waylaid, never to be seen again.  Of course, by this point, I had already made the mistake of telling John we were getting this coffee.  He literally checked the mailbox every single day like a child waiting for Santa.  Finally, a new coffee was sent and arrived perfectly!  It was about 6 p.m. when we got it, too late for traditional coffee.

Undeterred, I set about incorporating it into a sweet treat for our dessert.  Brownies seemed like just the thing.  First, I made the coffee (our coffee pot allows us to make coffee "regular" or "strong", I made this one "strong").  Then I sort of played around with the ratios and hoped for the best.  Don't you always do this when you are baking?  I'm not a very precise person in the kitchen.  But in the end, these brownies were moist and flavorful. 
Don Tomas' Mocha Brownies*
Serves:  9 (9 brownies)
3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup Don Tomas brewed coffee
2 teaspoons amaretto

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and white sugar.  Mix until evenly incorporated.  Add butter, eggs, coffee, and amaretto.  Mix well until blended.  Pour into a 9x9 greased baking dish.  Cook for 15-25 minutes, until fully cooked through.  When a toothpick is inserted into the middle it should come out clean or just have a few small crumbs sticking to it. 

This is a play on a homemade brownie mix I will be sharing with you all later this month (you can thank me then)!

*Don Tomas sent us this coffee to review.  The opinions stated herein and the recipe are all my own and I thank Don Tomas for giving me the inspiration to create a favorite late-night treat!

Until the next time my oven is on...
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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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