Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Layered Cookie Bars

These are most definitely the motherlode of all cookie bars. Make sure you're sitting down when you try one or it'll knock you down. And by all means make sure you have a tall glass of milk to follow it up with. These babies are INTENSE. But not like you just ran a marathon intense. A good, flavor-bursting intense, that might make you feel like you need to run a marathon after eating one. The task of making 4 different kind of cookies for one bar may sound daunting, but it is so worth it.

Layered Cookie Bars
Recipe adapted from Picky Palate

Layer 1: Sugar Cookie
1 Roll of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Press sugar cookie dough into bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish that’s been lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray.
Layer 2Double Chocolate Chip Cookie
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa powder 
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs and vanilla until well combined.
2. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to wet ingredients then stir in chips. Layer the recipe over sugar cookie layer, pressing gently.
Layer 3: Peanut Butter Cookie
2 Cups creamy peanut butter
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1.  Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined.  Press over chocolate cookie dough.
Layer 4:  Chocolate Chip Cookie
(the recipe below makes a little more than what you’ll need for the bars, use extra for cookies)
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla
2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag chocolate chips
1.  Make sure oven is preheated to 350 degrees F.  In a stand or electric mixer cream the butter and sugars until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.  Place flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl; mix to combine.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips.  Spoon 1/2 of the dough evenly over peanut butter cookie dough but don’t press, just leave uneven.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until center of dough is cooked mostly through.  Edges will be brown.  I covered pan with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking.
2.  Let cookies cool completely.  Lift out of pan with edges of foil.  You can cut off the edges and just used softer centers if you want. Drizzle top with 1/2 Cup melted chocolate chips if desired.
*Note:  You can layer dough and refrigerate until ready to bake.  This is what I did and it worked very nicely.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Baked Eggs in Avocado

I saw this idea and got so excited! Let's face it. Brunch is one of the happiest meals ever. I always get so excited when someone suggests going out for brunch. It's the only meal I can justify eating dessert as my main dish. I mean hello, french toast, pancakes, even eggs benedict is so good it should practically be considered dessert. Since today was Saturday, AKA brunch day, I decided I had to make this. Oh it was such a happy start to the day, I was immediately in a good mood :) And who knew warm avocado would be so good!

Baked Eggs in Avocado
Recipe adapted from White on Rice

1 medium avocado
2 small eggs
salt and pepper to taste

green onion, chopped
hot sauce

Preheat oven to 425. Slice avocado in half and scoop out pit. Crack eggs into a bowl, making sure not to puncture the yolk. Place avocado halves in a medium baking dish, try to rest the avocado half inside the edge of the dish so that the avocado doesn't tilt over. Spoon yolk into the hole of the avocado. Then continue spooning in the white of the egg until full. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the egg. Bake for about 15 minutes. Cook less or more time depending on how you like your eggs. Enjoy with some green onions, hot sauce, baked tomato, and toast!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Salted Caramel and Guava Pie

Goiabada is one of my favorite Brazilian foods. It's a sort of paste made out of guava! Although, I hate to call it paste cause that just sounds kinda weird, so I'll just say it's kinda like a firm jelly. It's fantastic on bread, pão de queijo, in desserts, and straight up on a spoon. My new favorite recipe for it is definitely this pie. WOWWWW. Talk about decadent! I sincerely hope you can find goiabada because this pie is to die for. You can probably order it online or at a local Brazilian supermarket.

Salted Caramel and Guava Pie
Recipe adapted from Cynthia Presser

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

1 can (13.4 oz) dulce de leche (caramel)
Sea salt, medium ground
1/2 cup guava paste
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Crust – Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the graham crackers, butter, and brown sugar to a food processor. Process for about 2 minutes, until it is all incorporated. Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie dish. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes, until surface is golden brown. Let cool.
Filing – Scrape the dulce de leche into the pie crust. Evenly sprinkle about 2 or 3 pinches of sea salt over the caramel. Set aside.
Add the guava paste to a food processor and pulse with ½ cup of water; slowly add the rest of the water while pulsing until desired thickness is reached. If you prefer a thicker guava filling do not add the whole cup of water (I only used 2/3 cup). Spread the guava sauce over the dulce the leche.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the powdered sugar until firm. Spread the cream on top of the pie and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
                                                  This pie is so fantastic that it glows!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Meat 'n Veggie Lasagna

I LOVE carbs. I mean really, who doesn't? However, I'm not gonna settle for a piece of white bread or some pasta. If I'm gonna indulge on carbs I want it to be worth indulging on. In other words, dessert :) I love this lasagna recipe because afterwards you don't feel 10 lbs heavier, and helps me justify dessert! This will be my go-to lasagna recipe from now on. I honestly prefer it to the traditional noodley-cheesy kind. Healthier, and just as satisfying. Yes please. 

