Friday, February 13, 2009

Brownie Sandwiches!

Ok everyone, we're in the home stretch here - Valentine's day is tomorrow and even if you're not really into it, I know you still either make a nice dinner at home, or maybe some cupcakes or cookies. Admit it. You know all the red & pink pulls at you just a little. Here is a super quick, easy, and special dessert - make them tonight!

I will admit that I executed these with a boxed mix and store-bought ice cream, but its the idea that I'm showing here - you can definitely make your own special ice cream and your favorite brownie or blondie (which I hopefully will be doing tomorrow).

Valentine Ice Cream Brownie Sandwiches
Your favorite ice cream (I chose low-fat Edy's slow-churned vanilla)
An uncut pan of your favorite brownies or blondies (I added pink & red m&m's and a little vanilla to this boxed mix)
Heart-shaped cookie cutters

1. Make your favorite brownies

2. Use your heart cookie cutters and cut out the brownies. Using a sharp knife, cut each heart in half so you have 2 sides for the sandwich.

3. To make an accurate heart sandwich, put one side of the brownie down and put the heart cookie cutter back on top loosely. Use a spoon and fill with about 1/2 - 3/4 inch of ice cream. Push it out of the bottom of the cutter and put the lid on. Place the done sandwiches on a tray in the freezer to get hard (you might need a few hours in there).

And, just as a small extra - check out this super easy craft. You can totally make these with kids too. I made a bunch to add to a flower bouquet for my mom and my mother-in-law.

Wire hearts

Super easy. Here's what you need:
Scrap paper (a thicker paper or cardstock, or leftover magazine cover works best)
Wire (any stick would work, but only wire will be bendable)

Fold paper in half. Cut out half of a heart so when you open the cut piece, its a whole heart (this will also make a crease for the wire). Use heart as a template to cut another the exact same size. Put a thin layer of glue on the inside of one heart, add a piece of wire on the crease and cover with the second heart. Let dry and thats it! Sometimes, I used paper clips to hold the hearts together while they were drying.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Make these for Valentine's Day!

I promise to be back here in time for Valentine's with some kind of cute heart-shaped dessert (like last year :), but just in case you are looking for something easy for Valentine's Day or anyday, try this recipe. I swear. Its not rocket science or anything - I make these all the time because I always have the ingredients and they take about 15 minutes. I've discovered that even people who think desserts without chocolate are not really dessert will eat it (and secretly love it!).

Individual Fruit Crumb Pies
Note: directions are more like guidelines rather than strict instructions; feel free to add whatever fruit combinations delight you and add other fun ingredients to the crumb topping. It all tastes good, I promise (although if you add something totally disgusting, the credit is all yours :)

Ingredients (for 4 mini-pies)
Assortment of prepared fruit (diced, chopped, or whole, depending on type): 2 apples (chopped), handful of strawberries (diced), handful of blackberries (halved) and a few blueberries (whole)
Squeeze of lemon juice

1 prepared pie crust, rolled and cut into 4 equal pieces (store-bought or homemade dough is fine)

Crumb topping:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 sugar
1/2 stick of cold butter
Few tbsps of brown sugar
Handful of oats

1. Preheat oven to about 425 degrees.

2. Prepare fruit and place in a bowl; add squeeze of lemon juice so apples don't turn brown. Set aside.

3. Prepare bottom crust by rolling the dough into a circle (about 10-inch diameter or so should be fine, maybe about 1/8-inch or a bit better thick). Cut into four equal pieces. Fit each piece of dough into a ramekin. Now, these are not supposed to be perfect looking - since the dough piece is not a circle or perfect square, the edges will be varied. Some corners will flop over, some won't reach the top, it really doesn't matter - but if it matters to you, feel free to trim the sides or cut the pieces to better fit your containers. I won't give you a hard time :). Also, if your containers deviate from the average ramekin, make sure you review what size your dough circle needs to be so that you have enough to fit your container. Or make 2 instead of 4 ramekins.

4. Ok, now we're ready for the crumb topping. Super easy - add all dry ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Make a small dice out of the cold butter and add to the bowl. Use your fingers to form the mixture into small crumbs. Don't overmix because the butter will get too warm and you'll be left with something that does not resemble crumbs :).

5. Assembly - after you have the bottom crust in each ramekin, fill each with the fruit mixture and top with a handful of the crumbs. You will see a bit of fruit peeking out, but it should be mostly covered.

