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Lemon Poppy Seed Coffee Cake with Almond Crumb Topping

3 Sep

This is one of those days I promised you would happen…one of the days where I’m reminiscing yet again about summer vacation and hot weather, and sunshine; beaches, good food, and how I want none of those things to fade away with the end of the season!  I may be back at work, and school, and piling on more and more responsibilities, activities, and overflowing my to-do list (which I can’t complain about at all because I’m actually loving every one of those things!), but Labor Day weekend has been a nice little throw-back to summer freedom.

The day I left Los Angeles (my LAST day before re-entering reality, *TEAR!*), I went on a major citrus fruit harvesting spree in attempts to fill the trunk of my car with at least something that would bring me back to my days of lemonade sipping & lounging even just for a moment.  Bright lemons and tangy grapefruit are pretty much my favorite citrus fruits of all time, so it’s lucky for me that’s what I had access to.  The more the merrier, and I’ve been putting them to good use!

I Love Lemons! XOXO (more…)

Butterscotch & White Chocolate Chip Caramel Banana Bars

7 Apr

 

Remember how I droned on in THIS post about how I go through phases with bananas?  About how I can go for weeks and even months on end without so much as the desire to LOOK at a banana, and then wake up one morning wanting to eat nothing BUT bananas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the remainder of my days?  Right now I’m on the latter.  Total banana kick in full swing.  I even managed to find organic Del Monte bananas (my favorite!) at my favorite fruit store in the world – SCORE!  I bought a few bunches immediately, and then realized I’d be heading out of town again for the weekend…

 

So, currently there’s just one major problem I have with bananas.

 

Traveling with them.

 

Correct me if I’m wrong, and please share if you know a secret about this that I don’t, but bananas are not the easiest fruit to travel with (even a road trip, as is the case right now).  An apple I can toss in my purse, backpack, bathroom bag (you know, wherever), and open it to find a nearly perfect apple waiting for me when hunger strikes.  Bananas, on the other hand, are NOT easily thrown in to a purse or any bag containing really ANYTHING at all, let alone a bag of clothes.

 

Bananas just have that ability to be impossible to pack on a trip both because of their penchant to brown and squish ALL over the place, but also because of their ability to make everything in your life at any given moment SMELL like banana.  Now, I love me a banana (on a good week/month) but I don’t want to pull a pair of banana smelling pajama pants out of my bag at the end of the day.  There’s a reason banana didn’t make it on the list of fruity scented body washes and lotions in the Burt’s Bees and The Body Shop bath and skin care line.

 

 

The only places bananas smell good are right after you peel them and they’re headed straight into your mouth, or coming out of the oven in breads, muffins, cupcakes, and bars.  Speaking of bars, the banana bars I’ve got for you today are a cookie-banana bread-hybrid, and it was totally unplanned as far as texture, as well as everything else about them goes.  Some of the best things in life are unplanned!…Although, as far as I’m concerned, some of the worst things in life are also unplanned (ie: running out of gas on the freeway).

 

I had an idea in my head for the flavor profile I was hoping to achieve, but the rest was left to chance.  That being said, if you’re looking for a dense, chewy cookie with a mild banana taste, this might not be what you’re looking for.  If, however, you have a hankering for a breakfast-ish bar with a sorta gooey, cakier than cookie texture, and lots of caramel and butterscotchy goodness packed in, this recipe is quite possibly exactly what you’re looking for.

 

Butterscotch & White Chocolate Chip Caramel Banana Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine (I used non-dairy butter flavored shortening)
  • 2 large bananas
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 9 cubes wrapped caramel

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease an 8×8″ baking pan or line with parchment paper or a Panpat.

Cream together the shortening and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Add in bananas and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing between additions.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add dry mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing between additions.

Stir in the butterscotch chips and white chocolate chips by hand. Pour batter into prepared pan. Push the caramel cubes down into the batter, evenly spaced ( 3 x 3). Smooth batter over the top of the caramel pieces.

Bake for about 40-45 min, covering with foil and rotating pan half-way through (about the 20 min. mark). Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan before cutting.

 

 

That being said. I obviously (OBVIOUSLY) still packed up the SEVERAL bananas I had left after making these bars and loaded them in to my car to take with.  I wasn’t about to leave them behind only to get down to LA and wish I had bananas, and then be forced to buy new ones.

I love me some bananas! (FOR NOW) <3

 

Blog post today fueled by Starbucks!   Ahhhh, I love me some green tea (FOREVER!) <3

 

Happy Weekend!

Valentine’s Day Red Velvet Brownie Bites with White Chocolate Chip Buttercream

13 Feb

Valentine’s Day can be a complicated little bugger, can’t it?

Ask any guy, and chances are good the mere thought of Valentine’s Day somehow warrants a defensive front of epic proportions akin only to that of a man staring down the barrel of a gun ready to strip him of his manhood.  All of a sudden a cute, simple, holiday becomes a bank-breaker, a platform for anti-Hallmark rants, candy and Tiffany’s protests, and a potential one-way ticket to the couch for the night.

 

Dramatic.

 

Now, ask any girl, and chances are good Valentine’s Day probably ranks 1st, followed only by New Year’s Eve (that’s a different story), in terms of expectations for romantic gestures from the fella in their life.  We want flowers, flowers are good.  Candy is doable.  Jewelry will get you everywhere, guys.  Lingerie is a sensitive subject.  We want seductive and lovey, but not tacky.  There’s a fine line…a verrrrrrry fine line between a blissful day and a day spent pasting a guy’s face on a dart board.  Just saying.

And what do girls get their guys on this particular hive-inducing, red alert prompting holiday that won’t be seen as girly or cutesy or a passive aggressive stab to his ego?

 

Dramatic.

 

So what’s a guy to do?  What’s a girl to do?  Can’t we all just love and be cute and wrap things in pretty bows and pink paper and be thankful for one another and cuddle up and watch movies or stare at each other and go back and forth all night about who’s prettier, and then eat these brownies?

 

Sigh.  I sure hope so! 😉

Red Velvet Brownie Bites

Adapted from How Sweet It Is red velvet brownies

Ingredients:

* 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

* ¼ tsp salt

* ½ cup butter, room temperature (or non-dairy Earth Balance)

* 1 ½ cups sugar

* 4 Tbsp cocoa powder

* 1 ½ Tbsp red food coloring

* 2 tsp vanilla extract

* 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or non-dairy chocolate chips like Enjoy Life)

*****

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line or grease standard muffin tins or heart-shaped muffin molds.

Combine cocoa powder, food coloring, and 2 tsp vanilla extract to create a gravely mixture.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter or non-dairy spread and sugar until fluffy.  Add in eggs one at a time, mixing between additions.

Add cocoa powder mixture slowly to the butter and sugar and mix until combined.

Sift the flour and salt in a separate bowl.  Add slowly and mix until just combined.  Don’t over mix!  Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Evenly distribute into prepared muffin tins or heart-shaped muffin molds until each well is about full.

Bake about 22-25 minutes depending on your oven.  Don’t overbake!

 

White Chocolate Chip Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

* ½ cup (1 stick) butter or non-dairy Earth Balance

* 2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

* 2 tsp vanilla extract

* Dash of salt, to taste

* ½ cup white chocolate chips, melted (I used Ghirardelli) – omit if you’d like dairy-free, or use non-dairy chocolate chips!

* 1 ½ tbsp milk, or non-dairy milk like soy or rice

*****

Directions:

Cream butter or non-dairy spread in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add in one cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix.  Add the vanilla extract and dash of salt, mixing to combine.

Melt the white chocolate chips or non-dairy chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Set aside to cool slightly before adding.

Add another cup of the confectioner’s sugar, and then the milk.  Beat.  Add the remaining ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix well.  Add in the melted chocolate.

Add a splash more milk if frosting is too thick, and a bit more confectioner’s sugar if it’s too thin.  Beat until fluffy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A note, a hug, a kiss, a call, a text?  Scratch that last one.  A brownie!  Now that’s more like it….share the love!

PS:  No, YOU’Reeee prettier…. 😉

XOXO

Eggnog Blondies with Brandy Spiked Eggnog Buttercream

13 Dec

Is Christmas really just 12 days away?!  Holy holly berries…I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited!

Tree up and decorated?!  Probably not.

Halls decked & stockings hung by the chimney with care?  Ummm, not quite.

Presents wrapped & ready to go?  Uhhh….

Alright alright, despite having just about nothing done in preparation for Christmas,  I’d definitely say I’m in the spirit, though!

I’ve got a list and I’m in the process of checking it twice.

And seriously, the holiday baking?  Totally!  Plus, check out this cute red ramekin I received as a birthday gift from my momma! 😀

The eggnog craze continues.  I promise the next recipe I post will contain neither egg nor nog, for fear of losing all of you out there who expect festive holiday flavor variety.  I get it, I really do.  It’s just that once I get inspired by a flavor, the wheels start turning and basically end up bull-dozing every other flavor in site.  Bear with me for the time being, or if you are a die-hard eggnog lover like myself, enjoy the ride while it lasts!

 

These blondies are a perfect blend of cookie and cake…the melding of a brownie and, well, not a brownie. Obviously there’s frosting. Not just any frosting, though, this stuff has got a little kick to it, while still being alcohol-shy friendly. I recently read an article reviewing which particular type of alcohol makes for the best-tasting eggnog.  The contenders were Brandy, Rum, and Whiskey, and since Brandy came out on top, that’s what I decided to use, obviously!  To be fair, you really can’t detect the Brandy in it much, so if you feel compelled, maybe pour yourself a glass of spiked nog to go with them? It’s just a suggestion, I mean, there are a lot of holiday gatherings to get through!

Super simple to mix up and throw in a pan to bake without the hassle of sheet after sheet of cookie balling and baking…swipe on a little frosting once they’ve cooled, and voila!…And really, who couldn’t use a time-saving recipe during the holidays, am I right? Maybe if I’d had more of these cookie cake bar blondies in my life I’d have a tree by now, and maybe even gifts under it? Whoa, whoa, I’m not THAT on top of it!

Eggnog Blondies with Brandy Spiked Eggnog Buttercream

Ingredients:

For the Bars-
* 3 Cups All-purpose Flour
* 1 tsp Baking Soda
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp nutmeg (I didn’t have it at the time, but would have added this!)
* 3/4 Cup Butter-flavored Shortening
* 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
* 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
* 1/2 Cup Eggnog, any type
* 2 Large Eggs
* 1 tsp Brandy or Rum (If you don’t want to use alcohol, or don’t have any on hand, Vanilla extract would work)

For the Buttercream-
* 3 Cups Confectioners Sugar
* Dash of Salt
* 7 Tbsp Margarine or Unsalted Butter
* 3 tsp Eggnog
* 2 tsp Brandy or Rum (Again, if you want to make this whole shebang non-alcoholic, just use Vanilla extract or more eggnog instead)
* 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
* Clear crystal Sprinkles (Optional, (but not really!) for topping)
* Red & Green Holiday Sprinkles (Optional, (but not really!) for topping)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 9 x 13″ pan with parchment paper, if you have it.

Cream together the shortening, brown sugar and white sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand!). Beat in the eggnog, eggs one at a time, and the brandy or rum.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing between additions.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Check for browning on top after 15 minutes, and cover with foil if it’s getting too brown. Bake another 5-8 minutes, depending on your oven (Mine took 23 minutes). Pull out of oven and allow to cool in the pan.

For the frosting, cream the margarine or butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gradually add in about 2 cups of the confectioners sugar and the salt. You’ll get a pebbly grainy texture, which is fine. Add 2 tsp of eggnog and continue mixing. Add in the last 1 tsp of eggnog, and then add in the remaining 1 cup of confectioners sugar. Mix in the 2 tsp of Brandy or Rum. Depending on how thick or thin you like your buttercream, you can add a little more confectioners sugar if you think it’s too thin, or a little more Brandy and/or eggnog if you think it’s too thick. Mix in the ground nutmeg.

Allow blondies to fully cool before slicing into squares while in the pan, and then spreading on the frosting. Top with holiday sprinkles!

I’d love to hear what others have to say about alcohol choice in their eggnog!  Which do you prefer?  I feel like Rum is the most traditional, but I’m not exactly sure where that feeling is coming from, especially since at the drop of a hat I totally went with the reviewer’s suggestion and used Brandy in these bars instead!  To each their own?  Everyone’s different.

Serve. Eat. Repeat!


Happy Holidays!

Mocha Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookie Bars

28 Nov

If someone said Christmas cookies, I’m on it!  I love the Christmas season so much that I like to start packing in the cheer as early as possible for maximum enjoyment.  I’m not ashamed to admit I had white and colored Christmas lights strewn around my room several weeks ago, and Christmas tunes on my ipod even before that.  I thought once or twice about starting in on Christmas baking before Thanksgiving, even though I clearly have a thing for Thanksgiving pumpkin, cranberry, and pecan creations.  I contained myself.  I do love Thanksgiving, afterall!

However, now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, has been lived and enjoyed to the fullest, and the turkey leftovers have been devoured, I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever adding candy canes to cookies.  No problems belting out Christmas music while working off holiday dinners at the gym, and slim to no issues with getting my hands on as much Soy Nog as humanly possible.  I actually have zero to slightly fewer than that problems with Nog.  I love the stuff!  Also, these cookies smell amazingggggg…..

Cookie?  Brownie?  Chocolate cookie? Cookie brownie?  Semantics.  Regardless of the fact that these bars owe their rich chocolate color to cocoa powder and mocha cappuccino mix, the texture is much more like a cookie bar than a brownie.  Just to make things right in the world, I laced them with candy cane peppermint goodness, a dash of holiday cheer (not THAT kind!) and called it a day!

Get with the holidays!  Get your tree, hang as many lights as you can find, hand-write Christmas cards to loved ones, guzzle Nog, sing Christmas carols way off key, watch made for tv holiday specials over and over until you can’t handle it anymore, and make these cookies! =)

Mocha Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

* 2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
* 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
* 1/4 Cup Mocha Cappuccino Mix
* 1 tsp Baking Soda
* 1 tsp Salt
* 1 Cup Butter Flavored Shortening
* 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
* 1/2 Cup Sugar
* 2 Large Eggs
* 1 tsp Double Strength Cooled Coffee (I used french pressed Starbucks iced coffee blend)
* 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
* About 6 Peppermint Candy Canes, crushed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper or a panpat.

Beat together the shortening, brown sugar, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in the coffee.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the cocoa powder and mocha cappuccino mix.

Slowly add the dry to the wet, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.

Stir in the chocolate chips and crushed candy canes. Smooth into prepared pan, leveling the surface.
Bake about 25 minutes, depending on your oven, but DON’T over bake! Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Happy Holidays!