Meat 'n Veggie Lasagna
Recipe adapted from Eat Drink Paleo

Meat Sauce
  • 2 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp + pinch of sea salt
  • 1 lb ground turkey or beef
  • 2/3 cup dry red or white wine
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced chopped
  • 2/3 tsp black pepper
  • 2/3 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce or tomato passata
Lasagna Layers
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch thick disks 
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 5–6 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced vertically into thin ribbons
  • 1 15 oz container (1 1/2 cups) ricotta cheese 
  • 2–3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 
  • Parsley flakes to garnish
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place a layer of parsnip slices drizzled with a little olive oil in a deep lasagna tray and pre-bake in the oven for 15 minutes, this will help to soften them slightly before we build the rest of the layers. Set aside
  2. To make the sauce, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and sauté onion with a pinch of salt for 8-10 minutes, until slightly caramelized. Add turkey to the frying pan and use a spatula to break it into smaller pieces. Cook for about 5–6 minutes, until browned.
  3. Add wine, garlic, pepper, paprika and salt to cooking meat and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add tomato sauce, bring to boil and turn the heat down to simmering temperature. Cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sprinkle eggplant slices with sea salt and set aside for 10 minutes to draw out some of the juices. Rinse and pat dry. 
  4. In another large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Fry the eggplant in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side, until light golden brown. Add more olive oil as needed. Set aside, by this stage all our layer ingredients should be ready.
  5. Take the baking tray out of the oven and start layering the lasagna in the following order: pre-cooked parsnips, 1/3 of tomato meat sauce, eggplant slices, mushrooms, dried basil, the rest of the meat sauce pressed down evenly, spinach, zucchini, drizzle of olive oil and some cracked black pepper. Cook in the oven, at 350°F for 30 minutes. Take the lasagna out of the oven and spread ricotta on top of the lasagna. Sprinkle with parmesan. Increase the heat to 375°F and bake for another 20 minutes. Garnish with sprinkles dried parsley. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Orange Glazed Cranberry Bread

Cranberry orange bread is something I always look forward to around Christmastime. I don't know why, but that citrus-tart berry combo is like crack for me. Normal cranberry-orange bread is amazing, but seriously, this recipe takes it a gourmet step up. Added nuts, chocolate chips, struesel AND glaze?!?! What can be better people. We heated our slices up for a few seconds in the microwave before enjoying them with some tea. Talk about THE perfect afternoon snack. I can't wait to make this bread again :)

Orange Glazed Cranberry Bread
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

  • 1/4 cup (31g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (110g) chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen 
  • 1/2 cup (65g) chopped pecans, optional
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (105g) light brown sugar (or dark brown)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk (no substitutions)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil (or canola; or melted coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • as much orange zest as you want
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. I highly suggest a metal loaf pan, but in a pinch you can use a glass pan like I did. It will take longer to cook and dry out the bread more though.
Make the streusel first: Toss the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter, your hands, or two forks. Some large crumbs are OK. Set aside.
Make the bread: In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, salt, cranberries, pecans, and chocolate chips together until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until combined. Make sure there are no brown sugar lumps remaining. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk until there are no more lumps. Try very hard not to overmix, which will result in a tough textured bread.
Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan.  Top evenly streusel, pressing the streusel down gently into the top of the bread so it sticks.
Bake the bread for 45 minutes to 1 hour, covering loosely with foil about halfway through to ensure even browning. Poke the center of the bread with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. Oven times will vary between ovens. Allow bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar and orange juice together. Add more orange juice depending how thick you want the glaze. Drizzle over cooled bread and sprinkle with orange zest.
Unglazed bread stays fresh covered tightly at room temperature for 5 days or in the refrigerator for 6-7 days. Glazed bread must be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Flourless Brownie Cookies

Finally some gluten free baked goods that actually taste amazing! I am all for finding alternative ways to make food allergy-friendly, or more healthy, or whatever. Sadly though, my attempts at gluten free baking in the past have been terrible. This is probably partially my fault. I honestly just can't bring myself to buy 7 different kinds of flours for one recipe. The ingredient lists for gluten free baked goods are just too long, complicated, and filled with names of things I can't even pronounce. So, I shall for the most part carry on in my gluten-filled bliss. These cookies however...WOWEYYYY. You would never know that they didn't have gluten! They are super moist, chewy, and can easily be experimented with which is always fun :)

Flourless Brownie Cookies
Recipe adapted from Yammies Gluten Freedom

1/2 cup softened butter 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup coconut (optional)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix together the butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the soda, salt, and cocoa and add to the wet ingredients, mixing until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, nuts and coconut. Shape into balls. Roll in powdered sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes or until they look done.

