Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Early morning wake up call with White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies!!

Picture this...It's 5:00 am, the air outside is crisp and cool, yet awakening at the same time. The sun is just beginning to peak over the beautiful Sandia Mountains. One foot in front of the other I'm steadily running my way up a half mile hill. Just as I get to the top, I look around at the mesmerizing city lights that are twinkling like a sea of glittery sequences and I am lost in my morning trance of tranquility...when suddenly this tiny idea shoves it's way through my moment of peace and says "brownies". Brownies, hhmm, interesting thought. Suddenly my mind is racing with this idea that, for obvious reasons, is an idea I should entertain!

"Brownies, brownies" is all kept thinking for the next 2 miles..."what can I do with brownies?" AAAHHAAA!!! It hit me like a ton of flour :0) I've been wanting to use this boxed brownie mix for a while (just to clear it out of the pantry), so what if I mix that with some raspberry preserves. As I continued my run I'm mentally scanning my pantry and refrigerator for other ingredients. And I think "cream cheese, YES! I do think I have cream cheese, so I'll make raspberry cream cheese brownies".

Walking through the door, after completing my 7 1/2 mile run, I look at the clock...6:30...Ok I've got an hour and a half to make brownies and get ready for work. On your mark, get set, GO!!! I run to the fridge and come to find out that there's no cream cheese, ok, no biggie, plan b, plan b, what is plan b? Open the freezer and see a bag of white chocolate chips and mini chocolate chips. PERFECT!

I mixed up the brownie mix, added a ton of raspberry preserves (didn't measure cuz I was in a hurry, but it was probably 4 big spoonfuls), poured in white and mini chocolate chips and stirred. As I was pouring the batter into the pan, I decided to add more white chocolate chips to the top (Can't ever have enough chocolate). And in to the oven they went.

Just before heading out the door, I cut into the brownies, which were still a little gooey (my favorite!) and of course had to give one a try! Can I just say I was in Brownie Heaven! These brownies were a perfect consistency, with just the right amount of raspberry that didn't overpowering the rest of the brownie. Then there was a little bite of the white chocolate which was the most perfect combination for the raspberries.

As soon as I walked into work and mentioned I had hot brownies, one would've thought I was giving away a million dollars :0) The little brownies were devoured in no time. I even had a co-worker ask me to marry him because he thought they were that good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These were probably one of the best, easiest, quickest, most crowd pleasing brownies that I have made.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Caramel Apple Spice Cake

Caramel Apples are one of my most, most, most favorite things to eat!! So, when I saw a box of spice cake in the pantry and some left over caramel frosting I had a wickedly brilliant idea. Since I don't like to use oil in my cakes, I always substitute with applesauce...see where I'm going with this!! Ok, so I made up the cake mix, but added a little extra applesauce (my only wish is that i had apples that I could've placed in the bottom of the pan to create a truly caramel apple topping...but it's all wishful thinking). Once the mix was all beat up I poured that baby right into the greased and floured Bundt pan, baked for the appropriate time and wallah!! Ok, now a side note, I got the urge to bake this cake two hours before I had to be at work, so the cake had only rested for about 30 minutes before I drizzled on the melted caramel frosting. Whoa-whoa don't get scared, there's a happy ending to this almost fatal mistake :0) So, with my cake completed, I packaged it up and toted it off to work (schmoozing technique again! which is something everyone should try, because it really works). As soon as I mentioned that I had brought Caramel Apple Spice Cake, I had a line of people following me to the kitchen. This is where my almost fatal mistake turned into EXTRA schmooze points, because as people were cutting into the cake they cake let off a little steam! Everyone jumped for joy because I had brought a "fresh out of the oven, piping hot cake"...see told you it wasn't all bad! The heat from the cake also allowed for the caramel to absorb into the cake a little, which made the cake even more moist than it already was. Even people that ate the cake the next day couldn't stop raving about it! Which is why I love to bake, because baking makes people happy and happy people are always good to be around...especially when it's at work! So next time you're craving a state fair caramel apple, give this cake a's not exactly a "real" caramel apple, but after the first bite, you're not gonna care!!

Banana Muffins

Banana nana foe fana me my monana BANANA!! That's right boys and girls, it's time to get your daily dose of nana's. So open wide wide, because this is the best way I've found to eat bananas :0) This recipe is courtesy of the fabulous Giada de Laurentis! On one of her shows she had made banana muffins with marscapone frosting...I unfortunately didn't have the marscapone cheese when I decided to make these at 11:00 at night, so I just used some pre-made vanilla frosting. But even without the marscapone frosting these little muffins came out great! My bananas were very, VERY ripe, which made definitely added an intense flavor of banana to the muffins...which is something crucial to these muffins. I mean for crying out loud they are called BANANA muffins, so they should taste like bananas. I don't know about you guys, but for some reason bananas get extremely ripe in my house within one day of me buying them, so ripe bananas isn't something I have to worry about. But, if you're house isn't a freak of nature like mine, then you can ripen bananas by putting them in a closed paper bag for a day or two. Also, a good trick I've found to save ripened bananas is to stick them in the freezer. Then whenever you're ready to use them, take 'em out and thaw 'em...then you can always have ripe bananas that don't need to get tossed out in the trash. (Just a few can take 'em or throw 'em right on back :0) )
Ok, so back to the muffins, I took these in to work and they're were gobbled up in no time! I recently got a new job, and everyone is in love with me because I keep bringing in my goodies for everyone to eat (which is my attempt to keep me from eating all of them...which I'm not sure yet how well that idea's working...but it's a start) This is also a good way to schmooze your case you couldn't figure that out on your own! I really, really love banana bread and this was a fun take on the classic, especially because it had frosting on it! So, I guess you could say this too is a "healthy" cupcake/muffin Because after all it does have bananas!!

Fourth of July Firecrackers and Flag Cake

These cupcakes were so fun to make!! I had seen the recipe on the Food and Family website and knew this was something I had to make...especially because they're cupcakes!!! (Which is what I'm all about) I just started out with a box of yellow cake mix, and made the cake according to the directions on the box, then used whipped cream for the frosting. For the topping I colored flaked coconut and used licorice sticks as the wick of the "firecrackers". I have never had a cupcake or cake that has used whipped cream as the frosting. I must say I was quite skeptical at first, because I love my frostings, but I actually really enjoyed the whipped cream. It was nice and light, which went very well with the airy cake. Of course when I have airy, light tasting cake, I always convince myself that their lightness makes them "healthy" or "not as heavy" so I ended up eating a few too many cupcakes, but hey it's Fourth of July right...I'm celebrating the birth of my country :)

I absolutely loved this cake!!! This was my flag cake, which I also made out of a yellow cake mix and used vanilla frosting to frost the cake. It was so funny when I had made this, because I gave away the cupcakes to my neighbors and made the cake for my family and I, which consisted of me, Dad and Mom. I think I chose the wrong items to give away, because it would've made much more sense for me to keep the cupcakes and give away the entirely huge flag cake to my neighbors who had their entire family over for the Fourth of July. But I guess you live and learn right?! None the less this cake was delicious, I mean how could it not be? The only hard part is trying to get a bite of cake that has both the blueberries and the strawberry. Needless to say we solved that problem by performing surgery on this beautiful cake!! We cut the cake up into small chunks so that we could each have a sampling of the fruit. My only regret about this cake, which is something I'm still kicking myself for, is not putting it in the fridge!! I know, so stupid. I left the damn cake out over night, opened it up in the morning and the fruit had gone bad :0( Never a fun time to have to throw away an entire cake.

No time for posting :(

Things have been so crazy that I unfortunately haven't had the time to do very much blogging...plenty of time for baking though, so I figured on this rainy day I might have a chance to catch up!! My next few baked good yummies were all created in the last few weeks and are finally getting a chance to make their debut! I have missed blogging so much and am excited to be back at the keyboard typing away about my creations. Hope you enjoy and sorry for the delay!!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

TGRWT #3: Strawberries and Coriander

For this months They Go Really Well Together Challenge we were asked to create a dish using strawberries and coriander, which I have to admit didn't scare me as much as the banana and parsley challenge, but anyway...before I could create my masterpiece I first had to find out what coriander tasted like. So, to my surprise we already had a thing of coriander seeds, which kind of shocked me since we had never used it before. Opening up the jar I poured out three little round brown seeds in my hand and hesitantly put one in my mouth. As soon as I crushed it open with my teeth I got this intense flavor, which to me was a lot like black licorice, and right then I thought to myself, "Ok I can do this!"

Now to the creation of my recipe---a few weeks ago when I was in Orlando we went to a restaurant in Universal Studios that was NBA themed and for dessert we ordered Cinnamon Berries. When the plate arrived I was flabbergasted! There were six deep fried strawberries served with vanilla ice cream that came in a cinnamon tortilla shell. "Hhm, fried strawberries, I don't know," was my initial reaction but after cutting the strawberry open to reveal of warm almost gooey center, it was love a t first site! The first bite of that strawberry was so amazing that I can't even put it into words, it was warm but crunchy (from the tempura batter), still a little was HEAVEN! When I saw that we were to use strawberries in this challenge I knew that I was going to recreate the fried strawberry masterpiece.

Ok, so I looked online to find a version of fried strawberries that I could use, and came up with two good looking recipes. Not being able to choose between the two I tried both!


These strawberries begin with a coating of flour, which are then dunked into an egg/milk mixture and finally rolled in cinnamon graham cracker crumbs. Make sure to have all your strawberries coated and ready to go before you begin frying otherwise you'll have to take time out of frying to coat a new batch of strawberries, which in turns makes the already fried strawberries cold and we don't want that. (I don't have exact measurements of the flour, egg/milk, and graham crumbs because it just depends on how many berries you're making) Ok so once they're all coated it's time for frying. In a nice deep pot pour in enough oil so that the berries will be submerged in oil (about 2 inches). Bring the oil up to about 375 degrees and you're ready to go! I fried to strawberries at a time, waiting until they were a nice golden brown (about 45 seconds to 1 minute), I then took them out of the oil and placed them on a paper towel to drain, then immediately rolled them in plain sugar. Continue this process until you've fried up all your strawberries.

This recipe was ok, but it wasn't that thick tempura coating that I was looking for. This was more of a crispy shell kind of like what you would find on chicken fried steak. This "batter" also seemed to fall of of the berries when they were frying. These strawberries were the first of the 2 recipes that I tasted and when I bite into my strawberry I was disappointed, not because the recipe was bad or that it didn't taste good, but because it didn't remind me of the strawberries I had in Orlando, so I was praying that Recipe #2 wouldn't disappoint.

Now this is what I'm talking about! This recipe hit the nail on the head! I mean take one good look at that strawberry and tell me that it doesn't make your mouth water! Out of the two recipes this one was my favorite and was so much easier than the first recipe.

For the batter I used 1/4 C. of pancake mix (I only had whole wheat mix and it came out fine!) and mixed in about a teaspoon of cinnamon. I then added 3-4 Tablespoons of milk and mixed it until I got a nice thick batter. You wanna make sure not to add too much milk otherwise the batter will just drip of the strawberries. As you can see I had all my berries coated and ready for frying. Then I fried them in the same oil from recipe #1, these ones cooked a bit longer, but you're still looking for that rich golden brown color. Once golden, drain and roll in sugar.

Ok so you're probably wondering where's the coriander? Well of course when you have strawberries you need a chocolate sauce to dip them in, so I created a Coriander Chocolate Dipping Sauce, which is so easy to make!!

Bring 1 cup of heavy cream and a tablespoon of coriander seeds to a boil, then pour cream over 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Stir until thick.-----This sauce was to die for, it was so good that I was literally eating spoonfuls of it, I know, I know, I'm disgusting but I mean hot melted chocolate, who can resist? The chocolate was so rich and creamy and them you would get a bite of coriander seed which would gently burst in your mouth, leaving you with this licoricey flavor of chocolate. The seeds were soft too, because they had been warmed by the cream. (I think next time I might try to crush the seeds). Now all that's left to do is dunk your strawberries and take a big bite! My Fried Strawberries with Coriander Chocolate Sauce will easily become a dessert that you will not be able to take your mind off of, so I apologize in advance :0) But you're gonna love it!!!!!!

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