Sunday, February 26, 2012


I swore off sweets for two weeks.

I know. Crazy. Totally out of character for someone like me. I always get annoyed with people who do this kind of stuff. The other day I heard someone say they were not going to eat any carbs until they went on a cruise in 4 months. Aren't carbs in like...everything?

I just think you shouldn't go on crazy diets for weeks or months that you know you can't maintain. It seems that it would mess with your body, and your mind!

But alas, I have committed to eliminate all sweet treats from my diet for two full weeks. Not because I want to go on a diet--just because I want to prove that I can. I know I can. Can't I?

And so instead of eating chocolate today, I will write about it!

Scattered all over the web are newfangled treats called “Brookies.” As you can imagine, the combination of a brownie and cookie is splendid! The process for making these was simple, although interesting.

If you like cookies and brownies, these are sure to delight you.

Adapted from A Baked Creation

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks (60% cacao)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Start by melting the butter, oil and chocolate together in a bowl (in the microwave for 2.5-3 minutes in 1 minute intervals OR if you want to get fancy you can use a double broiler.) Be careful not to burn your beautiful and high quality chocolate. 

In another bowl, whisk eggs brown sugar and vanilla until just combined.

Then, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the sugary egg mixture.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture into the recently mixed chocolate/egg mixture until combined. 

Don't get too carried away with the mixing here—there's no need to break out your electric mixers or Kitchenaids for this one. In fact, over mixing may result in more of a cake-like texture rather than a dense brownie-like one. And that would just not do for our brookies!

 Pour your mixture (it will be thick) into a shallow pan. (like a pie plate or an 8 x 8 or 9 x9 baking dish) Time to preheat your oven! To 350. 

Now I know what you're thinking, this is looking a lot like a pan of brownies right now. But here's where it gets interesting. 

From here, freeze the batter until it sets and hardens a bit. I would recommend not going much longer than that as it can freeze up on you and affect the texture.

Remove the pan from the freezer and whip out your cute ice cream or cookie scoops. Get to work scooping out the brookies-to-be and place them on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until tops look crackly. I'm usually explicit about not over baking but these brookies are pretty hard to mess up! You can bake them a few minutes longer and they are still nice and moist on the inside.

What makes these really special is the dry, almost flaky exterior combined with a soft, decadent interior. They taste wonderful warm and would be an excellent addition to an ice cream sundae!

And here are a few pictures of Grades and I during our recent getaway to Annapolis Maryland! We visited the Naval Academy and it was incredible. Learning a little bit about how the midshipmen live made me so proud and grateful to be an American. Those young people truly dedicate their lives to selfless service. They work so hard and have such little free time. Gradon and I were so surprised to hear that they are allotted only 5 minutes for lunch each day!

Not to mention the place was absolutely packed with adorable boutiques. I felt like I could have spent the whole week there shopping. And I loved being at arms length from the gorgeous bay.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chocolate Waffles with Strawberry Sauce

These waffles were wonderful. Do you know why? Because they taste like waffles. But not like a regular waffle. Like a chocolate waffle.

Am I stating the obvious here?

I have just been jaded by a few recipes in the past that have claimed to be chocolate waffles and turned out badly. I've had one or two that tasted like watered down cocoa powder and others that could not be differentiated from chocolate cake. Ok, so the cake like one wasn't bad, it just didn't quite feel like breakfast.

But these really do. They're awesome! They have just the right amount of chocolate flavor with little bursts of chocolate chips in every bite. And they maintain the texture of a classic waffle.

Plus the slightly tart strawberry sauce pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the chocolate.

I thought they were perfect for Valentine's day, but they could easily be a special birthday treat. Or you could serve them in wedges for dessert! 
Chocolate Waffles with Strawberry Sauce
Adapted from Our Best Bites

  • 2/3 C flour
  • 2/3 C corn starch
  • ¼ C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1/8 t cinnamon
  • 6 T sugar
  • 1 C milk
  • 1/3 C vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup (or more) chocolate chips
  • 2-3 cups strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup strawberry jam
  • 2 T hot water
  • powdered sugar (to taste)

    Start with your strawberry sauce. Combine jam and warm water and whisk until smooth. Add in your sliced berries and smash a few with a fork. Add a little powdered sugar for sweetness if you'd like. Set aside.

    Preheat and grease your waffle iron. (If needed) Combine flour, corn starch, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder baking soda and cinnamon. Whisk to combine. 

In another bowl, whisk together sugar, milk, oil, egg and vanilla until frothy. (About a minute)

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, whisking to combine. Do not over stir. Note that the batter will be thin.

Add chocolate chips and give it a good stir before you ladle it into the iron. (It's better to ladle than to pour because you can scoop up those precious chocolate chips! Otherwise they get lost in the bottom of the bowl and never get to fulfill the measure of their creation. And that would be tragic.)

Cook until your waffle iron says so. Be careful not to burn, as you won't be able to tell so much with the dark waffles! Pay attention to texture instead. 

Top with some powdered sugar and your gorgeous strawberry sauce.

Hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day. Here are a few snippets of our week of love...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Bread

Out of respect for Pioneer Woman, who first introduced me to this wonder, I have retained her original name for it “The Bread.”

It is so hearty, flavorful and delicious, your guests will never believe that it requires exactly two ingredients. Bread and butter. Are you excited yet?

The secret to this amazing bread is the process. Oh, and the obscene amount of butter.

Please don't be afraid of the butter—it's good for you. And if it makes you feel better, I did cut down the amount of butter a wee bit from PW's original recipe. Just because I made it both ways and couldn't tell the difference. And butter is expensive!

The Bread
Adapted from Pioneer Woman
  • 1 ½ sticks salted butter, softened
  • Good quality thick loaf of french or sourdough bread
To start, get your hands on a nice and thick loaf of french or sourdough bread. Leave a stick and a half of butter out on your counter to soften. If you forget, you can stick it in the microwave for a few seconds, keeping it in the wrapper and turning it ¼ turn until adequately soft.

Slice your loaf in half with a serrated bread knife and coat both underbellies completely with softened butter. Be sure to cover every crumb of it, extending all of the way to the edges.

Place your bread in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, just long enough to melt the butter. Then crank on that broiler.

Now I know that many have fears of the broiler and for good reason. It can be deadly if you walk away for too long! And that is why you must watch it after every minute. This bread will need a minimum of three minutes under the broiler. But you may need 5 or 6. You want to see little burn marks around the edges. I know that's hard to get—burnt is bad, right? Especially for me—I'm the biggest fan of doughy bread. But trust me on this. This step is essential for the magical flavor that this bread offers. It's what makes it “The Bread.”

The flavor and texture is so fabulous, it's hard to explain. The butter soaks deep into the doughy crevices and just does something insane. Everyone will ask you what you did to season it. No one will believe that it's just butter!

When it's done, remove it from the oven and immediately cut into strips. This bread must be served warm for the full effect.

Serve this with pasta, chicken or whatever you'd like. It's very versatile. It has totally become my go-to bread in a time crunch. Although it's certainly worthy of a special occasion. 
Enjoy it!