*I tried three different variations of the cookie with one bowl of batter: just chocolate, rolled in powdered sugar, and coconut. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Martha's Famous Dessert

OH MY YUM. I could literally not stop saying this after trying this dessert. Nick's lovely mother Bia made it for our New Years Eve celebration. It was love at first bite. When I found out how simple it was to make, I was even more ecstatic about it! Bia has been making this dessert every year for the holidays, and it is truly a family tradition. It was passed down to her from her mother Martha, who I had the pleasure to meet while I was in Rio. I cannot wait to carry on this tradition. Although, I don't think I'll be able to just make it once a year...I think I'm obsessed. We made the dessert again x2 yesterday and it's already almost gone. This dessert is so light and unique and should be next on your list of desserts to make. 

Martha's Famous Dessert

2 packages of lady fingers or Nilla wafers (about 60)
3 cups milk
3/4 Bailey's Irish Cream or Grand Marnie liquor 
5 limes, juiced
2 cans condensed milk
2 cups whipping cream or cool whip

In a small bowl, combine milk and Irish cream. Set aside.
In another small bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Stir until it becomes a little stiff. Set aside.
Dip the lady fingers inside the bowl of milk and Irish cream for about 15 seconds. Remove and place them on a serving platter or medium size pirex dish. Create a layer of lady fingers. After that, spread a generous amount of the condensed milk and lime mixture over it - spreading it evenly with a spatula. Start another layer of the lady fingers, followed by the milk/lime mixture. Repeat until all the lady fingers are used up. Finally, cover with cool whip or home made whipping cream. Decorate with grated lime peel. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Serves 10.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chocolate Orange Shortbread

Some of my ALL TIME favorite Christmas cookies. I know I can always count on my Auntie Claire to make them. And I can always count on consuming the entire plate of them. They are rather addicting, so watch out. Simple, delicious, and perfect for your friends who have egg allergies! Nick and I baked these for our friend Robert's piano recital last night. It was quite a fantastic display of artistry. The reception was glorious as well, thank you Trader Joes :)

Chocolate Orange Shortbread

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
10 1/2 Tbsp butter (no substitutions)
2 tsp finely grated orange peel
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Granulated sugar

Stir together flour and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender (or fork), cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling together. Stir in chocolate pieces and orange peel. Form mixture into a ball and knead till smooth.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a glass, slightly flatten balls to 1/2 inch thickness. 

Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms just start to brown. Cool on a cookie sheet for 1 minute. Remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

*If you want to dress these up a bit, dip half of each round into melted chocolate

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Samosa Pie

I must say, Indian food is one of my favorites. They really know how to pack the spice and flavor into the simplest foods. They can turn a boring little potato into a masterpiece dish. Quite impressive. Yesterday, Nick and I went to a fantastic little Indian restaurant. It was an unassuming place, sandwiched between a gas station and a laundromat. As we sat into our plastic chairs and sipped water out of self-serve Styrofoam cups, we started drooling at the smells wafting out of the kitchen. OH MY WORD. When we got our food I almost cried it was so good. We ate until we were rolling on the floor we were so full. And we didn't even finish it all! $6 people. Literally some of the best food I've ever eaten. Lesson 1: don't judge a book by it's cover. Lesson 2: Indian food is always a good choice. Lesson 3: bring some breath mints and body spray unless you want to smell like curry for the rest of the day...

Samosa Pie
Recipe adapted from Foodess

  • 3 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground chicken (or turkey)
  • 2 tbsp garam masala (or curry powder)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • salt
  • 1½ lbs potato (about 2 medium russets), diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup green peas and diced carrots, frozen or fresh
  • ½ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed (1/2 a 17-oz package) OR homemade single pie crust recipe
  1. Heat ghee or butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add jalapeno and garlic; cook 1 minute more.
  2. Stir in ground chicken, garam masala, turmeric and 1½ tsp salt. Cook until chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Stir in diced potatoes and water; cover pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in peas, carrots and cilantro. Taste, and adjust seasoning – you’ll probably need more salt and garam masala.
  4. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart (2 L) baking dish. Roll out pastry and place over top. Cut a few steam vents.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees until crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes.