Monthly Archives: August 2011

Peanut Butter. Fudge. Pretzel. Brownies.

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The best pairs in life are unexpected. Mac ‘n cheese on pizza. Tequila in beer. Justin Timberlake and The Lonely Island. The best of them all is the perfect trifecta: peanut butter, pretzels and brownies.

It was Erica’s birthday and bar was set high. I didn’t want to do something like the expected cupcakes or cake…but what’s better than cupcakes? I think I found it.

Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Brownies
Recipe from How Sweet Eats

  • 1 3/4 cups crushed pretzels
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cups chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  1. Mix together melted butter and pretzel crumbs – you’ll want to create the crumbs with a food processor or by crushing them with a mallet.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a square 8×8 baking pan and press pretzel crust into the bottom of the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer until slightly fluffy. Slowly add eggs and then vanilla.
  4. Keeping the mixer on medium, add in cocoa, flour and salt. Mix for a few minutes until just combined.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips by hand in you’re using them. Then spread it evenly into your pan.
  6. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. When you have just a couple minutes left, melt the peanut butter.
  7. Stir in your powdered sugar and mix until there are no lumps.
  8. Remove brownies from the oven. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the top.
  9. Allow them to cool and then refrigerate for a few hours before cutting and serving.
I ate these brownies for breakfast, and I don’t regret it one bit. They were RIDICULOUS. Sweet, salty, chocolatey and peanut buttery. These brownies are so m.o.i.s.t and fudgey. Make these yourself because they really were not that hard to bake (even if you don’t have any special redheaded baking powers like I do).
I’m pretty sure Erica had a good birthday. Especially since a friend sent her these…
It’s hard to compete with Sprinkles Cupcakes.
So, what did we learn from this baking experience? Sweet and salty are pretty damn good together. Make sure you serve your dessert before the Sprinkles Cupcakes arrive. And don’t eat three courses worth of dessert in one day or you’ll feel really sick. No matter whose birthday it is.
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It’s Okay to Go a Little Overboard Sometimes

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I’ve always felt that brunch is not a meal to take lightly – both literally and figuratively. If it is supposed to combine two meals into one, it should be the size of two meals…right?

The British, unfortunately, do not agree with me. When I was abroad in London, I had an unfortunate experience at a trendy brunch spot in which I ordered “pancakes” for £12 only to find “pancake.” I was not happy with the singular nor was I particularly ecstatic with the thin, crepe-like thing on my plate.

Needless to say, I take brunch pretty seriously. And when I’m hungry, I like to take things into my own hands instead of waiting to be fed while I’m about to chew my arm off. Don’t cross me before I’ve eaten.

This past weekend was pretty much a brunch extravaganza. It all started on Saturday morning. With a bit of planning in advance, plus waking up all refreshed (read: not hungover), I was good to go. On the menu:

  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake (yes, that is a breakfast item)
  • Baked French toast with Caramelized Apples
  • Breakfast Potatoes with Mushrooms
  • Bacon
Yes, you read that one right. I am a good friend, and I will cook unkosher meat for only the very special people in my life. Sarah would probably say that it didn’t compare to Wando’s, but I won’t take offense.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
Recipe from the Food Librarian
Topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • About 1 cup chocolate chips
Cake:
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix topping ingredients and set aside. Note: if you don’t wait for butter to cool, chocolate will melt. That’s okay.
  2. Beat together peanut butter and butter until fluffy.
  3. Add brown sugar. Then in beat eggs on a medium speed one at a time.
  4. Alternately add in dry ingredients. Then, incorporate the milk.
  5. Pour batter into greased 9X9 pan. Sprinkle topping over the batter.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!
All in all, I’d it was enough food for 12 hungry antelopes. Or, like a lot of people. Then, Saturday was a brunch to impress. I was home with my family and was in the mood to make a ridiculous amount of food. And that I did. The menu:
  • Vanilla-Peach Crepes
  • Strawberry Oat Bars
  • Baked Apple Pancake
Oh, yes. It was just as good as it sounds…
And as good as it looks.
As usual, the star of the meal was the famous Baked Apple Pancake. If you’ve ever ordered this from Walker Bros. Pancake House, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This is no ordinary pancake. It’s really like a souffle. Sweet, caramelized apples baked into a pancake of fluffy goodness. If you don’t like it, we can’t be friends.
Oh, small problem…this recipe is TOP secret. I don’t know if I trust you enough to share it right now (and I may have accidentally deleted it from my email). So I’ll have to share it with you another time. To hold you over, just feast your eyes on this…
Hungry yet?

A Tale of Two Lasagnas

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I’m not one to do things in the conventional way. I mean, let’s look at my track record here. Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread. English Toffee CookiesGinger Chocolate Chunk Scones. Not your average baked goods.

When it comes to lasagna, clearly it’s no different. It’s obvious that nothing was going to top the Lasagna that Beat Ohio State. But I had to at least try. Enter lasagna #1.


Zucchini White Bean Lasagna
Recipe adapted from La Phemme Phoodie (no, I didn’t make that name up)

  • ~4 zucchinis
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (you can make your own if you’re feeling adventurous)
  • Mozzarella cheese, parmesan if you like
  • Red pepper flakes to taste

Ricotta Filling:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg whites, or 1 egg
  • Dried herbs: oregano, basil
  • Salt and pepper

Bean and Onion Combo:

  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic
  • Olive oil
  1.  Saute onions in a bit of olive oil until browned, then add in white beans and garlic.
  2. Thinly slice zucchini lengthwise.
  3. Make that ricotta mixture – you may need to microwave the cheese a bit to soften it. Then stir in the eggs and herbs.
  4. Spray a 9″ square pan, then put a layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Follow with a layer of the zucchini, the ricotta mixture, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  5. Repeat.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes.
It was good. In fact, there is a large chunk of it still in my freezer.
Naturally, I had some leftover ricotta cheese. And I don’t waste food. Time for Lasagna #2. This one is a Gingerfoodie creation for the (somewhat) lazy cook.
Zucchini Lasagna Rolls
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Dried herbs
  • Mozzarella
  • Pasta sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. First, slice the zucchini thinly lengthwise. Lay it out on a cookie sheet and bake until just tender at about 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove to cool. Make the same exact ricotta mixture you made for lasagna #1.
  3. Spray a very small casserole dish – like, really small- with nonstick spray and put a layer of sauce at the bottom.
  4. Put a dollop of the ricotta mixture in the middle of a slice of zucchini like so:
  5. Then, roll up and place at the bottom of a the dish.
  6. Fill the entire dish with these, and then cover with a layer of tomato sauce.
  7. Top with grated mozzarella cheese, and maybe some parmesan for good measure.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.
Voila!You can’t tell, but this dish is really, really small.
And there you have it! Basically, the same exact thing. But not quite. Which do you prefer?