6. Bake until brown and fruit is bubbling - I've baked these anywhere from 12-25 minutes depending on the size of the ramekin, oven type and crumb/fruit mixture. Keep your eye on them and if the crust starts to get more brown then you'd like, put a bit of foil around the edges to prevent further browning.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Awesome Gift!

I have a bunch of posts in the queue, but got a little sidetracked this past week as my new baby nephew was born! :). Newborn photos in the coming weeks will be posted on my other blog.

Anyway, I'm so happy to finally get to this post - Check out this super cool individual bar/brownie/cake pan that my mom bought me for Christmas [I'm sure Tim was loving acting like a pan model]! It is perfectly portioned for snacks, lunch, or dinner parties. To give it a whirl, I used my favorite blondie recipe.

Blondies (adapted from Cooking Light)
[note: you can change these up however you like, I often go the toffee route, but for this iteration, I used the larger size, bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips]

1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt (or a pinch)
Cooking spray
1/4 - 1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine sugar, butter, egg and vanilla with a whisk until uniform.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; stir just until moist. Fold in chocolate chips [note: if using toffee, I add some to mixture and some on top].

4. If using individual pan, coat lightly with cooking spray and add equal amounts of batter to each square. If using conventional pan, spread batter normally into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean [time varies significantly with individual pans].

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Holiday Leftover

Don't hate me, but I have one more cookie to post. I never got to posting it during the holidays because, well, no excuse - you know how it is. I picked up a Rachael Ray magazine at the airport because of the glossy Christmas cookie section :) and ended up making these cookies for my holiday baskets this year.

But listen - they are really good! Peppermint Chocolate Cookies - definitely bookmark these for next year, or for now, if you like mint year-round. It is an excellent cookie: easy to make, you can top them with anything (doesn't have to be minty-flavored) and they lasted quite a few days so they are perfect for mailing or gift-giving.

For now, I'm only going to post a photograph and a link to the recipe , but when I get a second, I"ll re-write the recipe in case the link moves.

Try them for Valentine's Day with some cute pink M&M's on top!

Quick Dinner!

Hey everyone! I made a super quick and almost-Sandra Lee-like dinner (gasp!) last night. It was really easy and healthy so I thought I would post it because I'm sure a lot of you are like us and are in the "trying to get to the gym after work but still want a healthy, homemade dinner" category :).

So here you go - 4 ingredients, and super versatile so you can swap out for other items in your pantry!

Asian Noodle Bowls
Buckwheat soba noodles (see notes below)
Soy ginger broth (see notes below)
Small broccoli florets, steamed
Fresh or frozen raw shrimp
Five spice powder or other seasoning

1. You can really make as much or as little as you like, so adjust quantities for how much soup you think you can eat before getting started.

2. Season shrimp (cleaned and tails off) with five-spice powder. I usually use only a little because the flavor goes a long way, but I spilled some extra on them and it was fine. Just shake the shrimp around in the seasoning for a minute or two - I added some garlic powder as well. Feel free to use what you like. Saute shrimp over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or so per side (until pink). Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Heat up the broth. You can doctor it up a bit with some fresh garlic or ginger or scallions if you like or you can just pour out of the box and heat it up (like I did last night :)).

4. Prepare noodles according to package directions. If your directions are in an unfamiliar language, I would just boil up some water and drop the noodles in for a few minutes, until almost tender. If you leave them too long, they will get gummy so don't walk away! Drain and set aside.

5. Take out your bowls and add dry ingredients - noodles, broccoli and shrimp (you can either cut them into pieces or leave whole). When broth is hot, add to cover contents of bowl. You can garnish soup with some cilantro if you like or a drop or two of soy sauce. Enjoy!


  • Noodles: I bought them at an Asian grocery store (something like this), but I think they sell them at TJ's too; in a pinch, try some basmati rice or thin whole wheat pasta.
  • Broth: From TJ's, but any Asian type broth would work, or miso soup, or maybe even some doctored-up light vegetable broth - I would add some fresh ginger and scallions. Make sure to check the salt content on the broth if that is something that you are concerned about - some of them are crazy high.
  • A ton of different ingredients would work great in this soup - onions, carrots, edamame, fresh greens or bok choy, sliced mushrooms. Maybe you could use it to clean out your refrigerator.
  • Easy vegetarian dish too!

*Sorry for the dark picture! I shot this late last night and didn't have the energy to get the light quite right :).